Oscar 'In Memoriam': Who gets in?

Who will be featured in this Sunday's Oscar's "In Memoriam"? Fans say the Academy has gotten it wrong in the past, by leaving out notable people.

As Oscar hype peaks before Sunday's ceremony, there is one list of individuals that will leave the audience guessing until the last minute.

The Oscars awards ceremony's "In Memoriam" montage honors the movie industry's recently deceased. But nobody – except an unnamed Academy committee – knows who will be on the final list until the awards show Feb. 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

It's all very hush-hush, including the selection process.

An Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spokesperson confirmed to MSN News that the contents of that final obituary list will only be revealed during the ceremony. Further requests for information on the selection process have not yet been answered.

Movie blogs are predicting that names like Charles Durning, Nora Ephron, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Scott, Richard Zanuck and Marvin Hamlisch will be included during the three-minute obituary segment, which has been around since 1994.

Oscar's 'In Memoriuam': American actor Charles Durning, right, as Detective Sergeant Eugene Moretti in the film 'Dog Day Afternoon,' 1975. IMAGEGetty Images: Archive

But turns out mere fame and Hollywood celebrity status won't get you on that list. Every year, there's fierce campaigning behind the scenes by friends and family to get their loved ones a spot on the coveted list. Sometimes, even that campaigning doesn't work.

As the New York Times said in a recent article, "On Oscar night everyone is dying — sometimes literally — to win something."

According to the Times, a discrete committee of members at the Academy (whose names are not divulged to other members or the public) decides who can fill the 30 or so spots from a list of 500 candidates.

Former Academy President Tom Sherack told the Times that "of all the committees, it's the hardest one to do. The committee's names are never mentioned."

According to Sherack and others familiar with the process, the onus for deciding the obituary roll call had shifted from a small group that had previously included the Oscar show producer and both the Academy's president and executive director, to a larger group of insiders.

Although the committee is expected to ignore external influences, the Academy's chief operating officer, Ric Robertson, has said "there's no shortage of input from out there in the community."

So what factors come into play during the decision-making process? Accomplishments, awards and public impression are just some.

Publicist Sheldon Roskin told the Times that his efforts to lobby for the inclusion of public relations colleague Tommy Culla (whose clients included Tony Curtis and Roman Polanski) were unsuccessful.

"Unfortunately, my calls to the Academy were not returned," he said.

Missing from last year's list? Harry Morgan, whose film credits included "High Noon" and the "Ox Bow Incident," but is perhaps best known for "M.A.S.H."

Also missing were: Eiko Ishioka, (who won an Oscar in 1992 for best costume design for "Bram Stoker's Dracula"), directors Raoul Ruiz and Theo Angelopoulos and actors Jeff Conaway ("Grease") and Michael Gough (Alfred the butler from "Batman").

Eartha Kitt's exclusion from the list in 2009 caused much controversy, with her publicist accusing the Academy of "living under a rock for the past 60 years."

In previous years, the Academy has overlooked Farrah Fawcett, Bea Arthur, Peter Graves and Corey Haim.

The Academy has tried to expand on its brief three-minute remembrance section by posting a longer list online.

Live Oscar Red Carpet coverage starts Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. ET and the actual awards show starts at 8:30 p.m. ET. Watch it on ABC or online.

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Related: On Twitter, a peanut gallery mocks the Oscars

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