Peter Gabriel spurns Oscars over downsized set

Musician and activist Peter Gabriel performs during the 46664 AIDS charity concert at Ellispark stadium in Johannesburg December 1, 2007. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Peter Gabriel has rejected an offer to perform at the Academy Awards next week after the veteran British rocker learned he would have just a minute to sing his Oscar-nominated tune from Disney’s “WALL-E”.

Gabriel and composer Thomas Newman will compete for the best song Oscar on February 22 with “Down To Earth,” a tune from the hit Pixar cartoon. The other two nominees are a pair of compositions from “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The songs are scheduled to be performed as a medley during the televised ceremony, which last year ran for almost three and a half hours. The downsizing left Gabriel underwhelmed.

“I don’t feel that is sufficient time to do the song justice, and I have decided to withdraw from performing,” Gabriel wrote in a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“Even though song writers are small players in the film making process, they are just as committed and work just as hard as the rest of the team and I regret that this new version of the ceremony is being created, in part, at their expense,” he added in the letter, which was forwarded to Reuters on Thursday by movie studio Walt Disney Co., which owns Pixar.

A spokeswoman for Pixar said Gabriel’s withdrawal was “polite,” that he was not angry, and that he would attend the ceremony in Hollywood. It was not clear who would perform the song instead.

Gabriel and Newman won a pair of Grammy Awards on Sunday for their work on “WALL-E,” a hit movie about a robot. News of his decision not to perform at the Oscars was first reported by Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke.

Editing by Jill Serjeant