Fox 411’s Roger Friedman reported today that Annette Insdorf, the distinguished critic, film scholar and Columbia University film department chief, bas been elbowed out of the National Board of Review’s executive photoplay committee. If true, this move divests the NBR of its only shred of credibility in dispensing end-of-the-year movie awards. The news comes only one day before the NBR will vote and announce its 2007 winners, and, if confirmed, will obviously make the group seem even more tainted that is has been in the past.

Reportedly heave-ho’ed NBR board member Annette Insdorf; NBR honcho Annie Schulhoif; Fox 411 columnist Roger Friedman

As Friedman reports, the National Board of Review “is otherwise composed of dilettantes and senior citizens who pay around $500 a year as members to watch movies and get their pictures taken with celebrities. [The group] is a kind of a laughingstock among movie press people, the studios and even the actors and directors.

“What’s interesting about the NBR is that despite the membership, the executive photoplay committee makes the ultimate decisions about who, and what, will get awards. Most of those decisions are based on the members’ connections to the studios and who they think will show up for their annual awards show and dinner in early January.

“Insdorf was considered the only sane member of the group, and the only one who would advocate based on merit. With her out of the voting, it’s feared that the much maligned president Annie Schulhof will push through a number of winners less deserving than others.

“Members of the executive photoplay committee are kept secret. But I am told that some other members, all Schulhof pals, include unknowns like ancient mariner Keith Edwards (his credits include [productions by] David Merrick and David Susskind) and 74-year-old Amy Greene-Andrews, the ex-wife of considerably deceased minor producer Milton Greene (1957’s The Prince and the Showgirl).”

And yet, as Friedman notes, “With the Writers Guild strike in full force, the NBR could — in a very weird world — wind up being the only awards show for some time. Picket lines could severely damage if not altogether halt other upcoming awards shows such as the Oscars and Golden Globes.”