Awards Season News

Producers lose out on Oscar nominations

Although The Departed is up for Best Picture, one of its producers will not be. Brad Grey – who is also the chairman of Paramount Pictures – has been denied a producer credit.

The producers of another Best Picture nominee, Little Miss Sunshine – Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa – find themselves in a similar situation.

According to Gregg Kilday in The Hollywood Reporter the reason lies in the Academy’s “three producer rule”:

According to the Academy’s rules, the best picture winner can be repped by no more than three producers. Thursday night, the executive committee of its producers branch met to arbitrate the producing credits on both “Departed” and “Sunshine,” and ruled against Grey, Berger and Yerxa.

The Academy takes its lead from the PGA, which has developed a mechanism for deciding which producers on a given film performed the necessary producing chores to have full producing credit for awards purposes.

In the case of “Departed,” the film’s credits list as producers Graham King and director Martin Scorsese as well as Grey and Brad Pitt, who developed the film through their Plan B production company. The PGA, however, decided to credit only King as producer when the film was nominated for the PGA’s best picture award.

Grey asked the Academy to reconsider the PGA decision, but, without comment, the Academy has decided to list King as sole producer.

In the case of Little Miss Sunshine, the rule also applied even though Berga and Yerxa first developed the script:

PGA decided that Berger and Yerxa, who are producing partners, deserved credit along with David T. Friendly, Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf.

Because of the Academy’s rule-of-three, though, the producers’ exec committee took a second look and ruled out Berger and Yerxa, who actually first developed Michael Arndt’s screenplay and later introduced the directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris to the other producers.

Because of the Academy’s ruling, only Friendly, Saraf and Turtletaub will be called to the stage if “Sunshine” wins best picture.

Although the three producer rule was introduced after five producers collected an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love in 1998, surely credit should be given where it is due?

> NPR report on Oscar’s ever changing rules
> Emmanuel Levy with more detail on the story
> Anne Thompson from The Hollywood Reporter with her take on the story