Credit crunch hits the Oscars

Tuesday’s announcement of the Producers Guild of America nominations for best picture did more than just foreshadow what films will most likely be contending at the Academy Awards next month. It also clarified which producers will be eligible to get up on stage at the Kodak Theater to accept the ultimate prize.

As per the Oscars rule 17(3): The individual(s) who shall be credited for Academy Award purposes must have screen credit of “producer” or “produced by.” Persons with screen credits of executive producer, co-producer, associate producer, line producer, produced in association with or any other credit shall not receive nominations or Academy statuettes. The nominees will be those three or fewer producers who have performed the major portion of the producing functions. The Producers Branch Executive Committee will designate the qualifying producer nominees for each of the nominated pictures. The committee has the right, in what it determines to be a rare and extraordinary circumstance, to name any additional qualified producer as a nominee.

Last year, “The Hurt Locker” fielded four producers — director Kathryn Bigelow, screenwriter Mark Boal, Nicholas Chartier and Greg Shapiro — who won with the PGA before prevailing at the Academy Awards. Chartier’s lobbying on behalf of the film got him banned from the ceremony but he ultimately received his Oscar statue.

This year, a quartet from Oscar frontrunner “The Social Network” — Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Michael De Luca and Scott Rudin — are credited as producers and were so named by the PGA. Otherwise, the players behind the pictures were limited to at most three apiece which meant bad news for credited producers on four of the other nominees.

Both “The Fighter” and “The Kids Are All RIght” saw their producing teams cut in half. For “The Fighter,” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and star Mark Wahlberg made the list while Dorothy Aufiero, Ryan Kavanaugh, and Paul Tamasy were dropped. Five other folks on “The Fighter” are credited as executive producers while two more are named co-producers; none of these were eligible for consideration by the PGA.

In the case of “Kids,” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray remain in contention while Philippe Hellmann, Jordan Horowitz and Daniela Taplin Lundberg were scratched. Beyond these half dozen producers, there were an additional six co-producers and eight executive producers making sure “The Kids Are All Right.”

Time was up for “127 Hours” producer John Smithson (Danny Boyle and Christian Colson remain in the race) while Arnold W. Messer didn’t land a bid for “Black Swan” though Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy and Brian Oliver did.

One of the other Oscar frontrunners — “The King’s Speech” — has three credited producers (Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin) as well as six executive producers (including star Geoffrey Rush), two co-executive producers and one associate producer.

The biggest budgets among the 10 PGA contenders belong to “Inception” ($160 million) which was produced by writer-director Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas and “Toy Story 3” ($200 million) which was overseen by just Darla K. Anderson. And sleeper hit “The Town” was produced by the duo of Basil Iwanyk and Graham King.

Multi-hyphenates Ethan and Joel Coen wrote, directed and edited “True Grit” and produced it with Rudin; the trio shared in the 2007 PGA and Oscar wins for “No Country for Old Men.” With this second nod, Rudin became the first person in the history of the PGA Awards to contend for two different films in the same year. 

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