Oscar 2006: Departed, The–Credits Issue

Jan 24, 2007–Two of the best picture nominees, “The Departed” and “Little Miss Sunshine,” proved problematic to the point where the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will have to assemble arbitration boards to figure out the eligibility of producers of these films, both of which were listed as “nominees to be determined.”

Up to 1999, the Academy gave a producer nomination to whoever was listed. But after five producers ran to the stage to accept best picture for the 1998 “Shakespeare in Love,” AMPAS limited the number of eligible producers to three. Two years ago, the organization announced it would follow Producers Guild of America (PGA) guidelines.

“Little Miss Sunshine” has five onscreen producers, which is OK by PGA rules, but is two too many for the Academy.

The Academy will have to address the fact that five writers are allowed on the screenplays for “Borat” and “Children of Men,” but five are considered too many for producers.

“The Departed” represents a separate issue. The picture lists four producers. The PGA announced Graham King as the sole producer, a decision the guild upheld after Brad Grey appealed. The Academy was asked to reexamine the Producers Guild credits,” according to AMPAS executive director Bruce Davis, who declined to name the person who requested it. Aside from King, the onscreen credits for “Departed” list Grey, Brad Pitt, and Martin Scorsese as producers.

On Saturday, the PGA gave its top prize to “Little Miss Sunshine’s” Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa. This film’s group can decide themselves which three get the Oscar nomination. Otherwise, the Academy will intervene.

The PGA gives producers a questionnaire regarding their participation in some 50 tasks related to a particular film. Under the PGA rules, a producer must complete at least 50% of the tasks. Development and post-production count for 30% each, while pre-production and production count for 20% each.

Last year, Bob Yari sued the PGA and the Academy for being excluded from his work on “Crash” (which had 14 various producers).

The PGA does the homework and the Academy uses the findings as a guideline, but it doesn’t accept them automatically. If anyone questions the PGA decision, he or she can appeal to the Academy. Members of the producers branch executive committee then make their own ruling.