Sanders excluded; Acad recipient debated for toons

The fellowship of “The Ring” just got smaller.

Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Barrie M. Osborne are the official Oscar nominees as producers of New Line’s “The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring,” according to the exec committee of the producers branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

The 23-person panel met Monday and Tuesday to decide the credits; Academy rules stipulate that a maximum of three producers can accept the award, though “Rings” had submitted four. The Academy gives the studio the option of deciding, but New Line chose to let the Academy choose.

Odd man out is Tim Sanders. In the pic’s credits, he’s listed with the other three as a producer; there are five exec producers and two co-producers.

Rule 17 in the Academy’s rule book, concerning best-film producers, states that if more than three are credited, the nom will go to “those three who have performed the major portion of the producing functions.”

Sanders was a key figure during pre-production, but was not present as much as the other three during filming of “Rings,” according to someone connected with the film.

The Producers Guild of America came to the same conclusion, listing Jackson, Walsh and Osborne in its nominations.

When Oscar noms were announced Feb. 12, the film nabbed bids in 13 categories; in the best pic slot, the credits read simply, “Nominees to be determined.”

Duo has similar dilemma

Meanwhile, Disney’s “Monsters, Inc.” and Paramount’s “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” are facing similar choices. This week, the pics’ nominee(s) in the toon-feature race will be decided by the Academy’s short films & feature animation branch’s exec committee.

But there’s a fine distinction: They’re picking the Oscar recipient, as opposed to the producer. The “recipient designated must be the key creative talent most clearly responsible for the overall achievement” of the film — in other words, it could be a producer or director, but not necessarily.

There are a maximum of two recipients in that category.

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