Guild makes move as deadlines loom

The Producers Guild of America, which had remained on the sidelines during the screener controversy, has asked studios to start sending award screeners to its 2,000 members.

PGA members have already been mailed screeners of Newmarket’s “Monster” and “Whale Rider.” Universal’s “Seabiscuit” is set to go out Monday.

PGA made the move with its own deadlines looming for its Jan. 17 award gala: Org sent out its ballot mailing Wednesday to its members with a Jan. 2 return deadline; nominations will be announced Jan. 5 by Marg Helgenberger and Sean Astin.

Org also asked its members to sign a security agreement, similar to the one circulated among Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voters, stipulating that the screeners would not circulate outside members’ residence or office, or be sold, given away or reproduced in any fashion. And it told the members they must return the document to the PGA by today.

PGA exec director Vance Van Petten said the letter to major studios and production companies requested any available screeners and drew particular attention to the early voting deadlines. Van Petten also said the PGA leadership decided to stay out of the imbroglio over screeners until after last week’s New York court ruling that lifted the ban.

Defending copyrights

“We absolutely believe in the importance of screeners getting out to our members, but at the same time, we remain resolute in our defense of copyright and our belief in the substantial threat that piracy represents to our industry,” he said.

Warner and other majors have indicated they would supply tapes to the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. for Golden Globes consideration (Daily Variety, Dec. 11).

The PGA event has been a fairly reliable indicator of Academy sentiment, with matches on nine of its 13 selections, including last year, when it presented its Darryl F. Zanuck producer of the year award to Martin Richards for “Chicago.”

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