Oscar crunches credits

Academy tightens nominations

Hoping to reduce the number of Oscars it hands out every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has tightened restrictions on credits for producers and songwriters and streamlined regs in other categories.

At Tuesday night’s regularly scheduled meeting, the board of governors also nixed the proposal for a stunt coordinator Oscar despite recent lobbying attempts by stunt performers.

The board handed full authority to the producers branch exec committee to determine producer credits; Acad will follow the Producers Guild of America’s system of determining accreditation.

As a result, producer nominees will be available on Oscar nomination morning, eliminating the recent “nominees to be determined” announcement. In January, producer nominees on three of the five picture nominees — “The Aviator,” “Million Dollar Baby” and “Ray” — had to be sorted out after the announcement.

“The PGA has set up a very thorough and conscientious process of vetting producer credits,” said Acad executive director Bruce Davis. “The Academy isn’t an investigative body, and it seems silly for us to set up an elaborate mechanism to do something one of the guilds is already doing.”

Rule is the partial result of a five-year campaign, spearheaded by PGA prexy Kathleen Kennedy, to reclaim respect for the producer’s role by eliminating undeserved credits.

The PGA’s definition of a producer covers more than 40 different functions but generally weighs the contributions as such: 30% development, 20% pre-production, 20% for production and 30% post-production and marketing (Daily Variety, Jan. 20).

“The Academy’s decision to use our guidelines of what criteria must be met to earn a produced-by credit is the ultimate validation of our members’ work,” Kennedy said.

‘Truth in credits’

“That’s what we’ve been fighting for — fairness, truth in credits,” said producer Hawk Koch, the guild’s VP and a member of the Academy’s board of governors, who added that he was thrilled with the decision. “People use the producer credit as currency, and it should be reserved for the people who actually do the work of the producer … not those that take the credit by negotiating.”

The first board meeting after the Oscarcast often addresses issues raised by the most recent nomination and awards process.

For the first time, the Acad voted to place a cap on the song category, specifying that only two trophies will normally be handed out except when there is a valid third contributor (i.e., two lyricists working with a composer). Last year, original song nominee “Accidentally in Love,” from “Shrek 2,” boasted seven credited writers, all from rock group Counting Crows.

Elsewhere, the music branch has changed its selection procedure for song nominees, now requiring potential voters to attend theatrical screenings and hear clips from the eligible songs. Nominations balloting will be held immediately afterward at the theater.

Widening music races

The branch also has upped the requirement for qualifying submissions from four to nine in all music categories. If there are fewer than nine eligible submissions, the executive committee may recommend to the board that no award be given out.

The three categories are original score, original song and original musical.

Board voted against the creation of an Oscar category for stunt coordinators, saying the Acad was not prepared to add a race — a process that can take years. Decision flew in the face of efforts by 75 stunt workers who picketed outside Acad headquarters June 16 in favor of the new category (Daily Variety, June 17).

Stunt coordinators have been requesting an Oscar for more than a decade; other awards frequently petitioned for include opening credits, casting, choreography and contemporary costumes. In the past 25 years, the Academy has added only two categories, makeup (1981) and animated feature (2001), which took three years to get off the ground.

Acad’s rules are reviewed annually by branch and category panels. Proposed changes are reviewed by the awards rules committee before recommendation to the board of governors.

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