Weinstein Co's Brit historical drama earns feature kudo

Throwing a royal curve into awards season, the Producers Guild of America has tapped “The King’s Speech” as the year’s top feature.

The Weinstein Co.’s drama surprised the audience at the Beverly Hilton by taking the PGA’s Darryl F. Zanuck award for producers Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin Saturday night. “We thought we were the last ones in the running,” Unwin said during his acceptance.

“Toy Story 3″ won the animation award and “Waiting for Superman” snagged the documentary trophy while “Modern Family,” “Mad Men” and “The Pacific” took the top TV awards.

The PGA’s selection of “The King’s Speech” is a major boost for the drama, starring Colin Firth as George VI and Geoffrey Rush as his speech therapist. It’s also something of a setback for Facebook drama “The Social Network.”

“Speech” topped “127 Hours,” “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “The Social Network,” “The Town,” “Toy Story 3″ and “True Grit.” Awards season momentum has clearly been with “The Social Network,” which has taken most critics awards and won the Golden Globe for best drama last Sunday.

Fourteen of the 21 PGA winners have gone on to win the Oscar for best picture and have matched for the last three years with “The Hurt Locker,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “No Country for Old Men.” The PGA last diverged in 2006 when it tapped “Little Miss Sunshine” while the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science opted for “The Departed.”

It’s the second year in which the PGA, which has over 4,500 members, has selected 10 films as contenders, in following the lead of the Academy to expand the field from five slots. Both orgs use a preferential voting system for their best picture award.

The producers branch of AMPAS has about 8% of the voting membership with 446 members out of 5,755.

Oscar nominations are announced Tuesday. Directors Tom Hooper of “The King’s Speech” and David Fincher of “The Social Network” will face off Saturday at the Directors Guild of America awards along with Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan,” David O. Russell for “The Figher” and Christopher Nolan for “Inception.”

“Toy Story 3″ won the PGA’s animated trophy for Darla K. Anderson, topping “Despicable Me” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”

Lesley Chilcott’s “Waiting for Superman” won the documentary award, besting “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” “Earth Made of Glass,” “Inside Job,” “Smash His Camera” and “The Tillman Story.”

ABC’s “Modern Family” won the Danny Thomas comedy series trophy over “30 Rock,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Glee” and “The Office.” Producers are Steve Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jason Winer, Bill Wrubel and Danny Zuker. “30 Rock” had won the category for the last two years.

AMC’s “Mad Men” scores its third consecutive victory for the Norman Felton award for drama series, topping “Breaking Bad,” “Dexter,” “Lost” and “True Blood.” “Mad Men” producers are Lisa Albert, Scott Hornbacher, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Blake McCormick, Dwayne Shattuck and Matthew Weiner.

HBO’s “The Pacific” won David Wolper longform trophy over “Pillars of the Earth,” “Temple Grandin,” and “You Don’t Know Jack.” Producers are Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Eugene Kelly, Todd London, Cherylanne Martin, Bruce C. McKenna, Steven Shareshian, Steven Spielberg, Tony To, Tim Van Patten and Graham Yost.

Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” won the non-fiction TV award over “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” “Intervention,” “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List” and “Undercover Boss.” Producers are Thom Beers, Jeff Conroy, Sheila McCormack, Ethan Prochnik and Matt Renner.

Comedy’s Central’s “The Colbert Report” won a third straight victory in the live entertainment and competition category, topping “The Amazing Race,” “Project Runway,” “Real Time With Bill Maher” and “Top Chef.” Producers are Meredith Bennett, Stephen T. Colbert, Richard Dahm, Tom Purcell, Allison Silverman and Jon Stewart.

Scott Rudin had received nods for “The Social Network” and “True Grit,” making him the first producer to receive two PGA nominations for the Zanuck trophy in the same year. Rudin was also feted during Saturday night’s ceremonies with the previously announced honor of winning the PGA’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures.

The producers branch of AMPAS has about 8% of the voting membership with 446 members out of 5,755.

In addition to Rudin’s Selznick kudo, the PGA also presented honorary awards to James Cameron (Milestone Award), Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman (Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television), Laura Ziskin (Visionary Award) and RealD (Vanguard Award).

Judd Apatow hosted the event and opened by lightly mocking Globes emcee Ricky Gervais for making jokes about Tim Allen, Cher and fat people. He also showed a well-received series of comic videos featuring James Franco, Jonah Hill, Mila Kunis, Craig Robinson and Seth Rogen.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more