The Academy’s board of governors voted to rescind the original song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” music by Bruce Broughton and lyric by Dennis Spiegel. An additional nominee in the category will not be named.
The decision was prompted by the discovery that Broughton, a former governor and current music branch executive committee member, had emailed members of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period.
The song is performed by quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada. With limited lung capacity due to her disability, Tada, who is also an Evangelical minister, had her husband, Ken, pushing on her diaphragm while she recorded the Oscar-nominated song to give her enough breath to hit the high notes.
“I’m devastated,” Broughton told Variety. “I indulged in the simplest, lamest, grass-roots campaign and it went against me when the song started getting attention. I got taken down by competition that had months of promotion and advertising behind them.”
The move is rare, but not unprecedented. The Academy dropped the nomination for Nino Rota’s score for 1972 “The Godfather,” after finding out key portions had been used in an earlier film. Louis L’Amour’s 1953 story nomination for “Hondo” was withdrawn when it was found to be based on a short story. And Edward Bernds and Elwood Ullman honorably withdrew their nomination for the 1956 “High Society.” They had written a Bowery Boys comedy with that title and figured voters were confused because the Grace Kelly-Cole Porter musical of the same title was also released that year.
And the Oscar for 1968 documentary feature was presented to “Young Americans,” then revoked after it was revealed that the film had debuted in 1967. Runner-up “Journey Into Self” was given the statuette.
In a statement about the withdrawal of the “Alone” song nomination, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said, “No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage.”
The board determined that Broughton’s actions were inconsistent with the Academy’s promotional regulations, which provide, among other terms, that “it is the Academy’s goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. If any campaign activity is determined by the Board of Governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process.”
The remaining nominees in the category are:
“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”; Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go” from “Frozen”; Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from “Her”; Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”; Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson
Steve Chagollan contributed to this report.