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PGA snubs big-budget titles

HBO dominates TV noms

See Nominees

This article was updated at 6:24 p.m.

Favoring the output of studio specialty divisions and indies, the Producers Guild of America nominated for its best picture award Focus Features’ “Brokeback Mountain,” United Artists and Sony Pictures Classics’ “Capote,” Lionsgate’s “Crash,” Warner Independent Pictures’ “Good Night, and Good Luck” and 20th Century Fox’s “Walk the Line.”

In the TV categories, HBO dominated again with eight noms, followed by six for ABC and five for CBS. Fox received two, TNT, NBC, Warner Bros. TV and FX one apiece.

Producers org has traditionally been the friendliest guild to big-budgeted studio fare, nominating in past years pics such as “The Incredibles,” “Shrek” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” while passing over smaller films like “Lost in Translation,” “The Pianist” and “In the Bedroom” that went on to Oscar noms.

This year, the top-budgeted pic receiving a PGA nom is “Walk the Line,” which was made for a relatively moderate $29 million. Three of the others — “Capote,” “Crash” and “Good Night” — carried production budgets of less than $8 million.

Notably absent from the list were major studio Oscar hopefuls like Universal’s “Munich,” “King Kong” and “Cinderella Man,” Sony’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” and New Line’s “The New World.”

Despite the org’s idiosyncrasies, the PGA has been a bellwether of Academy voter attitudes. Over the past five years, about two-thirds of the PGA-nominated pics have gone on to draw Oscar noms. And over the 16 years the PGA has presented the Darryl F. Zanuck producer of the year award, winners have gone on to claim the best picture Oscar 11 times.

For the first time, the PGA broke out animated titles in their own category, where the majors dominated. Nominees are Disney’s “Chicken Little,” DreamWorks’ “Madagascar” and “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” Fox’s “Robots” and Warner Bros.’ “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.”

In recent years, the overlap between the PGA and the Academy has come on big-budgeted pics like “Gladiator” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

To some, the shift in taste to smaller pics could reflect a change in the membership: voting base has grown more than 20% from last year, when the PGA had about 2,000 members.

“Look at the films that are in there,” said Grant Heslov, who was nominated for “Good Luck.” “It’s a really cool year.”

In selecting nominees, voters seemed to sympathize with the plight the producers faced in getting their films into theaters. “Brokeback” began life as a film in 1997, when Diana Ossana, who was nominated with Focus prexy James Schamus, read Annie Proulx’s short story while visiting Larry McMurtry.

“All these projects were not labors of love,” Ossana said, “they were labors of passion, and that means a tremendous amount.”

“Walk the Line” helmer James Mangold first pitched producer Cathy Konrad, who was nominated with James Keach, on the Johnny Cash biopic 10 years ago while they were both working on “Cop Land.”

“You know how hard it is to roll rocks up a hill and get these kinds of pictures made,” Konrad said. “It’s clearly an honor to be recognized by your peers, but there’s something special about people who do your job and know what it takes.”

“Capote,” for which Caroline Baron, William Vince and Michael Ohoven received a nom, found itself an orphan in the MGM/Sony merger soon after it was greenlit by UA. The 35-day shoot for “Crash” was spread out over almost five months for reasons including a two-week break when Paul Haggis, who was nominated with Cathy Schulman, had a heart attack.

The sense that the PGA noms saluted the efforts that went into the pics in addition to the final products is in some ways, Schamus said, a reflection of the org’s efforts over the past few years to codify what being a producer actually means by arbitrating who gets producer credit on pics for the Oscars and Golden Globes. “That’s a big deal, and that creates a sense of community,” he said.

“Crash,” for example, had six producers in its credits. The PGA’s arbitration process whittled that down to Haggis and Schulman. So there is, of course, a downside for those who ended up being omitted.

“I’m very gratified about the nomination,” Haggis said, “but it’s a little sad for me that the other people involved as producers weren’t recognized because they all made contributions that were very unique and essential.”

Small-screen nods

Nominated in the longform TV category were HBO’s “Empire Falls,” “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers,” “Warm Springs” and “Lackawanna Blues.”

For episodic drama, nominees are Fox’s “24”; HBO’s “Six Feet Under”; and ABC’s “Boston Legal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost.”

Nominees in episodic comedy are Fox’s “Arrested Development”; HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Entourage”; CBS’ “Two and a Half Men”; and ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.”

In variety television, noms went to ABC’s kudocast of the Academy Awards; Warners’ syndicated talker “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”; NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien”; CBS’s “Late Show With David Letterman”; and HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

For nonfiction TV, the nominees were FX’s “30 Days”; CBS’ “60 Minutes,” “The Amazing Race 6” and “The Amazing Race 7”; and ABC’s “Extreme Makeover.”

The PGA will announce its winners at a Jan. 22 ceremony at the Universal Hilton.

And the nominees are…

“Brokeback Mountain” (Focus Features) Diana Ossana, James Schamus
(Sony Pictures Classic)
Caroline Baron, William Vince, Michael Ohoven
“Crash”(Lions Gate Films)
Paul Haggis, Cathy Schulman
“Good Night, and Good Luck”(Warner Independent Pictures)
Grant Heslov
“Walk the Line”(Twentieth Century Fox)
James Keach, Cathy Konrad

“Chicken Little”(Disney)
Randy Fullmer
Mireille Soria
“Robots”(Twentieth Century Fox)
Jerry Davis, John C. Donkin, William Joyce
“Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride”(Warner Bros.)
Tim Burton, Allison Abbate
“Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”(DreamWorks)
(Credits are pending arbitration)

“Empire Falls”(HBO)
(Credits are pending arbitration)
“Into the West”(TNT)
(Credits are pending arbitration)
“Lackawanna Blues”(HBO)
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Halle Berry, Vincent Cirrincione, Shelby Stone, Nellie Rachel Nugiel
“The Life and Death of Peter Sellers”(HBO)
(Credits are pending arbitration)
“Warm Springs”(HBO)
Mark Gordon, Celia Costas, Chrisann Verges

Joel Surnow, Robert Cochran, Howard Gordon, Brian Grazer, Evan Katz, Jon Cassar, Stephen Kronish, Michael Loceff
“Boston Legal”(ABC)
David E. Kelley, Bill D’Elia, Mike Listo, Steve Robin, Janet Knutsen
“Grey’s Anatomy”(ABC)
Mark Gordon, Shonda Rhimes, James Parriott, Betsy Beers, Peter Horton, Rob Corn
J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof, Bryan Burk, Jack Bender, Jean Higgins, Carlton Cuse
“Six Feet Under”(HBO)
Alan Ball, Alan Poul, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Robert Del Valle, Lori Jo Nemhauser

“Arrested Development”(Fox)
Ron Howard & Brian Grazer, David Nevins, Mitchell Hurwitz, John Levenstein, Richard Rosenstock, Chuck Martin, Victor Hsu
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”(HBO)
Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Robert B. Weide, Larry Charles, Tim Gibbons
“Desperate Housewives”(ABC)
Marc Cherry, Tom Spezialy, Michael Edelstein, George W. Perkins
Doug Ellin, Stephen Levinson, Julian Farino, Mark Greenberg, Wayne Carmona
“Two and a Half Men”(CBS)
Chuck Lorre, Lee Aronsohn, Michael Collier

“77th Annual Academy Awards”(ABC)
Gilbert Cates
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show”(Warner Bros. Television)
Ellen DeGeneres, Mary Connelly, Ed Glavin, Andy Lassner, Karen Kilgariff
“Late Night with Conan O’Brien”(NBC)
Lorne Michaels, Jeff Ross, Tracy King, Frank Smiley, Daniel Ferguson
“Late Show with David Letterman”(CBS)
Maria Pope, Barbara Gaines, Rob Burnett, Jude Brennan
“Real Time with Bill Maher”(HBO)
Bill Maher, Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths, Dean Johnsen

“30 Days”(FX)
R.J. Cutler, H.T. Owens, Ben Silverman, Morgan Spurlock, Jonathan Chinn, Alison Ellwood, Keith Hoffman
“60 Minutes”(CBS)
Jeff Fager
“Amazing Race 6”(CBS)
Jerry Bruckheimer, Bertram van Munster, Jonathan Littman, Amy Chacon, Hayma “Screech” Washington, Evan Weinstein, Elise Doganieri, Scott Owens
“Amazing Race 7”(CBS)
Jerry Bruckheimer, Bertram van Munster, Jonathan Littman, Amy Chacon, Hayma “Screech” Washington, Evan Weinstein, Elise Doganieri, Mark Vertullo
“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”(ABC)
Tom Forman, Craig Armstrong

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