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Academy bends on ‘rule of three’

Committee can now add additional producers

Among the changes in Oscar regulations, by far the most notable is the tweaking of the Academy’s “rule of three” — that is, the number of producers allowed for best picture nominees and winners.

Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced in June that they had approved an exception to the 7-year-old rule limiting the number of credited producers to three. AMPAS leaders did so after Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa — two of the five producers of “Little Miss Sunshine” — were excluded from being named as nominated producers.

The Acad said at the time that it’s still aiming to name three or fewer producers who have performed the major portion of the producing functions — with a proviso. “The committee has the right, in what it determines to be a rare and extraordinary circumstance, to name any additional qualified producer as a nominee,” it said.

AMPAS president Sid Ganis also weighed in at that point with the note that the committee and the governors believed it was important to have a limit on the number of producers. “But we also recognize that a truly unique situation could arise, and we want to have just enough flexibility to allow for that rare occurrence,” he added.

The issue over the number of producers dates back to 1999 after five individuals — Donna Gigliotti, David Parfitt, Harvey Weinstein, Marc Norman and Ed Zwick — went onstage to accept the picture Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love.”

In 2005, the Academy decided that it would use research and guidelines from the Producers Guild of America — which has been a major advocate of limiting credit proliferation — in allocating credits.

However, the PGA doesn’t have a cap on the number of producers honored for a film and that divergence came into focus when the PGA chose “Little Miss Sunshine” for its top feature prize and honored all five producers, including Berger and Yerxa.

And just as it did last June, the PGA continues to have no comment about the Academy’s rule change.

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