As a producer, winning the Oscar for best pic has got to be up there on the list of life’s highlights.
But there was no taking the stage Sunday night for Brad Grey, a producer of best pic win “The Departed.”
Every Oscar season has an attention-grabbing story — stolen statuettes, extravagant campaigning, lost ballots, divisive political speeches.
This year, the intrigue was producer credits, and restrictions imposed by the Producers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
It was the PGA that denied Grey a producing credit, since Grey left “Departed” just before the Warner Bros. pic went into production to run Paramount Pictures. Initial Entertainment Group’s Graham King stepped as producer, and was the one who accepted the top kudo.
Then a manager, Grey took the lead in packaging “Departed,” including bringing Martin Scorsese on board to direct. In turn, Scorsese attracted a star-studded cast.
King and Warner Bros. both supported Grey when he appealed the PGA determination, saying he deserved the credit. Grey decided not to push the issue with the Academy once the Academy ruled him out.
In the coming days and weeks, both the PGA and the Academy are likely to revisit their rules and make sure reforms aren’t needed.
The second dust-up over producing credits came when the Academy ruled that “Little Miss Sunshine” producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa weren’t eligible for a producing credit, even though the PGA said they were.
Because the Academy only allows three producers in the best pic category, and the PGA submitted five for “Sunshine,” two had to be eliminated.
The three-producer rule was enacted after the five producers of “Shakespeare in Love” crowded the stage in 1999 to collect their Oscars.
Influential voices within the Academy thought it was unseemly to have so many producers, hence the crackdown.
Now, even the Academy realizes the restriction needs some rethinking and reform. That’s why it agreed over the weekend to allow “Little Miss Sunshine” producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa to take the stage with the three officially sanctioned producers — Marc Turtletaub, David Friendly and Peter Saraf — should “Sunshine” have won for best pic. Berger and Yerxa still wouldn’t have received a credit or a statuettes, however.
With the kudos season over, some speculate that the Academy could agree to change its rules to say it will accept the PGA’s determination, period.