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PGA prizes ‘King’s Speech’

Awards race thrown wide open

Adding proof that it’s an open race this year, the Producers Guild crowned “The King’s Speech” as top feature Saturday night.

“Toy Story 3” drew the animation nod and “Waiting for Superman” snagged the docu trophy while “Modern Family,” “Mad Men” and “The Pacific” took the top TV awards at the BevHilton event.

“King’s Speech” win is an encouraging sign for the Weinstein Co. drama: PGA winners have gone on to Oscar’s winning circle the past three years (“The Hurt Locker,” “Slumdog and “No Country for Old Men”) and, overall, in 14 of the 21 years that the PGA has handed out awards.

Studio execs and strategists will be studying Tuesday’s Acad nominations, as well as next weekend’s Directors Guild and SAG Awards, for further clues as to the outcome of the Oscar race.

Sony’s Facebook drama “The Social Network” had a hot streak in winning awards before Saturday’s event, but past Oscar winners like “Shakespeare in Love,” “Titanic” and “Crash” — which weren’t perceived as front-runners — serve as vivid reminders that Academy voters are a far different group than the orgs that hand out other awards. Awards strategists study the omens, but no bellwether is surefire.

“Speech” topped other feature nominees “127 Hours,” “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “The Social Network,” “The Town,” “Toy Story 3” and “True Grit.”

Accepting the PGA’s Darryl F. Zanuck award Saturday night for “Speech” were producers Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin. “We thought we were the last ones in the running,” Unwin said told the aud.

It’s the second year in which the PGA, which has more than 4,500 members, has selected 10 films as contenders, following the lead of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences 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.

Directors Tom Hooper of “The King’s Speech” and David Fincher of “The Social Network” will face off Saturday at the DGA Awards along with Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan,” David O. Russell for “The Fighter” and Christopher Nolan for “Inception.” It’s a slightly different lineup for SAG’s ensemble award with “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network.”

“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” bested “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer,” “Earth Made of Glass,” “Inside Job,” “Smash His Camera” and “The Tillman Story” in the doc category.

ABC’s “Modern Family” won the Danny Thomas comedy 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” scored its third consecutive victory for the Norman Felton award for drama, 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” drew the David Wolper longform kudo 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” took the nonfiction TV trophy over “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” “Intervention,” “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List” and “Undercover Boss.”

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

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.

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