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Guild draws line on producer credits

PGA Awards

The Producers Guild of America expects to hit pay dirt this year in its long campaign to stop the proliferation of undeserved producer credits.

PGA co-presidents Mark Gordon and Hawk Koch hope to unveil the “producers’ mark” — a lower-case p.g.a. — as an official designation to producers certified by the guild as having actually performed producing duties. “The process has been embraced by the industry and we’re moving forward with the mark this year,” Koch says.

The PGA crossed a key hurdle in August in its decade-long push to become the authority on granting producer credits when the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced it would not challenge the PGA’s proposed use of a voluntary certification system.

The PGA held its first credit arbitrations in 2001, promulgated a Code of Credits in 2004 and gained traction in 2005 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced it would reference the PGA’s credit process on best picture nominations. When it announced the 10 films up for the Darryl F. Zanuck award Jan. 3, the PGA had designated all 24 producers, without any pending arbitrations as there have been in the past.

“I think the industry’s starting to get used to the PGA process,” says Gordon. “There haven’t been any hiccups this time.”

The PGA still hasn’t been able to get the six major studios to sign on, more than a year after it first announced the “producers’ mark.” Key producers backing the campaign include J.J. Abrams, Kathryn Bigelow, George Clooney, Clint Eastwood, David Fincher, Gary Goetzman, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Graham King, Frank Marshall, Scott Rudin, Ridley Scott and Steven Spielberg.

The PGA, which recently crossed the 5,000 membership mark, has long pressed studios for recognition of its Code of Credits, which spells out the qualifications for those eligible to receive the “produced by” credit for features and executive producer credit for TV.

The code attaches specific weight to producer functions: 35% for development, 20% for pre-production, 20% for production and 25% for post-production and marketing, and requires a producer to have had substantial involvement in a majority of those functions to qualify.

Gordon and Koch, who are in the second year of their co-presidency, are also looking forward to the fourth Produced By Conference, due to run June 8-10 on the Sony Pictures lot. The PGA has partnered with the Intl. CES — produced by the Consumer Electronics Assn. — to support the confab. “We think having CES on board is a natural fit that makes our event feel welcome for transmedia producers,” Koch notes.

Last year’s event at Disney drew 2,000 participants, half of them non-PGA members. Gordon handled the keynote duties by interviewing Harvey Weinstein at length. “We want to emphasize that this event is not just for members,” he adds.

The duo has also overseen an upgrade of the org’s site to bring together members and employers. “The biggest thing our members need is jobs,” Koch says.

Gordon and Koch say they’re enjoying the co-presidency and are considering a second term when their first expires mid-year. “I’m not doing anything without Hawk,” Gordon quips.

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