July 11, 2015

Tag Archives: Producers Guild of America

Will we have a split between Best Picture and Best Director?

As Oscar voting ends later on today, one of the big questions that remains in my mind is…will there be a Best Picture/Best Director split? Aside from trying to figure out whether Birdman or Boyhood takes the top prize, there’s also the possibility that they each go home with one of them. That leads us to the issue of how likely this is, and which film/director would go home with which statue. Will Alejandro González Iñárritu turn his Directors Guild of America win into a Best Director victory while Boyhood takes Best Picture? Will Richard Linklater wind up winning Director while Birdman transitions its Producers Guild of America win into Picture at the Oscars? It’s all up in the air, but Academy Award voters are finalizing their decisions today, so it’s getting sorted out, basically as you read this.
First of all, there’s the matter of if we’ll get a split at all. I think we have the likeliest situation perhaps in history in terms of this, at least where both major contenders are up for both categories. It was different, for example, when Ben Affleck was snubbed for Argo but the film itself was almost a lock for Best Picture. Voters here could easily pick either Iñárritu or Linklater as well as their films for both prizes (or even Best Original Screenplay too, though that seems more likely to go to The Grand Budapest Hotel now). Historically, I almost never predict splits, since they don’t often happen and you run the risk of picking the wrong combination, etc. Last year that caused me to pick Gravity to win Picture even though I knew 12 Years a Slave was ultimately going to go home with it. This year though…I’m actually contemplating the split. Regardless of that, I think it’s at least a 50/50 shot that one happens.
Now, if there’s a split, what does it look like? There’s one camp that sees Boyhood winding up with the Picture win while Iñárritu gets Director as a consolation prize. I actually think that the more likely scenario has that flipped, with Linklater getting Director and Birdman taking home Picture, but either is definitely possible. The thing is, Academy members don’t engage in group think, as it were. They vote as individuals, so you can’t quite plot a scenario where everyone goes home happy. For example, a split, along with The Grand Budapest Hotel winning […]

Did “Birdman” just soar into the lead of the Oscar race?

Barely more than 48 hours ago, it seemed like almost a foregone conclusion that Richard Linklater’s Boyhood was going to basically walk away with the top Academy Awards this year. Then, the guilds began to chime in and boy do we now have an Oscar race. Over the weekend, the Producers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild bestowed their top prizes not on Boyhood, but on Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. This sets up a new dynamic in the awards race, as the guilds have favored Birdman over Boyhood. The season is far from over, but the impending Directors Guild of America pick will perhaps say a lot about if Iñárritu and Birdman are now in the lead for Oscar. Simply put…we’ve got a race.
How did we get here? Well, it basically is just the change in season. We’ve gone from critics groups and non Academy related voting bodies like the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (only one voter for the Golden Globes casts a vote for the Oscars) to guilds that have a high crossover with Oscar. Both PGA and SAG could have basically made this a coronation for Boyhood, but they’ve chosen to throw their weight behind Birdman, making for a much closer race. While the early stages of the season saw Boyhood take almost everything, all but burying The Imitation Game and Selma in the process (while seeing American Sniper and The Grand Budapest Hotel have late breaking surges), the past week has shown a sea change. Boyhood is still heavily in it, but Birdman might very well be slightly in front now. They’ve put everyone else in their rearview mirror, making for a two horse sprint to the finish.
Sure, you can make a case that in the big category American Sniper and The Imitation Game are still hanging in there, along with a long shot for The Grand Budapest Hotel, it’s really down to Birdman or Boyhood. You can cross off Selma (barring essentially a protest vote that I don’t see happening), The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash from having any chance. What makes this interesting is how unusual these contenders are and how non-traditional they would be as Best Picture winners. That’s pretty cool in my book, beyond seeing just how close this Oscar race has gotten as we finish up with the guilds and begin the waiting game for the Academy Awards to finally […]

What the PGA nominations mean for the Best Picture race

Yesterday, the Producers Guild of America (or PGA) announced their nominations, which essentially are the clearest precursor to the Oscar Best Picture lineup that you can get in an awards season. There were surprising inclusions, shocking snubs, and more questions than answers, as you might imagine. In some ways, we’ve narrowed the contenders down to about 11 or so for the likely nine spots from the Academy, but the ones left off the PGA list still seem to be in play, especially in the case of one film in particular. All this makes for the Academy Award nominations to be as intrigue filled as ever this time around.
First up, here’s a refresher on which ten films the PGA nominated:
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Nightcrawler
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash
As you all know, the biggest snub was Selma. Aside from Boyhood and perhaps Birdman, no other Best Picture hopeful was considered a bigger lock for a citation here than this one. Those three, along with possibly The Imitation Game, are thought of as the only viable Academy Award winners in the Best Picture category, so it was a shock, to say the least. To be fair, screeners didn’t go out for this or the similarly snubbed Interstellar, so both products from Paramount definitely suffered in that realm, but shouldn’t a movie with as much buzz as Selma have gotten voters out to the theaters (with the same being said for Interstellar, which almost demands to be seen on a big screen) to see it before the deadline? They join the similarly snubbed Unbroken (which sent out screeners very late) are misses with perhaps some sort of an asterisk next to their names. Also missing the cut and basically ending hopes of a nod in the big category are Inherent Vice, Into the Woods, A Most Violent Year, Mr. Turner, and Wild. They can kiss a Best Picture nom goodbye, barring a miracle.
Now, give or take how you see things, we essentially have 11 (12 if you hold out hope for Interstellar to still sneak in) films vying for the probably nine spots in Best Picture at the Academy Awards. I’ll still cite the top ten, since the tenth slot does exist, however rare it might turn out to be. Furthermore, I’m going to separate the contenders now into a few groups. First up, the locks…
Birdman
Boyhood
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
These […]

Gary Lucchesi and Lori McCreary Elected Presidents of the Producers Guild of America

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today its 2014 National Board and officer election results, which were shared during the Guild’s annual General Membership Meeting tonight on the Warner Bros. Studios lot. The Producers Guild elected Gary Lucchesi and Lori McCreary as Presidents. Other newly PGA national officers include: Vice Presidents of Motion Pictures David Friendly and Lydia Dean Pilcher; Vice Presidents of Television Tim Gibbons and Jason Katims; Treasurer Christina Lee Storm, and Vice President PGA East Region Peter Saraf. Outgoing PGA Presidents Mark Gordon and Hawk Koch, who served since 2010, received special recognition at the meeting for their unwavering service to the Producers Guild over the years, including their seminal advocacy on behalf of the Guild’s credit certification, the Producers Mark.
“We are extremely honored and excited to begin this new chapter with the Producers Guild,” said McCreary and Lucchesi. “We have seen numerous positive changes over the past four years as a result of the hard work of our Presidents, the PGA National Board and its committee members. We hope to continue to build upon the great work of our predecessors and to protect the rights of our industry’s hardworking producers.”
Gary Lucchesi has served as the PGA’s Vice President of Motion Pictures for the past four years as well as co-chaired the Produced By Conference for the past four years.
Lori McCreary has served as the PGA’s National Treasurer for the past two years as well as co-chaired the 2014 PGA Awards with Michael De Luca.
McCreary and Lucchesi’s election marks the second time the Guild’s nominating committee has selected a pair of members to stand for election together as Presidents, following Mark Gordon and Hawk Koch. The only other time the Guild has been governed by a pair of presidents was from 2001 – 2002, following the PGA’s merger with the American Association of Producers, when the Guild was overseen by Kathleen Kennedy and Tim Gibbons. The 2014 election represents the first time the PGA has nominated pairs of candidates for its Vice Presidential offices.
About Gary Lucchesi
GARY LUCCHESI serves as President of Lakeshore Entertainment, an independent film company based in Los Angeles. He has also served as the Vice President, Motion Pictures for the Producers Guild of America since 2010. Lucchesi executive-produced MILLION DOLLAR BABY, which won the Oscar for Best picture of 2004. The first movie he produced was PRIMAL […]

Coming Soon: More Producer Credit Glut!

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
When you ask indie producer Luillo Ruiz how his recent low-budget action-comedy film Welcome to the Jungle featuring veteran martial arts star Jean-Claude Van Damme could come with 31 producer credits, his answer is simple and straightforward.
The film’s financiers were given executive producer credits, he said, while others who provided their production skills for less than what they would normally charge accepted other producer credits.
“They are not charging what they are supposed to charge but they are very passionate about bringing their skill to this film and the skills they bring to this film have a cost. That cost you should repay,” Ruiz explained by telephone from Puerto Rico, where his production company, Piemienta, is located and where the film was shot.
In the film, which came out in limited release Feb. 7 and has also been released on DVD, Van Damme plays an unhinged Marine who leads a group of unsuspecting office workers on a survival trek across a jungle-infested island when they find themselves stranded at a corporate retreat.
Ruiz said the shoot took 19 days in Puerto Rico.
According to IMDB, Welcome to the Jungle comes with two producers—Ruiz and L.A.-based Justin Kanew (“The Amazing Race”)—along with 14 executive producers, eight associate producers, four co-executive producers and three co-producers.
Welcome to the jungle, indeed.
But the Van Damme film is not an isolated case of producer credit glut.
Last year, Lee Daniels’ The Butler drew media attention apart from the drama’s strong reviews when it listed 41 producer credits.
The Producers Guild of America co-president Mark Gordon told the entertainment website The Wrap that the 41 producer credits was “a little embarrassing for everyone within our community.”
The PGA has been fighting producer credit bloat for years and now has a certification process in place to protect the integrity of the producer credit.
According to the PGA, once a producer’s work on a film is certified by the guild, the “Produced by” credit and producers name will be followed by the distinctive mark: “p.g.a.” All the major studios have signed on to the process as well as many independent producers.
In the days and weeks to come, Hollywood studios and independent distributors will be releasing all sorts of films that are crammed with producer credits. For example:
*Fifteen producer credits on IFC Films’ The Face of Love starring Robin Williams, Ed Harris and Annette Bening.
*Fourteen producer credits on A Birder’s Guide to […]

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “Gravity”

“Gravity”
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Written by: Alfonso Cuarón and Jonás Cuarón (reportedly with some uncredited collaboration by George Clooney as well)
Main cast members: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and Ed Harris (voice)
Number of Oscar nominations in total: 10
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (Cuarón), Best Actress (Bullock), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects
Notable precursor wins: Tied for Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America Awards, Won Best Director at the Directors Guild of America Awards, Won Best Director at the Golden Globe Awards, Won Best Director and Best British Film at the BAFTA Awards,
Chances at winning Best Picture: One of the top three contenders for the award and a definite co-frontrunner, if not THE frontrunner
Chances at other Academy Award wins: A sure fire win in Best Director, along with Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects, though it could legitimately win every technical award that it’s nominated for
ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.
Gravity is the fifth film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s the other main contender in the category. In fact, it’s probably got the best chance of the bunch to win. Sure, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture, and I’d be one of the few not surprised by an American Hustle win, but still…Gravity is the most likely of that trio. It tied with Hustle for the most nominations overall, has picked up some strong precursor attention, and will likely dominate the tech categories at the Oscar ceremony. That gives it a leg up on the competition for sure. It’ll likely come down to if voters are opposed to citing a science fiction film as their Best Picture winner. If they don’t mind, then this movie is probably winning the Oscar.
Working in Gravity’s favor is just how significant its wins have been and how rare a split between Best Picture and Best Director is. Alfonso Cuarón has dominated the Best Director race, so his win is a slam dunk. With the flick tied for the most nominations overall and a prime competitor for the top prize, it’ll be all too easy for Academy members to not split their ballot. It may not have won the […]

Oscars®: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “12 Years a Slave”

12 Years a Slave
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Written by: John Ridley
Main cast members: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, and Alfre Woodard
Number of Oscar nominations in total: Nine
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Director (McQueen), Best Actor (Ejiofor), Best Supporting Actor (Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress (Nyong’o), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ridley), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing
Notable precursor wins: Tied for Best Picture at the Producers Guild of America Awards, won Best Drama at the Golden Globe Awards, won Best Supporting Actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, won Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards and and USC Scripter Award.
Chances at winning Best Picture: One of the top three contenders and main frontrunners for the award
Chances at other Academy Award wins: Frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay races

12 Years a Slave is the first film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s one of the main contenders in the category. The film is about the true life tale of Solomon Northrup, a free black man who was tricked into slavery and kept for the dozen years that gives the movie its name. Ever since it was announced that the film was being made, pundits like myself speculated that it was going to be an awards juggernaut. Well, it didn’t disappoint and after being the most cited flick among the precursor season, it’s now one of the most nominated films by the Academy and deep in the fight for Best Picture.
Working in 12 Years a Slave’s favor is that it is basically a universally beloved film. There might be more passionate support for other contenders, but it’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t think that the movie is at least very good, if not great. That creates a situation where voters are basically assured of placing it high up on their ballot. Consensus is the key to victory in this category, and this is a flick that will not want for number one votes. The question is simply if the other two main competitors (American Hustle and Gravity) can amass a wider range of Academy members to vote for them as opposed to this one.
If you’re looking for something that’s not in this film’s favor, it’s […]

PGA Producing Workshop: “The Power of Diversity.”

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) is pleased to announce the opening of submissions for the ninth annual PGA Producing Workshop: “The Power of Diversity.” This multi-session workshop will run from May 28 through July 13 in Los Angeles, and is designed to foster the development of aspiring and seasoned producers who bring diverse perspectives to television, film and digital media.
This annual program provides ten participants with one-on-one mentoring sessions with members of the Guild’s Diversity Committee as well as master classes with some of today’s top producers. Topics are tailored to the participating producers and their projects, and will include all aspects of producing such as story development, pitching, packaging, financing, marketing and digital media.
“We’re excited to offer this unique and career-enhancing workshop to entertainment professionals,” said workshop chair Deborah Calla, who also chairs the PGA Diversity Committee. “Reflecting diverse communities through accurate and informative storytelling is an incredibly powerful tool that brings us all closer together. As PGA producers, we have a responsibility not just to appreciate different perspectives, but to empower such producers with the tools, resources and capacity to assist them in bringing their projects to fruition.”
Past mentors have included such top producing talent as Bruce Cohen (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, AMERICAN BEAUTY), Mark Gordon (“Grey’s Anatomy,” SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, 2012), Marshall Herskovitz (DEFIANCE, BLOOD DIAMOND, THE LAST SAMURAI), Damon Lindelof (LOST, STAR TREK), Caryn Mandabach (“Nurse Jackie,” “That 70s Show”), Lori McCreary (INVICTUS, THE MAIDEN HEIST), Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice”), Darren Star (“Sex in the City,” “90210”), Mike Tollin (“Smallville,” “One Tree Hill”) and Ralph Winter (X-MEN, FANTASTIC 4), among many others.
Past mentees have included Ben Lobato (“The Unit,” “Justified”), Aaron Rahsaan Thomas (“Southland”), Sarah DeLio (BLESS ME, ULTIMA) and Holly Overton (“The Client List”).
“The mentors’ enthusiasm, support and feedback were crucial to my development as a working writer and aspiring producer,” said Overton. “They brought in the best producers, directors and executives in the business and have continued to foster relationships with all the workshop participants. I completed the workshop with a newfound confidence and an understanding of the various facets of producing. This amazing opportunity provided me with skills I continue to use on a daily basis.”
Submissions for the “Power of Diversity” workshop will open on March 11 and close on April 19 at midnight Pacific Time. Ten participants will be selected to take part in the workshop at no charge.
For […]

Producers Guild of America Awards announce winners

Tonight the Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced this year’s winning motion picture and television productions at the 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles.
In addition to the competitive awards, the PGA recognized several producers with honorary awards including Bob and Harvey Weinstein (Milestone Award), Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures), J.J. Abrams (Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television), Russell Simmons (Visionary Award), and BULLY (Stanley Kramer Award). The 2013 Producers Guild Awards were chaired by Michael De Luca.
The 2013 Producers Guild nominated films and television programs are listed below in alphabetical order by category, along with producers. The producers’ names for each nominated production are listed in alphabetical order and may not reflect the order of screen credits. The winners are indicated in bold and with an asterisk (*).
The theatrical motion picture nominees and winners are:
The Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:
* ARGO (Warner Bros.)
Producers: Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Grant Heslov
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Producers: Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey, Josh Penn
DJANGO UNCHAINED (The Weinstein Company)
Producers: Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone, Stacey Sher
LES MISÉRABLES (Universal Pictures)
Producers: Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh
LIFE OF PI (Fox 2000 Pictures)
Producers: Ang Lee, Gil Netter, David Womark
LINCOLN (Touchstone Pictures)
Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg
MOONRISE KINGDOM (Focus Features)
Producers: Wes Anderson & Scott Rudin, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (The Weinstein Company)
Producers: Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon
SKYFALL (Columbia Pictures)
Producers: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson
ZERO DARK THIRTY (Columbia Pictures)
Producers: Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Megan Ellison
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:
BRAVE (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Producer: Katherine Sarafian
FRANKENWEENIE (Walt Disney Pictures)
Producers: Allison Abbate, Tim Burton
PARANORMAN (Focus Features)
Producers: Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner
RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (Paramount Pictures)
Producers: Nancy Bernstein, Christina Steinberg
* WRECK-IT RALPH (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Producer: Clark Spencer
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures:
A PEOPLE UNCOUNTED (Urbinder Films)
Producers: Marc Swenker, Aaron Yeger
THE GATEKEEPERS (Sony Pictures Classics)
Producers: Estelle Fialon, Philippa Kowarsky, Dror Moreh
THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Producers: Richard Berge, Bonni Cohen
THE OTHER DREAM TEAM (The Film Arcade)
Producers: Marius Markevicius, Jon Weinbach
* SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (Sony Pictures Classics)
Producers: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn
The television nominees and winners are:
The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television:
“American Horror Story” (FX)
Producers: […]

Can the British Academy Award Members influence the Oscar nomination results? Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, ‘Best Exotic,’ and ‘Skyfall’

Exactly two hours before I began writing up this article, the Producers Guild of America had just announced its complete list of nominees.
In the “Theatrical Motion Picture” category, one film appeared that virtually no pundit had thought to anticipate: Sam Mendes’ British-produced Skyfall. But after recently crossing the $1 billion mark worldwide, not to mention its widespread critical acclaim and seven BFCA nominations, does this really comes as that much of a surprise? Oh yes, I forgot…Skyfall is a “genre” film, which means its “Best Picture” chances would usually be at the bottom of the barrel when stacked against baitier competitors that seem destined for Oscar® upon announcement. However, it has two things going for it that critically-beloved moneymakers like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises do not: a late release closer to the pivotal Oscar® date and, most importantly, a huge chunk of support behind it in the form of the Academy’s hefty British voting bloc, who are no doubt beyond astounded by its record-breaking success, and not just for the James Bond franchise either.
Skyfall is currently the 14th highest grossing movie of all-time and the United Kingdom’s top movie earner in history, barely surpassing James Cameron’s Avatar. Not including the Harry Potter movie franchise, Skyfall is also the most successful British film (Eon Productions) ever released. With these figures and the aforementioned accolades and overall success, it may be time to not just realistically consider Skyfall for “Best Picture,” but also come to the realization that we’ve been underestimating the influential power of the Academy’s British voting bloc throughout this entire race. In addition to Skyfall, I’ll now turn your attention towards award hopefuls who have been under-the-radar all season long like Judi Dench as “M” in Skyfall, Maggie Smith in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and even John Madden’s British ensemble dramedy itself. I strongly believe these four British category contenders will receive their major boost from the crucial British voting bloc in the form of Academy Award™ nominations come the morning of January 10th. After the jump, you will see the ‘Skyfall’ category contenders in this first of a two-part article series…
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