Oscar Scandal: Academy Nixes Song Nomination For Improper Campaigning

Oscars 2014What’s next Oscar, a Best Actress nomination for Pia Zadora? After Deadline Hollywood uncovered the story behind a bizarre Oscar nomination for a little-heard song in an unseen film that was curiously written by a former Academy Governor and head of the music branch, the Academy took the highly unusual step today of disallowing the tune from Oscar consideration. This appears to be the most disreputable thing we’ve seen in a serious industry award tabulation since the time when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association got wined and dined and all but bribed by zillionaire Meshulem Riklis to nominate his fetching wife Zadora for Best New Star of the Year award. She won the bauble for the much reviled pic Butterfly, after Riklis flew the voters to his Las Vegas casino and cast such a spell that they considered Zadora a new star even though her resume went back 17 years to her child-acting turn starring in Santa Claus Conquers The Martians. It took years for the HFPA to restore its cred.

Related: How Academy Came Up With Its Most Obscure Nominee – Maybe EVER: Video

Back to Oscars: In a year where some of music’s biggest names contributed songs for movies, “Alone Yet Not Alone,” the title track from a film nobody saw, got a Best Original Song nomination over the likes of Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Celine Dion and many others. Our Pete Hammond detailed how the songwriter — Bruce Broughton, a former Academy Governor and head of the music branch — had more influential friends than some of the music industry’s biggest artists, and that his lobbying of his pals resulted in a nomination over the likes of Lana Del Rey, whose song “Young and Beautiful” was so gorgeously layered by director Baz Luhrmann into a film people actually saw. According to sources, Broughton hired a veteran film music publicist to get attention for the song. But after press releases failed to earn traction, Broughton started making phone calls to colleagues urging them to vote for his song.

This is a huge embarrassment for the Academy, and President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement today, “No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage.” No word on whether the Academy will rebuke those voters so willing to vote a nom to a pal, and it seems shameful that the Academy did not give that nom to whatever song got the next-most votes. The disqualification leaves just four songs vying for the statuette.

Broughton is a veteran of the movie and TV music game, with credits stretching all the way back to the original Hawaii Five-O. Along the way he has amassed 10 Emmy Awards and a Best Original Score Oscar nom for the 1985 Western Silverado. Here’s the Academy’s release:

BEVERLY HILLS, CA — On Tuesday night, the Academy’s Board of Governors voted to rescind the Original Song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” music by Bruce Broughton and lyric by Dennis Spiegel. The decision was prompted by the discovery that Broughton, a former Governor and current Music Branch executive committee member, had emailed members of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period.

“No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President.

The Board determined that Broughton’s actions were inconsistent with the Academy’s promotional regulations, which provide, among other terms, that “it is the Academy’s goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. If any campaign activity is determined by the Board of Governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process.”

An additional nominee in the Original Song category will not be named. The remaining nominees in the category are:

“Happy” from Despicable Me 2
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from Frozen
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“The Moon Song” from Her
Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

  1. While it must be horrible for the composer and writer to have this happen to them, i totally see where AMPAS is coming from and you have to maintain the integrity of the voting and campaign process to some extent. If he would have been a past Governor and not a member of the current executive committee then I see it as a lobbyist.

    Again, i feel bad for the folks that composed the song, but if an unfair advantage was given you may have already compromised the category from another song that didn’t make the cut.

    AMPAS I think you did the right thing here.

    1. The hypocrisy and irony of the action of the Board of Governors shows how inconsistent AMPAS rules for consideration are. First, AMPAS press release acknowledges Broughton broke no rules, what it says essentially is that they didn’t care for the way he went about it and as a previous Board member he should have been more discrete.

      The irony is on the same day they canceled the nomination, the producers of “Her” announced a new unseen clip for AMPAS members featuring J. Phoenix showing more of his previous relationship with his ex-wife to enhance the understanding of his character and the film. AMPAS rules clearly state that the version of the film members see outside of a theater is the exact version that plays inside the theater. Further the rules state that discs sent to members may not include additional features or unseen material that didn’t make the final cut.

      If AMPAS takes seriously its rules for the conduct of the balloting, then surely AMPAS will take quick action against “Her” and maybe rescind their nominations, won’t they?

  2. To protect and “reputation” and “integrity” of the awards process?

    These are the same people who gave no-talent Jennifer Lawrence an award and nominated her again right?


    1. Awww, are you jealous that no-talent Nyong’o (who will likely never get a part in this town again) didn’t get the (richly undeserved) Golden Globe award? Boohoo. Sorry, but Lawrence has been around a lot longer than the past year, has earned much-deserved award nominations in the past (Winter’s Bone being one of the best films of the last decade), and is guaranteed to have many more to come. Get used to it, jealous mcjealouserson.

      1. What, is she your girlfriend? YOU get used to LUPITA. She’s an incredible talent and a class act. And watch more movies, if Winter’s Bone is your top pick of the decade.

    2. it was the right decision – he took unfair advantage. period. and if there are problems with other nominations then a formal complaint should be submitted now also (i.e. “her”)

  3. Thank God for that. It was fishy from the first second I have found out this song from nowhere got nominated. What Broughton did was inexcusable. To use his power to get nominated, shame on you, Mr. Broughton!

    1. big studios spend millions of dollars to get their movies considered for a nominations. Broughton send emails. hypocracy!

  4. Does this mean they will replace this song with the next one with the most nominating votes? Or will they just keep the rest of the nominations as is?

  5. Out of fairness to those who worked hard on producing original material for films this year there should absolutely be a replacement nomination made soonest. It’s not fair to deprive a nomination spot because of something like this. I mean, really? Come on…

    1. If you replace the nomination, it is obvious which song (the newly added one) received the least amount of votes, which compromises the integrity of the final vote.

  6. Kind of shows how ridiculous the politicking, campaigning and the awards themselves are. This guy who worked on a film no one saw gets nominated in all likelihood precisely because he wrote asking for votes while in some capacity with the Academy, while the other nominees almost certainly got them from expensive trade campaigns designed to get a nomination or award. The Academy determines that somehow that an internal solicitation is not ok, while doing nothing about the fact the awards are usually purchased in the first place.

    Ultimately, no big surprise, the awards have absolutely nothing to do with some kind of standard of excellence. This is just a case of overt transparency of the process.

    Whatevs, one less inter-ceremony bathroom break.

  7. This is indeed a dark day for Patrick Henry College, and the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. The dreams of Michael Farris deferred.

  8. I dunno. When they disqualified The Godfather’s Best Original Score nomination, they replaced it with Sleuth. Besides, the whole Academy membership votes for the winners, not just the music branch.

  9. “well he certainly shouldn’t have admitted it to EW in last week’s issue”

    The problem is the incredibly vague standards of the Academy. You are not prohibited from sending emails “for your consideration.” You are not prohibited from sending copies of the song or score as CDs or downloads. You are not prohibited from sending DVDs or Blurays or downloads of the film. You are not prohibited from sending publicity or promotional materials.

    You ARE prohibited from directly soliciting votes from academy members. Everyone gets around this by sending things to guild mailing lists rather than ONLY Academy members. That way they can claim they were sent to the recipient as a guild member, rather than as an Academy member.

    I suspect the Academy thinks that he sent the emails *specifically and only* to Academy members, perhaps speculating that he used a list he had access to as a governor, but there is no way to prove or disprove that.

  10. Hmmm, I get calls every year from mixers in my branch of the Academy on big films who ask if I have “seen their film and to be sure to check it out”. This seems just as bad as and frankly it’s uncomfortable.

  11. This is a total joke. To suggest that Broughton is the only person that has campaigned for his own work is ridiculous. Everyone does it. The difference? Bruce admitted to it and there is nothing wrong with any artist sending a few emails asking to check out the work they are proud of.

    The fact of the matter is this song never had a solid chance and was targeted by certain people who got their nose out of joint upon learning a song not from a major motion picture was nominated.

    1. Does this mean that anyone on the Board of Governors or the head of their branch of the Academy is ineligible for an award while they are serving? If they participate in a Q&A after an official Academy screening of their film, aren’t they “asking” for votes? The Academy should have embraced the story behind this song and championed the “little guy” instead of squashing the song and behaving in a hypocritical way.

  12. Great now can we remove Dallas Buyer’s club from best film editing and put in the way more deserving Lone Survivor?

  13. You are making an assumption that HFPA has restored its credibility.

    They just are a pr platform for the Academy since they were moved in front to Academy voting

    Hopefully deadline isn’t looking for an honorary globe

    Wonder why the Academy overlooks other lobbying

  14. Tom Sherak’s favorites were ” Spartacus ” and ” Snow White “, both are about GOD and PURITY, in a town and industry where evil has attacked all violently. Now demons are protesting against promoting songs about GOD or PURITY, so evil can continue to keep people in the dark, and attack away at their flesh and keep on killing. Evil wants darkness and keep all sucking off flesh, until everyone dies. Is everyone already sick? Already in the dark ? Protest against GOD and demons are able to keep people obeying them and succumb to their rules, and Satan’s terms. Cancers from STDs anyone?
    Bring the song back and shine the light on darkness, may not save all, but if can save just a handful, it is worth it.

    1. And right on cue, someone claiming anti-Christian bigotry. Since nobody has seen the darn film, how would they know what it’s about?

  15. Nominated yet not nominated. Deservedly or not, do people think their work in films with such little awareness really think they have a shot at a nomination?

  16. This has happened before at least three times (not in the song category, though). Do your research. So stop being so shocked and writing that unnecessary Pia Zadora scandal. And when did the Globes get their credibility back? Considering they were caught years later recieving gifts from Sharon Stone’s people for The Muse and returned them just because people found out and still nominated her. Then those Cher concerts or whatever for Burlesque…

    And are you seriously still putting Celine Dion in that “over the likes” line???? This must be like the third story where you used that line. She hardly (if ever) writes her songs….It’s a Diane Warren written song that Celine sings. And if you do your research, you would know that it’s from a film called Unfinished Song that must be in the “films nobody saw” list very close to Alone Yet Not Alone.

  17. The morons should replace it with M83’s Oblivion. Him performing it live will guarantee hipsters tune in and thus more ratings. And was deserving of a nomination. DO IT

  18. This was done because the Academy did not want a song from a Christian movie nominated and because they did not want Joni Erickson Tada performing at the Oscars. They also gave in the Native American protests that the film does not present Native Americans in a politically correct manner. Typical Hollywood bigotry.

    1. Bulls**t. Everything is not a war on Christianity. Sometimes people break the rules. Sometimes they happen to be Christian. Sometimes Christians get caught doing bad things. Guess what…that’s what happened. He should have known better. He did it anyway, and he pays the conseuences. Crying “liberal oppression” every time someone you like gets caught makes you no more than the boy who cried wolf.

  19. This is ridiculous. All that’s happened here is that a small fish has been made an example of. Bruce is an easy target and there are no negative consequences of stripping him of his nomination. But this kind of lobbying happens all the time. Remember when Shakespeare In Live beat Saving Private Ryan? Studios invest millions in their Oscar campaigns with advertising, screenings, screeners and more. Maybe the little guy should be allowed to do some direct lobbying to level the field a little? But I guess this way the Academy can look squeaky clean and beyond reproach without actually having to stand up to anyone who might cause a real scandal.

  20. I’m nearly too bored to bore u. Commenting bcause I’m not thru stretching. No one w/any talent or confidence would make calls to try to get votes. It’s a stupid thing to do & frankly very embarrassing. Would u do it? I didn’t think so & I don’t even know u.

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