What’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.
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