Producers Guild 2013 Awards: ‘Argo’ Wins, Also ‘Homeland’, ‘Searching For Sugar Man’, ‘Wreck-It Ralph’, ‘Game Change’, ‘Modern Family’, ‘Amazing Race’, ‘Colbert Report’

UPDATED WITH ALL WINNERS AND SPEECHES: The Producers Guild of America announced its 24th annual film, Producers Guild Awards 2013 Winnerstelevision, and digital award winners tonight during a ceremony at the Beverly Hilton. Cheers erupted when Warner Bros’ Argo won the top feature film honor, the Darryl F. Zanuck Award. Ben Affleck exclaimed: “I am surprised.” The thriller now takes the lead in what is still a very close Best Picture Oscar race. Because the PGAs since its start in 1990 have selected 16 of the 22 winners to that the Academy Award – a 73% success rate. And since 2008 (when No Country For Old Men won) the PGA has been on a 5-year hot streak.

Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph won best animated film and Sony Pictures Classics’ Searching For Sugar Man best documentary feature. Showtime’s Homeland won best drama series. ABC/Twentieth TV’s Modern Family won best comedy series. HBO’s Game Change won for best long-form TV. The PGA Awards categories also include animated movies, feature documentaries, non-fiction programs, talk shows, competition shows, sports programs, children’s programs, as well as digital TV series. This year, the Producers Guild awards special honors to The Weinstein Company’s Bob and Harvey Weinstein (who cried onstage), Bad Robot’s J.J. Abrams, Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons. 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 Chair is Michael DeLuca.

On the scene are Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and Awardsline’s Anthony D’Alessandro:

The show kicked off with PGA President Mark Gordon featured in an opening video clip singing a parody of The Sound Of Music‘s ‘Do Re Mi’ with Hawk Koch, Paula Wagner, Michael DeLuca, Norman Lear and others complaining about the challenges of producing films. The lyrics included this line: “When your job is on the brink, you will be trashed on Nikki Finke.” Deadline reporters say ‘The place went nuts.’ (I’m truly flattered by the diss, PGA.)

No doubt the longest acceptance speech of the night belonged to Harvey and Bob Weinstein in part because they received the Milestone Award from Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino, and Robert Rodriguez. De Niro took the podium first alone, saying “They’ve been my neighbors in Tribeca and have always been there for me… They’re enormous. But I’m not afraid of ’em! (Harvey said it was OK for me to say that.)” De Niro ribbed about their Silving Linings Playbook: “When they came to me with a movie about mental illness, I asked which brother do they want me to portray?” Next came Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez who said: “Talking about them is like talking about how your family sacrificed everything for you. I watched Bob build Dimension, and when he believes in you as a filmmaker, he gives it his all. I can’t think of any producers who sit with you and go through it line by line.” Rodriguez then launched into a gruff imitation of Bob Weinstein. “He told me not to do test screenings for Sin City and he never questioned when I wanted to go from horror films to family films.” Rodriguez recalled how ecstatic Bob became over the first Friday grosses of Spy Kids 3D. Quentin Tarantino took the mike and said: “It is safe to say my filmography and my career would not be the same without the Weinstein Brothers. Bob is always there to hear me when Harvey can’t. To me, Harvey is the only game in town.”

Everybody in the ballroom rose to their feet when Bob and Harvey took the stage. Bob spoke first, “There isn’t a chance in hell I would be up here if it wasn’t for Harvey. That’s what he told me to say.” Bob launched into the origins of their partnership, how he was making $35,000 in 1988 at Miramax and Harvey less. “Brad Grey worked for us and even then he thought we worked for him.” Bob mentioned how he almost took a $60+K exhibitor booking jib in 1988 and abandon his and his brother’s dream of a film studio. But then Bob passed on the job. The brothers gave it another go for a year and in 1989 released My Left Foot, Cinema Paradiso and Sex, Lies, And Videotape and never looked back. He also thanked former New Line heads Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. “If Macys needed Gimbels, if Ali needed Frazier, then we needed them,” said Bob. And to his brother Harvey, Bob said: “Like all geniuses, you are murder to live with. There is a 60-40 chance that he and I will have a fight before the night is done. Also thank you to Miriam and Max,” ended Bob with a note to his parents.

Harvey took the mike and said: “I had no idea he was that funny!” In a teary speech, Harvey remembered how Bob and he went to the Cannes Film Festival for the first time, shared a mattress, and had Sean Connery ensure they weren’t kicked out of a screening. He called Tarantino the company’s ‘Babe Ruth’ and mentioned De Niro’s generosity post 9/11. He covered numerous topics from how the power of movies obtained Nelson Mandela’s freedome, the executives and agents like Brad Grey and Robert Newman who have passed through their Miramax and Weinstein hallways, as well as “my kids who are the best marketing research team in the world.”

J.J. Abrams accepted the PGA’s Norman Lear Achievement Award. Jennifer Garner presented, recounting when Abrams first called her in late 2000 with the script of the TV show Alias. (“The more he imagines, the taller his hair gets.”) A clip showed off Abrams’ TV and film work, including Felicity, Lost, Alias, Mission: Impossible 3, Super 8, and Star Trek. “Typical week!” quipped Abrams, winking at the headlines he made about his new Star Wars directing job for LucasFilm. “I stand before you accepting the Norman Lear Award. What the hell has happened to our standards?” The producer recalled watching Norman Lear’s sitcoms as a kid in his family’s living room, particularly All In The Family. “Like life itself, the nuanced dialogue mattered more tham 3D itself.” Abrams poignantly segued to his late mother’s memorial service last June. “I walked into my father’s house and there was one guest who arrived first. It was Norman Lear. We laughed and drank. I was there once again in my parent’s living room – with Norman Lear.”

Bradley Cooper presented the Stanley Kramer Award to the Bully filmmakers, producers Lee Hirsch and Cynthia Lowen, citing the statistic that “every 7 minutes a child is bullied at school. Bully is about standing up, not standing by. This film continues to change lives.” Director Lee Hirsch thanked Harvey Weinstein for distributing the film. “You made a lot of promises when you bought the film, and you made good on them. If there was one thing Bully gave people something to point at, it was ‘This is going on at my school.'” Producer Cynthia Lowen added, “Bully was the result of those extraordinary voices of those families who were courageous enough to come forward with their painful stories and to make this film create change. We made this film for the brave kids who walk through their schools.”

Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner received the David O. Selznick Achievemen​t Award from their Les Miserables co-star Anne Hathaway, who read a witty letter that their frequent collaborator Richard Curtis wrote to her about the pair: “They are decent men and they calm things down in post production. Love Actually was a disaster until they gave me two months. Fellner said: “Thirty years ago, we were trolling the streets of Soho, dodging hookers and perverts which in the end prepped us for Hollywood. If we get to do Les Miz 2, all those guys will be in the movie.” Fellner listed his mentors throughout the years including Jeremy Thomas, David Puttnam, Brian Grazer, and Kathleen Kennedy. “These were people we wanted to be like. This is a tough thing we do. We are blessed. We see ourselves as enablers of really talented people, to make the best version of their projects. Years ago, we were looking for 70% of our budgets from the studios. Today you are lucky to get that percent of your budget from Harvey!” Tim Bevan followed. “I didn’t think 26 years ago I would live a career like David O Selznick. Doing this with someone is a lot better than doing it on your own. People always ask me what my favorite point of filmmaking is. First day of principal photography is always my favorite. Then there’s the magic moments in absolute moments of laughter and silence when you are with the cinema audience.”

Russell Simmons accepted the Visionary Award presented by LL Cool J who praised what a force he has been with Def Comedy Jam and Def Poetry Jam. Simmons kept it brief and humble, talking about how he has recently transplanted from New York to LA: “I’ve been staying at Brett Ratner’s house while I buy one here. Now what I really want to do is earn this award.”

2013 Producers Guild Of America Award Winners

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
Argo (Warner Bros.)
Producers: Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Grant Heslov

Ben Affleck and Gr​ant Heslov accepted the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstandin​g Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. (George Clooney was in Berlin.) The Beverly Hilton ballroom erupted in cheers when Nicole Kidman announced that Argo was the winner. Ben Affleck exclaimed: “I am surprised and I am not even in the PGA. I would be remiss to say that I am still acting.” He went on to thank Harvey Weinstein for all his compliments in his tribute speech and Bob Weinstein who “showed me longer isn’t always better”. Grant Heslov said: “The hardest thing about this movie is working with two producers who are the Sexiest Men Alive. That puts pressure on me.”

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
Wreck-It Ralph (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Producer: Clark Spencer

Clark Spencer explained why the film was greenlighted: “I joined Disney 23 years ago during difficult times and always wondered when I should leave. But I always believed in the studio. There is a renaissance going on at the studio – and that is John Lasseter.”

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures
Searching For Sugar Man (Sony Pictures Classics)
Producers: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn

Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn accepted the award from Julianna Margulies. Bendjelloul said: “This is a film about a man who lived his life as a constructor worker in Detroit not realizing he was more famous in South Africa.” Chinn added: “It is wonderful that people are discovering the musician Rodriguez.”

The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama
Homeland (Showtime)
Producers: Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Michael Cuesta, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Michael Klick, Meredith Stiehm

The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television
Game Change (HBO)
Producers: Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Jay Roach, Amy Sayres, Steven Shareshian, Danny Strong

The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy
Modern Family (ABC)
Producers: Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker

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