EXCLUSIVE… UPDATED: Not only has controversy erupted today on the subject of producer credits and the PGA Theatrical Motion Picture Awards which also determine the Best Picture Oscar credits, but it’s now over before the Hollywood community even had a chance to weigh in on it. Down for the PGA count are three of the 6 producers of The Fighter. The PGA lists David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, and star Mark Walhberg but omits Ryan Kavanaugh, Dorothy Aufiero, and Paul Tamasy (who did get a WGA nomination for his script). All six appeared for a Q&A following the film’s official PGA screening on November 22nd but only three as of now will be allowed to accept the PGA honor should The Fighter win. Kavanaugh came to the rescue of the film and financed it through his Relativity Media after Paramount exited and did, I am told, appeal the PGA’s decision to leave him out in the cold. The PGA does not publicly comment on arbitrations, but a source close to the Producers Guild has now confirmed to me that the appeals process is now over and “the original decision was in fact affirmed so the PGA process is complete and credits as released this morning are final”. Which means that Kavanaugh now has no recourse.
A source close to the situation tells me that Kavanaugh was very hands-on as a producer and involved in every aspect “present and accountable from script to score to editing and not just a check writer”. The source reiterates that Kavanaugh is very aware of the different hats he wears as studio head and producer but insists he was involved in every aspect of the making of The Fighter. Director David O. Russell among others will back up that claim. A highly informed PGA source confirms Kavanaugh’s omission and also indicates this will be the case for their recommendations to the Academy should The Fighter get a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
Of course the PGA and the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have been down this path before, most famously with Bob Yari who financed the eventual 2005 Best Picture winner Crash and was also one of six credited producers but nixed when it came time to hand out the Oscars. Yari got involved with a protracted lawsuit against the Academy but did not prevail. Only Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman were given Oscar statuettes for the win.
Other producers not listed in their official press release as eligible to accept the award this year are three of the 6 credited producers of The Kids Are All Right — Jordan Horowitz, Phillippe Hellmann, and Daniela Taplin Lundberg — along with Black Swan’s Arnold Messer and 127 Hours’ John Smithson. I’ve not heard if they are appealing.
As usual, the PGA is vigilant when it comes to actually vetting the producers involved in the making of its nominated films (which it also does for the Motion Picture Academy as well) and often makes Solomon-like decisions on who’s in and who’s out based on the Guild’s stringent vetting process which doesn’t always rubber stamp official credits.
As the season now swings toward all-important Hollywood Guild nominations whose memberships heavily overlap with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (more…)