In a startling upset, the Producers Guild of America gave its top prize to “The King’s Speech” Saturday night, handing front-runner “The Social Network” its first loss of the awards season and making the race for the best picture Oscar all the more interesting.
Until the PGA Awards, “The Social Network,” the acclaimed drama about the Harvard undergrad founders of Facebook, seemed unstoppable, winning the majority of critics honors as well as the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award for best film.
By inflicting this first chink in the armor of “The Social Network,” “The King’s Speech,” a moving drama from director Tom Hooper about King George VI’s efforts to conquer his stuttering, is now a serious contender for the Oscar that had seemed all but destined for the edgier David Fincher movie. The PGA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have agreed on best picture winners the past three years.
The Screen Actors Guild Awards, to be held next week, could also deviate from the “Social Network” track, with a best ensemble in a film nod to “King’s Speech” or possibly David O. Russell’s boxing film, “The Fighter,” which has a number of lauded acting performances.
“King’s Speech” producers Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin were the recipients of the PGA award, called the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures.
The 22nd annual Producers Guild of America Awards, which took place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, gave the Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures to Darla K. Anderson for “Toy Story 3,” while Lesley Chilcott won the documentary feature category for “Waiting for ‘Superman.'"
On the television side, producers Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O'Shannon, Jason Winer, Bill Wrubel and Danny Zuker won the Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic TV-Comedy for ABC's “Modern Family.” The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic TV-Drama went to Lisa Albert, Scott Hornbacher, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Blake McCormick, Dwayne Shattuck and Matthew Weiner for AMC's “Mad Men.”
Winners of the David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form TV were Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Eugene Kelly, Todd London, Cherylanne Martin, Bruce C. McKenna, Steven Shareshian, Steven Spielberg, Tony To, Tim Van Patten and Graham Yost for HBO's “The Pacific.”
Thom Beers, Jeff Conroy, Sheila McCormack, Ethan Prochnik and Matt Renner received the Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction TV for the Discovery Channel's “The Deadliest Catch.” Winner of the Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment and Competition TV went to Meredith Bennett, Stephen T. Colbert, Richard Dahm, Tom Purcell, Allison Silverman and Jon Stewart for Comedy Central's “The Colbert Report.”
Several special awards were also handed out: James Cameron received the Milestone Award; Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman earned the Norman Lear Achievement Award in TV; Scott Rudin received the David O. Selznick Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures; Laura Ziskin was given the Visionary Award; Sean Penn picked up the Stanley Kramer Award and RealD earned the Vanguard Award.
-- Susan King
Photo: Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech." Credit: The Weinstein Co.