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Category: Producers Guild of America

Can 'The King's Speech' stage a royal Oscar coup?


Just when most Oscarologists believed the race for best picture was over, "The King's Speech" pulled off a shockeroo at the Producers Guild of America Awards on Saturday night, tripped up "The Social Network" and threw the whole derby into a royal tizzy.

Over the last 20 years, the Producers Guild of America has correctly forecast the Oscar champ 13 times. Now we must wonder: Can "The King's Speech" reign over the Academy Awards by seizing the best picture crown?

Answer: Yes. But we won't get more hints that such a coup is in the works until Oscar nominations come out on Tuesday morning and winners of the Screen Actors Guild Awards are unveiled on Sunday night.

There's a good chance that "The King's Speech" will score the most Oscar bids. That's key considering that the best picture winner usually reaps the most nominations 75% of the time. I think it will garner as many as 11 considering British period dramas usually pop up in those multitudinous crafts categories such as best costumes, art direction, etc.

If "The King's Speech" rules over rivals on Tuesday, it must do so again on Sunday when the SAG Award is bestowed for best ensemble. That prize can sometimes foretell an upset to come at the Oscars. While that guild award has matched the Academy Award for best picture only seven times in 15 years, it predicted the two most recent upsets: "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) and "Crash" (2005).

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In an upset, 'The King's Speech' takes Producers Guild Award

Kings speech 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.

Sean Penn wins PGA award

Sean Penn For the first time, an individual has been awarded the Producers Guild of America's Stanley Kramer Award, with Sean Penn singled out Saturday night for his humanitarian efforts in Haiti. On hand to present the award was U.S. Army Major Brian Woolworth, who worked with Penn during the major's eight-month stint in the ravaged country.

Woolworth described in detail Penn's involvement with his JP Haitian Relief Organization that was instrumental in relocating Haitians from dangerous flood areas. He managed a camp, carried individual Haitians' belongings and worked tirelessly from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m., Woolworth said. "He demonstrates what we in the military call leadership," he added. "He's committed to elevating the human condition in Haiti."

Penn kept his speech short and sweet, indicating that he was asked to be brief, so he vowed to save the polemics and split the difference. He then recited a single paragraph, written by William Saroyan, that served as inspiration for Penn's life. And he concluded with a simple plea: "With your help Haiti will triumph. Stick it out with us. Support the Haitian people." 

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Sean Penn. Credit: Associated Press

Judd Apatow takes a swipe at Ricky Gervais at PGA Awards

Judd Apatow 
Producer-director Judd Apatow took a few swipes at recent Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais during his own awards hosting gig Saturday night. At the Producers Guild of America Awards, Apatow, in a profanity-laced bit, noted: "Apparently, you can do this job wrong. And it can affect your whole career. 
What did you think of Ricky Gervais? I didn't like it. I thought it was mean. The 'Lost' joke about the fat guy eating everyone, Ricky Gervais just lost weight. Right now, he's 4 pounds away from being able to make that joke.

"He started out with Charlie Sheen," Apatow continued on Gervais. "Which I enjoyed when Leno did it last week."

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Judd Apatow Credit: Universal Pictures

Poll: What will win Producers Guild of America top picture?


When the Producers Guild of America bestows its prize for best picture on Saturday night, will it predict the top Oscar again? Twelve times in the last 20 years the two awards agreed. (See the full list here.) Most pundits believe "The Social Network" will continues its juggernaut, but beware: The producers sometimes pick surprises such as "Little Miss Sunshine" (2006), "Moulin Rouge!" (2001) and "The Crying Game" (1992).

-- Tom O'Neil

Recent and Related: Up next: Producers Guild of America Award

Poll: What film will win the SAG ensemble award?


Now that "The Social Network" has won every major film critics' award plus the Golden Globe and National Board of Review, the next two places to stop the juggernaut -– if it can be stopped -– is at the Producers Guild of America awards (Saturday) or the Screen Actors Guild awards (Jan. 30).

Its PGA victory seems inevitable. "The Social Network" is just the kind of hip, successful flick that the producers usually embrace. Those SAG awards, though -- they're tricky.

All pundit eyes are on one SAG category: best ensemble. If "The King's Speech" or "The Fighter" wins there, Oscar momentum could suddenly shift. The last two times there were jaw-dropping upsets for best picture at the Academy Award, we got our first hints of it in this SAG ensemble category when "Crash" (2005) and "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) prevailed.

What makes the SAG race all the more interesting this year is the likelihood that either "The King's Speech" or "The Fighter" will win. "The Social Network" is a brilliant film, yes, but its performances aren't flashy –- they don't have snob appeal. On the other hand, the performances in "The King's Speech" and "The Fighter" are big, brassy, muscular.

Meantime, don't write off "The Kids Are All Right" -– there's impressive ensemble chemistry between Mark Ruffalo and his newfound family. Or "Black Swan," which has special appeal to members of the actors' guild: It's about the performing arts. It's really "All About Eve" on toe shoes.

Below is a list of past winners.

Asterisk (*) = Won Oscar for best picture

1995 – "Apollo 13"
1996 – "The Birdcage"
1997 – "The Full Monty"
1998 – "Shakespeare in Love" *
1999 – "American Beauty" *
2000 – "Traffic"
2001 – "Gosford Park"
2002 – "Chicago" *
2003 – "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" *
2004 – "Sideways"
2005 – "Crash" *
2006 – "Little Miss Sunshine"
2007 – "No Country for Old Men" *
2008 – "Slumdog Millionaire" *
2009 – "Inglourious Basterds"

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: L.A. Times photo by Tom O'Neil

Up next: Producers Guild of America Award

The next major trophy to be doled out this derby season will be the Producers Guild of America Award this Saturday night. Nominees for best picture: "127 Hours," "Black Swan," "Inception," "The Fighter," "The Kids Are All Right," "The King's Speech," The Social Network," "The Town," "Toy Story 3" and "True Grit." Most pundits predict "The Social Network" will its victorious juggernaut.

Over the past 20 years, the winner has matched the Oscar for best picture 12 times. The full list of PGA champs is below. Disagreements with Oscar are noted.

Pga awards 1990 – "Dances with Wolves"

1991 – "The Silence of the Lambs"

1992 – PGA: "The Crying Game;" Oscars: "Unforgiven"

1993 – "Schindler's List"

1994 – "Forrest Gump"

1995 – PGA: "Apollo 13;" Oscars: "Braveheart"

1996: "The English Patient"

1997: "Titanic"

1998: PGA: "Saving Private Ryan;" Oscars: "Shakespeare in Love"

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Ryan Kavanaugh loses appeal with Academy for producer credit on 'The Fighter'


Financier/producer Ryan Kavanaugh has lost his final appeal with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences for producing credit on "The Fighter." Two people with knowledge of the situation said that Kavanaugh presented his case to the Academy on Tuesday and was denied. Kavanaugh declined to comment, as did the Academy.

His loss culminates a two-month process that began when he was denied producing credit by the Producers Guild of America for his work on the David O. Russell-directed film, a prospective best picture nominee. (He financed the $23-million production.) The 36-year-old Relativity Media chief then appealed his case with the guild and was again denied the credit.

His plight serves a stark contrast to the appeals that teams behind "The Social Network" and "Black Swan" initiated with the PGA. In the case of " Social Network," Michael De Luca was left off the producing credits but was reinstated after his fellow producers, Sony Pictures, director David Fincher and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin all wrote letters further explaining his role in the movie.

"I fully understand why the rules are there," said Scott Rudin, a producer on the "Social Network." "But it's a menchy thing that they make exceptions to it. There are exceptions, and sometimes a form doesn't tell the whole story."

As for "Black Swan," Mike Medavoy and Brian Oliver were given producer credit on appeal, after originally being left off the PGA's initial decision. Letters from fellow producer Scott Franklin helped overturn the original ruling.

"Brian Oliver was on the set all the time and he put up the money to get the movie made, so he deserves the credit," Medavoy said. "I was on the set only once. But there was no need. I'm not going to tell the director where to put the camera. And there wasn't enough money to keep me in New York, spending the per diem. The movie would have suffered from it. But this movie wouldn't have existed had I not bought the script 12 years ago."

Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan. 25. The nomination ballots are due on Friday.

-- Nicole Sperling

Photo: Ryan Kavanaugh shares a laugh with actress Kate Bosworth at a charity event last year. 
Credit: Charley Gallay /

Sean Penn to receive Producers Guild of America's Stanley Kramer Award

Two-time Oscar-winning lead actor Sean Penn ("Mystic River," "Milk") , who is also known for his political activism and humanitarian work in New Orleans and Haiti,  is this year's recipient of the Producers Guild of America's Stanley Kramer Award. The announcement was made Thursday morning.

The Kramer Award was established in 2002 to honor a motion picture, a producer or other individual whose "achievement or contribution illuminates provocative social issues in an accessible and elevating fashion."  The award is named after the famed producer-director of such socially conscientious films as "The Defiant Ones," "Inherit the Wind" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."

Previous winners of the Kramer Award include "The Great Debaters," "Hotel Rwanda" and "Antwone Fisher." Penn is the first individual to receive the Kramer Award.

Penn, who has also directed films such as "Into the Wild," will receive his award Jan. 22 at the Producers Guild award ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Susan King

Photo: Sean Penn in Haiti in November. Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

What the producers guild nominations mean

Hurt locker 
Over the last 20 years, the PGA awards have been a solid predictor of how the academy votes. Thirteen of the last 20 winners have gone on to win Oscars. Even last year when the PGA expanded its best picture list to 10 films, it picked a winner with "The Hurt Locker." As for how the list of nominees reflected the academy list last year, the producers predicted eight of the 10 pictures. But where the PGA chose the popular "Star Trek" and Clint Eastwood's "Invictus," the academy went with the Coen brothers' "A Serious Man" and the Sandra Bullock-starrer "The Blind Side."

This year, with the PGA choosing Ben Affleck's "The Town," the producers omitted the critical darling "Winter's Bone," which has been trucking along receiving awards recognition since it debuted back at Sundance.

With the PGA awards being held on Jan. 22, we'll have a good idea on which way the academy might be going before its Jan. 25 nominations.

--Nicole Sperling

Photo: "The Hurt Locker." Credit: Summit Entertainment


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