Michael Mann and Graham King will be eligible to receive an Oscar if their film, “The Aviator,” should win the best picture award this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided Thursday.
The ruling excluded Charles Evans Jr., who’s listed as a producer on the film, but was previously ruled ineligible by the Producers Guild of America under that group’s rules for determining who deserves producer credits.
In a lawsuit against Mann in 2001, Evans claimed he was responsible for developing the idea for the film and persuading Leonardo DiCaprio to portray Hughes. Eventually, Evans claimed, Mann cut him out of the deal altogether, taking DiCaprio and the project to another studio.
The lawsuit was settled, and Evans was listed as a producer on the final film.
Also excluded was Sandy Climan, a colleague of Mann’s at Forward Pass Productions, who’s also listed in the film’s credits as a producer.
Under academy rules, adopted in 1999, a maximum of three people are eligible to be nominated for each film. If more than three people are credited as a producer, the rules state that the Oscar will go to “those three or fewer who have performed the major portion of the producing functions.”
This year, the companies behind three of the five best-picture nominees failed to pare their long list of producers, forcing the academy to meet and, applying the Producers Guild guidelines, rule on eligibility.
The academy also ruled that Clint Eastwood, Albert Ruddy and Tom Rosenberg are eligible to receive the award for their film, “Million Dollar Baby.” Rosenberg is the head of Lakeshore Entertainment, which financed the movie. Paul Haggis, who was listed on-screen as a producer, was left off, but he has an Oscar nomination for adapted screenplay.
The group was spared the task of deciding the eligibility of producers on the Ray Charles film “Ray.”
The company behind the movie decided at the last minute that Taylor Hackford, Stuart Benjamin and Howard Baldwin would be listed as producers for Oscar purposes, leaving off Baldwin’s wife, Karen.