Now that the nominees for the best-picture Oscar have been announced, the real question is: Who gets the producer credit?
There is drama afoot over credits for two of the nominated films: The crime epic “The Departed” and the quirky comedy “Little Miss Sunshine.”
It’s the producers who get to bound up to the stage to accept the award should their movie win the Oscar. But under the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences rules adopted in 2000, a maximum of three producers are entitled to walk away with the coveted statuette.
The Academy also follows strict guidelines established by the Producers Guild of America when deciding who should get official credit.
In announcing the nominations of the two films Tuesday morning, the Academy added, “nominees to be determined.”
Those four words could set the stage for some nasty infighting and even lawsuits. Last year, for example, Bob Yari lost a legal battle for Oscar credit for best-picture winner “Crash.”
When the producers guild gave its award for best film to “Little Miss Sunshine” Saturday, it determined that five people deserved credit under rules that were adopted after years of complaints about “credit creep” — the tendency of filmmakers to massage the egos of actors, directors, studio executives and even agents by giving them undeserved on-screen credit.
So, for Fox Searchlight’s “Little Miss Sunshine” that list will have to be pared to three before the awards are handed out Feb. 25.
Traditionally, the Academy has allowed the studio to do the cutting. But in 2005, the Academy stepped in after the studios behind three nominated films — the Howard Hughes biopic “The Aviator,” the boxing saga “Million Dollar Baby” and the Ray Charles portrait “Ray” — failed to respond in time.
“The Departed,” from Warner Bros., faces the opposite problem.
Under PGA rules, only one of the film’s three listed producers qualified for official credit.
That leaves out two high profile figures — Brad Grey, the former talent manager who now heads Paramount Pictures, and Brad Pitt, the actor whose production company, Plan B Entertainment, helped make the film.
Grey lost an appeal to the PGA last year to get official credit for his behind-the-scenes role in getting the film made.
If he or Pitt want the chance to get an Oscar for the film they will have to ask the Academy to overrule the PGA decision and include their names as nominees.