Mike Fleming

Osc2If The Hurt Locker wins a David vs. Goliath battle with Avatar for Best Picture, who will stand on the stage to accept the Oscar? There are 4 producers on the film, and because the Best Picture Academy Award rarely goes to more than three, someone stands the chance of becoming a bridesmaid, even though both BAFTA and the Producer’s Guild Of America approved all 4 for their awards. Listed are producer Greg Shapiro, director Kathryn Bigelow, and writer Mark Boal, plus Voltage Pictures partner Nicolas Chartier.

hurt locker picSources tell me that Chartier risks being the odd man out. Even though he put up the financing for the film, and I hear he even leveraged his house. At one time the scuttlebutt was that relations between him and the other producers grew frosty enough that, after Chartier tried to fire Boal, the Voltage Pics partner was banned from coming to the set in Jordan. This is now being denied, with insiders saying Shapiro, Bigelow and Boal each sent letters to both BAFTA and the PGA to endorse the idea there were 4 legitimate contributing producers on the film. The Academy is reviewing the situation now and the outcome will be interesting.

“Each producer was an integral part of making this film,” Nancy Kirkpatrick, Summit Entertainment’s president of worldwide marketing, insists to me. “Both the Producer’s Guild and the BAFTAs have acknowledged 4 producers on The Hurt Locker and we are hopeful that the Academy follows suit.”

After the producer stampede on Shakespeare in Love, Oscar only allows three producers, except in an extraordinary circumstance. Like last year, when the late Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella were kept on the producer roster for Best Picture nominee The Reader with Donna Gigliotti and Redmond Morris. Both the PGA and Academy raised the bar with an audit system of who did what and how much time they spent on the set, placing the burden of proof on financiers whose big wallets aren’t enough anymore. The credits issue grew particularly contentious on Crash, when director Paul Haggis and filmmaker Cathy Schulman accepted the Oscar, while credited producers Bob Yari, Don Cheadle, Mark Harris, and Bobby Moresco (who shared a script Academy Award with Haggis) were denied. Yari sued, unsuccessfully.

The other Best Picture nominee today with credits still to be determined was The Blind Side. There were only three credited producers: filmmaker Gil Netter and the Alcon Entertainment duo of Broderick Johnson and Andrew Kosove who financed the film after Fox dropped it. Today, Kosove told me he felt blindsided when the film was unveiled as a Best Picture nominee with credits to be determined. “I was confused by that announcement, because my understanding was that there could be three producers, and all three of us functioned in that capacity,” Kosove said. “The way Broderick and I work is, Alcon finances the films, but one of us is on the set every day. I was on the set 65% of the time, and he was there 35% because we had other pictures going. Our relationship with Gil was phenomenal, and it’s the second movie we made together. The other was Dude, Where’s My Car, where we were really robbed on Best Picture.”