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THE OSCAR NOMINATIONS | THE PRODUCERS

Eligibility up in air for teams

January 24, 2007|Robert W. Welkos | Times Staff Writer

THE Academy Award nominations for best picture are in, but for producers of "Little Miss Sunshine" and "The Departed," a tense waiting game now begins to see who will be ruled eligible to step on stage and accept Oscars should either film win.

Under rules adopted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, only three producers are eligible to accept the Oscar for best picture -- a rule that the academy implemented after 1998's "Shakespeare in Love" captured the top prize and five producers rushed on stage.

The academy relies on the Producers Guild of America to determine which producers deserve the "produced by" credit, but in the case of "Little Miss Sunshine," the guild determined that all five producers were eligible for its guild awards.

That leaves the academy in a dilemma: The executive committee of the academy's producers branch must remove two of those producers for Oscar consideration. The film's producers are Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, David T. Friendly, Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf.

A different problem faces Martin Scorsese's crime drama "The Departed." The guild determined that Graham King is the only eligible producer for its annual awards. Actor Brad Pitt and his former producing partner, Brad Grey, still have on-screen credit. If a dispute arises, the academy will have to determine whether King alone will be eligible for the Oscar.

robert.welkos@latimes.com

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