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PGA Issues Statement On Pivotal FCC Net Neutrality Vote

Posted By Administration, 15 hours ago

Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in favor of tougher net neutrality rules that would reclassify the Internet as a Title II telecommunications service, thus preventing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from either discriminating or facilitating certain data flow from certain locations and services.  The net neutrality rules passed by a vote of 3-2. The Producers Guild of America releases the following statement regarding this pivotal decision:

The Producers Guild of America applauds the FCC's recently announced regulations supporting net neutrality. We believe that the FCC's approach is realistic and provides producers of creative content with a powerful affirmation that internet distribution channels will remain equally and fairly accessible to all services, voices, and perspectives.

While many share the PGA's support for the FCC's vote today and for Net Neutrality principles, most agree that the issue will continue to be contended in courts at later dates.

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Leading Producers: On the Record...

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 04, 2015
What does "tenacity" mean to a producer? The Producers Guild of America is proud to showcase these exclusive video interviews of the industry's most serious and accomplished producers. We pick their brains on things from "Focus Groups" and "What Makes a Star", to the frustrations associated with talents' hair & wigs.

Originally featured at the 2015 Producers Guild Awards, the theme of which was "tenacity".

What is Tenacity?:


Jenni Konner
: You just go forward until they're like, 'Oh, I guess we're making this...'

Andrew Lazar: I'm still working on projects that are 20-years old. 

Howard Gordon: [like] trying to steer a race car with someone in the back seat throwing rocks at your head.

Plus hear from Norman Lear, Brian Grazer, Richard Linklater, Nina Jacobson, and more...


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Variety: PGA Program Strives to Boost Number of Female Producers in Hollywood

Posted By Administration, Thursday, January 29, 2015

From Variety.com:

...the gloomiest news of all: the Celluloid Ceiling, an annual study steered by media expert Martha M. Lauzen, found that between 1998 and 2011 — 13 years — the number of female executive producers underwent no perceptible growth.

The Producers Guild of America Women’s Impact Network, a national committee of 200 members, is aiming to change all that.

"One of the things (the Sundance/Women in Film study) found is that as the level of financing for films increased, the opportunities for women decreased,” says Lydia Dean Pilcher, founder and co-chair (along with producer Deborah Calla) of the Women’s Impact Network and national vice president of motion pictures for the PGA. "So as you move into the studio realm, those barriers which exist across the board become more intense. The biggest career obstacles (for women) were gender and financial barriers, male-dominated financial networks and gender stereotyping on set.”

- Read the full article at Variety.com

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Producers Guild Awards Winners

Posted By Administration, Sunday, January 25, 2015

Held in January, the Producers Guild Awards is a must-attend event for the industry, and represents a unique chance for PGA members to support their Guild and pay tribute to the best of their profession. The 26th Annual Producers Guild Awards were held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel January 24, 2015. Click here to watch the 2015 tribute reel.  See below for a complete list of Nominees, winners are in bold:

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:

  • American Sniper (Warner Bros. Pictures)
    Producers: Clint Eastwood, p.g.a., Robert Lorenz, p.g.a., Andrew Lazar, p.g.a., Bradley Cooper, p.g.a., Peter Morgan, p.g.a.


  • Birdman (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
    Producers: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole


  • Boyhood (IFC Films)
    Producers: Richard Linklater, p.g.a., Cathleen Sutherland, p.g.a.

  • Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Producers: Megan Ellison, p.g.a., Bennett Miller, p.g.a., Jon Kilik, p.g.a.,

  • Gone Girl (20th Century Fox)
    Producer: Ceán Chaffin, p.g.a.

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
    Producers: Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson

  • The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company)
    Producers: Nora Grossman, p.g.a., Ido Ostrowsky, p.g.a., Teddy Schwarzman, p.g.a.

  • Nightcrawler (Open Road Films)
    Producers: Jennifer Fox, Tony Gilroy

  • The Theory of Everything (Focus Features)
    Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten

  • Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Producers: Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster

 

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures: 

  • Big Hero 6 (Walt Disney Animation Studios)
    Producer: Roy Conli, p.g.a.

  • The Book of Life (20th Century Fox)
    Producers: Guillermo del Toro, p.g.a., Brad Booker, p.g.a.

  • The Boxtrolls (Focus Features)
    Producers: David Bleiman Ichioka, p.g.a., Travis Knight, p.g.a.

  • How To Train Your Dragon 2 (20th Century Fox)
    Producer: Bonnie Arnold, p.g.a.


  • The LEGO Movie (Warner Bros. Pictures)
    Producer: Dan Lin, p.g.a.

 

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures:

  • The Green Prince (Music Box Films)
    Producers: Nadav Schirman, John Battsek, Simon Chinn


  • Life Itself (Magnolia Pictures)
    Producers: Zak Piper, Steve James, Garrett Basch


  • Merchants of Doubt (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Producers: Robert Kenner, Melissa Robledo

  • Particle Fever (Abramorama/BOND 360)
    Producers: David E. Kaplan, Mark A. Levinson, Andrea Miller, Carla Solomon

  • Virunga (Netflix)
    Producers: Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara

 

The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television:

The Long-Form Television category encompasses both movies of the week and mini-series. 

  • American Horror Story: Coven & Freak Show (FX)
    Producers: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Dante Di Loreto, Tim Minear, Jennifer Salt, James Wong, Brad Buecker, Alexis Martin Woodall, Joseph Incaprera, Robert M. Williams Jr.


  • Fargo (FX)
    Producers: Noah Hawley, Warren Littlefield, John Cameron, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Michael Frislev, Chad Oakes, Kim Todd, Adam Bernstein


  • The Normal Heart (HBO)
    Producers: Ryan Murphy, Dante Di Loreto, Jason Blum, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Mark Ruffalo, Scott Ferguson, Alexis Martin Woodall

  • The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (PBS)
    Producers: Paul Barnes, Pam Tubridy Baucom, Ken Burns

  • Sherlock (PBS)
    Producers: Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, Beryl Vertue, Sue Vertue

 

The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama:

  • Breaking Bad (AMC)
    Producers: Vince Gilligan, Mark Johnson, Michelle MacLaren, Melissa Bernstein, Sam Catlin, Peter Gould, George Mastras, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett, Stewart A. Lyons, Diane Mercer, Bryan Cranston


  • Downton Abbey (PBS)
    Producers: Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes, Liz Trubridge, Nigel Marchant

  • Game Of Thrones (HBO)
    Producers: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Carolyn Strauss, Frank Doelger, Bernadette Caulfield, Chris Newman, Greg Spence

  • House Of Cards (Netflix)
    Producers: Beau Willimon, David Fincher, Joshua Donen, Eric Roth, Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti, Iain Paterson, David Manson

  • True Detective (HBO)
    Producers: Nic Pizzolatto, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Scott Stephens, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Richard Brown, Steve Golin, Carol Cuddy

 

The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy:

  • The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
    Producers: Chuck Lorre, Steve Molaro, Bill Prady, Faye Oshima Belyeu

  • Louie (FX)
    Producers: Louie C.K, M. Blair Breard, Dave Becky, Pamela Adlon, Vernon Chatman, Steven Wright, Adam Escott

  • Modern Family (ABC)
    Producers: Christopher Lloyd, Steven Levitan, Dan O'Shannon, Paul Corrigan, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker, Jeffrey Richman, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Elaine Ko, Megan Ganz, Jeff Morton, Chris Smirnoff, Sally Young

  • Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)
    Producers: Jenji Kohan, Gary Lennon, Lisa I. Vinnecour, Mark A. Burley, Michael Trim, Neri Kyle Tannenbaum, Sara Hess


  • Veep (HBO)
    Producers: Armando Iannucci, Christopher Godsick, Frank Rich, Simon Blackwell, Tony Roche, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Chris Addison, Stephanie Laing

 

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television:

  • 30 For 30 (ESPN)
    Producers: Connor Schell, John Dahl, Bill Simmons, Erin Leyden, Andrew Billman

  • American Masters (PBS)
    Producers: Susan Lacy, Julie Sacks, Junko Tsunashima

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (CNN)
    Producers: Anthony Bourdain, Christopher Collins, Lydia Tenaglia, Sandra Zweig

  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey (FOX/NatGeo)
    Producers: Ann Druyan, Seth MacFarlane, Mitchell Cannold, Brannon Braga, Jason Clark, Livia Hanich, Steve Holtzman


  • Shark Tank (ABC)
    Producers: Mark Burnett, Clay Newbill, Phil Gurin, Yun Lingner, Max Swedlow, Jim Roush, Bill Gaudsmith, Becky Blitz, Laura Roush

 

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Competition Television:

  • The Amazing Race (CBS)
    Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Bertram van Munster, Jonathan Littman, Elise Doganieri, Mark Vertullo

  • Dancing With The Stars (ABC)
    Producers: Conrad Green, Joe Sungkur, Ashley Edens Shaffer

  • Project Runway (Lifetime)
    Producers: Jonathan Murray, Sara Rea, Desiree Gruber, Jane Cha Cutler, Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn, Teri Weideman

  • Top Chef (Bravo)
    Producers: Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz, Casey Kriley, Hillary Olsen, Tara Sierner, Erica Ross, Doneen Arquines, Shealan Spencer

  • The Voice (NBC)
    Producers: John De Mol, Mark Burnett, Audrey Morrissey, Stijn Bakkers, Lee Metzger, Chad Hines, Kyra Thompson, Mike Yurchuk, Amanda Zucker, Jim Roush

 

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television:

  • The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)
    Producers: Stephen Colbert, Tom Purcell, Jon Stewart, Meredith Bennett, Barry Julien, Emily Lazar, Richard Dahm, Tanya Michnevich Bracco, Paul Dinello, Matt Lappin

  • Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC)
    Producers: Jimmy Kimmel, Jill Leiderman, Jason Schrift, Doug DeLuca, Erin Irwin, David Craig, Ken Crosby, Gary Greenberg, Molly McNearney, Tony Romero, Jennifer Sharron, Seth Weidner, Josh Weintraub

  • Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
    Producers: John Oliver, Tim Carvell, Liz Stanton

  • Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)
    Producers: Bill Maher, Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths, Marc Gurvitz, Billy Martin, Dean Johnsen, Matt Wood


  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
    Producers: Lorne Michaels, Josh Lieb, Gavin Purcell, Jamie Granet Bederman, Rob Grabbe, Katie Hockmeyer, Jim Juvonen, Brian McDonald

The following programs were previously announced in late 2014. They were not vetted for producer eligibility this year, but winners in these categories will be announced at the official ceremony on January 24th:

 

The Award for Outstanding Sports Program:

 

  • 24/7 (HBO)

  • Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Atlanta Falcons (HBO)

  • Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Cincinnati Bengals (HBO)

  • Inside: U.S. Soccer's March To Brazil (ESPN)

  • Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (HBO)

 

The Award for Outstanding Children’s Program:

 

  • Dora The Explorer (Nickelodeon)

  • Sesame Street (PBS)

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon)

  • Toy Story OF TERROR! (ABC)

  • Wynton Marsalis: A YoungArts Masterclass (HBO)

 

The Award for Outstanding Digital Series:

 

Special Honorees:

Milestone Award

  • Jon Feltheimer

Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television

  • Mark Gordon

David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures

  • Gale Anne Hurd

Stanley Kramer Award

  • the HBO television motion picture The Normal Heart

Visionary Award

  • the production company Plan B Entertainment

 

Stay connected with the Producers Guild and the 26th annual Producers Guild Awards:

Websites: www.producersguild.org, www.pgagreen.org, www.pgadiversity.org, www.producersguildawards.com

Twitter: @ProducersGuild

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pga

Youtube: www.youtube.com/producersguild

Instagram: www.instagram.com/producersguild

Hashtag: #pgawards

 

 

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CODE JUNKIES - A Trio of Producers Cracks 'The Imitation Game'

Posted By Cecelia Lederer, Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A soldier didn’t win World War Two for the Allies; the mathematician Alan Turing did. In many ways, The Imitation Game isn’t a story about war at all, but one about persistence and belief. Not coincidentally, the film itself is the product of that same persistence and belief on the collective part of producers Teddy Schwarzman, Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and the rest of the team responsible for this early awards contender.

Like the code breakers at Bletchley Park, the team behind The Imitation Game went for their goal with all their hearts and the payoff was historically significant. "It felt like, a very big burden and blessing to be able to produce this film,” Schwarzman tells me. "Not only because of the hype of the screenplay, but the weight of the true story. We just dug in and believed we could create a movie that would be entertaining and lock in the significance of the story we were trying to tell and make sure it was told in a way that was cinematic so it could reach audiences who didn’t otherwise know what happened.” Like Turing trying to convince the British army that his machine could crack the uncrackable German enigma code, the victorious resolution did not come easy.

picture title
Producer Teddy Schwarzman (seated) supervises the shoot.
Now Principal at Black Bear Pictures, the PGA member took the long route to production. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he found himself on Wall Street. "It was really for lack of intestinal fortitude,” he admits. "I was too caught up in resume building without following my natural inclinations.” Continuing on the straight and narrow to law school, he planned to transition into entertainment law. "My 10-year program was: Learn the deal-making side; learn the ropes on the creative side; and hopefully transition to the creative side many, many years later. I was still too scared to just take the plunge and say: I want to intern, I want to shadow, I want to be a PA, I want to do whatever it takes to get into film development and production.” After three years at a top New York law firm and being nowhere closer to his true goal, Schwarzman decided it was time to follow his heart.

He didn’t want to enter the industry simply as someone with money, but as someone with talent and vision who had gotten where he was on merit. He began networking with uncapitalized producers who were also trying to make things happen, "but to me the idea of becoming a producer was such a bold statement... I was trying to figure out where I would start.” He started as a production assistant. After leaving a lucrative job any grandmother would be proud of, Schwarzman became the man standing out in the rain stopping traffic while inside the stars found their light.

From there, he found a home at Cinetic Media, with producer John Sloss (Boyhood, I’m Not There). "He was nice enough to see some potential in me,” Schwarzman reflects. "And I think he



appreciated my law background.” At Cinetic, Schwarzman raised financing for individual films and consulted with high net worth individuals and equity-backed production companies, helping them structure their deals. "So I took the plunge,” he smiles. "I really learned the business inside out and made so many relationships based on the fact that it was my job to try to help independent producers get their projects set up. And in order to do that you needed to know all the financiers. And all the financiers were looking for projects and we were sort of at the center of that, and got to see so many deals get structured and understand the business side of things.” He refined his taste and figured out what projects fit with which distributors. He learned the creative process of screenwriting and screenplay structure and after two years of watching scripts and deals emerge as finished films, Schwarzman launched Black Bear in 2012.

Producers
From left: Producers Teddy Schwarzman, Ido Ostrowsky and Nora Grossman
Grossman and Ostrowsky likewise came at The Imitation Game from outside of film production. In television, Ostrowsky had been a writer’s assistant and Grossman went from being an assistant in comedy development to junior executive at DreamWorks Television (now Amblin Entertainment). "We did the same thing in terms of development,” they agree. "There wasn’t a lot of production.” Though both thought they would stay in television development, they ventured outside of their comfort zones when they saw that there was important work to be done. "We saw the op-ed where then Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized on behalf of the government for the treatment of Alan Turing in World War Two, and we thought it was quizzical and odd and belated,” Ostrowsky relates. "We didn’t know who Alan Turing was at all. We researched and we were bowled over by the power and importance of the story. It didn’t feel just that he hadn’t made a bigger impact on popular culture.” Soon after, they optioned Andrew Hodges’ book Alan Turing: The Enigma.

When I asked why they chose to adapt an existing work rather than produce an original screenplay, Grossman recalled, "when I was at 20th, whenever a book or an article came in, my boss always took that more seriously than a pitch.” Unemployed at the time, Grossman and Ostrowsky felt that no one would take them seriously with only an idea. "We knew we needed to track down some IP,” she confirms, "so we did some research and found the definitive biography.”

The transition from printed page to silver screen doesn’t happen overnight. Screenwriter Graham Moore was a friend Grossman had met in a staffing meeting during her television years. "We kind of kept in touch,” she tells me, "and just because of the way Hollywood works, his next job happened to be on a show with my roommate writing. So, he showed up again in my world and he came to a party we threw and I went through the song and dance you go through when you’re unemployed and you don’t want anyone to feel bad for you. So I was telling people that I had optioned this book and we’re looking for a writer, and he overheard and jumped in saying, ‘Oh my God, I love Alan Turing,’ and I said, ‘hey, hold on for a second.’ And I called Ido and told him that I thought I found someone who might spec it for us.”

Teddy Schwarzman (center) on set with co-producer Peter Heslop (right)
Finding a screenwriter was an early step in a difficult process. Black Bear did initially bid on the script, but the big studios were much more aggressive and there were many producers vying for the chance to tell Turing’s story. The Imitation Game first ended up at Warner Bros. Schwarzman never even got in the room. Luckily for him, the contract stipulated that the film had to be made within the year. When it wasn’t, the rights reverted to Grossman and Ostrowsky.

The script went back into the spec market and this time Black Bear took a lesson from Turing, vocally promoting themselves and their intention to put the story on screen. Regarding the early buzz that talents such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Ron Howard had expressed interest in the project, Schwarzman is circumspect. "We weren’t going to focus on whatever the loudest noise in Hollywood was. We were going to try to pay attention to the core essence of this material and the legacy of Alan Turing.”

The production of The Imitation Game wasn’t driven by factors like its domestic opening or international sales numbers. "We tried to put together the best creative package to protect the material,” Schwarzman insists. "We’re a script-driven company and we read this script and we needed to embrace it. Rather than figure out how you commercialize it, we needed to really respect it.”

The shared vision of the three producers, like the friendship between Turing and Joan Clarke, built something great. Grossman particularly appreciates the value of getting along creatively with the person in charge of the financing. "We were on the same page and we had the same vision,” she says. "Teddy was really adamant about being inclusive and understanding that we would be on set every day and producing it alongside him,” Ostrowsky adds. "He was the total package creatively, in terms of experience and know-how and being inclusive.”

Schwarzman explains that when it came time to get boots on the ground, "we needed to find people for whom this wasn’t going to be an option, but a calling. People who understood on a very important level not only Turing’s contributions and his legacy, but also underneath it, the creative schematics.” And that’s just the team they found. Working five- and six-day weeks for modest salaries, the cast (including stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode) shared the goal of doing Turing’s legacy justice.


From left: Keira Knightley and director Morten Tyldum on set
The honesty of The Imitation Game has earned it the recognition its subject went so long without. Asked how he’s responding to the Oscar buzz, Schwarzman shakes his head and smiles. "We’re so lucky to have the involvement of the Weinstein Company. Harvey and the entire team are incredibly collaborative, and supportive, and really believe in the film, but no one had any idea that this could become what it is. I mean, we knew that the screenplay was incredibly strong and we loved the cast that we’d put together, but this was not engineered to reach this moment. It’s a very surreal experience to receive congratulations from so many people before our film has even been released.” With a proud-but-humble grin, he adds: "It feels to me a little bit premature.” All three producers agree that if the attention, premature or not, gets people curious about who Alan Turing was, why he matters and why what happened to him matters, they will have succeeded. Ostrowsky tells me: "If the message of the movie, that it’s okay to feel different, gets out we did our job.”

Alan Turing (like Oscar Wilde and thousands more) was prosecuted and persecuted for his sexuality, what British law called "gross indecency” until 1967, when homosexual acts were decriminalized. For decades his great contributions to the Allied victory and the field of computer science were buried under fear and ignorance. The Imitation Game is the long overdue tribute to a man driven to take his own life by an uncaring government, and reflects back our own laws and prejudices. Less than 100 years ago, Alan Turing was ordered by a judge to inject himself with synthetic estrogen in an attempt to alter who he was. The passion and hard work of producers like Schwarzman, Grossman and Ostrowsky gives hope to all the stories of injustice that have been similarly swept under the rug. These stories deserve telling, and the public is hungry to see them told.

- This article is written by Cecelia Lederer and originally appeared in Produced By magazine.
- Photos are courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

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