NEWS, NOTES AND TRENDS ON L.A.'S ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY
Hollywood producers are fighting back against writers, personal managers and stars who have been demanding producing credits but who do virtually nothing to earn the much-coveted title.
"The core of producers are upset and are saying, 'Wait a minute, producing is a full-time gig and it is not just making a deal or writing an episode or starring in a movie or even directing one,'" said Vance Van Petten, executive director of the Producers Guild of America.
The issue over screen credit, which the producers are calling "credit fraud," isn't necessarily about vanity it has hard dollar implications. Profits and fees are involved as well as the chance to get future work, because screen credits are an important part of a producer's resume. In television, the key producer is called an executive producer and is entitled to residuals.
"The producer, a real one, is an endangered species," Van Petten said. "The credit has been eroded and we have to stop the erosion."
To stop the burgeoning list of screen credits that can often find several people listed as a producer or executive producer, the PGA has set up a panel that would arbitrate disputes between people who feel they deserve producer credit and those who feel they don't. The panel would enforce 35 specific functions that a producer must perform to receive on-screen credit.
Among those functions are conceiving the underlying concept for the project, consulting with the director and cast in person, viewing dailies and supervising recording sessions. The arbitration process is similar to the one established by the Writers Guild of America for establishing screen credit.
The guild recently enforced those rules at its annual Laurel Awards, which is the organization's version of the Oscars one could only qualify if one fit the group's definition of a producer. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has also stepped into the fray, and this year will only give out Oscars to three producers involved with the best picture.
Warner Bros. isn't going to let Miramax Films steal any of its thunder for the Oscars. The Burbank-based studio is purchasing time on Adelphia Cable systems for an infomercial to promote "The Green Mile," its Oscar entry for best picture. The 30-minute feature will be aimed at members of the movie academy who vote on the Oscars. Miramax has been buying time on Adelphia and other cable systems in Los Angeles for several years to help woo movie academy members to vote for its films, which include such winners as "The English Patient" and last year's best picture winner, "Shakespeare in Love."
Speaking of Miramax, a high-level source at the company said it has no plans to kill its first venture into publishing, Talk magazine. New York magazine circles are buzzing that Talk will be cancelled sometime this summer. The Miramax source said much of the buzz is being generated by editors and publishers who are envious of Talk Editor Tina Brown, who helped revitalize Vanity Fair before moving to The New Yorker.
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