How Hollywood deals with different types of Producers.

If you follow me on the ol’ Twitter, then you know I’m on the Left Coast.  And whenever I’m here, I’ve always got my ear to the drought-dried ground, listening for any scuttlebutt about new TV/film business practices that might be headed our way.

And, well, something popped up that I had to get your opinion on.

During the recording of my podcast with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (which is amazing by the way – so make sure you’ve subscribed to the podcast so you can be the first to hear it when it’s released), we got to talking about Lead Producers and Co-Producers and the differences between how Broadway and Hollywood treat these two types of Producers.

I told them I had heard rumors of all sorts of things coming down the pike on Broadway because there were a few powerful Producers out there who wanted more of a separation between what they did and what bundlers or large investors did.  There have been rumblings of separate Tony “medallions” for Co-Producers instead of the actual awards, different credits, no credits, etc.

That’s when Craig and Neil said, “Well, you know what Hollywood does, don’t you?”

And I didn’t.

But I do now.

So get this.  In tinsel-town, there’s this association called the Producers Guild of America.  And its primary job is to determine a Producer’s eligibility for awards.  So, if your name is on a movie, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re eligible for an Academy Award.  Oh no.  You have to submit to be eligible with the PGA.  And get this . . . they vet you!  They look at your application . . . which asks you what you did on the movie, how you were involved, who you worked with, etc., etc.  And then they check up on you to make sure you’re not making it up!

If they give you a thumbs up, then, and only then, are you eligible for an Oscar.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a quote from the Oscars Rules & Regs:

To qualify as a producer nominee for a nominated picture, the producer must have been determined eligible for a PGA award for the picture, or have appealed the PGA’s refusal of such eligibility.

And this isn’t just for the Oscars, by the way. This is for all the biggies, including the Emmys.

Can you imagine if this was done for Broadway?  Could it be?  Should it be?  What do you think?

Me, well, I’m not so sure.  I’ve been very vocal about my gratitude to the many people who have taken extraordinary risks on my shows and other shows that just wouldn’t have happened without them. So, in that case, what’s a little title between risk-taking-friends?  And if we instituted something like the PGA vetting process, would they take their money elsewhere if they didn’t pass, or if there wasn’t a guarantee when they committed their money in the first place?

At the same time, are all Producers the same?  Do we need different titles to make that distinction with the public?  Is the public confused?  Do they care?  Are all the names above the title actually devaluing the position of the Producer?

You tell me.  Because I’m not sure just yet.

That said, although I doubt that we’ll ever have PGA-like regulated titles, I do expect we’ll be doing something different in the coming years to draw the distinction between Lead Producers and Co-Producers.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t drive anyone away to . . . well . . . Hollywood.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.