'Miss Sunshine' winner of PGA's pageant

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The five producers behind Fox Searchlight's edgy indie comedy "Little Miss Sunshine" took home the Producers Guild of America's theatrical motion picture award Saturday.

The win by Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf and Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa will be closely analyzed by industryites handicapping Oscar's best-picture races, as the PGA often mirrors Academy voting in the category. "Sunshine" was up against "Babel," "The Departed," "Dreamgirls" and "The Queen" in the PGA Awards, which held its 18th annual gala at the Century Plaza in Century City.

The same films also will face off in the DGA Awards, set for Feb. 3 at the same venue. Academy Award nominations for best picture and all other Oscar categories will be announced Tuesday.

If "Sunshine" is nominated for a best picture Oscar, the Academy will choose only three of the five producers named by the PGA. Unlike the Academy, the PGA places no limits on the number of producers who can be attached to an award.

"Sunshine's" win came as something of a surprise among awards season handicappers. It had to overcome competition from bigger movies like "The Departed" and "Dreamgirls." And Jan. 15, "Sunshine" saw "Dreamgirls" win the the Golden Globe for best comedy or musical.

Neither the PGA nor the DGA awards are flawless forecasters. Neither managed to signal "Crash's" dramatic Oscar win for best picture last year. But the PGA winner has foreshadowed the best picture Oscar winner 11 times in the past 17 years.

Other producers winning PGA Awards included Darla K. Anderson for the Disney/Pixar comedy "Cars" in the animated film category, and Susan Harrison, George Faber, Charles Pattinson and Barney Riesz for HBO's "Elizabeth I" in longform television.

Producers Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Mark Gordon, James Parriott, Peter Horton and Rob Corn won for ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" in episodic drama. Greg Daniels and Kent Zbornak won for NBC's "The Office" in episodic comedy.

Jeff Fager won the nonfiction television award for CBS' "60 Minutes," while Bill Maher, Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths and Dean Johnsen won with HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" for variety television.

Several special awards provided more than their usual quotient of drama to the evening.

Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and Bonnie Raitt performed in a surprise tribute to Visionary Award honorary Ken Ehrlich, longtime producer of the Grammy telecast.

Al Gore popped in to thank producers of the global-warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" -- bestowed the Stanley Kramer Award for illuminating social issues -- "for the patience to work with a politician with a slide show."

Producing partners Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher were awarded the motion picture achievement award. Jerry Bruckheimer, given the Norman Lear Award for television achievement, noted that his former producing partner, Don Simpson, died on the date 11 years earlier.

Video game pioneer Will Wright was given the Vanguard Award. And Tom Hanks helped toast the lifetime achievement Milestone Award recipient, Universal Studios president Ron Meyer.

Meyer thanked the string of Uni owners during his tenure "for not firing me" and also recognized those who had helped shape his career, "even Mike Ovitz, for pushing me further than I would have pushed myself."
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