Oscars' rule of 3 cuts Grey, Berger, Yerxa

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If "The Departed" is named best picture at the 79th Annual Academy Awards, Paramount Pictures chairman Brad Grey will not be called to the stage to accept the award. And if the winner is "Little Miss Sunshine," producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa will not get their moment in the spotlight even though they were among the five producers who picked up the Producers Guild of America's Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award last Saturday night.

According to the Academy's rules, the best picture winner can be repped by no more than three producers. Thursday night, the executive committee of its producers branch met to arbitrate the producing credits on both "Departed" and "Sunshine," and ruled against Grey, Berger and Yerxa.

The Academy takes its lead from the PGA, which has developed a mechanism for deciding which producers on a given film performed the necessary producing chores to have full producing credit for awards purposes.

In the case of "Departed," the film's credits list as producers Graham King and director Martin Scorsese as well as Grey and Brad Pitt, who developed the film through their Plan B production company. The PGA, however, decided to credit only King as producer when the film was nominated for the PGA's best picture award.

Grey asked the Academy to reconsider the PGA decision, but, without comment, the Academy has decided to list King as sole producer.

"I loved working on "The Departed," and will always think of it as one of the best times of my career," Grey said Friday in response to the Academy's decision, which he does not plan to contest.

In the case of "Sunshine," the PGA decided that Berger and Yerxa, who are producing partners, deserved credit along with David T. Friendly, Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf. Because of the Academy's rule-of-three, though, the producers' exec committee took a second look and ruled out Berger and Yerxa, who actually first developed Michael Arndt's screenplay and later introduced the directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris to the other producers.

Because of the Academy's ruling, only Friendly, Saraf and Turtletaub will be called to the stage if "Sunshine" wins best picture.

The other producers of the best picture nominees are, as previously announced Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Jon Kilik and Steve Golin for "Babel"; Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Robert Lorenz for "Letters from Iwo Jima," and Andy Harries, Christine Langan and Tracey Seaward for "The Queen."
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