'Slumdog' fetches PGA prize

Producer Colson hopes its success helps 'movies that don't tick any boxes'

"Slumdog Millionaire" continues to hit the awards jackpot. The Mumbai-set tale of an orphan boy who strikes it rich was named best picture of the year at the Producers Guild of America's annual bash Saturday at the Hollywood Palladium.

Producer Christian Colson, who accepted the guild's Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award for Theatrical Motion Pictures, said the pic's awards-season run should be taken as a sign of the value of unconventional moviemaking.

"Some people argue this was a film that shouldn't have been made," Colson said, citing the lack of major stars, the midrange budget and foreign-language dialogue. "I hope the success of our movie enables all the movies that don't tick any boxes to get made."

Among other major awards, "Man on Wire," a documentary about tightrope walker Philippe Petit, brought Simon Chinn the honors for best feature documentary, while Pixar's "WALL-E" continued its strong run when producer Jim Morris was given the prize for best animated film.

After the animated award was given out, PGA chief Marshall Herskovitz sounded a call to producers to concentrate on midrange productions and not cede that ground to foreign companies.

"If producers let foreign companies take over the lower-cost (part of the business)," he said, "what happened to our banking industry … could happen to our industry."

On the television side, AMC's "Mad Men" and NBC's "30 Rock" were singled out as best produced TV drama and comedy series, respectively; Matthew Weiner and Scott Hornbacher picked up the "Mad Men" prize while Lorne Michaels, Tina Fey, Marci Klein, Robert Carlock, Meredith Bennett and Tom Purcell nabbed the award for "30 Rock" for the second straight year.

HBO's "John Adams," another established awards winner, was named the best longform television. That award was presented to David Coatsworth, Frank Doelger, Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Steven Shareshian, Jeff Richmond, Jerry Kupfer and David Miner. Jeff Fager of CBS' "60 Minutes" was recognized as the producer of the year for nonfiction TV, and the award for live entertainment/competition TV went to Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" and its producers, Stephen T. Colbert, Jon Stewart, Allison Silverman and Richard Dahm.

The guild also honored producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, who were nominees this year for "Frost/Nixon," with its Milestone Award.

Hanks, who has starred in a number of Imagine productions, introduced the pair, and when Grazer thanked, among other people, studio execs — "I know, people don't do it, but it's appropriate," he said — Hanks piped in from behind him on the stage, "Which one, Brian? Name the studio execs now." Grazer went on to name Universal chief Ron Meyer and others.

Michael Douglas received the David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures in honor of his producing career — with Danny Devito and the hyphenate riffing on their time in theater camp four decades ago — while "The Sopranos" creator David Chase was presented the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television.

Lear presented the award named after himself with, "I've known Norman Lear all my life, and frankly, I've found him wanting." Chase paid tribute to Lear by saying "There was a little bit of Archie Bunker's DNA in Tony Soprano" and calling the Lear character "the first of perpetually pissed-off guys from the tri-state area."

The Stanley Kramer Award, which is given to a film that tackles social issues, went to "Milk." California Attorney General Jerry Brown presenting the award to producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, who thanked Brown for introducing a lawsuit that would challenge the legality of Proposition 8.

MySpace founders Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe were presented the Vanguard Award, while Participant Media founder Jeff Skoll was given the Visionary Award.

Al Gore presented the award to Skoll, who in turn noted the skeptics' attitude when he started Participant that "the surest way to make a small fortune is to start with a big fortune and go into the film business."
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