Specialty units lead PGA noms

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For a second consecutive year, the Producers Guild of America's nominees for best theatrical motion picture are dominated by films produced by studio specialty divisions (HR 1/4).

The category's nominated producers, vying for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award, include those behind "Babel" from Paramount Vantage, "Little Miss Sunshine" from Fox Searchlight and "The Queen" from Miramax Films. The major studios fielded two nominees: "The Departed" from Warner Bros. Pictures and "Dreamgirls" from Paramount Pictures' DreamWorks.

Though none of the nominees represented a major surprise, the biggest omission arguably was the absence of a nomination for either of this year's two Clint Eastwood films, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima." Eastwood was nominated by the PGA for "Mystic River" in 2004 and for "Million Dollar Baby" in 2005.

Both of the latest Eastwood films deal with the World War II battle on Iwo Jima, with one representing the U.S. perspective and the other the Japanese view of the carnage. So there is the possibility, impossible to quantify, that each film canceled out the other — something that could bear watching in the buildup to Oscar noms.

Eligible producers for each PGA-nominated film include Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Steve Golin and Jon Kilik ("Babel"); Graham King ("The Departed"); Laurence Mark ("Dreamgirls"); Marc Turtletaub, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf and Albert Berger & Ron Yerxa ("Little Miss Sunshine"); and Andy Harries, Christine Langan and Tracey Seaward ("The Queen.")

The PGA Awards historically have served as one of the more accurate barometers of best-picture Oscar voting, but its forecasting has been a bit off of late.

Producers Guild members voted differently than Academy voters in each of the past three years, last year selecting "Brokeback Mountain" over eventual Oscar winner "Crash." In 2005, PGA members picked Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" over Eastwood's Oscar-winning "Baby."

Winners in all PGA categories will be announced at the 18th annual Producers Guild of America Awards gala to be held Jan. 20 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City.
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