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'Tintin' Feud Hits Art Directors Guild

Paramount Pictures

Film's omission of production designer name offends voting members.

AWARDS DRAMA! Take note, those of you entering an Oscar pool: A brewing dispute could help determine one of those tricky categories. On Jan. 3, the Art Directors Guild announced that The Adventures of Tintin was a contender for its 2011 excellence in production design award in the fantasy category, up against Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Cowboys & Aliens and Captain America: The First Avenger. Although nominations are based on votes from the guild's general membership, the recognition of Tintin prompted immediate outrage among a vocal faction. While the other nominations recognized specific production designers (for example, Stuart Craig for Harry Potter), the Tintin credit was listed as "TBD" -- to be determined. That's because the producers, including Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, never designated anyone as production designer. One unhappy guild member vents that it is "ludicrous" that no production designer was named and "embarrassing" to allow the film to be nominated in those circumstances. According to guild council president Thomas Walsh, the exclusion has created confusion not only for his organization but also for the 364-member art directors branch of the Academy, which nominates Oscar contenders in the category. Walsh expects that policy changes will be made to prevent this from happening again. (It couldn't happen in live action, but the guild does not have jurisdiction over animation.) Tintin producer Kathleen Kennedy says no name was submitted because such credits are not standard in animation. But animated films often do credit a production designer, as did this year's Cars 2, Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots. Tintin's producers have since specified veteran art director Kim Sinclair (Avatar) as the elusive TBD. But in a Jan. 7 memo to guild members, Walsh noted that some who deserve recognition for Tintin might not get it in part because of the "confusing and misleading assignment of credits for the key design individuals on this film." Walsh called for a guild summit to address the challenges posed by new technologies and suggested that those who disapprove of the Tintin nomination should simply vote for another contender.