Producers Guild Awards: 'Argo' Takes Motion Picture Prize

Ben Affleck arrives at the Producers Guild Awards.

UPDATED: "Homeland," "Modern Family" and "Game Change" win big at the 24th annual awards ceremony held at the Beverly Hilton.

Argo took the top motion picture prize at the 24th annual Producers Guild Awards, with Ben AffleckGeorge Clooney and Grant Heslov receiving the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for producing the thriller about a daring hostage rescue.

Affleck, who also directed and stars in the film, called the moment "incredible, exciting," as he accepted the award Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton. While Clooney wasn't present, Heslov joked that the hardest part of producing the movie was working with two producers who both have held the title of "sexiest man alive."

As awards season moves forward, Argo's PGA win gives the Warner Bros. release real momentum, also having won Golden Globes for best motion picture drama and for Affleck's direction. And the past five winners of the PGA's top award have gone on to win the Oscar for best picture. Although Affleck failed to earn an Oscar nomination as best director, the film does have seven other Oscar noms, including best picture.

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In the other film categories, Disney's Wreck-It Ralph, produced by Clark Spencer, took the animation prize, and the documentary award went to Sony Pictures Classics' Searching for Sugar Man, produced by Malik Bendjelloul and Simon Chinn.

Among the television contenders, ABC's Modern Family won the award for episodic comedy for the third year running, and Showtime's Homeland won its first PGA Award in the drama series category. HBO's political-themed Game Change was the victor in the in longform TV race.

While the awards offered up their share of surprises, much of the evening's emotions came from the special awards that were presented.

Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez were on hand to present the PGA's Milestone Award to Bob and Harvey Weinstein.

De Niro, who shares the Weinsteins' commitment to Tribeca and appears in their latest film Silver Linings Playbook, joked, "When Bob and Harvey came to me with a film about mental illness, I thought, 'Which brother do you want me to play?' " Rodriguez and Tarantino, both of whose careers have been tied intimately to the Weinsteins, also offered tributes. Said Rodriguez of Bob Weinstein, "His support for me over the years has been unparalleled." Commented Tarantino, "The trajectory of my career would not be the same without the Weinstein brothers."

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Bob Weinstein recalled a turning point in 1988 when he and his brother wondered if they should continue with their Miramax Films, only to find their mojo the following year with Steven Soderbergh's sex, lies, and videotape, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes. And he hailed his brother Harvey, calling him "the greatest partner and mentor I could ever have."

Harvey Weinstein returned the compliment, noting that he didn't realize his brother could be so funny. He also acknowledged a debt to their parents, Max and Miriam, for introducing them to movies from Hollywood fare to art house films. He praised the PGA for elevating the status of producers and also acknowledged a number of this year's movies, calling Lincoln "a masterpiece" and Les Miserables "a great movie." But he reserved special words for Django Unchained director Tarantino, saying: "He is a brave, incredible filmmaker. This is his most personal work, and I'm so glad it's also his most successful."

Anne Hathaway, an Oscar nominee for Les Mis, presented the PGA's David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures to Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, the British producers who head up Working Title, which produced Les Mis with Universal. After reading a testimonial sent from writer-director Richard Curtis, she said of the two, "They are tall, they are good-looking, and they are excellent at what they do."

"I'm pretty overwhelmed," Fellner said before launching into a long reminiscence of  their career, noting wryly along the way that their original offices in London's Soho, where they had to dodge hookers and drug dealers, was good practice for dealing with Hollywood. Of the job of producing, he said, "Most of the time you are pretending you are in total control." 

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In presenting the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television to J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner-- who starred in his ABC series Alias -- noted: "J.J. used to be a boy wonder. Now he's just a wonder." Abrams, who just signed to direct the next Star Wars movie, made a veiled reference to that development as he took the podium, muttering, "A typical week." But he used most of his time to thank co-workers and, especially, to express his appreciation for Norman Lear, for whom the award is named. "What the hell has happened to our standards?" he asked self-deprecatingly of the fact that he was being mentioned in the same sentence as Lear, adding, "I accept this award with true humility and disbelief."

The documentary film Bully earned the Stanley Kramer Award, and its producer-director Lee Hirsch commented, "Stanley Kramer's life and work sets the ultimate bar," adding that to receive an award in his name "is truly a lifetime achievement."

LL Cool J presented the guild's Visionary Award to Russell Simmons, who recounted that he's just moved to Los Angeles and now "really wants to earn this award."

Below is the list of nominees, with winners listed in red and offset with asterisks.

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:

*WINNER Argo (Warner Bros.)
Producers: Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Grant Heslov

Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Producers: Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey, Josh Penn

Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company)
Producers: Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone, Stacey Sher

Les Misérables (Universal Pictures)
Producers: Tim Bevan & Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh

Life of Pi (Fox 2000 Pictures)
Producers: Ang Lee, Gil Netter, David Womark

Lincoln (Touchstone Pictures)
Producers:  Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg

Moonrise Kingdom (Focus Features)
Producers: Wes Anderson & Scott Rudin, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales

Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Company)
Producers: Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon

Skyfall (Columbia Pictures)
Producers: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson

Zero Dark Thirty (Columbia Pictures)
Producers: Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Megan Ellison

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

Brave (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Producer:  Katherine Sarafian

Frankenweenie (Walt Disney Pictures)
Producers:  Allison Abbate, Tim Burton

ParaNorman (Focus Features)
Producers:  Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner

Rise of the Guardians (Paramount Pictures)
Producers:  Nancy Bernstein, Christina Steinberg

*WINNER Wreck-It Ralph (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Producer:  Clark Spencer

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures:

A People Uncounted (Urbinder Films)
Producers: Marc Swenker, Aaron Yeger

The Gatekeepers (Sony Pictures Classics)
Producers: Estelle Fialon, Philippa Kowarsky, Dror Moreh      

The Island President (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Producers: Richard Berg, Bonni Cohen

The Other Dream Team (The Film Arcade)
Producers: Marius Markevicius, Jon Weinbach

*WINNER Searching for Sugar Man (Sony Pictures Classics)
Producers: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn

The television nominees:

The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television:

American Horror Story (FX)
Producers: Brad Buecker, Dante Di Loreto, Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy, Chip Vucelich, Alexis Martin Woodall

The Dust Bowl (PBS)
Producers:  Producer Eligibility Pending

*WINNER Game Change (HBO)
Producers: Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Jay Roach, Amy Sayres, Steven Shareshian, Danny Strong

Hatfields & McCoys (History)
Producers: Barry Berg, Kevin Costner, Darrell Fetty, Leslie Greif, Herb Nanas

Sherlock (PBS)
Producers: Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, Beryl Vertue, Sue Vertue

The Long-Form Television category encompasses both movies of the week and mini-series.

In November 2012, the Producers Guild of America announced the Documentary Theatrical Motion Picture, Television Series and Non-Fiction Television Nominations; the following list includes complete producer credits.

The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama:

Breaking Bad (AMC)
Producers: Melissa Bernstein, Sam Catlin, Bryan Cranston, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Mark Johnson, Stewart Lyons, Michelle MacLaren, George Mastras, Diane Mercer, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett

Downton Abbey (PBS)
Producers: Julian Fellowes, Gareth Neame, Liz Trubridge

Game of Thrones (HBO)
Producers: David Benioff, Bernadette Caulfield, Frank Doelger, Carolyn Strauss, D.B. Weiss 

*WINNER Homeland (Showtime)
Producers: Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Michael Cuesta, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Michael Klick, Meredith Stiehm

Mad Men (AMC) 
Producers: Jon Hamm, Scott Hornbacher, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Victor Levin, Blake McCormick, Matthew Weiner

The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy:

30 Rock (NBC)
Producers:  Irene Burns, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Vali Chandrasekaran, Luke Del Tredici, Tina Fey, Matt Hubbard, Marci Klein, Jerry Kupfer, Lorne Michaels, David Miner, Dylan Morgan, Jeff Richmond, John Riggi, Josh Siegal, Ron Weiner

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)
Producers:  Chuck Lorre, Steve Molaro, Faye Oshima Belyeu, Bill Prady  

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Producers: Alec Berg, Larry Charles, Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Tim Gibbons, David Mandel, Erin O’Malley, Jeff Schaffer, Laura Streicher

Louie (FX)
Producers:  Dave Becky, M. Blair Breard, Louis C.K.        

*WINNER Modern Family (ABC)
Producers:  Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff,  Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television: 

*WINNER American Masters (PBS)
Producers: Prudence Glass, Susan Lacy, Julie Sacks 

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (Travel Channel)
Producers:  Anthony Bourdain, Christopher Collins, Lydia Tenaglia, Sandy Zweig

Deadliest Catch (Discovery Channel)
Producers:  Thom Beers, Jeff Conroy, Sean Dash, John Gray, Sheila McCormack, Bill Pruitt, Decker Watson

Inside the Actors Studio (Bravo) 
Producers: James Lipton, Shawn Tesser, Jeff Wurtz

Shark Tank (ABC)
Producers: Rhett Bachner, Becky Blitz, Mark Burnett, Bill Gaudsmith, Yun Lingner, Brien Meagher, Clay Newbill, Jim Roush, Laura Skowlund, Paul Sutera, Patrick Wood

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television: 

*WINNER The Colbert Report (Comedy Central) 
Producers: Meredith Bennett, Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Matt Lappin, Emily Lazar, Tanya Michnevich Bracco, Tom Purcell, Jon Stewart

Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC)
Producers: David Craig, Ken Crosby, Doug DeLuca, Erin Irwin, Jimmy Kimmel, Jill Leiderman, Jason Schrift, Jennifer Sharron

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (NBC)
Producers: Hillary Hunn, Lorne Michaels, Gavin Purcell, Michael Shoemaker

Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO)
Producers:  Scott Carter, Sheila Griffiths, Marc Gurvitz, Dean Johnsen, Bill Maher, Billy Martin  

Saturday Night Live (NBC)
Producers: Ken Aymong, Steve Higgins, Erik Kenward, Lorne Michaels, John Mulaney

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Competition Television

*WINNER The Amazing Race (CBS)
Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Elise Doganieri, Jonathan Littman, Bertram van Munster, Mark Vertullo

Dancing with the Stars (ABC)
Producers: Ashley Edens Shaffer, Conrad Green, Joe Sungkur

Project Runway (Lifetime)
Producers: Jane Cha Cutler, Desiree Gruber, Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, Jonathan Murray, Sara Rea, Colleen Sands

Top Chef (Bravo) 
Producers: Daniel Cutforth, Casey Kriley, Jane Lipsitz, Dan Murphy, Nan Strait

The Voice (NBC)
Producers: Stijn Bakkers, Mark Burnett, John De Mol, Chad Hines, Lee Metzger, Audrey Morrissey, Jim Roush, Nicolle Yaron, Mike Yurchuk, Amanda Zucker

The following programs were not vetted for producer eligibility this year, but winners in these categories will be announced at the official ceremony on January 26:

The Award for Outstanding Sports Program:

24/7 (HBO)

Catching Hell (ESPN)

The Fight Game With Jim Lampley (HBO)

On Freddie Roach (HBO)

*WINNER Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (HBO)

The Award for Outstanding Children’s Program:

Good Luck Charlie (Disney Channel)

iCarly (Nickelodeon)

Phineas and Ferb (Disney Channel) 

*WINNER Sesame Street (PBS)

The Weight of the Nation for Kids: The Great Cafeteria Takeover (HBO)

The Award for Outstanding Digital Series: 

*WINNER 30 Rock: The Webisodes (

Bravo’s Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen (

Dexter Early Cuts: All in the Family (

The Guild (

H+ The Digital Series (

Red vs. Blue (