January 23, 2014 12:54pm PT by Scott Feinberg
'Alone Yet Not Alone': Eligibility of Oscar-Nominated Song Challenged by Snubbed Rival (Exclusive)
"Alone Yet Not Alone," the surprise Oscar nominee for best original song, is not eligible for Academy consideration, representatives of a rival song that was not nominated are contending. But the song's nomination will not be revoked and it will remain in the race, a spokesman for the Academy tells The Hollywood Reporter.
When Oscar nominations were announced Jan. 16, the inclusion of the song -- which features music by Bruce Broughton, a former member of the Academy’s board of governors who represented the music branch from 2003-2012, and lyrics by Dennis Spiegel -- raised eyebrows and even triggered outrage among some. It is featured in a film of the same name that received a very small release -- an independently produced faith-based feature about 18th century colonists struggling to survive in the Ohio Valley that generated very little attention -- and still beat out much-higher-profile competition. The song is performed in the film by Joni Eareckson Tada, a prominent, quadriplegic Evangelical minister.
In the latest development, a charge has been raised that the movie failed to meet the advertising requirements stated in the Academy’s rules for eligibility and that the Academy is not enforcing the strictest reading of those rules because of Broughton’s involvement with the song.
In the wake of the nominations, a public relations firm representing a song that wasn’t nominated hired a private investigator to look into the song’s eligibility. The firm, which offered details of its findings to THR, refuses to be named.
The investigator emailed the producers of Alone, presenting himself as a researcher doing a piece about the Oscar nominations, to ask if the movie was advertised in the print media during its Oscar-qualifying run.
Under the Academy's rule 2e, to be eligible for Oscar consideration a movie must be "advertised and exploited during its Los Angeles County qualifying run in print media." Alone’s Oscar-qualifying run took place at the Laemmle Town Center 5 in Encino, where it screened once daily at 9:55 p.m. from Nov. 15 through Nov. 22.
The Alone producers, in turn, forwarded the inquiry to their PR firm, Rogers & Cowan, which acknowledged that the producers "did not purchase any advertising for the one-week L.A. release" of the film.
In response to a query from THR abut the issue, Academy officials conducted an internal inquiry and found that while the producers themselves did not run ads for the film, the showtimes for the film's screenings were advertised by the Laemmle Town Center 5 theater. "A showtime listing meets our eligibility requirements," an Academy spokesperson said.