When Little Miss Sunshine won the Producers Guild Award recently, five producers called themselves winners. Now two of them have to bow out of the Oscar race. It gets even more complicated around The Departed. The Producers Guild ruled that only one of the three producers properly qualified for their award, and the Academy sticks by those rules, leaving out Brad Pitt and Brad Grey (though they both will have the chance to appeal to the Academy).
The Academy's 2000 rule was established to battle so-called "credit creep," in which filmmakers doled out unnecessary and undeserved producer credits just to massage a few egos. In recent years, producer lists have routinely grown to upwards of a dozen or more names. In the old days, it was one guy -- usually with a cigar -- that produced a movie. David O. Selznick or Daryl F. Zanuck or even Robert Evans were in charge, and what they said, went. It just goes to show: too many cooks spoil the soup.