How Hollywood deals with different types of Producers.

If you follow me on the ol’ Twitter, then you know I’m on the Left Coast.  And whenever I’m here, I’ve always got my ear to the drought-dried ground, listening for any scuttlebutt about new TV/film business practices that might be headed our way.

And, well, something popped up that I had to get your opinion on.

During the recording of my podcast with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (which is amazing by the way – so make sure you’ve subscribed to the podcast so you can be the first to hear it when it’s released), we got to talking about Lead Producers and Co-Producers and the differences between how Broadway and Hollywood treat these two types of Producers.

I told them I had heard rumors of all sorts of things coming down the pike on Broadway because there were a few powerful Producers out there who wanted more of a separation between what they did and what bundlers or large investors did.  There have been rumblings of separate Tony “medallions” for Co-Producers instead of the actual awards, different credits, no credits, etc.

That’s when Craig and Neil said, “Well, you know what Hollywood does, don’t you?”

And I didn’t.

But I do now.

So get this.  In tinsel-town, there’s this association called the Producers Guild of America.  And its primary job is to determine a Producer’s eligibility for awards.  So, if your name is on a movie, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re eligible for an Academy Award.  Oh no.  You have to submit to be eligible with the PGA.  And get this . . . they vet you!  They look at your application . . . which asks you what you did on the movie, how you were involved, who you worked with, etc., etc.  And then they check up on you to make sure you’re not making it up!

If they give you a thumbs up, then, and only then, are you eligible for an Oscar.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a quote from the Oscars Rules & Regs:

To qualify as a producer nominee for a nominated picture, the producer must have been determined eligible for a PGA award for the picture, or have appealed the PGA’s refusal of such eligibility.

And this isn’t just for the Oscars, by the way. This is for all the biggies, including the Emmys.

Can you imagine if this was done for Broadway?  Could it be?  Should it be?  What do you think?

Me, well, I’m not so sure.  I’ve been very vocal about my gratitude to the many people who have taken extraordinary risks on my shows and other shows that just wouldn’t have happened without them. So, in that case, what’s a little title between risk-taking-friends?  And if we instituted something like the PGA vetting process, would they take their money elsewhere if they didn’t pass, or if there wasn’t a guarantee when they committed their money in the first place?

At the same time, are all Producers the same?  Do we need different titles to make that distinction with the public?  Is the public confused?  Do they care?  Are all the names above the title actually devaluing the position of the Producer?

You tell me.  Because I’m not sure just yet.

That said, although I doubt that we’ll ever have PGA-like regulated titles, I do expect we’ll be doing something different in the coming years to draw the distinction between Lead Producers and Co-Producers.

Let’s just hope it doesn’t drive anyone away to . . . well . . . Hollywood.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

Interested in learning more about topics like this? CLICK HERE to join The TheaterMakers Studio, an online community, certification training program, and resource for playwrights, producers, directors, actors, and theater makers of all kinds!
  • Frank says:

    If you make zero decisions about a production outside of giving it money, then you have no right (or shouldn’t have the right) to call yourself a producer on it. Surely there is some other perk that could be given instead to keep them willing to help out, but the idea that 15 people come together to build a show as producers is ludicrous.

    In the end, this all sounds a bit like “first world problems”. Does it matter?

    • Sally says:

      I like the Hollywood way. But Broadway is a little different because the risk is bigger, and producers want to be acknowledge if they’re winners. Maybe there should be a limit on how many producers get to be awarded the Tony or get to be nominated?

    • Rich Mc says:

      I agree…..if someone’s role is solely to bring in funding for Shows’ capitalization then the title Producer (or Co-Producer) does not seem apt, despite the necessity of this service. It’s confusing to the public, many of whom assume there must be an embedded creative function of some kind. I’d give ’em a title such as ‘Rainmaker’ that acknowledges their valuable role, yet distinguishes it from actually producing.

  • Michael Diamond says:

    The upside on movies is much greater with many distribution channels worldwide and that makes investing in Broadway a harder decision. So lead producers on Broadway are great and people who join in to make a project happen are equally deserving of recognition. Think of it as movies are orchards and a Broadway show is a single tree. The fruit tastes as sweet but the trees supply is limited.

    • Frank says:

      The tree analogy is not a very good one.

      But I do agree that film draws from a larger well of resources. However, they often spend 10x or more per product.

  • Carvanpool says:

    Fragile egos. Who really gives a rat’s tail?

    Just produce shows that last more than a month, for chrisakes. Everything else is horse poop.

  • My first entertainment attorney always told me, “Give away ink. It’s free.” Meaning, title, schmitle. If it makes an investor happy (and more likely to invest), give ’em the credit. It’s small concession for an almost certain financial loss. The people who matter will know who really did the heavy lifting.

  • Bobby says:

    Let Hollywood’s ways stay in Hollywood. Keep it the way it is on Broadway now. The risk of a production on Broadway is greater. Anyone who has anything to do with a production deserves that honor. Give them the honor like it has always been. It is called TEAMWORK. This is something I have yet to understand on Broadways thinking. Why does Broadway think they have to do everything that Hollywood does? I would love to see Broadway STOP making films into Broadway shows.

    • Frank says:

      Is it a bigger risk? Broadway budgets rarely reach $15 million, while Hollywood invests $150 million all the time. Most Hollywood advertising budgets dwarf full Broadway production costs.

      If it’s riskier on Broadway, then that is a result of Broadway being unwilling to change how it does business. You can’t fault Hollywood for having a more successful business model.

  • Jerry K says:

    I believe only people putting up money should be eligible to take a producer credit on plays. Admittedly I am not a creative type, but the creation generally is of less significance than the putting up money part. Without the money man NOTHING gets down. You can always find some creative sap who’s been struggling to come in and tweak a script for a few bucks or select a set or whatever else those types of “producers” do, but they Money Man is certainly the most important aspect of the process.

  • Steven Conners says:

    The REAL Producers above the title, not the investors, cum producers. —sjc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *