It would be hard to get more above the line than the Producers Guild Awards, unless the CEOs of the corporations who actually own film studios were to suddenly start awarding themselves. But then again, if everyone on a film is charged with performing a kind of alchemy— the writer putting words on a page, the actors embodying them, the below the line crafts folk with turning those abstractions into sets, clothes, rays of light capturing a moment just so, then the producers, based on the words that were flowing along with the wine and plates of Chinese food (yes!) inside the Beverly Hilton, are in the middle of an alchemical transformation of their own.
As Jordan Peele, the writer/producer/director of Get Out said, upon his film’s winning the Stanley Kramer Award (named for the socially conscious director/producer of films like Judgment at Nuremberg, Bless the Beasts & Children and others), “We are all living in a Sunken Place now,” referring to that particular metaphorical void in his celebrated horror film, serving to visualize the “system that silences the voice of women, minorities, of other people.”
Yet much of the evening was devoted to producers, many of them also hyphenates, pursuing work and championing stories to help bring us out of that same Sunken Place. The night was also full of references to the earlier Women’s Marches all over the country, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements (as Judd Apatow noted when presenting Universal Chairman Donna Langley with the Milestone Award, there were “no meetings in bathrobes,”) and even the opening announcement about the PGA’s new anti-sexual harassment guidelines.
Producer Sam Goldwyn may have once famously said, “If you have a message, call Western Union,” but part of that aforementioned transformation is that everything is indeed being acknowledged as “message” now, or signal, including who you hire, and how you treat them.
And sometimes, even direct messages get honored directly, especially if artfully done. Peele’s award was presented to him by the legendary Norman Lear, of All in the Family, Maude, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and other TV fames, who left everyone astonished when he noted he was 95 years old.
Lear currently serves as executive producer of the new version of One Day At A Time and has an award named after him, too, and that went to American Horror Story and Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy, who talked of being mocked in story meetings for being a gay man—this, not in Goldwyn’s era, but in the 1990s. Yet it was Lear who had come across some of Murphy’s earlier work and told him, “I see you,” and to keep going. Now Murphy’s numerous shows employ upwards of some 40,000 people.
As for Oscar handicapping, The Shape of Water won for best picture, which in this case means the Zanuck Award. That briefly put it into almost-front runner status for the Oscar, until Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won the next night at the SAG Awards, so things remain fairly, well, fluid on that front.
Guillermo del Toro couldn’t be there to accept the award, as he was tending to his ailing father in Mexico, but sent word thanking the producers for the honor, observing that life “has a way of keeping you in check.” As The Shape of Water’s co-producer, J. Miles Dale accepted the award, he noted that an early working title for the film was “A Fairytale For Troubled Times,” —and this was before the election.
Another year like this, and the PGA may become increasingly indistinguishable from the 1930s-era Writers Guild.
Meanwhile, a complete list of winners and honorees follows.
And the winners are…
The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:
The Shape Of Water
Producers: Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale
Producing Team: Dennis Chapman, Marie Claude-Hornois, Doug Wilkinson, Dennis Berardi
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:
Producer: Darla K. Anderson
Producing Team: Mary Alice Drumm, David Park
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Motion Pictures:
Producers: Brett Morgen, Bryan Burk, Tony Gerber, James Smith
Producing Team: Tim Pastore, Jeff Hasler, Debra Eisenstadt, Gayle Lynn Fields
The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama:
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Season 1)
Producers: Bruce Miller, Warren Littlefield, Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears, Ilene Chaiken, Sheila Hockin, Eric Tuchman, Frank Siracusa, John Weber, Joseph Boccia, Elisabeth Moss, Kira Snyder, Leila Gerstein
Producing Team: Margaret Atwood, Dorothy Fortenberry, Wendy Straker Hauser, Joseph Boccia, Melissa Girotti, Eleanor Mendes, Corrie Gudgeon, Kathryn Blythe
The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy:
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Season 1)
Producers: Daniel Palladino, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Sheila Lawrence, Dhana Rivera Gilbert
Producing Team Matthew Shapiro, Sal Carino, Francesco M. Mannix, Frank Covino, Rachel Jablin, Parker Chehak, Molly Pabain
The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television:
The Long-Form Television category encompasses both movies of the week and limited series.
“Black Mirror” (Season 4)
Producers: Annabel Jones, Charlie Brooker
Producing Team: Nick Pitt, Louise Sutton, Sanne Wohlenberg, Ian Hogan, Joanne Crowther, Chris Lahr, Andy Chapman, Benjamin Greenacre, Andrea Raffaghello, Joel Stokes, Oliver Cockerham, Arni Pall Hansson, Moira Brophy, Russell McLean, Amber Ducker, Christopher Gray, Jakub Chilczuk
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television:
“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” (Season 1, Season 2)
Producers: Leah Remini, Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Myles Reiff, Adam Saltzberg, Erin Gamble, Lisa Rosen, Grainne Byrne, Taylor Levin, Alex Weresow, Rachelle Mendez
Producing Team: Elaine Frontain Bryant, Amy Savitsky, Devon Graham Hammonds, Sabrina Mar, Jeana Dill, Emily Webster, Mike Rinder, Angela Root, Michael Tubman, Gabrielle Della Pesca, Marissa Ramirez, Natalie Doerr, Jennifer Parris, Deanne Vernengo, Dunbar Dicks, Bobby Aguilar, Matthew S. Harper, Zachary Bidman, Michelle Vonwald, Gabriel Rivera, Jane Lemberg, Tim Romine
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television:
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (Season 4)
Producers: John Oliver, Tim Carvell, Liz Stanton
Producing Team: Jon Thoday, James Taylor, Jeremy Tchaban, Baz Hatfield, Nicole Franza, Catherine Owens, Amanda Bayard, Claire Gordon, Kate Mullaney, Matt Passet, Alex Smelson, Christopher Werner, Melissa Weiss, Steven Tucker
The Award for Outstanding Producer of Competition Television:
“The Voice” (Season 12, Season 13)
Producers: John de Mol, Mark Burnett, Audrey Morrissey, Lee Metzger, Chad Hines, Amanda Zucker, Kyra Thompson, Jay Bienstock, Stijn Bakkers, Mike Yurchuk, Teddy Valenti, Carson Daly
Producing Team: Amanda Silva Borden, Dan Paschen, Tod Schellinger, Jared Wyso, Suzanne Lee, Anthea Bhargava, Keith Dinielli, May Johnson, Clyde Lieberman, Kyley Tucker, Amanda Horning Cuddy, Melissa Wong, Anna Gunne, Thomas A. Douglass, Stephanie Rojas, Ryan Corchard-Keller, Brianna Stegemann, Meredith Ambrose, William Davalos, Alexis Heller, Amanda Keller, Alyson Lippert, Mariela Rodriguez, Jacob Kieval
NOTE: The PGA does not vet individual producers of short-form programs, sports programs, or children’s programs. The winning programs in these categories are:
The Award for Outstanding Short-Form Program:
“Carpool Karaoke” (Season 1)
Producing Team: Ben Winston, James Corden, Eric Pankowski, Sheila Rogers
The Award for Outstanding Sports Program:
“Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” (Season 23)
Producing Team: Rick Bernstein, Joe Perskie, Kirby Bradley, Lisa Bennett, Maggie Burbank, Chapman Downes, Josh Fine, Jordan Kronick, Stuart Ash, Max Gershberg, Nisreen Habbal, Naimah Jabali-Nash, Katie Melone, Beret Remak, Jake Resenwasser
The Award for Outstanding Children’s Program:
“Sesame Street” (Season 47)
Producing Team: Brown Johnson, Carol-Lynn Parente, Benjamin Lehmann, Stephanie Longardo, Karyn Leibovich,Theresa Anderson, Andrew Moriarty, Aimee Blackton, Maxwell Nicoll, Elena Sporillo, Yuewen Jiang