Producers Guild Award Win Means This Could Be The Year For "1917"
Sam Mendes accepts the Producers Guild Award for best motion picture on behalf of the World War I drama "`1917" (photo courtesy of Producers Guild of America)
Sam Mendes’ World War I drama wins Darryl F. Zanuck honor which has often been a bellwether for the Oscars
  • HOLLYWOOD, Calif.
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Less than two weeks after winning the Golden Globe Award for best drama picture, 1917 took the marquee honor at the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday night (1/18). The World War I drama from director/producer/co-writer Sam Mendes won the Producers Guild of America’s marquee Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. The Producers Guild Awards are often a bellwether for the Oscars. Since its inception, the PGA has  predicted 21 of the 30 Academy Award winners for Best Picture.

The PGA Award was bestowed upon 1917 producers Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne-Ann Tenggren and Callum McDougall. A capacity crowd at the Hollywood Palladium heard acceptance remarks from Harris and Mendes, the former describing 1917 as being “a tribute to all those who stood to protect the values that we all hold dear, and fought in the First World War and many other conflicts. In these times of division and conflict all over the world, it’s just a reminder to never take for granted the peace that we all inherited.” 

Harris went on to thank several collaborators, culminating in her citing Mendes’ unflagging commitment to 1917, his “sheer bloody determination” which “inspired us every day.”

Mendes--who co-wrote the original screenplay with Krysty Wilson-Cairns--followed by acknowledging his grandfather Alfred H. Mendes, a World War I vet whose stories served as inspiration for 1917. The director also thanked his cast and crew, “all working at the peak of their craft,” led by cinematographer Roger Deakins. Many of them, noted Mendes, committed two years of their lives to tell this story.

Mendes added that this was the first Producers Guild Awards ceremony he had attended, sparking him to reflect on producers he’s worked with over the years. Mendes shared, “I want to say thank you to the twinkle and wisdom of Richard Zanuck, to the brilliance and bullishness of Scott Rudin, to the zip and enthusiasm of Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, the gentleness and wit of Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher, the warmth of Ed Saxon, the lifelong dedication of Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson, the day-to-day care of my friend here Jayne-Ann Tenggren, the strategic overview of Callum McDougall, and many many others,” he said. “But finally and best of all, the friendship and love of my favorite producer of all, who I’ve known since I was 14 years old, Pippa Harris.”

Winning PGA Awards for best animated theatrical motion picture and feature documentary were, respectively, Toy Story 4 and Apollo 11.

On the TV side, Succession scored the Guild’s Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Drama while Fleabag won The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television--Comedy.

The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Limited Series Television went to Chernobyl.

Taking the PGA honor for Outstanding Producer of Televised or Streamed Motion Pictures, an award now in its second year, was Apollo: Missions to the Moon, the lone documentary this year in the category.

Earning distinction in the Non-Fiction Television category was Leaving Neverland. Topping Live Entertainment & Talk TV was Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. And taking the Game & Competition TV category was RuPaul's Drag Race.

Special honors
Special Guild honors went to Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix, who received the Milestone Award. Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner of Plan B accepted the David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures. The Stanley Kramer Award went to the Lionsgate film Bombshell. Producer/actress Octavia Spencer was presented with the Guild’s Visionary Award. And Marta Kaufman garnered the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television.

Kaufman, best known as a co-creator of the hit show Friends, was presented the Norman Lear honor by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, stars of Kaufman’s Netflix series Grace and Frankie. Fonda noted that this is the second straight year that the Lear Comedy Award was given to a woman, the recipient in 2019 being Amy Sherman-Palladino, creator of such shows as Gilmore Girls and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

In accepting the Milestone Award, Sarandos said he’s always been a fan of features and TV, an orientation he takes into his role at Netflix where he is privileged to get to work with major industry talent whom he has long admired. He described his being able to connect with Martin Scorsese on The Irishman and Noah Baumbach on Marriage Story as “life changing and life affirming experiences.”

Pitt, Gardner and Kleiner accepted the Guild’s Selznick Award on behalf of Plan B, producer of such notable features as 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight. Pitt recalled that when he started out as an actor, he wasn’t sure what producers did. He told the audience he has since learned their role at Plan B. “I’m now painfully aware of what you do. I commend you all.” Pitt went on to define the job of the producer as being “stewards of the story and protectors of storytellers. And I find that to be an awesome responsibility.” 

Visionary Award recipient Spencer said that she and her partner at Orit Entertainment, Brian Clisham, “look forward to adding fresh perspectives from diverse storytellers who enlighten, uplift and most importantly entertain.”

Here’s a feature and TV category rundown of this year’s Producers Guild Awards winners:
The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures
Producers: Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne‐Ann Tenggren, Callum McDougall

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
Toy Story 4
Producers: Mark Nielsen, Jonas Rivera

The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television - Drama
Succession (Season 2) 
Producers: Jesse Armstrong, Adam McKay, Frank Rich, Kevin Messick, Mark Mylod, Jane Tranter, Tony Roche, Scott Ferguson, Jon Brown, Georgia Pritchett, Will Tracy, Jonathan Glatzer, Dara Schnapper, Gabrielle Mahon

The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television - Comedy
Fleabag (Season 2)
Producers: Phoebe Waller‐Bridge, Harry Bradbeer, Lydia Hampson, Harry Williams, Jack Williams, Joe Lewis, Sarah Hammond

The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Limited Series Television
Producers: Craig Mazin, Carolyn Strauss, Jane Featherstone, Johan Renck, Chris Fry, Sanne Wohlenberg

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Televised or Streamed Motion Pictures
Apollo: Missions to the Moon
Producers: Tom Jennings, David Tillman, Abe Scheuermann, Chris Morcom, Rob Kirk

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Motion Picture
Apollo 11
Producers: Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television
Leaving Neverland
Producers: Dan Reed

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Season 6)
Producers: John Oliver, Tim Carvell, Liz Stanton, Jeremy Tchaban, Christopher Werner, Laura L. Griffin, Kate Mullaney, Matt Passet, Marian Wang, Charles Wilson

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television
RuPaul’s Drag Race (Season 11)
Producers: Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Mandy Salangsang, RuPaul Charles, Steven Corfe, Bruce McCoy, Michele Mills, Jacqueline Wilson, Thairin Smothers, John Polly, Michelle Visage, Jen Passovoy

And to recap, here are four categories awarded in ceremonies prior to the PGA gala in Hollywood: 

The Award for Outstanding Short-Form Program
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (S11)

The Award for Outstanding Sports Program
What’s My Name | Muhammad Ali

The Award for Outstanding Children’s Program
Sesame Street (S49)

The PGA Innovation Award
Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series - Episode I


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