Way to go, Hollywood. Your hypocrisy has succeeded in garnering more media attention for an obscure faith-based movie, one that would have gone largely unnoticed, if not for the hissy fit you threw after its Oscar nomination for Best Song. In fact, most PR agencies would be foaming at the mouth for the type of attention that your antics have created.
Petty un-nominated songwriters, affiliated with big budget films, were incensed that Alone Yet Not Alone, from the movie of the same title, received a nomination and their songs did not. One PR firm, representing a song not nominated, even went so far as to hire a private investigator to research whether the song should be disqualified for not meeting advertising requirements. However, the Academy accused song-writer Bruce Broughton of improperly emailing “members of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period.” Broughton’s email read in part: “I’m dropping you a line to boldly direct your attention to entry #57,” a reference to the track number on a CD containing songs up for nomination consideration. “I’m sending this note only because it is extremely unlikely that this small, independent, faith-based film will be seen by any music branch member; it’s the only way I can think of to have anyone be aware of the song.” Alone Yet Not Alone has become the first nominee in history (excluding four foreign -made movies) to have its nomination revoked-resulting in an outcry from Christians and Hollywood elite alike.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter:
Gerald Molen, an Oscar-winning producer of Schindler’s List, is accusing the Academy of discriminating against a religious movie in revoking its nomination in the best song category. His criticism is significant, given his pedigree as an Oscar winner for best picture and producer credits on blockbusters like Jurassic Park and Minority Report. He also produced the political documentary 2016: Obama’s America and is working on the follow-up to that film, called America, set to open July 4. In a feisty letter to Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, a copy of which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Molen attacks the group’s Jan. 29 decision to rescind the nomination for Alone Yet Not Alone. If Broughton and co-writer Dennis Spiegel are ineligible for an Oscar merely for asking people to give their tune a listen, he argues, more Oscar winners should be required to return their statues because they all promoted their work to some degree or another. “Every film, director, writer, cinematographer, actor, art director, costume designer and efx house finds a way to pitch or promote their work. Many will see this decision as faith-based bigotry pure and simple,” Molen says in the letter to Boone Isaacs. “Critics will pounce and accuse us of being out of touch and needlessly offending middle America by stripping this song — a song sung by a quadriplegic hero to evangelical Christians who has captured the imagination of the American people — of its nomination,” Molen writes. “In my humble opinion, it seems to me that this has turned a Cinderella story that America loves into a story of the wicked stepmother who wants to keep her daughter from the ball, with we the Academy cast as the villain.” “My goodness,” continues Molen, “if we were truly to operate by this new standard the committee has cited, your office would be filled with returned Oscars from past winners and nominees who have lobbied their friends and colleagues. This seems to me to have been a normal practice for a long, long time, and yet the Academy has suddenly discovered lobbying in the case of this one song?”…”It has been reported that a rival film hired a private investigator to find dirt on the film in an attempt to discredit it as not having been advertised properly and that when this failed to sway the committee, a decision was instead made to disqualify it because of the email,” Molen wrote in his letter to Boone Isaacs. “I urge you and the Academy to reconsider this decision and restore the song and fairness and integrity to our process.”
According to the LA Times, veteran awards consultant Cynthia Swartz says she doesn’t understand how Broughton’s email was different from any number of other things that the academy allows during campaigning for Oscar nominations. Producers and studio executives, she notes, routinely send email invitations to friends for screenings of their movies, events that also include refreshments. “The punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime,” says Swartz, president of Strategy PR, one of the industry’s leading Oscar consultancies, adding that she believes his actions were “innocuous.”
The song was recorded, not by a professional singer, but by Joni Eareckson Tada, a 64-year old quadriplegic Christian broadcaster who founded Joni and Friends, an organization that provides wheelchairs to children. I first read her inspiring story when I was a teenager; in fact, I still have the book.
As you watch the video of Joni praying and singing Alone Yet Not Alone, note that, because of her limited lung capacity due to her disability, Joni had her husband, Ken, push on her diaphragm while she recorded the song to give her enough breath to hit the high notes. Watch and be blessed.
Statement from Joni Eareckson Tada:
“While I can only imagine the disappointment of music writer Bruce Broughton and lyricist Dennis Spiegel in the rescinding of their Oscar nomination, it in no way detracts from either the song’s beauty or its message. I was humbled and honored to have been asked to sing it for the film, and was as surprised as anyone when I learned of the song’s nomination. I was grateful for the attention the nomination brought to this worthy song and the inspirational film behind it, as well as to the ongoing work of Joni and Friends to people affected by disabilities. The decision by the Academy to rescind the nomination may well bring even further attention, and I only hope it helps to further extend the message and impact of the song. Regarding the reasons for the nomination being rescinded, it is not my place to speculate as I have no insights into the workings of the entertainment industry. I was honored to be invited to sing the song and it will always be a treasured experience.”