No ’04 Oscar for original musicals

Times Staff Writer

The Hollywood musical may be alive and kicking this year with “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera” and “De-Lovely” in the running for Oscars, but the Academy Awards has ruled out any Oscars for original musicals this year.

The board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, acting on the recommendation of its music branch, voted late Tuesday not to activate its dormant original musical category because only five films would have qualified for consideration. The films that had hoped to be in the running included “Home on the Range,” “The Chorus,” “Team America: World Police,” “Open House” and “Big in Germany.”

Although academy rules state that the original musical category can be activated provided there are at least five movies eligible, the board chose not to go that route.


“There were enough [films] in the sense that there could have been five pictures competing, but the music branch didn’t feel they wanted to recommend a category with only five players in it that would get three nominations,” said academy spokesman John Pavlik. “They didn’t feel that was in keeping with the level of accomplishment that normally comes with Academy Award nominations.”

Neither “Phantom” nor “De-Lovely” would have qualified for original musical since the rules stipulate that a film must have at least five original songs. “Phantom” is based on Webber’s long-running stage production and “De-Lovely” features vintage tunes by the late Cole Porter.

The academy’s decision isn’t sitting well with at least one filmmaker, who was behind two of the five movie musicals that could have been eligible for the original musical category.

“By their own guidelines and rules, they should have activated the category,” said Dan Mirvish, who wrote, directed and produced “Open House,” a real estate-themed musical, and also co-wrote and produced “Big in Germany,” a musical about a motivational speaker.

“For an organization that we all know is a stickler about rules when it comes to foreign films, documentaries and all the other categories, it seems disingenuous to choose what rules they get to live by and which rules the filmmakers get to live by.”