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Academy Defends Revoking Original Song Nomination for 'Alone Yet Not Alone' (CLIP) UPDATED

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 4, 2014 at 1:14PM

The Academy did the right thing. In no way are they eliminating a song because it is Christian. Nor should they have just rapped Broughton's knuckles and taken his Oscar voting privileges away, which would have brought less negative reaction. The nomination would have been unlikely had he not used his special access to his committee colleagues to heighten awareness of his song. If Broughton had wanted to promote the song he should have hired a publicist, like everyone else.
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Frozen

The song stood out like a sore thumb. Which of the Oscar original song nominees did not belong? “Alone Yet Not Alone,” music by Bruce Broughton and lyric by Dennis Spiegel, from the religious movie of the same name (clip below) came out of nowhere. It turned out that Broughton was a former Governor, Academy member and current Music Branch executive committee member. 

Sure enough, on Tuesday night the Academy’s Board of Governors voted to rescind the Original Song nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone." They had discovered that Broughton had emailed members of the committee to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period. The Academy will not add a nominee in the Original Song category. 

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President, stated:

"No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage.” 

The Academy's strict promotional regulations stipulate that:

“It is the Academy's goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner. If any campaign activity is determined by the Board of Governors to work in opposition to that goal, whether or not anticipated by these regulations, the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process.”

The four Original Song nominees are:

“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2”

Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams

“Let It Go” from “Frozen”

Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

“The Moon Song” from “Her”

Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”

Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson

During the nominations process, the Academy sent all 240 voting members of the Music Branch a Reminder List of works submitted in the Original Song category and a DVD copy of the song clips with film and song title only. Members were asked to watch the clips and then vote in the order of their preference for not more than five nominees in the category. 

UPDATE: Academy president Cheryl Boone-Isaacs, well aware that a Christian song in a Christian movie sung by a quadraplegic in a wheelchair (clip here) would inevitably bring viral naysayers, has been defending this rare and controversial move all week. 

The Academy did the right thing. In no way are they eliminating a song because it is Christian. Nor should they have just rapped Broughton's knuckles and taken his Oscar voting privileges away, which would have brought less negative reaction. The nomination would have been unlikely had he not used his special access to his committee colleagues to heighten awareness of his song. If Broughton had wanted to promote the song he should have hired a publicist, like everyone else. 

This article is related to: Awards, Awards Season Roundup, Academy Awards, Awards


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.