Oscars organizers have withdrawn a best song nomination from a composer in a rare move because he emailed voting members to highlight his candidacy, which is strictly banned for Academy executives.
“Alone Yet Not Alone,” from the film of the same name, was a surprise inclusion in the five-strong shortlist for best original song unveiled by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on January 16.
But the Academy rescinded the nomination after finding that the song’s composer, Bruce Broughton, had emailed voting members “to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period.”
Broughton, who wrote the song with lyricist Dennis Spiegel, is a former Academy governor and current member of its music branch executive committee.
“I’m devastated,” he told industry journal Variety.” I indulged in the simplest, lamest, grass-roots campaign and it went against me when the song started getting attention. I got taken down by competition that had months of promotion and advertising behind them.”
His song was up against nominees from four far more high-profile movies: “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2;” “Let It Go” from “Frozen;” “The Moon Song” from “Her;” and “Ordinary Love” — by rock icons U2 — from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”
Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in a statement Wednesday: “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.”
“Alone Yet Not Alone” is a historical drama set in 1760s America. The Academy did not replace the song on its shortlist, leaving only four best original song nominees in the running for the Oscars, the climax of Hollywood’s annual awards season, on March 2.
The decision is not without precedent, Variety noted, citing cases in 1953 and 1973, when the Academy withdrew its nomination for the score for “The Godfather” because parts of it had been used in an earlier movie.
The Academy has even revoked an Oscar statuette itself: in 1969 the best documentary award went to “Young Americans,” but it was canceled after it was discovered it was released too early to be eligible.