Last night, January 28, 2014, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Board of Governors voted to revoke the Best Original Song Oscar nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” from the movie of the same name, and with music by Bruce Broughton and lyrics by Dennis Spiegel. According to the Academy's press release, the decision to disqualify “Alone Yet Not Alone” “was prompted by the discovery that Broughton, a former Governor and current Music Branch executive committee member, had emailed members of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period.”
Following the announcement of the 2014 Academy Award nominations, several publications raised concerns about the legitimacy of the nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone” – a song from a movie that just about no one had ever heard of, but whose composers had strong Academy connections. Though in recent years mostly a composer for television and direct-to-video releases, former Academy Governor Bruce Broughton has several important film credits, including Lost in Space, Miracle on 34th Street, and Tombstone. He received an Academy Award nomination for the Kevin Kline-Kevin Costner Western Silverado (1985). Additionally, Alone Yet Not Alone score composer William Ross has been the musical director/arranger of four Oscar ceremonies in the last seven years.
'Alone Yet Not Alone' movie: 'Faith-based, family-friendly film'
Directed by Ray Bengston and co-directed by George D. Escobar, Alone Yet Not Alone is a little-seen Christian movie featuring Kelly Greyson, Clay Walker, Jenn Gotzon, and Ozzie Torres. Its distributor, San Antonio-based Enthuse Entertainment, describes itself as the promoters of “God-honoring, faith-based, family-friendly films that inspire the human spirit to seek and know God.”
On their website, Alone Yet Not Alone is described as “a historical drama based on a true story, … [that] recounts the faith and courage of a German-American immigrant family as they face hardship, loss and sorrow during the French and Indian War.” Alone Yet Not Alone has no Rotten Tomatoes reviews and a total domestic/worldwide gross of $133,546 according to Box Office Mojo.
The song “Alone Yet Not Alone” is sung by Joni Eareckson Tada, “a 64-year-old quadriplegic who runs a charitable organization that distributes wheelchairs to kids in developing nations,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Also described as a “devout Christian,” Eareckson Tada, whose “lung capacity is just 51 percent of what it ought to be,” told THR:
I'm the least likely candidate to record a song for a movie, I'll tell you that up front, so it's amazing. It's amazing enough that a family-friendly movie with a Christian theme is nominated in any category for an Academy Award. Besides The Blind Side, which was wonderful, it's just not the norm.
Eareckson Tada admitted that the “Alone Yet Not Alone” nomination was “unusual, but somebody must have liked the song very much. I don't know how the process works, but I do know nobody twisted arms or pushed their influence.”
'Alone Yet Not Alone' Oscar 2014 campaigning: 'Unfair advantage'
Regarding the disqualification of “Alone Yet Not Alone,” Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who announced the 2014 Oscar nominations alongside Thor: The Dark World and Snow White and the Huntsman star Chris Hemsworth, was quoted as saying that “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 release adds that the Board of Governors determined that Bruce Broughton's Oscar campaigning for “Alone Yet Not Alone” was “inconsistent with the Academy's promotional regulations,” among whose provisions is the following:
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.
Oscar 2014 Best Original Song nominations
Although the disqualification of “Alone Yet Not Alone” leaves room for one more Best Original Song nomination, no additional nominee will be named. The four movies still in contention for the 2014 Best Original Song Oscar are:
- "Happy” from Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud's Despicable Me 2, Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams. Despicable Me 2 features the voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt, and Steve Coogan.
- "Let It Go” from Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck's Frozen, Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Frozen features the voices of Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff.
- "The Moon Song” from Spike Jonze's Her, Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze. Her features Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and the voice of Scarlett Johansson.
- "Ordinary Love” from Justin Chadwick's Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Music by U2 (Paul Hewson a.k.a. Bono, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen); Lyric by Paul Hewson. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom stars Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela and Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela.
Academy voting rules
In accordance with Academy rules, the members from each of the Academy's branches (e.g., Actors, Directors, Screenwriters, etc.) vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories. Musicians and composers nominate in the Best Original Song and Best Original Score categories.
As per the Academy's release, at the time of the Oscar 2014 nominations process, “all 240 voting members of the Music Branch received 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 (additional information including composer and lyricist is not provided). 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. A maximum of two songs may be nominated from any one film.”
The 2014 Oscar winners will be announced on Sunday, March 2, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles. Alone Yet Not Alone is no longer in the running for anything; other nominees in the various categories include Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o, Jared Leto, Bradley Cooper, Michael Fassbender, Christian Bale, Steve McQueen, David O. Russell, Alfonso Cuarón, Martin Scorsese, and Woody Allen.
Kelly Greyson Alone Yet Not Alone movie photo: Enthuse Entertainment.