Give Credit Where Credit Is Due: Oscar Noms Omit Writer

Oscar the grouch?

Yesterday (1/25) Nashville was beaming with pride when local songwriters Tom Douglas, Troy Verges, and Hillary Lindsey scored an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. Together, with Bob DiPiero, they wrote “Coming Home” for the Country Strong soundtrack. So why isn’t DiPiero’s name on the official nominations list?

According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, no more than three songwriters can be nominated in this category; and Douglas, Verges, and Lindsey were the three names submitted.

An Academy rep maintains that this rule is because the Oscars are designed to reward individual, not group, achievement.

According to the rep, the Original Song category traditionally honors two songwriters: one for lyrics, one for music. According to the official rules:

No more than two statuettes will normally be given in the Original Song category. A third statuette may be awarded when there are three essentially equal contributors to a song.

Only the principal composer(s) or songwriter(s) responsible for the conception and execution of the work as a whole shall be eligible for an award. Excluded will be partial contributors (i.e., any writer not responsible for the overall design of the work)

Rules for this category are overseen by The Music Branch Executive Committee, currently headed by chairman Bruce Broughton. An article in Variety last month pointed out: “No Academy group has tinkered more with its rules than the music branch. Over the years, categories have been added and subtracted, and the award titles have changed repeatedly. Even the idea of what is eligible and what is not — for songs and scores alike — has been overhauled numerous times.”

So maybe the committee should consider allowing all songwriters with equal writing credit to be nominated?

“Coming Home” was performed by Gwyneth Paltrow for the soundtrack released by RCA Nashville. The song was also nominated at the recent Golden Globes for Best Original Song – Motion Picture.

The 83rd Academy Awards will air Sunday, February 27, on ABC.

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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