Oscars campaigning scandal sees Best Original Song nominee eliminated

The Academy has disqualified Bruce Broughton's song 'Alone Yet Not Alone'

A nominee for the Best Original Song at this year’s Academy Awards has been disqualified after the song's composer broke campaigning rules.

“Alone Yet Not Alone”, from the Christian faith movie of the same name, has been removed from the running after inappropriate campaigning on behalf of the song’s composer, Bruce Broughton.

Broughton, a former governor and current music branch executive committee member, was found to have emailed his colleagues to alert them of his submission while the nominations were under consideration.

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With lyrics written by Dennis Spiegel and vocals performed by quadriplegic singer Joni Eareckson Tada, the “Alone Yet Not Alone” team are reported to be distraught at the Board’s decision.

Joni Eareckson Tada performed Broughton's song Joni Eareckson Tada performed Broughton's song Tada, an Evangelical minister with limited lung capacity, needed her husband Ken to push against her diaphragm while she recorded the song, so that she could take in enough air to reach the highest notes.

“I indulged in the simplest, lamest, grass-roots campaign and it went against me when the song started getting attention,” a “devastated” Broughton told Variety.

“I got taken down by competition that had months of promotion and advertising behind them. I simply asked people to find the song and consider it.”

Other contenders in the Best Original Song longlist had questioned how a little-known song from an independent film had beaten tracks by more prominent musicians to the final list, according to industry insider The Hollywood Reporter. "Young and Beautiful" by Lana Del Rey was snubbed, despite appearing in Baz Luhrmann's blockbuster, The Great Gatsby. Coldplay, Taylor Swift and Celine Dion also missed out on Oscars acknowledgement.

Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy, released a statement about the withdrawal of “Alone Yet Not Alone”.

“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,” she said.

“It is the Academy’s goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner,” the Board’s promotional rules and regulations read. “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.”

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It is not the first time that a nominee has been dropped ahead of the Oscars. In 1972, Nino Rota’s score for The Godfather was scrapped after the Board discovered key sections had already been used in an earlier film.

The Academy Award for Documentary Feature went to Young Americans in 1968, only for it to be revoked when voters realised it had debuted in 1967.

“Alone Yet Not Alone” will not be replaced by a new nominee in the Original Song category.

Nominees still in the running are: “Let It Go” from Frozen, “The Moon Song” from Her, “Happy from Despicable Me 2 and “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.

The Best Original Song category nominees are voted for by 240 members of the Academy’s music branch, who are sent clips with film and song titles without the names of the composer or lyricist.

The 86th Academy Awards winners will be announced on 2 March.

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