Nestled among tracks from U2, Pharrell, Karen O and a monster Disney ballad was a peculiar addition to the nominees for Best Original Song at this year's Oscars: "Alone Yet Not Alone," the theme song to a Christian film of the same name, sung by evangelical author and radio host Joni Eareckson Tada, who is quadriplegic. Now Entertainment Weekly reports that the song's Academy Award nomination has been revoked after its composer, Bruce Broughton – a former governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences music branch who now serves on its executive committee – was accused of improperly using his position to influence voters.
Broughton, who was nominated for Best Original Score in 1986 for Silverado, reportedly emailed fellow voters during the nominations voting period to let them know about his contribution, which he feared would be easily overlooked on the CD given to voters that contains all possible nominees.
"So, yeah, I wrote some people and said, 'Could you just take a look?'" Broughton said. "That was literally the extent of the campaigning. I received in the mail songs from other films that were pressed and recorded CDs. We didn’t do anything like that at all."
This kind of campaigning reportedly happens all the time around Oscar season, but the Academy took particular issue in this case because of Broughton's position within the organization: "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," said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
Only a handful of Oscar nominations have been rescinded in the past, most recently a 2011 Live Action Short Film nominee, Tuba Atlantica, which had its nod revoked after it was revealed that the short had aired on Norwegian television in 2010. In 1968, the filmmakers of Young Americans were forced to return their statue for Best Documentary Feature after being declared ineligible for an earlier screening.
The Academy will not replace "Alone Yet Not Alone" with another nominee from the original list of 75 songs. In a statement, Broughton said he was "devastated," reiterating his belief that he had done nothing wrong: "I indulged in the simplest grass-roots campaign and it went against me when the song started getting attention. I got taken down by competition that has months of promotion and advertising behind them."
This year's Best Original Song category will be left with four nominees, all of which you can take a listen to here: Pharrell Williams' "Happy" from Despicable Me 2; "Let It Go" from Frozen; Karen O's "The Moon Song" from Her; and U2's "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. The winners will be revealed when the Oscars are broadcast on Sunday, March 2nd on ABC starting at 7 p.m. EST.