All bets are off again in this year's Oscar race following the inclusion of both Shrek and Harry Potter And The Scorcerer's Stone among the five motion picture nominees for this year's Producers Guild of America Awards. They compete against A Beautiful Mind, Moulin Rouge and The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring.

Regarded as one the of most reliable bellweathers for which films will be nominated for - and eventually win - the Academy Award for Best Picture, the PGA has the distinction of mirroring the Oscar winner nine times out of the last twelve years. Last year's PGA victor, for example, was Gladiator.

However, by the time the PGA nominees for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures had been announced last year, the Oscar derby had essentially thinned down to a two-horse fight between Gladiator and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

This year no such consensus has come close to being established. Films as diverse as Mulholland Drive, In The Bedroom and Moulin Rouge have been topping critics polls and winning their various awards circles. In terms of number of nominations, the Golden Globes has favoured A Beautiful Mind and Moulin Rouge, followed closely by Gosford Park and Lord Of The Rings (which also won last week's American Film Institute Awards). But no one until now has even put Harry Potter in the nomination frame, let alone cited it as one of the year's top five films.

Shrek is a more complicated story. Although it has been frequently cited as the best animation, Shrek has only been given an outside chance of making the Oscar cut for best picture. Nonetheless, its studio DreamWorks SKG has been campaigning hard on its behalf, positioning the film as a Best Picture nominee ' a strategem that may well give it the psychological edge over arch-rival Monsters Inc for the Academy Awards inaugural contest for best animated feature. (Likewise, Crouching Tiger chased the Best Picture last year in the knowledge that the foreign-language best picture Oscar would provide voters with a ready insurance policy).

The PGA will announce the winners of its 13th Awards for motion picture and television productions on March 3rd, at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. Competing for best longform television production are 61* (HBO), Anne Frank (ABC), Band Of Brothers (HBO), Life With Judy Garland: Me And My Shadows (ABC) and Wit (HBO).HBO

Nominees for best dramatic TV series are CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS), Law & Order (NBC), Six Feet Under (HBO), The Sopranos (HBO) and The West Wing (NBC).

Competing for the best comedic series are: Frasier (NBC), Friends (NBC), Malcolm In The Middle (Fox), Sex In The City (HBO) and Will & Grace (NBC).