Michael Moore's got the biz buzz again these days for his announcement that he will be foregoing submitting his Fahrenheit 9/11 for the Best Documentary Oscar this year, and, instead, will be going for the Best Picture nod. This might be a classic case of the devil biting his own tail, but, on the other hand, this is Hollywood...
In more testimony to the weird weird extreme polarization of our times, Daily Variety reported a few weeks back that, considering the Best Picture race so far, the two top contenders have to be reckoned The Passion of the Christ and Fahrenheit 9/11.
It would be great to see pictures of the Suffering Savior splattered all over the industry trades for the next four months, but, honestly, I just don't see it happening. And my sense is Icon isn't going to go for it.
A few of us conservative Catholics worked really hard to get TPOTC the annual official Catholic organization in Hollywood award. This award is given at a big Beverly Hills brunch attended by the Cardinal of Los Angeles (or, this year, his delegate) and about a thousand industry Catholics. There was great resistance on the part of many of the liberal Catholics in the group toward giving TPOTC the award. The argument was that the film was offensive to "our Jewish friends and colleagues in the business." Fortunately, there wasn't any other film that offered any competition except maybe Big Fish. Well, I liked that film, but as my friend argued to the Board, "We can give the Award to an international block-buster and the most significant religious film ever made, or we can give it to a movie nobody saw." Still, we nearly lost the dispute. We ended up prevailing by making the triangulating case that the film was "Particularly beloved of the poor in the Third World, and that it would be an expression of solidarity with the poor to give the film the Award." Which is true....but sheesh.
Anyway, when I called Icon to inform them of the award, there was decided reticence about anybody from the production coming to pick it up. Certainly not Mel. I made the case, "This award could be a really important kick-off for the Academy Award campaign season." The response came back, "Mel already has his Oscars."
(Another friend recently pitched a TV series at Icon as they are now heavy into prime-time with three series this fall. My friend's series has a spiritual component to it, which, in the wake of Joan of Arcadia got the pitch a good reception at several networks. But, at Icon he was waved away, "We don't want to do anything with religion here." I guess it's shell-shock from all the anti-Semitic crap that was thrown at them last year. But it's also a little, well, ungrateful, in light of the $600 million dollars they made off of religion recently...)
Anyway, this indicated to me that Icon is not going to be pushing TPOTC for an Oscar, and without the campaign, the film's chances are dead in the water. The only way to explain an Oscar campaign is "saturation." The top contenders are generally featured in the trades through advertising or other buzz every day for three months. Clearly,
But even if Icon did enter the race seriously, I still don't see this town giving Oscar to a film which is a devout bloody depiction of the death of Jesus of Nazareth. Sorry, but, it's hardly news that this is, culturally, a very Jewish town. One of my Jewish friends assured me that few people in the business even saw TPOTC.
No, I think that in an election year, the pressure will be over-whelming to register a vote against the "right-wing Republican Christian menace," by giving the Oscar to Fahrenheit. I could be wrong, but you have to understand how giddy with power people in this industry are. They get all sanctimonious about "Coming Out" with their opinions, as though they have earned a political responsibility along with their creative achievements. It's a kind of insanity, but they really have nothing to lose, do they? Whether it's acrimony or love the celebrities here get, the hunger for attention is still fed.
Friend and fellow screenwriter, Jan "The Maven" disagrees with me. I hope she's right.