Sunday, October 17, 2004

MSNBC - Will Oscar Listen? : Most Believe 'Fahrenheit' Nomination Tied to the Election

MSNBC - Will Oscar Listen?: "Millions of people surely believe that Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" deserve best-picture Oscar nominations. Unfortunately, most of them don't vote for the Academy Awards. Despite shattering box-office records and dominating headlines for months, these two films face real obstacles in the race for Hollywood's top prize. Of the many high-placed studio executives, producers, Oscar strategists, publicists and Academy members interviewed for this story, most think that "Fahrenheit's" chances depend on the results of the presidential election, and all say that a "Passion" best-picture nod is almost unthinkable. Hollywood, with its Jewish roots, did not experience "The Passion" as a transcendent religious and emotional event, as so many other viewers did. Some haven't forgiven Gibson for even making the film, let alone forgotten his father, Hutton, and his inflammatory statements about the history of the Jews. "I'll tell you why 'The Passion' won't be nominated," snaps one industry executive. "Happily, there are too many people in the Academy who believe the Holocaust actually happened."

While the rest of the country forked over $370 million to see "The Passion"—making it the highest-grossing foreign-language film, religious film and Gibson film ever—many within the industry did not, out of protest either over its alleged anti-Semitism, its explicit violence or Gibson's refusal to disavow his father. "A lot of older Academy voters, who are largely Jewish, refuse to even see this movie," says one Oscar-campaign vet. "There's a level of animosity toward this film that is very real. When I talk to the members, I hear it over and over and over again." Complicating matters, says one exec, is the sense, fair or not, that Gibson marketed the film as something Hollywood couldn't, or wouldn't, make. "It's a little weird to trash the establishment, and then to come knocking at the establishment's door during awards season."

By Sean Smith


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