Harvey Weinstein and this year’s real Oscar rivalry
There is an intriguing back-story to the coming Oscar showdown between The Social Network and The King’s Speech, which are vying for golden statuettes in several of the major categories, most importantly that of Best Picture.
As is usually the case, in the modern Hollywood awards “season,” expensive campaigns have been mounted by supporters of both films in an effort to secure the all-important Academy Awards, which can add tens of millions of dollars to a movie’s box office take.
Running affairs on behalf of The King’s Speech is Harvey Weinstein, pictured, the scrappy head of The Weinstein Company who during the 1990s, when he was in charge of Miramax, turned Oscar campaigning into a sort of blood sport.
The team touting The Social Network meanwhile includes Terry Press, a former Dreamworks marketing chief who achieved notoriety in 1999 when she was promoting that studio’s blockbuster Saving Private Ryan.
The war film, directed by Steven Spielberg, was for months heavy favourite for the Best Picture Oscar, having received universally brilliant reviews and made hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. But it was eventually pipped at the post by a modest British flick, Shakespeare in Love.
And guess what: Shakespeare in Love just happens to have been promoted by Weinstein.
The race that Weinstein and Press fought in 1999 was famously acrimonious. Indeed, it inspired a raft of newspaper articles detailing excessive spending and backbiting, including an LA Times feature detailing “behind the scenes sniping” between the two camps.
And now, in a fascinating case of history repeating itself, Press and Weinstein once more find themselves on opposite sides of the big Oscar battle.
Much like in ‘99, Press’s studio film has the blue-chip credentials, and started out as clear favourite. But it now looks to be falling out of pole position thanks to the canny manoeuvrings of Weinstein’s British indy film.
While the stars of Social Network have been virtually invisible in Hollywood in recent weeks, Weinstein has forced The King’s Speech cast to attend almost every party and screening in town. If the odds-makers are right, tjhe flesh-pressing has paid off: King’s Speech is now clear favourite for the title.
Quite how Press will respond to defeat at the hands of her old bete noir is anyone’s guess. In a history of Dreamworks published last year, entertainment writer Nicole Laporte devoted a chapter to the doomed Private Ryan campaign.
“Press felt that she had been wronged by the system and that [Weinstein] had won by unfair tactics,” it read. “After the ceremony… she muttered: ‘never again!’”
But of course the same thing may now be about to happen, again.Tagged in: hollywood
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