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Oscars deja vu? New accuracy charges haunt Russell and Denzel

November 6, 2007 | 11:28 am

Remember those tempests over "The Hurricane" and "A Beautiful Mind" sugar-coating the life stories of their heroes?

After winning the Golden Globe of 1999 for portraying Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, Denzel Washington seemed to be inevitably Oscar-bound. Then — ouch! a surprise left hook! — controversy over the film's accuracy caused the best-actor heavyweight belt to go to Kevin Spacey for "American Beauty."

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Two years later, it looked like Russell Crowe had the best-actor trophy in hand for "A Beautiful Mind," but similar doubts over the truth of his film's portrayal of math genius John Nash — that, plus his attack on a BAFTA producer — caused him to lose. That was the bad news. The good news: Denzel ended up winning for "Training Day." Russell's loss wasn't too great a tragedy considering that he already had an Oscar for best actor, having won the previous year for "Gladiator."

Now, curiously, Russell and Denzel are both in a film competing for Oscars that's under similar attack.

Lou Lumenick reports at his New York Post blog (click here): "Richie Roberts, the real-life fromer cop-turned-prosecutor played by Russell Crowe, is taking issue with the flick's 'depiction of Lucas as almost noble' and "exaggerations or plain factual errors.' Roberts tells The Post's Susannah Cahalan that 'the parts of the movie that depict Frank as a family man are ludicrous . . .They did it for dramatic purposes, you know, to make him look good and me look bad.'

"And Cahalan writes that 'Roberts says the portrayal of his relationship with his first wife is offensive — for one, they didn't have a child together, although the film shows them in a custody battle.' She also reports that Lucas, whose pre-1977 crimes are not covered under the 'Son of Sam' law preventing felons from profiting from their crimes, 'has already received $300,000 from Universal Pictures and another $500,000 from the studio and Washington to buy a house and a new car, a source in the production told The Post.' A Universal flack says, 'It is completely expected that there might be conflicting versions of these incidents, as there are whenever narrative choices are made to dramatize a film based on real people and events . . . the material facts are conveyed truthfully.'"


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