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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."


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.'"

The comments to this entry are closed.


I thnk certain journalists havn't much to write about because of the strike. Kudos to the screenwriter of American Gangster for embelishing the story so creatively. He should get an Oscar nom for it!

Hollywood is too full of itself. It's a movie for heavens sake. When has Hollywood ever told the truth about anything. Just watch "Sicko" and then watch the 20/20 segment on it.

Hollywood....Listen up....No one cares about your politics or ideas. Just act and entertain.

Tom, please do not let this be another Oscar year of Crowe-bashing. Now I speak as someone who hasn't seen this movie yet, but are Crowe or Washington even capable of being nominated for these performances as they were in the past?

Whats all the fuss? Its a movie. Doesn't everyone know that movie scripts are embelished to entertain. And the Academy is upset? After awarding Micheal Moore an Oscar for his 'documentary style' of sensationalism. They have no standing to object to embelishments in an obviosly fictional piece like this.

Really, who cares? This is important? I can imagine what the talk is all about between millionaire movie stars on their Malibu balconies: me,me, me, me, me, and me! They all pat themsleves on the back and call each other "geniuses" and give each other awards all year long. STOP! This perverse and self-absorbed bunch of phonies makes me sick!

The movie was boring. It didn't help that it started off with a lie about where Bumpy died.

Who cares - everyone knows that both Hollywierd and most actors are biased liars anyway. They have no skills...they're ACTORS!!

Can we get one thing straight?: Kevin Spacey beat Denzel Washington for Best Actor not because of some silly controversy. He won because people LOVED American Beauty, and they loved Spacey in it. AB was a cultural touchstone. People felt passionately about it, and talked about it for months. Plus, it was a commercial hit. Conditions couldn't have been better for a Spacey win.

The Hurricane, on the other hand, is a mediocre film, and audiences realized that at the time. The story is a great one, and the film could have been, but wasn't. Denzel didn't have anything to hang a great performance on. Sure, he won the Globe. But sometimes, it's obvious to even Academy voters that the Golden Globes are just a popularity contest on an international scale. There was no way Denzel was going to win the Oscar that year. That was one of the few years that the Academy got the big categories right.

Save accuracy for the journalists. The movies are where I go to get away from the real world. Holding Hollywood accountable for accuracy is a futile fantasy.

Who is Cahalan? And where does she get her so-called information from? First, anybody who believes that Denzel Washington bought Lucas a$500K house is delusional. He said in theenvelope interview he "helped" him get a house. Now you can interpret that anyway you want...maybe Denzel called up Habit for Humanity and asked them if they had a spare....if Lucas got $300K, how much did Richie get? Nobody reported on that figure, right? But Richie got something. Frank on BET stated that Denzel promised to buy him a Rolls Royce, but on that same documentary, speakers said Frank "exaggerated" a lot. He's an old man, big mouth, he's living his last days as a celebrity and being courted by studios and movie stars.

As for Richie and the mistruths -- he was right there while they were filming and he didn't speak up and say "hey, that's not right, that's not how it happened"....but by that time he already has his money, maybe he couldn't say anything.

The Page 6 is a non-controversy. Sit back and enjoy the movie folks.

For some reason I don't think people will care as much about this "accuracy" issue than they did about "The Hurricane" and "A Beautiful Mind." First, Frank Lucas has said in interviews that regarding his life, the movie is pretty much fiction and I think everyone knows that Denzel and Russell weren't playing things as they really happened (Denzel especially isn't going to play a gangster without their being some positive shading to the role, albeit fictional).

Second, both Lucas and the cop are (sad to say) not really big names in the world. Lucas is a gangster with a fascinating life and that's about it, and the cop is just a cop (it's awful but true). It's not like they are John Nash or Rubin Carter who both have been subject to much discussion and interest in their lives.

Third, it's the first big Hollywood movie with two BIG Hollywood names in it. That makes a difference.



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