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Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: Mel Gibson

Gold Derby nuggets: David Fincher opens up to Mark Harris | Mel Gibson comeback? | 'Friends' reunited on 'Cougar Town'

September 22, 2010 | 10:42 am

David Fincher The Social NetworkMark Harris landed an interview with "The Social Network" director David Fincher for a New York magazine cover story. As there wasn't enough room in the print edition for the whole conversation, he has posted it online. In his intro to the transcript, Mark writes, "Here, Fincher dishes on the enormous difficulty of speeding up Aaron Sorkin's motormouth text ('Faster. That was my only real direction.'), his surprising 'enormous amount of empathy' for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and much much more."  VULTURE

• The Producers Guild of America will salute James Cameron at the 22nd annual edition of its kudos on Jan. 22. The Oscar winner is to receive the guild's highest honor, the Milestone award. Previous recipients include Clint Eastwood, Alfred Hitchcock, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Ron Howard & Brian Grazer, and Walt Disney. In a statement, Paula Wagner, chair of the PGA awards, said, “James Cameron is an exceptionally talented producer, a true innovator with the rare combination of technical ingenuity and creative vision. Jim has continued to change the film landscape with his ability to deliver groundbreaking masterpieces that present audiences and the industry with unrivaled beauty, originality and impact." PGA

Dave Karger defends the decision by Focus Features to position both Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in the lead race for their work in "The Kids Are All Right." Says Dave, "Both actresses have juicy roles and complete character arcs that merit inclusion in the lead category. Sure, Moore would have a better shot at her first Oscar win in supporting, but it would seem disingenuous to campaign her as such. As for Bening, despite her tough competition this year (notably 'Black Swan's' Natalie Portman and 'Blue Valentine's' Michelle Williams), I’d say she has a decent shot at a victory this time around." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Patrick Goldstein dismisses the notion put forth by our pal Pete Hammond that "The Town" — Ben Affleck's sophomore film as a director — could be a contender at the Oscars. He writes, "I'm already on record as being a big fan of 'The Town,' which is a terrific crime genre piece set in working-class Boston and loaded with gifted actors doing great work. But crime pictures (unless they have an eminence grise like Clint Eastwood or Martin Scorsese at the helm) rarely end up getting any serious Oscar consideration. The academy is partial to weighty dramas and historical fare. Genre pictures have about as good a chance as comedies at earning best picture nods." THE BIG PICTURE

Jeff Wells agrees with Patrick, using some very colorful language to make his point. HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

Mel Gibson The Beaver • Pete Hammond also reports on the buzz about the Mel Gibson comeback picture "The Beaver," which was directed by his "Maverick"  costar Jodie Foster. She has proved a staunch supporter of the embattled actor, telling More magazine, “Of course, Mel is an undeniably gifted actor, and 'The Beaver' is one of his most powerful and moving performances." As Pete writes, "The big question now is when Summit Entertainment plans to release her film, which still remains officially undated, and if the studio will try to make an awards play. And the even bigger question is whether, after all his public travails, Mel Gibson could suddenly become a serious contender for a Best Actor Oscar nomination via a late-breaking qualifying run before the end of the year?" DEADLINE

• Canadian actor-director Jason Priestley is set to host the 38th edition of the International Emmys on Nov. 22 in New York. In making the announcement, Bruce Paisner, president and chief executive of the International Academy, said, "Jason Priestley is a household name for millions of viewers worldwide and we're delighted that he is joining our celebration of excellence in international television as our host." Another Canadian, "SNL" creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels, will receive the organization's Directorate award while Brit bad boy Simon Cowell will be on hand to accept the Founders prize. Expect Britain to dominate the 10 competitive categories as it has done for decades. INTERNATIONAL EMMYS

Sasha Stone says that Gywneth Paltrow could well be contending for her first best actress Oscar since winning the prize in 1998 for "Shakespeare in Love." In "Country Strong," Paltrow plays a country crooner and, as Sasha writes, "There isn’t much word out there that I could find about her performance, but traditionally, that type of role gets attention and then some." As she explains, "When I first started covering the Oscar race back in 1999, you really couldn’t get nominated if you weren’t already a big star with a few exceptions along the way — a GREAT performance could get in — but for the most part, it was a star’s game and much press was made if an unknown got in." AWARDS DAILY

Jennifer Aniston Courteney Cox Cougar Town • "Cougar Town" creator and executive producer Bill Lawrence confesses to Kate Stanhope that he jumped the gun on the reunion of "Friends" costars Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston. "I generally say things and then hope that they're going to happen. I announced last year that Jennifer Aniston was doing the show having never spoken to her or her representatives." Aniston appears on the second season premiere of a show that Lawrence says is now "a Courteney Cox-lead ensemble comedy."   TV GUIDE

• The Kennedy Center is $10 million richer courtesy of new board chairman David M. Rubenstein. The co-founder of the Carlyle Group designated this generous gift for a variety of the center's efforts, including $5 million for the National Symphony Orchestra and $1 million for staging the Kennedy Center Honors and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. KENNEDY CENTER

• The Hollywood Film Festival has named two-time Oscar winner Sean Penn as this year's recipient of its humanitarian prize. In making the announcement, fest founder Carlos de Abreu said, "It is an honor to recognize the inspiring humanitarian efforts that Sean Penn and his J/P Haitian Relief Organization have been providing to the great people of Haiti." Previous recipients include director of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, Father Rick Frechette; Nobel Peace Prize recipient and president of East Timor, Dr. Jose Ramos Horta; and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams. The presentation will be made at a Oct. 25 gala at the Beverly Hilton. HFF

• The 19th edition of the ESPY Awards don't take place till next July 13, but ESPN has announced that "SNL" star Seth Myers will be returning to host the kudos. AP

Top photo: David Fincher on the set of "The Social Network." Credit: Columbia.

Middle photo: Mel Gibson in "The Beaver." Credit: Summit Entertainment

Bottom photo: Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston in "Cougar Town." Credit: ABC

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Poll: Is Mel Gibson doomed at the Oscars?

July 13, 2010 |  3:28 pm

Mel Gibson has been a golden boy at Oscars past, of course. He won an Academy Award for directing "Braveheart," best picture champ of 1995, and he's been an awards contender for other films like "Ransom" (1996) and "What Women Want" (2000) — they earned him Golden Globe nominations. "Passion of the Christ" and "Apocalypto" (2006) were nominated for three Oscars in the tech categories but lost.

Later this year, Mel Gibson stars in "The Beaver," directed by double Oscar champ Jody Foster. Next year he stars in "How I Spent My Summer Vacation," which he also co-wrote. Can he ever jump back into the Oscar derby?

Hooligan behavior can backfire at the Oscars. Remember what happened to Russell Crowe. Soon after he won best actor for "Gladiator" (2000), he got into trouble for bullying a BAFTA TV producer and he lost best actor for "A Beautiful Mind," which won best picture of 2001. At least he got nominated. Not so two years later, which was especially embarrassing. Everybody associated with "Master and Commander" got an Oscar nomination (10 in all, including best picture) except for the film's master and commander: Russell Crowe.

Two years later, after Crowe got caught hurling a phone at a Manhattan hotel clerk, he wasn't nominated for "Cinderella Man." And he hasn't been nommed since.

Photo: "Braveheart" (Paramount).

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Mel and Oscar can't get their facts right

March 25, 2008 |  5:54 pm

Poor Mel. That Gibson guy just can't get a break from the media. He's got three movies on Yahoo's list of the 10 Most Historically Inaccurate Movies: "Apocalypto," "The Patriot" and "Braveheart." See the full ranking, CLICK HERE

Poor Oscar comes in second. Two of his flicks made the cut: best-picture winners "Braveheart" and "Gladiator."

Hey, wait! Only two? What about "A Beautiful Mind"? And "Titanic," "Dances with Wolves," "Out of Africa," "Amadeus," "Gandhi," "Patton," "A Man for All Seasons," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Bridge Over the River Kwai," "The Great Ziegfeld" and "Life of Emile Zola"?

Yeah, I know, that's more than 10, and I can go on and on and on (and I'm sure you can, too), but the point is made.


Can Sean Penn upset the Coens at DGA Awards?

January 25, 2008 |  6:37 pm

I'll be at the Directors Guild of America Awards on Saturday night — blogging results live here — and fully expect, as most pundits do, to be informing you that the Coens just won the feature-film trophy. But, beware: upsets are possible by Sean Penn and Paul Thomas Anderson.


First, let's dish Anderson. "There Will Be Blood" is the biggest surprise of derby season: nothing at all like "Boogie Nights" or the pix he's done in the past. It's been declared best picture by the National Society of Film Critics and L.A. Film Critics Association (by comparison, "No Country for Old Men" claimed New York Film Critics' Circle and Critics' Choice — not quite as snooty or close to Hollywood home) and it has more of a big, serious epic sprawl. "Blood" is fresher — it spilled out at Christmastime; "No Country" came out in November. This latter factor could actually be a drawback, though, since fewer voters have probably seen "Blood" compared to "No Country." There are 13,000 DGA members scattered across the U.S. where "Blood" has been in limited release, compared to 370 members of the Oscars' directors' branch who have easy access to local screenings, private or theater, across L.A. Sometimes it helps to be out of the gate early, but "Blood" still, surprisingly, mustered a nomination, so that means voters are paying attention.


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Ridiculous Oscars myth: Early frontrunners stumble

November 1, 2007 | 12:35 pm

Right now Hollywood studio chiefs are scared stiff of being declared an early Oscars frontrunner.


Just because some clueless, self-proclaimed pundits say it's a terrible thing to be? Frankly, they concocted the Early Frontrunner Stumbles Theory to explain what they don't understand, but what's actually quite obvious to true Oscar authorities — that is, why "Dreamgirls" and "Brokeback Mountain" tripped up. Neither of those films lost best picture because they were the early frontrunner, but more on that later.

For now let's put this ridiculous myth to rest. Has everyone already forgotten that Helen Mirren ("The Queen") and Forest Whitaker ("Last King of Scotland") were ahead to win best actress and actor at this time last year? They didn't lose a single major award in the derby ahead.

But somehow clueless pundits argue that the best-picture race is different? How so? It's not.

Throughout most of Oscars history, the vast majority of early frontrunners in all top categories ended up trotting over the finish line just fine.


Others like "The Aviator" probably would've soared ahead, but the late-breaking release of a Clint flick can trip up anything in Eastwood-mad Hollyweird.

Consider these recent, early best-picture faves: "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," "Titantic," "Gladiator," "The English Patient," "Forrest Gump," "Schindler's List" and "Unforgiven," to name just a few. Heck, "A Beautiful Mind" was under ferocious assault by media outraged over its creators sugar-coating its real-life story in 2001 (there was no smear campaign against it — let's not go there again) and it still won!

Most upsets in the best-picture race can be explained by the peculiarities involved in each case. The L.A. Times was among major media predicting "Apollo 13" would win in 1995, but let's recall that film had a major Oscar glitch: Ron Howard — who had won DGA — wasn't nominated for best director. Once Mel Gibson won the helmer's prize at the Golden Globes, his pic took off like a rocket that probably couldn't be stopped. After all, "Braveheart" entered the Oscars with the most nominations that year (10, followed by 9 for "Apollo 13"). Why is anyone surprised, in retrospect, that it won?

There's one legitimate case of an early frontrunner stumbling because voters were bored later. I believe voters ended up making the best choice in the end, though I concede they probably would've voted differently if they'd cast their ballots earlier: "Shakespeare in Love" vs. "Saving Private Ryan" (1998). Summer-release "Ryan" had been out front for soooooo long, that by the time the Oscars rolled around late the following March, Entertainment Weekly wisecracked, "We thought it won already!"

One more time: the reason "Brokeback Mountain" lost and "Dreamgirls" wasn't nominated was simply because those old, str8 white guys in the academy couldn't empathize with gay cowboys and hip young black chicks. No, voters are not prejudiced against them. They just couldn't get into their heads, feel their angst, take their emotional journeys. If only that had been Clint Eastwood in "Dreamgirls" belting out "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," that geezer academy crowd would've burst into hysterical sobs, torn at their thinning hair, raced out of the screening rooms of Beverly Hills screaming, and then hurled their bodies into moving traffic just to stop the pain.

If any of them had survived, they would've voted for "Dreamgirls" for best picture and it not only would've been nominated, it would've swept every category. Deep down in your heart, you know I'm right.

Sasha puts a gun to her head and predicts Oscars

October 8, 2007 | 10:19 pm

Yikes. Sasha Stone is sure a gutsy Oscarologist. Over at, she bravely takes a shot at forecasting the top race: "Gun to my head Best Picture predictions at this moment in time: 'Atonement,' 'Into the Wild,' 'There Will Be Blood,' 'Charlie Wilson’s War.' Fifth slot: 'The Kite Runner,' '3:10 to Yuma,' 'No Country for Old Men.'" READ MORE


Excuse me, Sasha: may I borrow your pistol? Tx, amigo. Now, pointing it at my feeble gray matter, I let loose with my own five predix for best picture: "Atonement," "Charlie Wilson's War," "Into the Wild," "Juno," "The Kite Runner," "Sweeney Todd" and "There Will Be Blood." Ooops, that's seven. Sorry!

Sasha, I see — in the comments section of your blog piece — that you're getting grief about your faith in "Charlie Wilson's War." Hold tight, comrade. I suspect you're right about that! Also about "Atonement." Maybe Sean Penn's "Into the Wild" too. The Studly-Actor-Turns-Director Phenom is huge, as we know (Mel Gibson's "Braveheart," Robert Redford's "Ordinary People," Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby"). But, wait, Sean's doing little press. Yeah, some, sure, but begrudgingly. At the recent L.A. premiere, he trotted past 98.5% of the media along the red carpet, nose pointed high in the air. What in the world was more important in Sean's life than talking to the media about this movie he's spent years working on and now asks us to care about? Why did he invite the media to join him at his premiere if he had no intention of talking to them?

Sean Penn's arrogance may do him in. Remember: Last year Peter O'Toole could've had that best-actor trophy in the bag if only he'd worked the campaign trail. I don't understand at all the hesitation of those notoriously thirsty rascals Sean and Peter to make the rounds. Heck, at every turn in the campaign trail there's an open bar with hospitable tenders, right?

However, pardon me, Sasha — I don't buy the best-pic buzz for "No Country for Old Men." It's got a strong bid for Javier Bardem in supporting, yes, and definitely for screenplay, but the Top 5 Race? I just don't see it. Too violent, too scary and the finale just kinda peters out.

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Where's Mel?

January 15, 2007 |  7:39 pm


Looks like Mel Gibson decided to ditch the Globes this year, which may be no surprise considering the PR problems he's had of late and his desire to dodge reporters on the red carpet. But he had the option of slipping in the back Globes door and avoiding all that, like many stars do. He didn't, which is downright rude considering what the Globes have done for Mel. When the HFPA gave him best director for his Scottish battle epic back in 1995, "Braveheart" went on to sweep the Oscars. This year the HPFA gave Mel another, welcome embrace at a time he needs it most. How did he respond? With instant ungratitude. Within days of "Apocalypto" being nominated for best foreign-language pic at the Globes this year, he mocked the awards as the 'Golden Globs" to USA Today. Now the snub of not showing up tonight!

My Golden Globes predix: Mel Gibson will be the big story

December 13, 2006 |  3:32 pm


"Dreamgirls" will get the most nominations Thursday morning when the Golden Globe bids will be unveiled at 8:35 a.m. ET, but I have a hunch that Mel Gibson will be the big media story.

Look for the Hollywood bad boy to rebound from his recent scandal by being nominated for best director. Or if he's not in that category, he'll nab a bid as best producer if "Apocalypto" pops up in the race for best-foreign language film. Yes, foreign-language film, not best drama picture. Explanation below.

Mel will probably surface in either category (or both) because Gibson is a Golden Globes darling. It was at the Globes of 1995 that he got launched Oscar-bound when he pulled off a shocking upset to win best director for "Braveheart." His Scottish battle epic lost the Globe for best drama picture to "Sense and Sensibility," but it ended up slaying the latter literary sudser when both met up later at the Oscars.

"Apocalypto" is not eligible to be nominated for best drama picture because that category is reserved only for English-language movies. The Globes define their foreign-film category by language, the Oscars by nation. Even though "Apocalypto" is an American movie produced in Hollywood, its spoken language is Mayan, so it must compete in the race for best foreign-language film. Same is true for Clint Eastwood's "Letters of Iwo Jima," which is in Japanese.

And speaking of foreigners and weirdness, watch out for "Borat." Certainly, it'll be nominated for best comedy/musical picture and Sacha Baron Cohen will be up for best actor, but its chances to win may be no laughing matter, even though nominated against superhot "Dreamgirls." Remember: it's about a foreign journalist who feels oddly out of place in America. Now remember who votes for the Globes: the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Here's my full list of bold, fearless Globe predix. Right now they may look totally brilliant, but by tomorrow they'll probably look very, very foolish. But I am a true kudos braveheart! Read on:

"The Departed"
"Flags of Our Fathers"
"Pursuit of Happyness"
"The Queen"

"Blood Diamond"
"Little Children"
"United 93"

"Little Miss Sunshine"
"The Devil Wears Prada"
"The Holiday"

"Kinky Boots"
"Miss Potter"
"Thank You for Smoking"

Bill Condon, "Dreamgirls"
Clint Eastwood, "Flags of Our Fathers"
Mel Gibson, "Apocalypto"
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, "Babel"
Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"

Pedro Almodovar, "Volver"
Robert De Niro, "The Good Shepherd"
Stephen Frears, "The Queen"

Leo DiCaprio, "The Departed"
Djimon Hounsou, "Blood Diamond"
Peter O'Toole, "Venus"
Will Smith, "The Pursuit of Happyness"
Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland"

Matt Damon, "The Good Shepherd"
Hugh Jackman, "The Fountain"
Toby Jones, "Infamous"
Edward Norton, "The Illusionist"
Ryan Phillipe, "Flags of Our Fathers"
Michael Sheen, "The Queen"
Ken Watanabe, "Letters from Iwo Jima"

Penelope Cruz, "Volver"
Judi Dench, "Notes on a Scandal"
Sienna Miller, "Factory Girl"
Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
Kate Winslet, "Little Children"

Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Sherrybaby"
Elizabeth Reaser, "Sweet Land"
Naomi Watts, "The Painted Veil"

S.B. Cohen, "Borat"
Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"
Aaron Eckhart, "Thank You for Smoking"
Will Ferrell, "Stranger Than Fiction"
Jamie Foxx, "Dreamgirls"

Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Kinky Boots"
Robin Williams, "Man of the Year"

Annette Bening, "Running with Scissors"
Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Beyonce Knowles, "Dreamgirls"
Meryl Streep, "The Devil Wears Prada"
Renee Zellweger, "Miss Potter"

Juliette Binoche, "Breaking and Entering"
Toni Collette, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Cameron Diaz, "The Holiday"
Kate Winslet, "The Holiday"

"Apocalypto" (Mayan language, U.S.)
"Letters from Iwo Jima" (Japanese language, U.S.)
"Lives of Others" (Germany)
"Pan's Labyrinth" (Mexico)
"Volver" (Spain)

"Black Book" ("Zwartboek") (Netherlands)
"Children of Glory" (Hungary)
"Curse of the Golden Flower" (China)
"Days of Glory" ("El Benny") (Cuba)
"Golden Door" (Italy/France)
"Nomad" (Kazakhstan)
"Water" (Canada)

'Brilliant' 'Apocalypto' back in the Oscar derby?

November 10, 2006 |  4:25 pm

Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" is "brilliant," proclaims Variety editor Peter Bart, so does that mean that the "Braveheart" Oscar champ can really make a dazzling comeback to academy glory after his fall from grace on the Pacific Coast Highway?

"Apocalypto" started out early this year high on most Oscarologists' forecast lists and Disney was so convinced of its kudos potential that it gave the film an Oscar-friendly release date in early December. Soon after Mel's arrest, however, it fell off everybody's lists except those keeping track of the crafts races.


"The word has seeped out: From Mel Gibson's dark, troubled mind has emerged yet another brilliant exercise in filmmaking, extremely violent, yet compelling," Bart reports. "The inner demons that play havoc with his personal life continue to energize his creative vision."

But Bart also notes a few drawbacks "Apocalypto" has, in addition to the PR ills of its director: "The film itself represents a defiantly maverick voice. Subtitles run throughout. The cast is totally non-professional. The action is virtually nonstop and the confrontations brutal."

That brutality may be as serious an issue as Mel's anti-Semitic outburst since academy members are notoriously squeamish and usually swing back at violent films by excluding them, but not always. Mel surmounted the problem with "Braveheart," which featured three hours of flying severed body parts.

There may even be hope that Jewish academy members could forgive Mel for his tirade. After all, they didn't penalize "A Beautiful Mind" for portraying its real-life subject John Nash as a hero, a man who believed in an international Zionist conspiracy and even insisted that all of the big problems he faced in life could be traced to Jews.

But Mel's views received much more publicity and seem more shocking because he's someone we know well. Heck, he's an academy member! Sure, he apologized in a few public statements, but when it came time for him to sit down with Diane Sawyer, he didn't say the words on TV camera and he didn't ask for forgiveness.

Instead, he blamed the booze and swam in lots of self-pity. That may not matter, though. The public perception today is that he did apologize then.

Bottom line: "Apocalypto" doesn't resemble an inspiring heart-tugger like "A Beautiful Mind" and other Oscar champs. Perhaps a good action flick, yes, which can help redeem Mel with filmgoers and prove he's still in the game, but that's not enough. Or is this one of those rare exceptions like the violent "The French Connection"?

(Photo: Disney)

Has Mel resurrected 'Apocalypto's' Oscar hope?

October 13, 2006 | 11:31 am


Oscar can be an unforgiving Hollywood overlord when it comes to dealing with stars' vile antics under the influence of booze. The list is long of actors who never held an Academy Award in one hand because they clutched a bottle too tightly in the other: among them, Judy Garland, Tallulah Bankhead, Errol Flynn and Oscar's biggest loser Richard Burton (tied with his ole bar buddy Peter O'Toole). That rascal John Barrymore was never even nominated (neither was Tallulah, by the way) and said that was probably because "the Oscars are afraid I'll show up at the ceremony drunk — and they're right!"

Now Mel Gibson is not only asking Hollywood to forgive his drunk driving and juice-fueled assault on police, but his anti-Semitic tirade, too. Just a few months ago his upcoming film with an Oscar-friendly release date (Dec. 8) was on most lists of serious Academy Award rivals, but it got tossed off right after Mel mouthed off to cops one night in Malibu.

Yesterday and today he just blabbed his side of the story to Diane Sawyer on "Good Morning America." Wrapping up the second segment this morning, Diane said Mel admits that he's doing this interview now so he can get it out of the way far ahead of "Apocalypto's" release.

Next up: Will Hollywood and America forgive him? Can his end-of-the-Mayan-world doomsday drama come to life at the box office? Can its Oscar hopes be resurrected? Early buzz on the pic's quality is excellent even though it's loaded with violence and spoken in an obscure Mayan dialect.

Let's look back at Oscars past.


Even before Vanessa Redgrave mentioned anything about "Zionist hoodlums" at the Oscar podium in 1977, she was so afraid of being attacked by Jewish supporters for her pro-Palestinian views that she arrived at the ceremony hidden in the back of an ambulance. After her "hoodlums" comment, it was widely believed she'd have trouble finding future film work even though what she'd said really wasn't terrible. Upon accepting her award as best supporting actress in "Julia," she told academy members, "I think you should be very proud that, in the last few weeks, you have stood firm and you have refused to be intimidated by the threats of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world and to their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression."

It didn't matter. All many people heard was that "Zionist hoodlums" part and they vowed never to forgive her. But the storm eventually passed and Vanessa went on to receive two subsequent Oscar bids — for "The Bostonians" (best actress, 1984) and "Howards End" (supporting actress, 1992).

Vanessa's "Julia" costar "Hanoi Jane" Fonda had to be forgiven by many Hollywooders, too, of course, although far fewer since her liberalism was in sync with the town's credo. But after her pro-Vietnamese stunts during the war, she'd fallen out of favor with many moviegoers and thus with many studio chiefs, too. Since then Jane's apologized often for some of her anti-war stunts and was finally forgiven at the Oscars with a best actress statuette for portraying a housewife who has an affair with a handicapped Vietnam vet while her hubby is off fighting in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia ("Coming Home," 1978). It took much longer for her to be embraced widely by U.S. moviegoers again.

Not too long ago it seemed impossible that Hollywood could ever forgive Roman Polanski for a statutory rape he fled and expressed little remorse for committing. But in 2002 he pulled off that shockeroo Oscar victory as best director for "The Pianist." True, it could never have happened without his rape victim stepping forward and forgiving him publicly as she did on "Larry King Live" just weeks before Oscar ballots were due. But it demonstrated that Hollywood could forgive Roman next for shocking, selfish, insensitive behavior.

So now that Mel has spoken up publicly on "Good Morning America," will Hollywood voice support for him? That's the current cliffhanger in the World Capital of Happy Endings (for some stars, that is). Unfortunately, what was missing from Mel's comments was a humble, heartfelt plea for forgiveness directed to his colleagues and fans, Jews and gentiles alike. Instead, it seemed to me that he put on "The Pity Poor Mel Show." While acting twitchy, cocky and cavalier sometimes, he blamed the booze and revealed how ticked off he still is at Jews for raising concerns about anti-Semitism in "The Passion of the Christ."

Photos: Even if "Apocalypto" isn't nominated for best picture at the Oscars, it's such a huge production that it could be up for many tech kudos. Roman Polanski on the set of "The Pianist." Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave in "Julia." Mel Gibson in one of his several mock crucifixion scenes in "Braveheart," which earned him Oscars for best picture and director.
(Disney/Focus Features/ 20th Century Fox/ Paramount)

Mel ambushes Comanche with 'Apocalypto'

September 23, 2006 |  9:33 pm


"Everybody who saw 'Apocalypto' seemed to like it," KSWO-TV reporter Monte Brown told GoldDerby about the secret screening Mel Gibson held in Lawton, Oklahoma for about 50 members of the Comanche tribe. "Nobody I talked to had anything negative to say."

The past Oscar winner and recent Hollywood penitent was so nervous about seeing audience reax to his big cinema gamble — a bloody, $50 million epic about the decline of the Mayan empire performed in Yucatec dialogue (that's right — no English!) — that Braveheart-turned-wimp arrived at the screening wearing a mask and fake beard. Watch a video of Gibson giving one of the most hilarious, hambone and hairy perfs of his career, at least up until he whips off the disguise once the screening seems to go well CLICK HERE — look for the link for "Featured Videos." Please note that while the video depicts one local resident proudly showing off a photo and autograph she got from Gibson (after he took off the fake beard and plastic mask), most locals said he was very uncooperative about sharing same with them.

"About 50 people saw the movie — all members of the Comanche tribe," Brown added. "Gibson's rep said that they wanted to get the reaction of native Americans, but that doesn't make much sense because the movie isn't about Comanches. It's about Mayans. But the lead star is Rudy Youngblood, a local Comanche who probably wanted to show it to family and friends, so Rudy and Mel came to Oklahoma to show a rough cut. They also showed it over in Goldsby" at the Riverwind Casino.

Considering how squeamish academy members can be, could "Apocalypto's" excessive violence snuff out its Oscar hopes?


"It's nonstop action from beginning to end," one audience member told KSWO. Other viewers made it sound more like nonstop bloodshed, which is typical of many Mel movies, especially that devout Christian one.

"Braveheart" was really just three hours of flying severed body parts, lots of loud grunting and bad dialogue plus Mel acting out another and another crucifixion scene. But it swept the Oscars of 1995 and now reigns on many lists (certainly mine) as one of the worst best picture choices in Oscar history. At least "Braveheart" was in (grunted) English. "Apocalypto" is in an obscure dialect of a dead tribe.

So more Oscars for Mel, let's face it, are unlikely, especially since he's hanging on a PR cross these days. But Disney chiefs claim (now) that they didn't position "Apocalypto" as an Academy Awards rival. It's a mere coincidence that it has an Oscar-friendly release date in early December (the 8th). Originally, it was set to come out in August, they claim, but production got delayed due to heavy rains in Mexico. Do do think that washes?

But, hey, wait, maybe I'm wrong . . . . Harry Knowles of has seen "Apocalypto" twice and calls it "fantastic," adding, "This is a B-movie with the soul of a great artist and the production values of the best of Hollywood. The film received a standing ovation from the audience and it was absolutely earned." Read More - CLICK HERE

Meantime, behind the scenes, Time and Newsweek are competing to put "Apocalypto" on their cover. Read Nikki Finke's report — CLICK HERE!

Check out "Apocalypto" yourself. To view the trailer, CLICK HERE!

Top photo: If Nicole Kidman can win an Oscar for donning a little plastic nose, shouldn't Mel get one for sporting a whole, big (and ugly) plastic face in Lawton, Oklahoma? Bottom photo: As a disgraced celeb and a producer/director risking more than $50 million on a bizarre-lingo blockbuster, Mel traverses troubled waters in "Apocalytpo" in which he does not appear as an actor.
(Disney/ KSWO-TV)

Deciphering past derbies for 'Brokeback' odds

December 19, 2005 |  4:31 pm

Now that we have a clear front-runner for best picture at the Golden Globes and Oscars, what are the odds that "Brokeback Mountain" will hold onto its lead?

Saving Private Ryan

In the past 10 gold derbies, there were only four races where one film pony broke away this early and trotted across the finish line: "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" (2003), "A Beautiful Mind" (2001), "American Beauty" (1999) and "Titanic" (1997). "L.A. Confidential" had swept the early critics' awards in 1997, but after its premieres in New York and L.A. on Dec. 14, "Titanic" was charging full steam ahead and looked truly unsinkable.

In 2002, many derby watchers believed Miramax's ballyhoo of "The musical is back!" They considered "Chicago" the favorite for the top Academy Award once it snagged the most Globe nominations (8), but not everyone concurred. At that point "Chicago" hadn't yet been released wide to theaters and hadn't won any precursor kudos. Instead, New York critics opted for "Far from Heaven," Los Angelenos preferred "About Schmidt." "The Hours" certainly posed a threat. After being named best picture by the National Board of Review, it earned the second-most Globe nominations (7), winning best drama picture, which usually foretells the equivalent Oscar. Sure, "Chicago" won the Globe for best comedy/musical picture, but that rarely matches up.

Nowadays many derby watchers have a revisionist view of "Gladiator," which muscled its way to the top at the 2000 awards. Just prior to the Globes, it was tied with "Traffic" for having the most nominations (5), but it had been a summer popcorn pic that most pundits believed had lost its heat as of cold December. On the other hand, "Traffic's" victory as best picture at the New York Film Critics Circle seemed to confirm that 2000 was "The Year of Steven Soderbergh," since he'd also helmed "Eric Brockovich." Besides, "Traffic" felt more important than its rivals too. Momentum behind it was so fierce that I remember producers of "Access Hollywood" whining to me, "Can you puh-lease help us to find a journalist — anybody, we don't care who at this point — who thinks something other than 'Traffic' is going to win best picture at the Globes?!" Indeed, all of's gurus were backing "Traffic."

Photo: In December 1998, "Saving Private Ryan" looked unbeatable as best picture.

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