Friday, October 03, 2003

Hi, I'm Jack Valenti, and these are my cheeks. 

It's only October, but the Academy Awards campaigning is already hot news. Well, more that the MPAA has decided to piss a whole lot of people off by banning "screeners"--DVDs of the movies under consideration that are sent by the truckload to Academy members' doors.

Roger Simon pretty much shoots a big fat hole into the reasoning that this ban is only meant to "prevent piracy":

"The grownup part of the audience has suffered as the younger audience has had their taste dumbed down as never before. The promotion of more artistically serious films through these screeners was one of the only ways of leveling the playing field. Now it seems even fewer of them will be made.[...]

[...]Listen up, Jack! This Academy voter (and film lover) is not going to cast a single vote in any category for your plastic major studio crap until this ban is lifted. THE BACKLASH STARTS HERE!"

I'd say so, and Jeffrey Wells talks more about it in today's column, offering an interesting solution along with comments from Robert Towne, Roger Avary, LA Times critic Manohla Dargis, and more. I loved Wells' comment after he posted Valenti's memo:

"Will someone please explain to me how preventing the mailings of commercially available DVD'S helps to stop piracy? Ding-dong...somebody answer the door!

"Call me excitable, but as soon as I read this I thought of the moment in SPARTACUS when Charles McGraw slaps Kirk Douglas and says, "No talking in the kitchen, slave." Grab that McGraw and stuff his head into a kettle of hot soup! Revolt! Torches and pitchforks!"

Any bets on which independent company will be the first to breach the ban?

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