Again with the Zero Dark Thirty campaign!


Full-page ads go for the gold: Sad, ain’t it?

We refer to the Oscar report on the front page of today’s New York Times. It concerns the lobbying efforts surrounding the Oscar broadcast.

This isn’t the lobbying about who will win Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor. This lobbying concerns a different question: Which Hollywood people who died last year will get mentioned during the broadcast for maybe two or three seconds?

As it turns out, people will kill for that Oscar gold, even after they’re already dead:
CIEPLY (2/8/13): [A] spot on the yearly scroll of recently deceased movie luminaries has become one of the evening’s most hotly contested honors. And as in most Oscar races it is the focus of sometimes ferocious campaigning.

This time around it is a safe bet that Ernest Borgnine, Charles Durning, Nora Ephron, Tony Scott, Richard Zanuck and Marvin Hamlisch will get their few seconds in a roughly three-minute remembrance.

Beloved figures all. But who fills the next 30 or so spots in the memorial for this year’s show, which takes place on Feb. 24 at the Dolby Theater, is open to debate. And that debate is under way at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where a committee of members whose names are discreetly concealed from other members and the public are measuring celebrity, weighing achievement and trying to ward off entreaties from those who believe a loved one, friend or former client should have a last moment in the limelight.

“Unfortunately, my calls to the Academy were not returned,” Sheldon Roskin, a longtime publicist, said in an e-mail this week, of his efforts to lobby for the inclusion of Tommy Culla, a public relations colleague unknown to moviegoers.
The whole report is semi-depressing. After reading it, we checked out the new full-page ad for Zero Dark Thirty.

If you have today’s hard-copy Times, give the ad a look. As Irin Carmon deduced at Salon, it’s clear that the film is now being sold as a feminist picture, not as a film about hunting bin Laden.

The full-page ad features another large glam shot of Jessica Chastain—and the glam shot has gotten just a bit glammier. There is no sign that the film concerns the attempt to get bin Laden. Above the glam shot, the blurb says this, in large print:
—Kenneth Turnan, Los Angeles Times
The selling of this film has changed, in the way Carmon described. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/5/13.

It isn’t that there’s anything “wrong” with selling the picture this way, though we thought this aspect of the film was a bit heavy-handed. But the drive to get noticed is very strong, as is the drive to go for the gold. If you start taking shit for your film about hunting bin laden, you start saying you really made a film about feminist values.

As part of this cultural moment, journalists tell us the stories they like. So do fiery professors.

Professors tell us the stories they like. Tomorrow: Ifill plays along!


  1. Who is the arbiter?

    Here in inland New England, I wonder about this as I view through my window the snow accumulate, windlessly. In other words, no big deal. We may have a foot or two by mid-day tomorrow. So we often do in winter. It's not the Apocalypse or Armageddon. It's just an inconvenience familiar to February.

    Something more than that for my son and daughter-in-law in Boston. How much more, we shall see.

    Not faulting Duval Patrick and other northeast governors and mayors for their various measures -- not at all. And I am not surprised or too upset at the novelization, dramatization of weather. We (whoever the "we" may be) internalize, routinize, prepare ourselves for our different weathers (hurricanes, snow storms, dust storms, and so forth) through this process.

    Still, a lurking suspicion here that the Weather Channel and Oscar contenders are f-ing with us. Threatening to alienate us from ourselves in bad ways.

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