Friday, 26 February 2010

It's an honour just to be paid

Excitement is building over in Hollywood, as the final preparations are made for the 82nd Academy Awards. The obituaries are being reviewed to make sure no-one's left off the 'In Memoriam' showreel, the seat-fillers are being advised about how long Colin Farrell is likely to spend in the bathroom, and Jack Nicholson is working hard on an all-new smirk.

Meanwhile, in mansions across Beverly Hills, the great and the good are being coached in some last-minute nominee etiquette. Unfortunately though, those lessons may be a case of too little, too late for Mo'Nique, who's up for Best Supporting Actress for her monstrous turn in Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire.

The talk-show host/comedienne/actress has, so far, enjoyed a fairly successful awards season, winning gongs from BAFTA, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors' Guild, amongst others. But she's always made it quite clear that her only concern is the impact that this recognition will have on her earning potential.

Before her Oscar nomination was even announced, she was quizzing Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson on the subject "Let me ask y'all this, because I know y'all are gonna school me correctly, what does it mean financially?" Her point was that there was no point 'campaigning' for her award, unless she was going to be paid for the appearances she'd have to make. Never mind all the extra publicity it could generate for the little movie that managed to secure her nomination in the first place.

Speaking to the AP recently in curiously intermittent third-person, the Oscar hopeful said "Well, when they say Mo'Nique was worried about money, I wasn't worried about money. Mo'Nique has a talk show that comes on five nights a week and she tapes six times a week for that talk show. And yes, when I leave my home, I leave my home and get paid to leave my home, so I wasn't worried about money. They simply said, 'You know, well Mo'Nique we can't pay you to do that.' ... We said, 'OK, baby. Well, then, that's not something we can do.'"

Another low-budget movie keeping its fingers crossed for next Sunday is The Hurt Locker - the smart money's choice for Best Film and Best Director. But just in case any of the Academy voters are dithering between Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq-set nerve-shredder and her ex-husband's big blue epic, the former's co-producer decided to send out an email appealing for support in the run-up to the awards.

Apparently oblivious to the rules concerning campaigning, Nicolas Chartier emailed friends and colleagues begging them to spread the word: "I just wanted to write you and say I hope you liked Hurt Locker and if you did and want us to win, please tell (name deleted) and your friends who vote for the Oscars, tell actors, directors, crew members, art directors, special effects people, if everyone tells one or two of their friends, we will win and not a $500M film, we need independent movies to win like the movies you and I do, so if you believe The Hurt Locker is the best movie of 2010, help us!"

In the eyes of Oscar, this kind of activity is about as welcome as a political lecture by an award presenter or a five minute acceptance speech. Although no formal 'punishment' has been determined by the Academy, a contrite Chartier has already penned a suitably grovelling apology for his conduct, reminding everyone that "being nominated for an Academy Award is the ultimate honor."

Competitiveness has always magnified the ugly side of human nature - whether it's people who expect rewards just for getting involved, or those who break the rules in order to give themselves the upper hand.

Having said that, if you wanted to vote for p0pvulture as your favourite culture blog, you could always click here...

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