Dec. 15: Kate Winslet attends a screening of 'Revolutionary Road'
Jan. 5: Sean Penn, left, receives a kiss from 'Milk' co-star Josh Brolin at the 2008 New York Film Critic's Circle Awards.
Attention voters for both the Oscars and the SAG awards: did you know you don’t have to vote for actors in the categories for which studios advertise them?
In plain English: you can elevate an actor from supporting to lead or send a lead down to supporting at your own discretion.
This bit of news comes as SAG voters have recently reportedly received such instructions from their mothership.
At the same time, I’m told that Academy voters get these guidelines when they receive their ballots. According to an Oscar insider: "It has always (at least in modern history) been the case that it is up to the individual Academy member voter to determine if a performance is lead or supporting. They are provided a list of ALL eligible performers and then they write them in under the category they wish to nominate for. There is a letter that advises them of this which accompanies the actual ballot. The studios/distributors/marketers/etc. can advertise and promote performers however they wish to, but our members are not in any way bound to follow that."
Considering we’re on the verge of tomorrow night’s Critics Choice Awards (VH-1, 8 p.m.) and the Golden Globes on Sunday, here’s a chance for Academy and SAG voters to shake things up a little.
For example, given this news I would immediately put Kate Winslet in Best Actress for "The Reader" because frankly, it’s her movie and she gives a more direct, dynamic performance in it than in "Revolutionary Road." Indeed, Winslet’s chances improve 100% if this happens. She would still be on a list that includes Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Sally Hawkins, and either Kristin Scott Thomas, Cate Blanchett or Kate Beckinsale — but just in movie from which she could actually win.
With Winslet out of supporting actress, that opens a slot. We’ve already got Penelope Cruz, Viola Davis (Doubt), Amy Adams (Doubt) but now we can add Rosemarie Dewitt from "Rachel Getting Married" and Lena Olin for her double portrayal in "The Reader." There’s also Taraji P. Henson in "Benjamin Button" and Kathy Bates in "Revolutionary Road."
At the same time, I’d also move Philip Seymour Hoffman up from supporting to lead in "Doubt." That way, he’d join Sean Penn, Frank Langella, Richard Jenkins, and Clint Eastwood for Best Actor Now that’s a race. And if Penn takes the Golden Globes — the Hollywood Foreign Press for some reason ignored Eastwood — Hoffman’s chances get a lot better. The Academy likes to zig after the Globes have zagged.
Getting Hoffman out of supporting opens a slot. That means Josh Brolin and Heath Ledger could be joined by Michael Sheen from "Frost/Nixon" — where he should be, and not in lead — as well as Javier Bardem from "Vicki Cristina Barcelona" and James Franco from "Milk." Cool.
Isn’t this fun, moving things around? You can even play at home.
Yesterday, I told you about actor Josh Brolin’s very funny speech at Monday night’s New York Film Critics dinner. One of the things he said was that he "hated" New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley, who panned him in a production of "True West."
Well, this is what happened. Brolin and Elias Koteas took over for Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly in July 2000 after that pair had scored raves in the main roles. Brantley reviewed the replacements, and eviscerated them. "Mr. Brolin brings to mind John Davidson, the eternally clean-cut singer," Brantley wrote.
Yeesh. No wonder Josh said in his speech, "I hate that mother"-you know what. "True West" closed a week later, thanks to Brantley. Now Brolin is a star, getting awards and is married to the hot Diane Lane. His step mom is Barbra Streisand. So there, Ben Brantley!
Brantley really did hate Brolin and Koteas, too. There’s a long circulated Broadway legend that the reviewer may have even warned the show’s producers too, advising them to recast lest he be forced to review this pair.
Do Times reviewers really call producers with offers to get out of something before they attack? I’m also told something similar to this may have happened recently concerning a cabaret show. This is supposedly the explanation why the Café Carlyle is currently, and suddenly, empty. Hmmm…
You can hear Prince’s new album — I guess that’s what it is — here. It’s a stream of romantic R&B songs, with no audio controls, so you just have to listen to it. No individual tracks, no fast forwarding. Prince covers Tommy James and the Shondells’ "Crimson and Clover" persuasively, with a blistering, memorable guitar solo. The rest of the songs sound just like…Prince when he’s in his hit song writing mode. That’s always a good thing. No one’s sure how "Lotus Flower" will be released, but Prince says it’s one of three albums from him this coming year. Okay. Why not just release one, and really focus on it? Too easy. And too bad, since "Lotus Flower" sounds like it has potential to be some kind of hit, if hits still existed…
…The New York Post’s Keith Kelly broke the story late last night that Entertainment Weekly has "bounced" recent editor in chief Rick Tetzeli, replacing him with Jess Cagle. Well, something had to happen. EW, much loved in the past, has been fading. Maybe Jess can turn it around. Everyone’s rooting for this mag to regain its luster. Jess started at EW back in 1990, at the beginning. Another EW alum is also soaring: Maggie Murphy is taking over People magazine’s country music editions, which means they’re going to rock. Nashville couldn’t be luckier…