Oscarama: Studios Lose Tickets for Show
There's going to be a little more room in the Shrine Auditorium come Sunday night. That's because several movie studios have reportedly been cut back on the number of tickets they're getting for the Academy Awards — as a punishment.
Sony Pictures Classics, Dreamworks, Universal, and possibly even Miramax are said to have violated Academy regulations one way or another by crossing the line in their Oscar promotions this year.
SPC, which produced Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is probably in the most trouble in this tempest in a Chinese teapot. The studio sent out DVDs to the same list of voters who had already received videotapes of the film. And that's no good since double-mailings are not allowed. Academy members get one copy of a film, and that's it.
"That was a bad one," said a source of mine at the Academy. "Since everyone loves that movie anyway."
SPC got several tickets for the show taken back, depleting its number for friends of the studio. Nominees are unaffected, a good thing since the studio also has Pollock stars Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden up for two important acting awards.
Dreamworks also ran afoul of Academy rules, hosting public showings of Gladiator — with star Russell Crowe presiding and answering questions. Other crew members are said to have participated in the Los Angeles showings. That potentially violates rule No. 8, about receptions, dinners and other events. Dreamworks apparently lost tickets also.
Miramax and Universal are also said to have been penalized for minor infractions of Academy rules as well. Universal has now spent more on the Erin Brockovich campaign than it did on its original marketing program. Universal also sent out a Making of Erin Brockovich mini-documentary that was included with its regular mailing.
Miramax may also have violated the rules with an ad for composer Ennio Morricone's nomination for Malena, in which they suggest he deserves the Oscar after so many years and so much good work. (They're right — he does.)
Only USA Films, which released Traffic, seems to have gotten through the Oscar campaign without any violations, sources told me.
We got a lot of e-mails yesterday concerning the very weird set-up at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. More than one record company exec gagged when they saw Suzan Evans' salary listed at $300,000. All of them did think, by the way, that the foundation was busy donating money to worthy charities. How wrong they were.
I received one interesting e-mail from someone associated with Danny Flores, one of the original members of the Champs and the writer of the great instrumental hit, "Tequila." (He performed under the name Chuck Rio.) Apparently, Flores has been unable to get anyone at the foundation to return his calls. Neither he, the Champs or "Tequila" are part of the Hall of Fame. How can that be?
Personally, I also think another great rock instrumental, "Telstar," should be in the Hall, as well as "Louie, Louie" and "Shout." "La Bamba" only got in last night because Richie Valens — who died in 1959 with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper — finally got voted in after all this time. Also last night: The Flamingos ("I Only Have Eyes for You") and Solomon Burke, who probably coined the phrase "soul music." It's disgraceful that it took so long for these acts to get in, while Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon are each in there twice.
I don't know about the first two, but I know the Beatles would be the first to step aside for the true pioneers of rock music.