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Lawsuit Alleges Golden Globes Payola

Lawsuit Alleges Golden Globes Payola (photo)

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There’s will definitely be a buzz in the air at the Golden Globes this Sunday, and it won’t just be about someone wearing a crazy dress that looks like a duck. That’s because of a report in TheWrap that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the organization that runs and votes on the Globes, is being sued by their former publicist for, amongst other things, breach of contract and wrongful termination. But the lawsuit from Michael Russell itself is far less newsworthy than the dark secrets about the HFPA it may reveal. That’s because Russell claims that he was fired from his post as the longtime publicist for the Globes after he wrote a letter to HFPA president Philip Berk warning him that the organization’s seedy practices were in violation of its status as “a charitable organization dedicated to recognizing excellence in film.”

Those seedy practices? According to TheWrap, they include:

>> Accepting money, vacations, and gifts from studios in exchange for nominating their films.

>> Selling media credentials and red carpet space for profit.

>> Accepting payment from studios and producers for lobbying other members for awards nominations.

Allegations of the HFPA’s sketchiness are nothing new; they rear their sketchy head almost every year when the Golden Globe nominations are announced. Back in December, I wrote about the outraged reaction to some of the 2011 nominees — including several for the atrocious Johny Depp vehicle “The Tourist” — while recounting a few of the HFPA’s more notorious cases of possible payola (like that one time Pia Zadora won a Best Newcomer Award after — and these things were totally unrelated — the “movie’s producer, who was also her husband, had flown the entire HFPA to Las Vegas for a weekend holiday immediately before they voted” (that according to The Independent).

At this point, I’m over being outraged about the Golden Globes. Whether or not what they do is strictly illegal, whether or not they’re abusing their not-for-profit status, it’s a largely faceless group of 80 unaccountable people whose tastes seem to be easily swayed by their pocketbooks. We have to share some of the blame here. It’s as much our fault for putting so much stock in these people as it is for them abusing a system for their material gain.

But just because this lawsuit isn’t shocking doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the potential to be really juicy. Hollywood’s ultimate nightmare would be if Russell names names. Can you imagine what would happen if it came out that big-time movie stars colluded with the studios to “earn” themselves awards? It would a media feeding frenzy and a PR catastrophe. Don’t forget a publicist is engineering this whole thing — including the timing of the lawsuit just days before the 2011 awards.

Speaking of which, this year’s Golden Globes air this Sunday at 8:00 PM eastern on NBC. Normally, I would expect a controversy like this to go completely unmentioned on the actual show. But the returning host, Ricky Gervais, has no compunction biting the hand that feeds him. Wouldn’t shock me to see him do something funny with this stuff on Sunday.

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

The American Society of Cinematographer’s 2010 Nominees

The American Society of Cinematographer’s 2010 Nominees (photo)

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If you’ve ever noticed the “ASC” after director of photographers’ names in movie credits and wondered what it stood for, you’re clearly not a paying member of the American Society of Cinematographers cause, well, that’s what it stands for. The ASC announced their nominees yesterday for the best cinematographed (or “shot,” if you don’t like my fancy — and totally real — term) films of 2010. They are:

Matthew Labatique, “Black Swan.” Directed by Darren Aronofsky

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Wally Pfister, “Inception.” Directed by Christopher Nolan

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Danny Cohen, “The King’s Speech.” Directed by Tom Hooper

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Jeff Cronenweth, “The Social Network.” Directed by David Fincher

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Roger Deakins, “True Grit.” Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

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The winners will be announced at a ceremony on February 13, where Deakins will also receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.

And Now, the 2011 WGA Award Nominees

And Now, the 2011 WGA Award Nominees (photo)

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Yesterday the producers, today the writers. Tomorrow, presumably, the caterers and grips (my sources tell me the duck confit on the “Clash of the Titans” set was on point). Yes, the Writers Guild of America have announced their picks for finest movies of 2010. And writers must have a unique perspective on cinematic excellence, right? A better or at least different knowledge of what makes a script and a film great? No, they pretty much like all the same movies we do. And the nominees are:

Original Screenplay
“Black Swan”
Screenplay by Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin
Story by Andres Heinz

“The Fighter”
Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson

“Inception”
Written by Christopher Nolan

“The Kids Are All Right”
Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg

“Please Give”
Written by Nicole Holofcener

Adapted Screenplay
“127 Hours”
Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
Based on the book “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” by Aron Ralston

“I Love You Phillip Morris”
Written by John Requa & Glenn Ficarra
Based on the book by Steven McVicker

“The Social Network”
Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich

“The Town”
Screenplay by Peter Craig and Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard
Based on the novel “Prince of Thieves” by Chuck Hogan

“True Grit”
Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Based on the novel by Charles Portis

Documentary Screenplay
“Enemies of the People”
Written, Directed, Filmed and Produced by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath

“Freedom Riders”
Written, Produced and Directed by Stanley Nelson

“Gasland”
Written and Directed by Josh Fox

“Inside Job”
Produced, Written and Directed by Charles Ferguson
Co-written by Chad Beck, Adam Bolt

“The Two Escobars”
Written by Michael Zimbalist, Jeff Zimbalist

“Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?”
Written and Directed by John Scheinfeld

Before you ask the WGA considers docs for the Documentary Screenplay Award if they feature an onscreen writing credit (they also need to be exhibited theatrically in New York or LA for one week). Regarding the list of films as a whole, I suppose there are a few surprises (including “I Love You Phillip Morris” by Requa and Ficarra) and it is interesting to note that seven out of the ten fiction film nominees came from writers who were also directors. But you didn’t need a crystal ball to predict most of these movies.

People arbitrarily decide whether it was a “good year for movies” or a “bad year for movies.” 2010 had the “bad year” tag for a while. But then so many good films came out in the four months that I’ve started arguing the opposite. At this point, the repetition and boredom of this awards season is making me rethink that position. There can only be this much consensus about the best movies of the year if there aren’t a lot of really good movies to pick between. Sure “The Social Network” and “Black Swan” were great (they made my top ten list, after all). But it seems like everyone loves these movies. The fun of awards season is the debate: “Saving Private Ryan” versus “Shakespeare in Love,” “Avatar” versus “The Hurt Locker.” And that’s something that’s sorely lacking this year so far. I hope the Caterers and Grips Nominees stir some up. Winners for the WGA Awards will be announced Saturday, February 5 at simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles.

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