Art & commerce collide

Miramax is at the center of controversy for a print ad promoting Martin Scorsese’s best director bid for “Gangs of New York.”

Though Oscar promotions…typically involve a barrage of hype…the latest controversy has brought out into the open what academy executives and many in Hollywood privately have bemoaned for several years: that the scorched-earth quest for Oscars is out of control.

Still, the ad was a nice tribute. It featured Robert Wise — two-time best director winner for “The Sound of Music” (1966) and “West Side Story” (1962):

…[after meeting for the first time] “what impressed me most was Marty’s incredible enthusiasm and passion — an enthusiasm and passion usually found in a young, first-time filmmaker, rather than the seasoned professional he already was. It was exhilarating to hear him talk about the great directors who influenced his work and the new talent emerging in world cinema.”

“Over the years, I have admired many things about his work — his wonderful sense of structure and rhythm, the poetry of his images, his masterful storytelling. All these things make him one of the great directors for me.”

In an interesting twist, it was reported today that a Miramax publicist penned the entire essay — Wise did not write a single word (though he did acknowledge reading and approving it).

The fact that the studio engineered and then wrote the article indicates that what was billed by Miramax as a voluntary tribute was a studio-generated attempt at self-endorsement.

Hey, that’s show biz…

Note: Oscar voting concludes Tuesday. The 75th annual Academy Awards airs Sunday, March 23 on ABC.

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