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Oscar Round Up | More “Hurt Locker” Troubles, Baron Cohen Out, Elton John’s Picks

Oscar Round Up | More "Hurt Locker" Troubles, Baron Cohen Out, Elton John's Picks

With only a few days to go until a cadre of sexy and funny people (hand-picked by Adam Shankman?) hand out Hollywood’s most coveted honor, the stories surrounding the awards are not slowing down despite the fact that pencils and papers are down and votes are counted. On Thompson on Hollywood, Anne Thompson wraps up some of the best of this week’s Oscar offerings, and plots her course of action for Oscar week, which will climax with play-by-play posts from backstage in the interview room Sunday night, followed by – of course – the parties.

In the latest news, “Borat” and “Bruno” star Sacha Baron Cohen has been yanked from his position as an Oscar presenter. According to the UK’s Daily Mail reporter Paul Thompson, Cohen was pulled over creative differences regarding jokes centered around “Avatar” director James Cameron.

After “Hurt Locker” producer Nicolas Chartier slammed “Avatar” and got shut out of the Oscar ceremonies, the film is caught up in some more publicity troubles. The Wrap’s Desson Thomas reports that Army Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver and his lawyer Geoffrey Fieger have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against screenwriter Mark Boal, director Kathryn Bigelow, distributor Summit Entertainment and producer Voltage Pictures. It is alleged that while embedded in Master Sgt. Sarver’s unit, Boal witnessed “virtually all of the situations” represented in the film, down to Master Sgt. Sarver’s call signal – “Blaster One.” Summit released a statement Tuesday claiming that while Master Sgt. Sarver “served his country with honor and commitment” the film is in fact based on Boal’s fictional screenplay.

LA Times blogger Patrick Goldstein spoke with Boal, who wrote about Sarver in his 2005 Playboy article “The Man in the Bomb Suit” before penning “The Hurt Locker.” Boal told Goldstein, “There are similarities, because you’d find similarities to events that happened to lots of these guys. But the screenplay is not about him. I talked to easily over 100 soldiers during my research and reshuffled everything I learned in a way that would be authentic, but would also make for a dramatic story.” Boal wasn’t aware of any issues until the lawyers got involved; Sarver attended the first screening of the film and told Boal he liked it.

Entertainment Weekly’s Dave Karger compared “The Hurt Locker” controversy to that of last year’s “Slumdog Millionaire,” for which the backlash over claims that the Indian child actors were underpaid didn’t amount to anything. Karger also mentions a West Coast (“Avatar”) vs. East Coast (“The Hurt Locker”) variable. He worries that if “Avatar” wins, people may get the (wrong) idea that negative campaigning works, thus making trash talking an Oscar tradition.

The New York Times‘ Carpetbagger Melena Ryzik, on the topic of smear campaigns, spoke to Matt Damon at his Green Zone premiere last week. He mentioned how he learned about ‘the camp’ for the first time, when rumors emerged during Oscar voting week that another screenwriter had penned “Good Will Hunting” – clearly it didn’t work; Damon and writing partner Afflect won the Best Screenplay Oscar. Damon’s suggestion for a better system? Give out the awards 10 years later – “more honest” – like the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Since smear campaigns are not the only thing to determine winners, A.P. movie writer David Germain looks at the losing history of big budget sci-fi films at the Oscars. While “Avatar” would be the highest grossing Best Picture win of at least the decade, Germain points out that “The Hurt Locker” could be one of the least theatrically seen winners of all time, with the likes of 2005 winner “Crash.” If “Star Wars” and “ET” lost to “Annie Hall” and “Ghandi,” “Avatar” losing to “The Hurt Locker” would be anything but a surprise. Money makers are not necessarily award winners.

The BBC’s Peter Bowes makes an argument for “Crazy Heart” nominees, who were fighting a much more sedated battle until yesterday; four time nominee Jeff Bridges in the role written specifically for him by writer/director Scott Cooper, and Maggie Gyllenhaal who’s words sum up their characters and their performances, “We were playing people with really big, vulnerable hearts.”

Mark Caro, in the Chicago Times, rehashes the old indie vs. Hollywood, David vs. Goliath story, with regards to this year’s Oscars and Spirit Awards.

For those of you who follow religiously the predictions of Sir Elton John, I give you this.

But the votes are in. The winners have already won. It’s about the show and the statues now. The Hollywood Reporter’s Matthew Belloni talked to the man who guards the Oscars (literally), David Quinto. In the interview he shares some delightful stories of Oscar statues post-event, such as one that was recovered from a drug bust. Tips: Do not sell, fake or claim to have won an Oscar – he’ll sue you. And don’t bring a phony ticket, or the wrong one. Sunday night, if there is any discrepancy with a ticket, name or face, he’ll be the one to investigate it, but he does admit those of Sandra Bullock’s stature wont necessarily need to come ticket in hand.

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