To counter Martin Sheen's TV spots, right-wingers funded ads starring exSenator Fred Thompson, now the new D.A. on Law & Order. Articles claimed NBC was worried that President Bartlet's activism was watering down West Wing's ratings, while Visa pulled those popular card ads starring father and son Marty and Charlie. (Little wonder that once-upon-a-time similarly embattled Bill Maher looked straight into the camera on his new HBO hour and begged, "Lay off Martin Sheen!")
At the Grammys, musicians were warned to keep their mouths shut about politics, so Sheryl Crow had to content herself with a "No War" guitar strap. But this is the Academy Awards, where a long line of bigmouths have had their say on big issues, from Susan Sarandon (Haiti) to Richard Gere (Tibet) to Sacheen Littlefeather (Native Americans). And this is the sector of show biz that generates the most buzz.
Or at least it did. This year's Oscars was over before it ever begun. The Fat Man sang early. With Chicago a sure thing, there was hardly a nasty down-to-the-wire campaign to cover, since, with producing credit on four out of the five Best Picture nominations (Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), Harvey Weinstein couldn't get medieval with himself. (That would have been sadomasochism, and the Miramax magic is all about causing pain to others.)
For a brief time, there was the faint smell of an Oscar upset by The Pianist. But it was wishful thinking or swamp gas. You've got to hand it to Harv: He'll have a near-sweep. Too bad it's increasingly likely the hosannas hound will just be a picture-within-a-picture competing for TV time with U.S. military leaders at that new $200,000 Hollywood-created set for the U.S. Central Command base in Qatar (courtesy of top Tinseltown art director George Allison).
If that happens during the broadcast, then The Fat Man becomes one very small footnote, even more so if there's one very big boycott by the movie community. As they also said during the Vietnam era, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it."LA