Keeping Oscar out of the war


March 16, 2003|By Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD -- It's a sign of the times: Before the annual luncheon for Oscar nominees this past week, Nicole Kidman fielded questions not only about her attire -- black suit over pale lace camisole -- but on whether war and politics have a place at the Academy Awards.

While she diplomatically responded that she can see both sides of the question, others were more pointed. Daniel Day-Lewis, nominated for his turn as Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, said: "It would seem obscene if we're seen bouncing up the red carpet grinning when people are dying. It's going to be very difficult to find a way to do this."

War or no war, though, "The show will go on," Gil Cates, producer of the 75th Annual Academy Awards, said at Monday's luncheon. He added that he would not try to rein in political comments by the winners during next Sunday's broadcast, but with tough new restrictions on the length of acceptance speeches, it might be difficult to say anything more than "thank you."

Some of the contenders at the Beverly Hilton Hotel luncheon said they might be moved to offer some topical comments.

Ed Harris, nominated for best supporting actor for his work in The Hours, said, "I don't think it's a political forum" but that he might be tempted to offer a prayer for peace. "Hey, if you read the First Amendment, we're entitled to say what we think."

Others, such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, said she thinks the Oscars provide a welcome escape in difficult times.

Added actor Nicolas Cage: "I try to express myself through my work. I'm not a politician."

Now there's something to be thankful for.

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