And here I thought only Los Angeles flackery mPRm’s name was moronic. Turns out this fish stinks at the head because its co-founder and president Mark Pogachefsky is now blaming his own client for an Oscar rule-breaking situation that the PR firm should have prevented instead of aided and abetted. After a lot of Sundance hype because of its claustrophobic nightmare premise and star Ryan Reynolds, this movie came and went at the box office in record time after making only $1 million domestic. And not even distributor Lionsgate is campaigning Buried for an Academy Award or anything else. So Buried has zero chance of any golden statuettes this season without its studio support. And yet mPRm while repping Buried let its screenwriter Chris Sparling commit an Oscar taboo even though he didn’t know the rules, as Pogachefsky is admitting. (“Weirdly, I would not be surprised if this was not a setup just to get attention,” Deadline’s awards columnist Pete Hammond comments to me. “How else would he get any notice?”) Entertainment Weekly‘s Dave Karger scoops that Sparling sent a personal missive to members of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ writers branch gushing about his screenplay — “no film this year — or ever — has done so much with so little” — and respectfully asking them to read it in hopes that it would land on their ballot for Best Original Screenplay. Well, the return address belongs to mPRm. Still, this is hardly a repeat of last year’s Nicolas Chartier scandal because The Hurt Locker was an acknowledged frontrunner, he did it on his own, and the producer’s email indirectly badmouthed competing Avatar. As for Pogachefsky, I recall how he was behind another PR disaster last February: he was too quick on the draw to send out a press release announcing ex-OTX motion picture president Kevin Goetz’s upstart rival research firm following his abrupt resignation. So a very angry OTX retaliated by dragging Goetz into court to face an emergency injunction against his new venture.
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