Pete Hammond

Harvey Weinstein tells me that, for the first time ever, he plans to personally make the appeal to the MPAA this Wednesday. He will urge them to reduce his award season hopeful Blue Valentine’s current NC-17 rating to a more exhibition-friendly R instead. He was in town briefly last week and I caught up with him in the lobby of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Friday night where he showed up to support his stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams who were doing a Q&A after a SAG nominating committee screening. “Usually just my lawyers do the appeals, but this time I am going to,”  he told me. He noted that his companies  have been involved in many appeals over the years but have only won a handful of times. He’s obviously hoping this is going to be one of them, especially with his own personal plea.

Whatever the outcome, it’s clear no one milks ratings controversies for the free publicity better than Harvey. As he perused the Academy’s  incredible poster displays on the walls of the Linwood Dunn (“That’s Sophia Loren in Marriage Italian Style. She was in my movie Pret A Porter”), Weinstein said he thought the awards campaign for The King’s Speech was going smoothly. He’s happy now with its new poster (the first one left something to be desired). But Harv said he  really, really wants Golden Globe (and Oscar, of course) attention for Blue Valentine too. After the SAG screening he planned to follow the stars to their next stop, a BAFTA Q&A at the Pacific Design Center. Harv is in full award season battle mode now and obviously relishing the strong early limited run grosses for his Kings’ Speech.

Meanwhile The Weinstein Company rented out Hollywood’s Harmony Gold screening room all weekend long for continuous showings of Blue Valentine and invited Academy, HFPA, and Guild members through full page newspaper ads with the headline: “Before the MPAA makes their decision, MAKE YOURS”.  I am told the screenings were well attended for the most part. At the SAG screening, Gosling didn’t mince words on his opinion of the rating. “I guess it’s fine to do torture porn and violence on women, but don’t even think about making love to them,” he said about the R tags which graphically violent movies like Saw and its ilk are routinely rewarded.

Williams and Gosling have been doing the circuit drumming up attention for the December 31st release of  Blue Valentine on both coasts. Michelle Williams’ Brokeback Mountain co-star Jake Gyllenhaal moderated a Blue Valentine Q&A Thursday in LA while Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal  hosted a   screening  Sunday in New York. Last week at a Tribeca Grand event, Oscar winner Kate Winslet “hosted” a much talked-about screening because she heaped praise on Williams whom she’d only briefly met once before. “This is a beautiful performance but it doesn’t feel like a performance  at all,” Winslet gushed. “Iit feels like pieces of the actress are breaking open and being exposed to us all at what must have been I am sure a huge emotional cost.”

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