Monday, March 18, 2002
Los Angeles The makers of "A Beautiful Mind" have objected to what they say is a whisper campaign to hurt the Oscar chances of their movie, which is up for eight Academy Awards including best picture.
Although no evidence has surfaced that proves a conspiracy, Universal Pictures, director Ron Howard and star Russell Crowe said they suspect some Hollywood rivals of secretly badmouthing their film to sway academy voters.
"If there's an attack strategy, that's an impolitic tool," Howard said. "It's not about reminding people of your virtues, it's about undermining the other candidate's credibility. That's a shame."
Competing studios have denied involvement in the alleged smear campaign.
Various news reports in recent weeks have noted that "A Beautiful Mind" leaves out some unflattering aspects of the life of John Forbes Nash, the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician whose life it chronicles.
In a CBS "60 Minutes" interview, Nash and his wife, Alicia, denied allegations that he was gay, anti-Semitic or a poor father. And Sylvia Nasar, author of the 1998 biography, "A Beautiful Mind," on which the film was based, wrote a commentary in the Los Angeles Times last week that accused many media outlets, including The Associated Press, of misstating details of Nash's life.
The film, which stars Crowe and Jennifer Connelly as the Nashes, portrays them throughout Nash's decades-long struggle with mental illness and its eventual remission, culminating in his winning the Nobel Prize for economics in 1994. Among its Oscar nominations are best director, actor, supporting actress and adapted screenplay, for Akiva Goldsman.
Both Nash and Nasar said his anti-Semitic remarks were made while he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
"I did have strange ideas during certain periods of time," Nash, 73, said on "60 Minutes." "It's really my subconscious talking. It was really that. I know that now."
Nasar criticized some reports that said Nash was a homosexual. Despite a 1954 indecency arrest and allusions in her book to his flirtatious behavior with men, she said he is an avowed heterosexual. The indecency charge was later dropped, she said.
Howard and screenwriter Goldsman said they changed some aspects of Nash's life to make the film more dramatic, and omitted other elements they considered unimportant to the story.
Oscar voting concludes Tuesday and the Academy Awards are given out next Sunday.
"The timing of this latest wave of missives and their orchestration has to be calculated," Universal Pictures chairwoman Stacey Snider told The Hollywood Reporter.
Films that win major Academy Awards can usually count on significant extra box-office sales and a long shelf-life on video, and studios spend millions to promote their films to Oscar voters.