Polanski wins new respect

— Roman Polanski's surprise Oscar win for directing "The Pianist" has returned Hollywood's attention to a filmmaking career that includes at least two films considered cinematic classics, "Rosemary's Baby" and "Chinatown."

"There is tremendous interest in Roman and what he's doing next," his agent, Jeff Berg, said Tuesday, although Polanski has yet to decide on a new project.

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AP File Photo

Actor Adrien Brody, left, holds his honorary Cesar award for best actor along with film director Roman Polanski, who won for the best film director for his movie "The Pianist" at the 28th Cesars film awards ceremony in Paris in this Feb. 22 file photo. Polanski and Brody took the same awards at the Oscars.

Berg refused to say who has approached him about working with Polanski, but pointed out that the filmmaker has never wanted for celebrity colleagues, even in the years since a 1977 sex crime made him flee to France.

Walter Matthau starred in Polanski's 1986 comedy "Pirates," Harrison Ford in 1988's "Frantic" and Johnny Depp in 1999's "The Ninth Gate."

Polanski's victory Sunday night was met with huge applause and a partial standing ovation at the Kodak Theatre.

In a brief statement issued in Paris, Polanski, 69, said that he was grateful for the recognition.

"I am deeply moved to be rewarded for the work which relates to the events so close to my own life, the events that led me to comprehend that art can transform pain," he said.

"The Pianist" drew on Polanski's experiences from childhood. A Polish Jew, he escaped from Krakow's ghetto and lived off the charity of strangers until reuniting with his father years later. His mother died at the Auschwitz death camp. Polanski's pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was brutally murdered by Charles Manson's followers in 1969 in her Los Angeles home.

After pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl, Polanski fled Los Angeles for Paris to evade sentencing, out of fear the judge would disregard a plea bargain with prosecutors and sentence him to 50 years in prison.

Polanski still faces arrest if he returns to the United States, and the Oscar is unlikely to change that. But it could make it easier for him to work around the obstacle of his criminal case.

He has since worked mainly in Paris, where he lives with his children and wife, French actress Emmanuelle Seigner.

But his Academy Award suggests that Hollywood continues to admire his talent, and Oscars for "The Pianist" lead actor Adrien Brody and screenwriter Ronald Harwood already have stoked renewed interest in working with the director.

One of Polanski's greatest handicaps has been the limitation on his travel because of his fugitive status. Polanski will not visit England or Canada out of fear he could be extradited to the United States, constraining his ability to do location shooting.

Working as an exile has also complicated his ability to secure money for his films. In the last 25 years, only "Frantic" was produced in partnership with a major Hollywood studio, Warner Bros.

The Oscar win could restore his access to the deep pockets of the major studios, which would mitigate his travel handicap by making it easier to pay for large sets and support crews in Paris.

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