Melissa Leo & The (Nice) Photo Controversy

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Today let’s address a new Oscar ‘controversy’  that’s got lots of people in Tinseltown riled up. All because an actor decided to take measures into her own hands and do a little self-promotion It seems Melissa Leo, Best Supporting Actress nominee for her role in The Fighter, has managed to invite  some serious tongue-wagging and finger-pointing.  In a move that’s being roundly criticized Ms. Leo actually took out ads of herself all dolled-up in glamorous wear, asking people to “consider” her for the Oscar. She also happens to be the  category’s frontrunner.  Pundits and commentators immediately cried foul, calling the gesture inappropriate.

What do you think? Would you vote for her…now?

Okay, let’s examine this for a moment.  First of all, it’s very common for movie studios to spend zillions of dollars promoting their films for Oscar. It’s both expected and frowned upon (even though they all do it).  A case in point was back with Shakespeare in Love and Saving Private Ryan. Allegedly, a certain studio spent soooo much money that  a certain romantic comedy trounced what was deemed a better and certainly more “substantial” film. Who knows (I liked ‘em both). But Melissa Leo has come under fire here for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that she’s admitted taking out the advertisements and paying for them herself (why she did the admitting part is beyond me – why not say your ‘team’ did it?) But this is not a 50 year-old who suffers fools, nor was she afraid to come forward and explain that she wasn’t getting the magazine covers and the talk shows that apparently other nominees are getting and thus, felt she had to do something. I’m reading that she’s being called “desperate” and that it’s a tacky ploy. Okay. So maybe we need to ask ourselves what the response would be if, say George Clooney had done this. Or maybe Reese Witherspoon. Or Sandra Bullock — would they criticize her? Or another glossy Hollywood insider. Now I’m certain that any of those guys would have had the savvy to “blame” the ads on someone else, so they get to look cool. By the same token, if a very young starlet had done it, we probably wouldn’t have given it another thought, since that’s just what actors do.

Which is precisely why I don’t think you can fault Leo for being forthright. Having spoken to her several times I can assure you this lady’s the real deal, and there is nothing Hollywood about her, hence what may appear a less than delicate move. She’s very bright and couldn’t be more genuine, also probably off-putting to many inside an industry that counts on more of a trained-seal type who looks great and doesn’t rock the boat too much. But I say, let her be. Her time has clearly come, she’s had it coming for a while (did anyone see Frozen River??) and she’ll probably win. I hope she does, and I hope that this endeavor on her part will wind up simply being cash unnecessarily spent, rather than a messy blemish on her career.  But that’s just me.

Today’s poll:

The Grammy Awards are this Sunday on CBS. Which performer(s) are you most excited about seeing:

1)   Gwyneth Paltrow & Cee Lo Green

2)   Lady Gaga

3)   Barbra Streisand

4)   Rihanna & Drake

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