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Countdown to Oscars

Sunday, December 5, 2010
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“THE KING’S SPEECH” TARGETED: SMEAR CAMPAIGN OR JUST THE HARD TRUTH?

On Friday, I received an email about the King George VI biopic “The King’s Speech,” the source of which (“an Academy member”), I must emphasize, I have not yet been able to confirm (though I am trying). Nevertheless, it hinges upon a point that was recently reported by a credibile journalist on the Web site of a credible publication — namely, Claude Brodesser-Akner, a veteran reporter, on the “Vulture” page of New York Magazine’s Web site on November 28 — and will inevitably be raised again, so, with that major caveat, I have decided to share it…

Scott,

I’m an Academy member, and there are a LOT of us who won’t vote for “King’s Speech” for this reason, which was in New York Magazine:

“Seeing as Speech is Oscar bait in extremis, this blogger feels morally compelled to note that while the film largely glosses over the Nazi-sympathizing past of the tongue-tied monarch (Colin Firth) and deals with his relationship to an Aussie-born speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush), when it came to actively working to stymie Jews fleeing Hitler’s Germany, George actually communicated quite eloquently.”

The story that the New York Magazine piece links to appeared in The Guardian in April 2002, in a piece by Ben Summerskill entitled “MPs Want Quick Release of Queen Mother’s Papers,” and includes the following reference to a document that was already in the public domain:

“In the spring of 1939 George VI instructed his private secretary to write to Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax. Having learnt that ‘a number of Jewish refugees from different countries were surreptitiously getting into Palestine’, the King was ‘glad to think that steps are being taken to prevent these people leaving their country of origin.’ Halifax’s office telegraphed Britain’s ambassador in Berlin asking him to encourage the German government ‘to check the unauthorised emigration’ of Jews.”

So, bottom line: Is the email that I received part of some sort of coordinated smear campaign that is being orchestrated by someone with a vested interest in stunting the awards propsects of “The King’s Speech,” or is it really from an Academy member who would like others to take note of documented facts about the film’s subject that are not reported in the film? I can’t say for certain, but I do know that it certainly calls to memory other curiously-timed whispers, especially those about John Nash, the real-life inspiration for “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), whose anti-Semitic comments from years earlier were mysteriously circulated during the run-up to Oscar voting.

There have been numerous other examples of stories like this over the years — that “The Hurricane” (1999) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) did not accurately reflect the real events that inspired them; that “The Hurt Locker” (2009) caricatured the work of EOD technicians; that the people credited for writing “Good Will Hunting” (1997) were not actually the people who wrote it; that the filmmakers of “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) hadn’t provided fair financial compensation to the real Indian “slumdogs” featured in the film; etc. — some of which were more accurate, and more effective, than others.

Photo: Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech.” Credit: The Weinstein Company.

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  • http://julianstark-moviesandotherthings.blogspot.com/ Julian Stark

    After seeing the title of this post, “A Beautiful Mind” immediately came to mind. However, this possible smear campaign isn’t hitting last minute like that one.

    Either way, I still don’t see “The King’s Speech” winning anything outside of Costume Design; Actor is very possible/likely, but I’m not throwing all my eggs in that basket just yet.

  • http://twitter.com/NormGregory Norm Gregory

    I think the “Academy member” is getting the brothers mixed up. Edward VIII after his abdication, he was created Duke of Windsor, and in 1937 toured Nazi Germany. And was thought to have sympathies in that direction.

    • http://ScottFeinberg.com Scott Feinberg

      What you said about Edward VIII is certainly true, but the Guardian article that is linked to in the New York Magazine post specifically refers to the papers of King George VI and his wife, who had just passed away shortly before the piece was written, which brought about calls for those papers to be released.

  • http://twitter.com/Univarn Ryan Helms

    There’s always been an issue with filmmakers trying to decide whether or not something that would be real character study, makes for good entertainment. I don’t mind if they leave out a few things as long as the story feels fine without it.

  • Robert Hamer

    Oh, this is so silly. Every year it seems there’s some new smear campaign against the Best Picture front-runner (just watch: The Social Network will be targeted again real soon) and it’s almost always stoked by cynical studio execs and bought hook, line and sinker by some Academy members willing to make mountains out of molehills.

    Has anyone just tried voting for what they thought was the best film of the year, as opposed to the most politically correct?

  • Morgan

    You post a potentially damaging note from someone who didn’t even have the guts to sign their name? And you even acknowledge that it may be part of a smear campaign, yet you call attention to the smear anyhow?? The one who spreads gossip is as bad as the gossiper. Badly done, Scott.

    • http://ScottFeinberg.com Scott Feinberg

      As I mention in the introduction to this post, the only reason that I posted this letter even though it was unsigned was that the concerns that it raises had already been raised elsewhere and would have inevitably been raised again whether I posted it or not.

      • Morgan

        Ok, Scott, fair enough. Have you asked Weinstein for a comment? That would be the fair thing to do.

        • http://ScottFeinberg.com Scott Feinberg

          Not yet, as it’s Sunday, but I certainly will tomorrow morning.

  • nicky

    Every year something like this comes up. I find it sad.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Lippe/100001164382932 Aaron Lippe

    There is a bunch of people to whom everyone and everything is “anti-semitic”, but then, maybe, because of them everyone is.

  • Pingback: "Anti-Semite" smears over "The King's Speech" - Stormfront

  • Nivcaq

    This film has nothing to do with The Kings his thoughts concerning jewish immigration to Palestine, this film has nothing to do with policies he believed in regarding jewish immigration to Palestine. This film is a tribute to his role in fighting against the nazis through giving anti-nazi messages. Maybe people who have a problem with some of the policies he believed in should over-look those policies and be thankful he took measures which helped to defeat a political movement that sought to exterminate various people including jews, gypsies, and others. I know not all jews are taking issue with this movie and I am sure there are jewish people who are genuinely grateful to this king for helping them. However it is in poor taste to go on the attack against someone who helped save you and sacrificed for you.

  • deadsparrow

    The press over here, in Britain, is reporting this as if it just happened rather than in early December. And there you have the attitude of the British press to their royal family – they are above criticism. Its well known that George’s brother, Edward, had to be exiled to the Bahamas to keep him from leaking secrets to the Nazis. Less well known is the family’s anti-semitism because nobody here has ever acknowledged it – until now. The film may be well made and acted but its main character is beneath contempt.

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  • MaybeII

    Whoever is starting this rumour, and circulating it…. by the same token, would you boycott a film about FDR…Whilst Great Britain was taking in Jewish Children from Germany in a little known event called Kinderstransport. The US Government at that time was refusing these same children visas to enter the US…

  • ASLEF shrugged

    In 1936 the Great Arab Revolt was a reaction to the growing numbers of Jewish immigrants and British rule in general. It was quickly suppressed but continued at a minor level till the outbreak of war in 1939. The Peel Commission recommending among other actions placing restrictions on the number of Jews being allowed into Palestine, it’s report was published in 1938 and became law in May 1939. George’s comments could be interpreted as anti-Semitic or merely as trying to reduce the tension on an already volatile situation in line with government policy of the day.

    Think someone connected to another film is worried that TKS will sweep the Oscars and is trying to banjax it’s chances. Dirty pool, old man….

  • Goldman

    Hollywood needs to rid itself of its holocaust-driven agents and holocaust movies, as the goyim are getting too smart, rich and powerful now and the west is declining and the jig is up. we need to treat them Chinese, Indians, Brazilians, Russians and other goy as equals and MOT if we are to survive. we need to be kind to the stranger or goyim because we were once strangers in Egypt. if we love the goyim like we love ourselves as torah commands, the world will be a much better place

  • richard

    could also be a clever campaign by Weinstein to take the momentum from TSN to TKS. There was no reason in December to start a smear campaign, since Colin Firth victory was locked and TKS was not a serious competitor for best picture at that time.

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