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Storm Brews Ahead Of Oscars
It's them or us says Malick to organisers...

18 March 1999  |  Written by   

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War is being waged behind-the-scenes at the preparations for this Sunday's Oscar ceremony over best picture nominee The Thin Red Line, with Fox, Phoenix Pictures and director Terrence Malick attempting to bar producers Robert Geisler and John Roberdeau from attending.

So what's all the fuss about? If you believe those close to the producers, it's a studio backing a powerful director who bled the producers dry and, after leaving them with creditors, is trying to rob them of any credit for the film. The Malick-Phoenix-Fox camp maintains the argument that the Oscar snub is just desserts for a pair of freespending producers with a reputation of owing money to creditors, who should never have spoken to Peter Biskind for Vanity Fair - which printed an in-depth interview with the writers who practically cut Malick to shreds over their newly found notoriety - because it was a clear violation of a confidentiality clause they signed.

Things have escalated to such a level in fact, that Malick, who's nominated for both director and adapted screenplay honours, has made noises about skipping the Oscars if the two show up. Geisler and Roberdeau have been given tickets by the Academy, and intend to honour the invitations.

It's doubtful that the producers of an Oscar-nominated picture have ever before been ordered to skip the event. But Fox and Phoenix are enforcing a contract that the producers signed last November that promised they would not attend. The agreement was drafted after Malick's emotions got the better of him over comments Geisler and Roberdeau made in a Vanity Fair article detailing their 20-year involvement with the reclusive director to get him to direct James Jones' classic WWII memoir.

The sole contention it seems, is the magazine article and Malick's adverse reaction to it. Written without Malick's input and a very personal story of the early days of the projects, at the time, the producers were being discredited as bit players and hounded because of debts. The magazine article claims the two were broke because they spent nearly $2 million bankrolling Malick's creative whims to try to get him to make the movie.

18 pages of legal claims exist against Geisler and Roberdeau. In an unsolicited call from a Lisa Brown, from L.A.-based Travel Syndicate, reports said that Brown claimed the producers owe her money, adding, "And they wonder why they're not invited to the Academy Awards"

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