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Blue Valentine's NC-17 Rating Overturned by MPAA

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 8, 2010 at 9:16AM

Sometimes the right thing happens. Harvey Weinstein milked the controversy surrounding the NC-17 rating for Blue Valentine to bring attention to the movie. Director Derek Cianfrance had refused to trim an intimate sex scene with implied oral sex between Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling from the realistic relationship drama. Finally Wednesday, after Weinstein led 40 minutes of appeals arguments and screened the film at the MPAA's Sherman Oaks offices, the MPAA appeals board overturned the rating.
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Thompson on Hollywood

Sometimes the right thing happens. Harvey Weinstein milked the controversy surrounding the NC-17 rating for Blue Valentine to bring attention to the movie. Director Derek Cianfrance had refused to trim an intimate sex scene with implied oral sex between Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling from the realistic relationship drama. Finally Wednesday, after Weinstein led 40 minutes of appeals arguments and screened the film at the MPAA's Sherman Oaks offices, the MPAA appeals board overturned the rating.

Weinstein had promised the filmmakers he would not alter the film. He never prepared a cut in case the appeal did not go his way. He mentioned in his arguments to the appeals board a Twitter petition with 3000 signatures, and read several excerpts. He also credited journalists who weighed in on the issue, including The Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone. He also talked of a recruited screening he staged Wednesday night in Kansas City, after which he polled the crowd of 260: "What should this film be rated?" 80 % said R, he told the board. Attorneys Alan Friedman, Ethan Noble, David Boies and Bert Fields helped to prepare Weinstein's appeal.

The rating would have severely hampered the film's Oscar hopes; now rated R, the movie opens December 31. "The R rating overall makes it a broader picture," said Weinstein exec David Glasser.

This article is related to: Awards, Box Office, Directors, Genres, Headliners, Independents, News, Media, Marketing, Oscars, Winter, Drama, Weinsteins


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.