By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 31, 2011 at 9:17AM
Judging from the way the Writers' Panel played at Santa Barbara Saturday, the heat is with The King's Speech. Seidler proved to be an elegant and charming storyteller--and had the audience eating out of his hand as he talked about how as a stutterer he was inspired by King George VI's ability to conquer stuttering, and had to wait two decades for the Queen Mum to die before he could tell his story.
For his part, clearly Aaron Sorkin is still dealing with issues of truth vs. fiction when it comes to Mark Zuckerberg, although he insists the Sony lawyers vetted his script from here to sunrise, and David Fincher (who lost best director to Tom Hooper at the DGA Saturday) insisted on changing a vodka screwdriver to a Beck's beer. That's how well-researched the movie was, Sorkin said. As to why he made so nice to Zuckerberg in his various award speeches (which came across as campaign talking points), he said he always related to Zuckerberg's social awkwardness and admires him greatly. OK.
Meanwhile, Jeff Wells asked the first audience question about Christopher Hitchens' assertion in The Guardian that King George VI was an appeaser, inspiring Seidler to rousingly defend King George VI as someone who, like Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, did not want to go to war (a widely-held view at the time). While his brother Edward harbored Nazi sympathies, the King himself was never proven to be an anti-Semite, said Seidler, who is the descendent of Holocaust survivors. The audience applauded Seidler.
DEADLINE: Tom Hooper told me in Toronto there was no way he would drop the use of the word "fuck" in that therapy scene that earned The King's Speech an R rating. Deadline's reports have you exploring a PG-13 version.
WEINSTEIN: Well, it hurt us. I think the movie could do even bigger box office than $100 million if we could free ourselves of the rating. The rating is really difficult. The movie is outdoing us in the UK for one simple reason: the rating in England got overturned to essentially a PG-13. Mom, Dad, and the kids are all going to see the movie in England just like True Grit, which is a PG-13 film. You're getting everybody seeing True Grit. I've got four daughters, and all four would never be caught dead at a Western. But because there's a 14-year old girl and the movie is rated PG-13, they all went with six of their girlfriends. But my daughters can't see The King's Speech because it's rated R. I showed it to my daughter anyhow, and she loved the movie, and so have her girlfriends. I've heard from so many educators that this is crazy. I believe the MPAA is sympathetic to the movie, but the rules are the rules. And look, I won with Blue Valentine. I can't go back, hat in hand, again. We were hoping that, as happened in England, the MPAA would see the movie in context and change the R to PG-13. That’s what happened on Blue Valentine. They rated the movie NC-17, we didn’t make any changes to the movie, and they reduced it to an R. But we didn’t get the contextual rating we wanted. Tom’s got a couple of ideas that don’t involve cutting that will serve the same purpose. I’ll leave that as a bit of a mystery as we examine it further. We are trying to find every way possible to have the film seen by as wide an audience as possible.
The NYT's David Carr looks at the Weinstein Touch at the Oscars. And of course, the rivalry between Weinstein and Scott Rudin, who produced Oscar-contenders The Social Network and True Grit is old and deep. I wrote about it back at the time of The Hours and The Reader. Both men trying to behave like civilized rivals this time around.
Truth to tell, The King's Speech has the wind in its sails, while The Social Network is losing momentum. And I wonder about the very popular True Grit, which earned ten nominations. The Academy likes to spread the wealth sometimes. What if they gave picture, original screenplay, and actor to King's Speech, director and adapted screenplay to David Fincher and Sorkin, supporting actor to The Fighter, best actress to Black Swan or The Kids Are All Right, and supporting actress to True Grit, along with cinematography? (Inception and Alice in Wonderland could win some technicals, Toy Story 3 would get animation, Inside Job documentary...) Stranger things have happened.