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12 Feb 2003 09:23
Oscar voters on Tuesday appeared to hold out an olive branch to filmmaker Roman Polanski amid speculation that the prodigal son wants to return to Hollywood following a 1970s rape scandal.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voters awarded Polanski’s new movie The Pianist a whopping seven Oscar nominations, including in the coveted best picture, best director and best actor categories.
“We’re wondering whether he’s going to come home to Hollywood,” said awards expert Tom O’Neil of the GoldDerby.com website.
“At the Oscars they love to forgive old sex scandals with chunks of Academy gold. They did it with Ingrid Bergman for Anastasia (in 1956),” he said.
Bergman had been forced to leave the United States amid the scandal over her illicit love affair with Roberto Rosellini.
Polanski’s chance to compete for Oscar gold came amid persistent rumours that the French-born director of Polish origin is attempting to cut a deal that would allow him return to California where he is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977 after plying her with drugs and alcohol.
But while Los Angeles prosecutors denied that any negotiations were underway or would be considered in the future, Hollywood appeared to be taking a softer stance towards its once-shunned prodigal’s son on Tuesday.
“We have not been talking to Polanski, nor do we have any plans to do so,” said Los Angeles District Attorney’s representative Jane Robison who added that it would be up to a judge to decide Polanski’s fate.
Polanksi (69) fled to Europe in 1978 rather than face sentencing for the statutory rape of the teenager in actor Jack Nicholson’s hot tub—which he admitted—and faces arrest if he returns to the United States.
The director had told probation officials he was still recovering from the savage murder of his wife, actress Sharon Tate, who was killed in 1969 by followers of Charles Manson.
Since he fled, the maker of such acclaimed hits as the classic 1968 horror flick Rosemary’s Baby, as well as 1974’s Chinatown and Repulsion has not made a critically acclaimed movie -â€’ that is until The Pianist.
His directorial nod for the 2002 movie is his third such Oscars honour following his nominations for Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown and again for Tess—starring his young lover Nastassja Kinski—in 1980.
But it seemed unlikely that Polanski would turn up at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre on March 23 to receive an Oscar statuette either as best director or as producer of the best picture, industry observers said.
The Pianist tells the story of a young Jewish musician in the ghettos of Warsaw, played by rising star Adrien Brody, who uses his music to save his life and survive the Holocaust.
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