Miramax Films has pulled advertisements that appeared in the Hollywood trades, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times because of objections from Oscar voters. The ads featured an opinion column written by Oscar-winning director Robert Wise that called on Oscar voters to award Martin Scorsese for directing Gangs of New York.
The column first appeared in the Daily News of Los Angeles March 6. In it, Wise said that Scorsese deserves the Oscar for best director for his work on Gangs of New York.
Frank Pierson, president of the Academy Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, told the Los Angeles Times the column breached an Academy rule that voters, including Wise, should not reveal to anyone about how they cast their ballots.
"It's an outright violation of Academy rules," Pierson said. "It's a corruption of the process."
Pierson noted that the reaction was so strong that an unspecified number of the 5,800 voters have asked that completed ballots be returned so they can strike Scorsese's name. The Academy said mailed ballots would not be returned.
Miramax chief operating officer Rick Sands made this statement Thursday: "We were unaware that this was something Academy members found offensive, and since there is nothing that addresses this in the Academy marketing guidelines, we certainly did not know this practice was a violation of Academy rules."
Scorsese's publicist, Lois Smith, said the director was not happy with the ads. "Marty was very touched by what Bob Wise said. But he never knew it was going to become an advertisement. He was not happy."
Wise, meanwhile, said he intended the column to help the film at the box office. He said an assistant wrote the original column and that he later revised the draft.
"There is something extremely vulgar about the idea of a blatant campaign advertisement like this," Rain Man director Barry Levinson told the Times."You look at an ad like that and say, 'My God.' Why don't we just give money to people and tell them how to vote?"