Entertainment Industry Prepares for Impact of War

Uncertainty over the U.S.-led war against Iraq has not only cast a shadow on the 75th annual Academy Awards set to take place Sunday night at the Kodak Theater, but on the entertainment industry as a whole.

Many musicians and actors won’t travel, causing concert delays and cancellations, while some studios, bracing for impact on their businesses, have delayed film production and release dates.

Paramount Pictures has delayed the April debut of the boxing pic Against the Ropes starring Meg Ryan. The film, which was slated for release April 25, has been postponed indefinitely.

Paramount spokeswoman Nancy Kirkpatrick told Reuters the studio was at the point when it had to start buying advertising time on television and given the war coverage and uncertainty over when TV shows might or might not air, the studio decided to push back the film’s release.

“The issue is the advertising gets preempted, and you end up losing your message,” she said.

Twentieth Century Fox, meanwhile, announced that the start of production on the Mel Gibson starrer Mad Max: Fury Road, which was slated to begin filming in Namibia in July, has been pushed back to the fall.

Oscar organizers have canceled the highly anticipated red carpet arrivals for celebrities for fear it would set an inappropriate tone. And perhaps rightly so–pontificating over celebrity duds seems trivial in light of the bigger picture.

Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson and Will Smith, who was supposed to be a presenter, said they would not attend the Academy Awards. Just-announced presenter Cate Blanchett may back out (citing scheduling conflicts) and reports say Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger are vacillating. Travel concerns have also botched designers Matthew Williamson and Donatella Versace’s plans to attend the ceremony.

Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki, whose The Man Without a Past is nominated in the foreign-language category, said he and his production company wouldn’t attend the Academy Awards ceremony to protest the war.

In the music industry, Lisa Marie Presley has canceled a European promotional tour for her debut album, To Whom It May Concern. Matchbox 20, meanwhile, has postponed a European tour scheduled to begin next week.

Lead singer Rob Thomas told The Associated Press Thursday, “It just didn’t seem appropriate. We were all kind of watching the news last night and when they issued a worldwide caution for Americans, the idea of us putting 11,000 people in a room didn’t seem great.”