The muck-raking and back-stabbing that have sullied the build-up to this year's Oscars took one last inglorious turn just hours before the ceremony yesterday with the appearance of security-camera footage of Russell Crowe apparently scuffling outside a nightclub in his home town of Coffs Harbour, Australia, two years ago.
The footage, which will be the subject of a trial in which three men stand accused of trying to blackmail Mr Crowe with the images, was made public first in the News of the World, which splashed its account over yesterday's front page, and then on Sky television.
Both outlets commented that Mr Crowe's behaviour might be seen as unbecoming in a man up for his second best-actor Oscar in a row – particularly after his performance at the Bafta awards last month, at which he pinned a television executive against a wall.
Such negative commentary on the Academy Awards has reached epidemic proportions this year, and Crowe's film, A Beautiful Mind, has taken the brunt of the low blows with accusations of parental abandonment, anti-Semitism and more against the real-life subject of the film, the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash.
The Crowe footage was made public too late to make any difference to last night's awards, since voting by the Academy's 5,700 members closed on Tuesday.
Both the News of the World and Sky belong to Rupert Murdoch, who has a stake in the outcome of the Oscars. Moulin Rouge, distributed by Mr Murdoch's Fox studio, was in direct competition with A Beautiful Mind for best picture.Reuse content