Oldman accuses Hollywood studio of political plot

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The Independent Culture

The British actor Gary Oldman, star of a new film about a political conspiracy, has accused Hollywood's powerful DreamWorks studios of its own conspiracy - to shift the film's political emphasis.

The British actor Gary Oldman, star of a new film about a political conspiracy, has accused Hollywood's powerful DreamWorks studios of its own conspiracy - to shift the film's political emphasis.

Oldman stars as a Republican politician in Rod Lurie's big-screen debut, The Contender, about dirty tricks in Washington, which has just been released in the United States. Now he and his manager, Douglas Urbanski, have attacked Lurie and the DreamWorks bosses Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, saying the studio heads - all loyal Democrats - recut The Contender and turned it into an anti-right-wing film, in time for the US presidential election in November.

The political thriller centres on a woman senator, played by Joan Allen, chosen to replace the Vice-President, who has died in office. The selection meets opposition from members of both parties, in particular Oldman's character, a powerful Republican.Her political future is jeopardised as shocking secrets from her past are revealed.

DreamWorks denies the studio had any influence on the editing, but Urbanski tells the November edition of Premiere magazine that the end result was "almost a Goebbels-like piece of propaganda.

"If your names are Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen, you can't have a film with a Republican character who is at all sympathetic being released on 13 October [three weeks before the election]."

Oldman believes that Lurie didn't stand up for the film when it came to recutting it. "To have a friend and director not go in and fight for you is just deeply, deeply disappointing," he tells the magazine. "[Lurie] couldn't make waves. He's on his trajectory now, isn't he?"

Never one to shy away from controversy, Oldman adds: "I'm surprised that more people have not been murdered in the entertainment industry ... We deal with these people every day, and I cannot fight them at their own game. I just want to work with some people with real integrity."

Sources close to the film told the magazine that nothing was amended to change its political tone. Walter Parkes, who runs DreamWorks' day-to-day operations, denied the studio heads had any undue influence on the script or the editing.

"There's no indication to me whatsoever that Rod ever felt pressured," Parkes said. "One only has to look at the coverage of the [Democratic] convention to see that the owners of this company have sympathies with the Democratic Party. Did those sympathies enter into the editorial process ... or the decision to buy the movie? Unequivocally, no."

Political leanings aside, The Contender has been greeted with mixed reviews. The Boston Globe said the film was "crudely written" but film critic Roger Ebert disagreed, describing it as "one of those rare movies where you leave the theatre having been surprised and entertained, and then start arguing".

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