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The Independent Culture
The first grouse of the Oscar season has fluttered into view, writes Phil Reeves. It comes from the Samuel Goldwyn Company, US distributors of The Clothes in the Wardrobe, a British-made comedy starring Jeanne Moreau.

Its executives were angered to discover that the film, renamed The Summer House on its American release, is not eligible for an Academy award. They had hoped that the widely admired Moreau, who appears alongside Joan Plowright and Julie Walters, might be nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

The film has been excluded under a rule of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which automatically disqualifies an entry (for the main Oscar categories) if it has appeared on television anywhere in the world before it is aired in cinemas in the Los Angeles area. The Summer House, which was made by BBC Film Productions, was shown at the London Film Festival and then broadcast by the Corporation.

Samuel Goldwyn, which says it has received complaints from Academy members who wanted to nominate Moreau, is also indignant because the Academy failed to notify the company that the film was disqualified. It points out that the ban makes life even more difficult for small independent productions who depend on foreign television-rights sales for funding.

The Academy has waved away these charges, pointing out that both the distributors and the BBC ought to be fully aware of its rules. 'This is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, rather than the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences,' a spokesman declared. He went on to accuse the Samuel Goldwyn Company of publicity-mongering.

The issue may not prove so easy to brush aside. The same ruling has excluded Stephen Frears's The Snapper from taking part in the Oscars because it has also been aired on the BBC. The film has gone down particularly well in the States, earning accolades from Time magazine, which described it as 'a wonderful comedy, maybe the best of the year'.

The combination of Philadelphia and Mrs Doubtfire appears to be loosening Hollywood mores on two subjects: being gay, and men - gay and straight - dressing up as women. So prepare for writer-actor Harvey Fierstein (who plays Robin Williams' gay brother in Mrs Doubtfire) and Plucked, the story of a drag queen who has to play father to his sister's brood after she abandons them. Sandollar, Dolly Parton's production company, leapt at the script, knowing that a trend is on the way: the Australian feature Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is due soon; producer Howard Rosenman has optioned ex-Warhol 'superstar' Holly Woodlawn's autobiography A Low Life in High Heels; and auditions for Steven Spielberg's To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar have LA's finest female impersonators in a tizz.