Guy Adams: Why does Hollywood adore this sex offender?

LA Notebook
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The Independent Online

Say what you like about Roman Polanski, the old boy's been a good servant to Los Angeles, propping up the film industry and the legal profession, which provide the city with its two main sources of income. So hats off to him.

While we're at it, hats off to Polanski's lawyers. This week, they gave the local economy a valuable boost by bringing the world's media to LA Superior Court for the resumption of their battle to have his 1977 rape conviction quashed.

Polanski's appeal was delayed on Tuesday on account of legal arguments. When it's eventually heard, he will claim, in layman's terms, to have been the victim of a mistrial. The bones of the case are as follows: Polanski's victim, a 13-year-old girl, accused him of plying her with champagne and Quaaludes. He admits to having had intercourse with her. But he'll claim that none of this matters – because the judge in his 1977 trial allegedly had improper contact with a prosecutor during sentencing.

If a court buys this argument, charges against the 75-year-old director could be dropped, allowing him to leave France, where he illegally absconded to escape imprisonment almost 30 years ago, and return to Hollywood.

And then, he'll be welcomed with open arms. For despite his status as a self-confessed child sex offender, who has never apologised for his actions (and often seems bemused by all the fuss), Polanski's stock remains remarkably high in showbusiness circles. He continues to receive standing ovations on Oscar night and at industry events. Celebrity friends sing his praises. Film studios throw money at his projects.

People like Mia Farrow (a woman who has devoted recent years to helping victims of abuse in places like Darfur) gave sympathetic interviews to the recent HBO documentary that attempted to exonerate him.

We all make mistakes, of course, and Mr Polanski's crime was committed an awfully long time ago. But, whatever the outcome of the imminent appeal, the fact of his enduring popularity will shine an uncomfortable light on Hollywood's moral compass.

Dawn patrol

Hollywood journalism isn't all late-nights and red carpets. Today's ceremony announcing the 2009 Oscar nominations has been scheduled for 5.30am, LA time, to ensure maximum global coverage. The press pack has been instructed to arrive at the Samuel Goldwyn theatre no later than 4am. I hope they provide breakfast.

Tub thumping

Inauguration fever wasn't limited to Washington. It even hit my local supermarket, where they were selling a commemorative flavour of Ben & Jerry's ice-cream this week. Its name: "Yes, Pecan".