Film world in uproar after Burstyn's 15-second role wins Emmy nomination

Tuesday 08 August 2006 00:00

Hollywood insiders are confused that Ellen Burstyn's 15-second performance in Mrs Harris, a film about the murder of the doctor who devised the Scarsdale diet, was enough to qualify her to be nominated for an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress.

According to the New York Post, Burstyn's role in the HBO film "required her to do nothing more than sit in a chair and speak three sentences of dialogue in a vaguely foreign accent".

The newspaper said the 73-year-old's nomination was the talk of the television industry for what it revealed about the "deeply flawed process" of how the award's shortlists are compiled.

Her part is listed on the movie website as "Ex-Lover Number 3".

Mrs Harris stars Ben Kingsley as Dr Herman Tarnower and Annette Bening as Jean Harris, the woman who killed him. Both have also been nominated for Emmy awards for their roles.

Burstyn has previously won awards for her acting, including an Oscar for best actress in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore in 1974, and a Tony for best actress in a play for the Broadway production Same Time, Next Year in 1975.

One Hollywood fan posted a message on the Gold Derby forum of the Los Angeles Times saying: "Ms Burstyn, an actress I admire, was in Mrs Harris for, count 'em, 15 seconds. She was in a flashback sequence and had two lines about her past affair with Ben Kingsley's character.

"To me, it's obvious the voters simply looked at the ballot, saw Ms Burstyn's name, recognised her as a respected famous actress, and nominated her for this performance that isn't even big enough to classify as a cameo."

There were calls for "greater transparency" in the decisions made to create a shortlist of actors.

Burstyn's publicist did not return calls from The New York Post asking how she felt about her nomination.

The winners will be announced on 27 August.

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