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Nominations and retaliations?

Published Aug. 27, 2005

IT WAS A COLD DAY IN LOS ANGELES: He's the man who has turned Academy Awards campaigning into a high-priced, no-rules, down-and-dirty fight to the finish. And Hollywood types loathe him for it.

So, after Tuesday's Oscar nominations were announced, much chatter has been about whether those types demonstrated their loathing of Miramax Films' Harvey Weinstein in the most painful, noticeable way: by ignoring the studio's Cold Mountain in the best picture category. And the best director category. Not to mention the best actress category (that would be Nicole Kidman, generally a Hollywood favorite).

Weinstein, never short on ego, doesn't see it that way. "If the Academy (of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) was mad at us, (the studio would) never have gotten 15 nominations today, more than anyone else," he told the Los Angeles Times.

Still, the sniggering was almost audible. This is the first time in 11 years Miramax hasn't had at least one best picture finalist. The streak began with The Crying Game and included three winners: The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love and Chicago.

The snub comes a year after Miramax executed one of the most egregious moves in Oscar campaign history. A studio publicist wrote a column attributed to Oscar-winning director Robert Wise to get votes for Martin Scorsese, nominated for Miramax's Gangs of New York. The academy responded by strengthening its ethics code.

Also possibly emboldening voters was the recent release of the book Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film (Simon & Schuster, $26.95), chockful of nasty stories about Weinstein.

All isn't bad for Weinstein. Cold Mountain received two best picture nominations for Britain's version of the Oscars, one of them in a category called outstanding British film (remember, this is a movie about the American Civil War, filmed largely in Romania). We're sure he can work with it.

BAD TIMING. YEAH, THAT'S IT: Weinstein told the Los Angeles Times he may have hurt Cold Mountain's chances by releasing it around Christmas, too late in the new, shortened Oscar season for proper consideration. Last year, when the ceremony was in March, all the best-film nominees were released Dec. 18, 2002, or after, the Los Angeles Daily News notes. This year, with the ceremony in February, only one was released in December 2003, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

AN ACTOR'S LIFE: Renee Zellweger, a supporting actress nominee for Cold Mountain, is the only one of the 20 acting nominees repeating from last year. . . . Five nominees have won before: Diane Keaton, Ben Kingsley, Benicio Del Toro, Marcia Gay Harden and Holly Hunter. . . . Those ships, those mountains, those horses: Best picture nominees The Return of the King, Master and Commander, and Seabiscuit don't have an acting nomination among them.

THE OPPOSITE OF OSCARS: Some people will do anything to get credit for even the rottenest piece of rot on the screen.

Vincent D'Onofrio _ a self-described director and actor, but not the one you've seen on Law & Order: Criminal Intent _ is suing Madonna and her husband, director Guy Ritchie, claiming they stole the idea for the couple's universally ridiculed remake of Swept Away.

D'Onofrio says he had several meetings with the couple, who then took his idea and cut him out of the credits and compensation. He wants $10-million, the Associated Press reports.

The Ritchies' attorneys says D'Onofrio has no proof of a contract.