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Film Intelligence: Pick on someone your own size

Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]). This week, we’ve got Oscar snubs, Oscar branding and some Johnny Depp/Edgar Wright gossip.

1. Old News, In More Ways Than One

As we told you in our Oscar prediction piece, the big piece of investigative journalism in the film world this week came from The Los Angeles Times, who reported that the Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences, which does not publish their membership list, is overwhelmingly white (94% of members), male (77%), and old (just 2% of members under the age of 40). Is it disheartening? Yeah, kind of. Is it shocking? Not if you watch the Oscars, the place where THE KING’S SPEECH trumps THE SOCIAL NETWORK and the 63-year-old Billy Crystal will return to host for the umpteenth time (Gosh, do you think he’ll do some wacky song parodies? I’m crossing my fingers now). Less disturbing, but arguably more surprising: just 14% of Academy members have actually won Oscars. Which means, at least in my warped brain, that I’m just as qualified to judge the Oscars as 86% of the people who actually do judge the Oscars. [Los Angeles Times]

2. Dictating the Oscar Guest List

The second bit of Oscar news this week makes a lot of sense in light of our first story: Sacha Baron Cohen, the star and creator of BORAT and BRUNO, has been officially banned from the Academy Awards. Cohen was scheduled to attend the show as a member of the ensemble of the Oscar-nominated film HUGO, but after the Academy got wind of Cohen’s plan to walk the red carpet dressed as his character from his upcoming movie THE DICTATOR, they pulled his tickets and barred him from the event. Cohen has made a habit of working red carpets in character in the past; at BORAT’s Toronto Film Festival premiere back in 2006, he showed up dressed as the Kazakhstani reporter on a cart pulled by gypsies. Again, can you believe that the people in charge of these awards are overwhelmingly white, male, and old? Because they seem really hip to me. It’s so weird. Sorry Sacha. Hey, at least you’re white and male. In like 45 years, you’ll be welcomed with open arms. [Deadline]

3. I Hope Someone Got a Picture of The Marquee Before They Took It Down

An update on a story Film Intelligence first brought you a few weeks ago: after bankrupt photography giant Eastman Kodak asked to void their contract with the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards, the Oscars have announced they will not refer to the venue by name during this week’s telecast. Instead, announcers will call the space “The Hollywood & Highland Center” — the name of the mall where The Theatre Formerly Known As Kodak is located. Not especially glamorous — “Live, from a tourist trap, it’s the Academy Awards!” — but I guess it beats calling it The Your Ad Here Theatre. [The Associated Press]

4. Hot Buzz

From our Department of Unlikely But Intriguing Collaborations comes word that Edgar Wright — the beloved geek auteur of genre comedies like SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ — and Johnny Depp — the beloved guy who is Johnny Depp — will team for a big-screen adaptation of the classic ’70s TV series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. The show, which premiered as a pair of popular TV movies followed by a single, 20-episode season, was about a newspaper reporter (Darren McGaven) who investigates supernatural stories. Presumably Depp will play Kolchak (or, possibly, the night). Depp’s project this summer, DARK SHADOWS with director Tim Burton, is also an adaptation of a decades-old horror-themed television show, suggesting that even the biggest movie star in the world was an enormous goth dork back in school. Wright hasn’t directed a star of Depp’s status before, but they both work well in the subvert-a-genre-from-within mode, which makes them sound like ideal creative partners. If you’re curious about Kolchak, the entire series is available on Netflix Watch Instantly. [The Hollywood Reporter]

5. Bullied by the MPAA

We usually think of the Motion Picture Association of America’s Ratings Board as a place of fairness, rationality, and smart judgement. Oh, wait, no we don’t; they’re horrible and though they mean well they constantly cause problems for filmmakers. Case in point: The Weinstein Company’s upcoming documentary BULLY about the epidemic of bullying in our nation’s schools was just slapped with an R rating by the MPAA because of “some language.” In other words: the subjects of the film — not to mention its target audience — can’t actually see it without a parent or legal guardian. But that’s okay because teenagers love to go to the movies with their parents. Oh, wait, no they don’t; they hate it. Weinstein Company co-chairman Harvey Weinstein and one of the subjects of the film are taking their appeal to the MPAA at a hearing scheduled for today. Good luck guys. Don’t let those MPAAers push you around. [HitFix]