November 10, 2003
The Miramax Scared Shit List

Poor Elizabeth Wurtzel. According to an article by Thomas Vinciguerra in this week's Times Styles section, the chronically depressed, phantom blow-jobbing author of Prozac Nation finds the film version of her book sitting on a shelf at Miramax headquarters, and it might never see the light of day. The article attempts to tease out exactly why Miramax, the makers of such recent classics as The Battle of Shaker Heights, has not seen fit to release it. What exactly is so bad: the direction? the music? Christina Ricci's first topless scene? Then, we get this:
Another factor in the film's delay seems to have been inflammatory comments Ms. Wurtzel made about the destruction of the World Trade Center five months after the attacks.
While promoting her third book, "More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction," she told The Toronto Globe and Mail in February 2002: "I had not the slightest emotional reaction. I thought: `This is a really strange art project.' It was a most amazing sight in terms of sheer elegance. It fell like water. It just slid, like a turtleneck going over someone's head." She added: "I just felt, like, everyone was overreacting. People were going on about it. That part really annoyed me."
Following an outpouring of protest, Miramax announced that it was temporarily shelving the movie, which was to have opened in fall 2002. "We now have to distance ourselves as far as possible from the controversy," Ms. Ricci told The Calgary Sun at the time.

It seems that once again, Miramax, the baddest bad-ass mofos of the studio-indie world—possessors of uncompromising vision and considerable artistic ambition— are once again cowering in fear of some controversy. Here, for your edification and amusement is a partial list of films Miramax has canned, changed, and put on hold due to various controversies. Call it, The Miramax Scared Shit List:
Prozac Nation (9/11-related comments by Wurtzel)
O (post-Columbine sensitivity about guns and school violence)
Killing Mrs. Tingle (renamed Teaching Mrs. Tingle, plus new ending post-Columbine)
Buffalo Soldiers (held from release out of a new-found respect for the military post-9/11)
Kids (Miramax created a new distribution company, Excalibur Films, because Miramax parent company, Disney, would not release an NC-17 film.)
Dogma (dropped outright after complaints from religious leaders)

So, Liz, you should feel like you're in good—or in some cases, mediocre—company in turnaround. Then again, you probably feel good about so little in this world, so you might as well just go on the way you have been.

Sidebar: Vinciguerra's article also offered us a fleeting example of the major difference between a big league film reviewer and a swatter in the minors. Check it out:
Festival critics were generally impressed by Ms. Ricci's performance, but many rejected the overall film. Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times wrote that "the movie seems finally to be about a pouty-lipped young solipsist — not so much a sufferer of depression as a carrier."
"It's a tough movie, not easy to like, about a very unsympathetic, self-involved character," recalled Jon Popick, who reviewed it for City Newspaper, an alternative weekly in Rochester, N.Y. "There was just one grating scene after another." He attended the screening with a friend, Dayna Papaleo, who said she and Mr. Popick referred to the star as "Christina Screechy."

Posted in a Shallow fashion.

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