‘Grass Harp’s’ sour note

As the Oscar campaign nears, so do tensions between filmmakers and studios over marketing campaigns. In the Los Angeles Times last week, Robert Altman expressed his displeasure with Fine Line because of a lack of a campaign for “Kansas City.” And now Charles Matthau has sent a letter to Fine Line over “The Grass Harp,” which he directed and had a limited release last year. He said the studio planned to send out vidcassettes of the pic to actor and director Acad branches, but many haven’t received them. In fact, he said an informal survey of actor and director members showed that more than 20% did not get cassettes, although virtually all of them got “Shine.”

More than 400 members from the actors and directors branches have asked Matthau’s Grass Harp Prods. directly for copies of cassettes. He sent them out himself. “I am not complaining or griping, but it is just a mystery as to why this would happen,” Matthau said. “It is troubling and puzzling at the same time.” His lawyer sent a letter to the studio on Friday.

Fine Line’s Marian Koltai-Levine said that the vid cassettes “were absolutely sent.” She noted that the lists are not perfect-studios have to collect names and addresses on their own because the Acad refuses to supply them-making the 20% missing rate not out of the ordinary. Some cassettes arrive at old addresses or managers’ offices, or get lost in the mail, she said. Fine Line also placed ads, sent mailers and held screenings for “Grass Harp.” “We followed every letter of our contractual obligations,” she said.

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