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Inside Move: Oscars hit sour notes

Kudocast opts for big names rather than original artists

This article was corrected on March 2, 2005.

With all the advance hoopla over the edgy Chris Rock, who’d have thought that the biggest Oscarcast controversy would be Antonio Banderas’ singing?

Robert Redford will file a protest with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences over the fact that Jorge Drexler was not invited to sing the song from “The Motorcycle Diaries” on Sunday’s show. Drexler wasn’t alone: Three out of the five nominated tunes were not performed at the Oscars by their original singers.

“Al otro lado del rio” (On the Other Side of the River), which won the Oscar for Drexler, was the first Spanish-language song nominated. It was performed at the Oscars by Banderas and Carlos Santana.

Beyonce sang three of the other songs, one of them (“Believe”) in a duet with Josh Groban, the original performer from “The Polar Express.” Counting Crows performed the tune they had sung in “Shrek 2.”

After the ceremony, “Diaries” director Walter Salles told Daily Variety, “It is a pity that the song was manipulated at the same moment it was supposed to be honored.”

Drexler has no beef with the Academy, which he said did not make the decision.

“It’s the producers of the show that have a reductionist vision of what a Latino artist is, treating us all like a homogenous group of interchangeable pieces in which the only valid criteria is ratings,” he said.

Redford produced the pic. Days before the event, the Latin American press ran a declaration that the decision was “ethically unacceptable.” Among the 500 signatories were “Diaries” helmer Walter Salles, Mexican helmers Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Spanish thesp Javier Bardem, Brazilian thesp Fernanda Montenegro, and Wim Wenders.

Frequently, the Oscarcast producer will invite the person who sang in the film to repeat those chores on the Oscarcast. But there have been many exceptions. This year, producer Gil Cates decided to change several aspects of the show, including the song format.

Drexler and his supporters can presumably take solace in the fact that the song was sung on the show. Two years ago, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” won the award but the rap wasn’t performed at all on the Oscarcast.

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