AMPAS revokes Fleming's press pass

There was plenty of emotion and suspense at Sunday’s Oscars, but there was a whole other level of drama behind the scenes. Of course there was, that’s the Hollywood way!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has a long policy of not giving exclusives to any media outlet. But for the past year, someone has been leaking AMPAS press releases to Nikki Finke. (It’s pretty clear to many of us where the leaks are originating. But no names in Blogdogger. Well, not today, anyway, but stick around.) On Friday, Deadline Hollywood posted a detailed top-secret rundown of the show. The following day, the Academy revoked the press pass of Deadline’s Mike Fleming. In a Saturday posting, Finke seemed bewildered by the decision, concluding AMPAS freaked because “we did our reporting job too well.”

Maybe she assumed the org’s officials would smile warmly at her prediction that the evening would be “yet another snorefest” and at her invitation to “check out my Oscars Live-Snarking on Sunday night.”

Or maybe she was surprised that anyone in Hollywood would dare to push back.

Many showbiz decisions are controlled by money and ego. But let’s not forget the fear factor. One studio exec hired a personal publicist to ensure he wasn’t the target of her tirades. Others try to prevent her wrath by giving her “exclusives” (i.e., early press releases).

AMPAS prexy Tom Sherak has certainly been on the receiving end of Finke’s online blasts. Blogdogger hears that she also gave him a verbal phone assault early last week … and yet there was his cheerful photo on the Deadline home page a few days later, promoting a new interview he’d given to Deadline. Pleasantness and cooperation are always a good defense. (People always smile, no matter what they think of you: That’s the real Hollywood way).

After Fleming got his press pass revoked, Finke told readers, “I lodged a formal protest” with AMPAS director of communications Leslie Unger, and Finke blames the decision on the org’s exec administrator Ric Robertson (who is apparently the “High Noon”-Gary Cooper of the untamed Wild West that the media has turned into.) Finke assured readers that her formal protest was “couched in strong language.” Not surprising. As one Hollywood person noted, “Getting Nikki Finke angry is like unleashing the Kraken.”

Isn’t is awful that some people in Hollywood say such mean things?

Blogdogger hears that last week’s phone call to Sherak was about Bruce Cohen lending his name as a host of a Hollywood Reporter pre-Oscar party. Apparently Cohen had been warned that as an Oscarcast producer, he had to remain neutral and couldn’t back any non-Academy events. And was Cohen penitent about having crossed the line? Uh, who knows? But in this town, ya can’t go wrong by just smiling and hoping the controversy will just go away. This, too, is the Hollywood way.

Handicapping

Despite the blogosphere’s Oscar oversaturation, there are still unique ways of handicapping the event. On Thursday, Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere predicted who might be included in Sunday’s In Memoriam segment. “The locks, I’m guessing, are Tony Curtis, Dennis Hopper, Jill Clayburgh…” etc. He also predicted who wouldn’t make the segment (Zelda Rubinstein, Eddie Fisher, Corey Haim and Erich Segal) and pointed out, “I’ll be deeply offended if they don’t include Kenneth Mars, Maury Chaykin, John Barry, Maria Schneider and Ronald Neame.”

In January, after “King’s Speech” (which Wells hated) started winning awards, the writer sighed that he was finally recovering from “my King’s Speech melancholia. I’ve been living with it for six days now. It’s been like a chest cold only worse.”

So, after Sunday’s Oscar wins, Blogdogger sends a sincere “get well” to Wells.

Copy Cats?

Many in the industry consider the Oscars the big news of the past seven days. Others might argue it was Charlie Sheen. (Still others might think it was Libya, but that’s a whole other conversation.) However, to media members, perhaps the most electric news of the week was Deadline posting its cease-and-desist letter to TheWrap.com, telling the website to stop copying its stories.

We don’t know the details of this particular complaint, and Deadline didn’t mention specific articles. But for those of us at Variety, where a paywall was built to help protect and monetize our intellectual property, we are totally sympathetic to the idea of copyright protection.

See, Deadline, we’re not making fun of you! We’re applauding you! Hey, we’re smiling in friendship!

It’s the Hollywood way.

Want to comment or suggest a column topic? Email brian.lowry@variety.com

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