Real Life, Real Oscar Potential

Coogan journeys to L.A. to persuade MPAA

The Weinstein Company has won its appeal on the MPAA’s initial decision to give “Philomena” an R rating, which will be changed to PG-13.

TWC had argued that the MPAA’s ratings rule — that more than one “harsher, sexually derived word” used as an expletive automatically garners a film an R rating — was inappropriately applied in this case and that based on its subject matter and context, the film should be granted a more family-friendly PG-13.

TWC  posting a teaser video last week starring Judi Dench’s M character from the James Bond films trying to get the MPAA to change the rating, then unveiled a full video Tuesday with Dench commanding co-star Steve Coogan to go to Los Angeles and “have a word” with the MPAA.

In the video, Coogan asks if while he’s in Hollywood, he should kill Adam Sandler. “Why Adam Sandler?” asks Dench. “Have you seen ‘Jack and Jill’”? Coogan replies.

Coogan was on hand at the MPAA hearing in Los Angeles on Wednesday to speak on the film’s behalf.

“We owe this victory to Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond series, Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes, who because of their relationship with Judi Dench gave permission to spoof the ratings system using the M character,” Harvey Weinstein said in a statement.

“We know that went a long way into shedding light on the themes of the movie and the fact that the PG-13 rating was correct,” Weinstein added. “We are glad the MPAA has a good sense of humor, and with the cooperation of Barbara and her team, it was proven once again no one does it better than James Bond. And my sincerest congratulations to Steve Coogan, who went to the MPAA and defended the case personally.”

The film opens Nov. 22 in Los Angeles and New York against Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and Disney comedy “Delivery Man” and expands on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving.

Stephen Frears’ film received strong critical support following screenings at the Venice and Toronto festivals. Dench stars in the title role.

Coogan originated the project after reading an article about the real-life Philomena Lee, who had spent years trying to track down the illegitimate son she’d given up for adoption decades earlier. Coogan wrote the script with Jeff Pope and stars as journalist Martin Sixsmith, who chronicles the search for the son.

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