“The Last Seduction” and its star, Linda Fiorentino, will not be in 1994 Oscar contention.
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Jan. 9 struck down efforts by the film’s producer and distributor, ITC Entertainment and October Films, respectively, to get a preliminary injunction against the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Litigants had sought the injunction to force the Academy to include “Seduction” in the 1994 Oscar eligibility list. AMPAS had disallowed the film because it initially aired on cable TV, which is against Academy rules.
Attorneys for the film’s producers had argued that the “no TV first” rule broke antitrust laws, citing a prior case involving a Santa Clara bowler who successfully sued the local bowling league for not allowing him to play in the finals because he was not a member. Yet Judge Robert O’Brien disagreed, stating that the purpose of the Acad’s rule “appears not to be a restraint of trade but rather to draw a distinction between the TV and the bigscreen industries insofar as they utilize films.”
He also dismissed charges that the decision to block “Seduction” as an Oscar contender was in any way a group boycott.
“This is a ruling we expected,” said AMPAS attorney Dominic Suprenant, of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Oliver. “This was a pretty clear and unequivocal rejection of their legal arguments. We just hope this outcome dissuades other publicity-seekers from following a similar course in the future.”
From the start, AMPAS execs had contended that the suit by October Films/ITC Entertainment was nothing more than an attempt to garner publicity for their indie film.
Aton Arbisser, who along with Pierce O’Donnell from Kaye, Scholer Fierman Hays & Handler, represented the film’s camp, contended that they knew all along they were fighting an uphill battle. “But we continue to believe there will someday be a court who finds this rule anti-competitive,” he said.