Does Woody Want an Oscar?

The notorious Oscar-night no-show hits the campaign trail [This story first ran in V Life's February '06 issue.]

Woody Allen has only stepped foot onto an Oscar stage once: to salute his beloved New York on the first post-9/11 Academy Awards in 2002. Otherwise, he has stayed in the Big Apple playing his clarinet on the big night — even the three times he won.

But his last few films have been box-office disappointments, and it’s been eight years since his last nomination (for penning 1997’s “Deconstructing Harry”). This year, however, the man who once shunned the awards process has been visible promoting … er, campaigning on behalf of his acclaimed comebacker, “Match Point.” Not only did he do a “Vanity Fair” cover story, and Hollywood Foreign Press and National Board of Review press sessions in NYC, but he traveled to Los Angeles for the film’s West Coast premiere and did exhaustive Q&As for SAG, WGA, DGA and Variety. So what gives?

It was DreamWorks marketing chief Terry Press who heard the buzz on “Match Point” in Cannes last May, screened it and then convinced DreamWorks to pick it up for a reported $4 million over higher bids that purportedly included one from Harvey Weinstein. Allen liked his previous experiences with Press on “Small Time Crooks,” “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” and “Hollywood Ending.” Press convinced him to do the 2002 Oscar show, and now she’s wielding her influence again in navigating Woody through the dark waters of campaign season.

“I’m doing promotion for it because I have an obligation to DreamWorks to do that … but I don’t really dwell on these things” Allen told the L.A. Weekly.

 For her part, Press says Woody’s willingness to promote “Match Point” isn’t about getting an Oscar or her own influence. “The difference on this one is that the reaction has been so happy for him. He likes talking about it. He likes the people who made the movie. He’s much more out front on this,” she says.

He still won’t approve any stand-alone ads for himself in the trades; but the man who once wouldn’t allow himself to be campaigned at all now does OK the suggestion of a director or writing nomination in group ads. And he told press at the film’s preem that he might even attend the Oscars — if invited, of course.