Oscar producer Brian Grazer's 2010 gay controversy
Of the many ways it's surprising to learn that Brian Grazer is replacing Brett Ratner as Oscar producer after Ratner uttered a gay slur, there’s this: Grazer himself was involved in a controversy involving a gay slur just a year ago.
Grazer and his Imagine Entertainment produced “The Dilemma,” the Vince Vaughn-Kevin James dramedy that came outin January. As astute filmgoers will remember, the movie kicked up controversy in October 2010 when a trailer was released that featured Vaughn’s character using the word “gay” as a pejorative.
“Electric cars are gay. I mean, not homosexual, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay,” said Vaughn’s character, a fast-talking salesman named Ronny Valentine.
The spot prompted protests from gay rights groups, including GLAAD, the organization that registered objection to Ratner’s “rehearsal is for fags."
Universal decided to pull the trailer from theaters. But the film’s director, Grazer’s longtime producing partner Ron Howard, opted to keep the joke in the film. “I believe in sensitivity but not censorship,” Howard told my colleague Patrick Goldstein.
In many ways, the controversies are similar: Both instances featured the use of a term with unsavory connotations about gays that was not aimed specifically at the gay community.
The distinction, of course, is that in one case the word came from a character in a film and in another it was from a producer directly. It remains to be seen how sharply that distinction will be drawn by gay-rights groups as the Grazer-produced Oscars move forward.
If gay politics weren’t already hovering over these Oscars, there’s yet another turn.
Grazer is behind “J. Edgar,” Clint Eastwood’s new movie that deals with the personal and public life of J. Edgar Hoover.
The movie, which was written by the openly gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, opens nationally this weekend. According to reviews, it avoids extensive treatment of the FBI chief's sex life; in fact, Leonardo DiCaprio told an audience last week in response to a question about Hoover’s widely rumored homosexuality that "it's not our business to care about what happened behind closed doors."
This won’t be a simple Oscar season.
Photo: "The Dilemma." Credit: Universal Pictures