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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Miramax pulls fudged blurb from 'Doubt' ad

January 7, 2009 | 11:34 am

Scott Rudin and I have been having a lively e-mail exchange (at the U.N. they'd call it a "frank exchange of views") over the propriety of Miramax's ads for "Doubt," a Rudin production that inexplicably featured a mashed-up blurb from the New York Post, which failed to mention who'd actually written the words of praise, no doubt because the praise was only in part from a real critic--the Post's Lou Lumenick--and in part from the Post's breathless gossip columnist, Cindy Adams. Rudin won't let me quote from his e-mails, which offered a stout defense of what I viewed as a deceptive practice. Readers are entitled to know who's praising a film. Moreover, the "Doubt" ads are obviously aimed at an especially selective audience--Oscar voters--who are savvy enough to wonder how good a movie could possibly be if its studio is forced to rely on a gossip columnist for a blurb. As I said in my original post, "You'd think that 'Doubt,' a well-written drama that's earned lots of strong reviews and is viewed as a potential best picture nominee, could survive just fine with blurbs from respectable critics."

The good news? Miramax has done the right thing. Apparently embarrassed by the unwanted attention, the studio has pulled the anonymous Post blurb from today's "Doubt" ads in both the L.A. Times and N.Y. Times. In the N.Y. Times, the studio is running two double-truck ads--four pages in all--full of enthusiastic accolades from a host of critics, this time each one clearly identified by their individual name and outlet. Lumenick is represented too, this time all with quotes from his own review. However, the studio still seems to have a soft spot for gossip columnists, since it now includes a blurb ("a brilliant, riveting and thrilling film") from Fox News gossip reporter Roger Friedman. But at least this is a step in the right direction. If we know who's behind each quote in the blurb ads, we can at least decide for ourselves how seriously to take the praise being showered on the film.

Miramax's Ad Fudges Critic Praise for "Doubt":