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Hollywood for Bush?

A recent <i>NYT</i> story about the year's great documentaries that <i>didn't</i> get Oscar-nominated is making some folks wonder.
 
 
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Bushwatch has an interesting theory -- based on a recent New York Times article -- about why certain documentaries have been excluded from the just-announced Oscar nominations.

According to the NYT, glaring omissions from the roster of documentary nominees (such as the reputedly-excellent new flick "Why We Fight," by Eugene Jarecki of "Trial of Henry Kissinger" fame) should be chalked up to super-strident new Academy rules about which documentaries can be considered.

John Anderson writes that to be considered for an Oscar, a documentary must now "have made its debut in theaters and played for at least a week in New York or Los Angeles, and films that appeared only on television -- or even those that appeared on television before moving to theaters -- are disqualified."

Why it matters whether the films were broadcast on TV first remains to be explained. But the Bushwatch peeps just aren't buying Hollywood's lame "it's the rules, stupid!" excuse.

Politex at Bushwatch writes: "At best, one could believe that the Oscar rulemakers are simply incompetent, or perhaps even biased, toward certain kinds of documentary content… The bottom line is that the Academy was put on the spot politically when Michael Moore won an Oscar for Farenheit 9/11 " [after his decidedly anti-estab., anti-Iraq war acceptance speech].

I haven't seen "Why We Fight" yet, but I realllllllly want to. I'm a full-fledged documentary freak, and was happy to hear that Jessica Sanders' lovely new feature, After Innocence was "considered a certainty" for the Oscar shortlist (um, even if her mom is president of the documentary voting branch.).

I'm not sure if I agree that any absence of left-leanin' political docs in this year's Oscar roster has much, if anything, to do with the administration "intimidating Oscar," as Bushwatch believes. Hollywood is still notoriously liberal. But is the Academy voting board trying to avoid controversy? Probably. Are their votes affected by internal ego-driven dramas, some of which may be politically-based? Again, a strong possibility.

Still, the reach and influence of the Bush machine is so scarily vast these days that, as Bushwatch writes, "given…the Bush regime's propaganda, a White House hand in Hollywood is hardly out of the question."

Laura Barcella is AlterNet's front page editor.