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February 07, 2009

Dustin Lance Black gets political

84687192 Awards show or political rally? A bit of both, and the better for it.

Dustin Lance Black may be a new face in Hollywood, but he showed at the WGA West Awards tonight that he knows what to do with a podium and unlimited time to give an acceptance speech. The kudofest wasn't televised, after all, so there were no producers looking anxiously at the clock and doing that slashing motion across their necks. Just a captive audience and no orchestra to strike up the musical good-bye.

Black, who won one of the night's top honors for his original screenplay for "Milk," also picked up the Paul Selvin Award for work "that embodies the spirit of constitutional right and civil liberties."

His speech, emotionally delivered and punctuated by a standing ovation from the assembled industryites, had a strong anti-Prop 8 message: No more of this state-by-state stuff. If there are ever to be equal rights for the gay community, he said, it will have to come from the federal level.

He asked his fellow writers to join him in advocating for federal protection, not just for gays but for all groups that face discrimination. "We still have a long way to go for equal rights for everyone in this country."

He wasn't surprised, he said, that Prop 8 passed in California because the opposition campaign didn't humanize the issue. It failed to follow that famous Harvey Milk mantra about being loud and proud, showing the haters that gay and lesbians are their neighbors, colleagues and friends.

Black, who grew up in a Mormon, military family in Texas, said he was taught that gay meant "evil and sick and wrong" and said the story of slain gay activist and San Francisco political leader Harvey Milk was the first he'd ever heard of a gay hero. That's why he devoted himself to writing "Milk," "as a spec script," without knowing if he'd ever see it made into a feature.

The drama is nominated for an Oscar, as is its star Sean Penn, and Black has a nod for his screenplay (he's the Gold Rush favorite).

The other standing ovation of the night went to TV and film legend Carl Reiner, whose decades of community service and social activism look completely au courant in the Age of Obama. He took home the Valentine Davies Award for his work on pet projects like children's literacy and the Big Brothers of America.

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Comments

Viva

I am so tired of all these celebs using their award moments in the spotlight to grand stand their various agendas. There's a time and a place for every thing.

Dustin Lance Black did the same bloody thing while accepting his Oscar. Please, leave the awards shows as they are. You want to stand on a soap box, do a press conference, write an editorial, but shoving your views, political or otherwise down the throats of a captive audience. Awards shows are not the place for an individual's agenda.

Viva Dustin!

Dustin's Oscar acceptance speech was perfect.

LL

The first comment here is MORONIC. The whole story of the movie he won the award for had to do with what his acceptance speech was about. You're tired for people being passionate about equality? Again, you're a MORON.

Aaron

Obviously, Viva 1 (hereafter referred to as "Viva the Lesser") hasn't watched too many Oscar ceremonies, or s/he/it would realize that at least one winner every year uses his/her speech to speak passionately about something s/he believes in. If you don't like it, turn it off. If you keep watching, you deserve to be "tired."

Christina

BRAVO DUSTIN - It is time Mormons accept the fact that many of their members are indeed gay and lesbian. Your acceptance speech at the Oscars dealt with the what "Milk" is all about. Kudos to you.

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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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