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November 12, 2008

'Gomorra' writer goes public

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It's one thing for the modern-day Italian mob movie "Gomorra" to amp up its profile in advance of the Oscars, but it's quite another for the young journalist who spawned the drama with his best-selling book. There is a price on the guy's head, after all, with the Naples-based Mafia threatening to kill him by Christmas.

Can't blame Roberto Saviano, though, for wanting to discuss the gripping and gritty "Gomorra" publicly. He'll do just that at a USC event this weekend that'll include a screening of the true-crime expose. Since he's been living under 24-hour protection for the past two years, wonder what kind of safety detail trails him around? His appearance has already been touted, with the event's blessing, in various media.

Does this make anyone else nervous?

Gomorrah_by_robertosaviano

Saviano, in a recent interview with the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper, said living under armed guard, moving frequently from place to place, is taking its toll on him and his craft. He says he's unsure if exile from his home country will provide any real safety. (He's pictured above at the European Seville Film Festival).

Word from IFC Films and producer Domenico Procacci is that they'll push for Academy consideration in not only best foreign-language picture but also adapted screenplay and other categories. It's rare but not unprecedented, says Variety, for a foreign film to get wider recognition.

"Gomorra" has already gathered some film festival glory, including the Grand Prix at Cannes. It recently picked up the Chicago International Film Festival's Silver Hugo Award for best screenplay (by Maurizio Braucci, Ugo Chiti, Gianni Di Gregorio, Matteo Garrone, Massimo Gaudioso and Saviano). The adaptation of Saviano's novel presented a "horrifyingly realistic expose of the effect of organized crime on everyday life," the jury said.

"Gomorra" will get a December release in Los Angeles. It's not for the weak of stomach, but for those interested in an anti-"Sopranos" look at organized crime, it's a must-see.

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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.

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  • 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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