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A ''Cider House Rules'' star cries foul over Miramax's Oscar campaign

Film vet Delroy Lindo alleges that the movie’s ads omit African Americans

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Delroy Lindo, The Cider House Rules
Miramax

Last month ”Cider House Rules” came from box office obscurity to snag seven Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) following a hefty promotional push by the film’s studio, Miramax. But at least one of the film’s stars isn’t happy with the way the campaign was run.

Delroy Lindo, whose character heads a group of black migrant workers in the film, charges that the studio underplayed his role during its aggressive bid for Oscar nominations, which netted a Best Supporting Actor nod for costar Michael Caine. ”Despite the fact that I’ve done good work in that film and there was Oscar talk for a while, the studio chose not to exploit that,” Lindo says, arguing that Miramax put its considerable ”marketing muscle” behind ”other actors.” ”Does it hurt? Yes. Do I take it personally? Yes.”

Lindo, 47, thinks race played a key factor in the film’s promotional campaign, which seldom features the cast’s blacks, including rapper Heavy D. and singer Erykah Badu. ”There are no African Americans in the advertisements that I’ve seen on TV,” says Lindo. ”[It appears that] I’m not in the film and nobody of color is in the film.” EW assistant managing editor Mark Harris concurs: ”Lindo and Badu have the most dramatic scenes in the film, and yet orphan bit players are getting more time in the ads.”

Miramax’s executive VP of publicity Cynthia Swartz counters that the foundling-centered ads are simply a new phase of the film’s advertising. ”Over the past 12 weeks we have used a wide variety of images in our advertising campaigns,” she says. Still, it’s undeniable that the majority of Miramax’s chosen images have not featured the African Americans who are, in contrast, prominently featured in the film.

Heavy D. understands Lindo’s complaint, but believes that commerce influenced the film’s advertising more than race did. ”I think we were deliberately left out [of the ads], but not because it was a black/white issue,” he tells EW Online. ”The studio bases their marketing on celebrity power. They have to capitalize on that.” But he doesn’t deny the sting of these business decisions: ”Even if it’s unintentional, it’s still bad, because we get overlooked.”