By Amy Ryan
Updated February 02, 2006 at 12:00 PM EST
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Harvey Weinstein: Reuters

It wouldn’t be Oscar season without a display of the promotional flair of the Weinstein brothers. Even though they no longer run Miramax (the studio they founded, for which they engineered Oscar triumphs for The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, and countless others), Harvey (pictured) and Bob Weinstein still deserve some credit for landing two of the leading ladies in their current movies, Transamerica‘s Felicity Huffman and Mrs. Henderson Presents‘ Judi Dench, in the Best Actress category. In that category, which looks like a tight race between Huffman and Walk the Line‘s Reese Witherspoon, Dench may be an even longer longshot than North Country‘s Charlize Theron and Pride & Prejudice‘s Keira Knightley.

So I wonder if it’s just a coincidence that New York magazine has just published a lengthy profile of the Weinsteins, the second page of which contains Harvey’s tossed-off complaint that the morning news shows wouldn’t book the 71-year-old Dench because she’s too old to interest their target demographic. (The New York Observer also has a Harvey complaint about the non-nomination for former Miramax queen Gwyneth Paltrow in the Weinsteins’ Proof. To be fair, he also bemoans the lack of love shown to Scarlett Johansson for Match Point, a movie he has no stake in.)

Morning show producers are denying an unwillingness to book Dench, but whether or not Weinstein’s complaint is valid, he’s already accomplished two things. One, he’s increased the likelihood that some morning show producer, feeling stung by the criticism, will book Dench, especially now that she’s an Oscar nominee. Two, he’s softened the odds against a Dench victory by laying the groundwork for a sympathy vote among the largely AARP-aged Academy voters. Now, if he can just land Dame Judi a self-parodying hosting gig on Saturday Night Live in the next two weeks, his campaign will be complete.

addCredit(“Harvey Weinstein: Reuters”)

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