By Scott Brown
October 24, 2006 at 05:57 PM EDT

What studio wouldn’t be thrilled to have an Oscar contender on its hands?

Paramount. The question wasn’t rhetorical. The troubled ‘Mount finds itself in a dilemma: an expensive film from a major director opens to prestige reviews, but sub-Prestige box office. What to do? Well, there’s nothing to do but ride it out and ready your pocketbook for a long, hard Oscar slog. And we all know how much those long, hard slogs cost.

Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers garnered near-Private Ryanous raptures from critics. Clint, WWII, sterling reviews — ya gotta Oscar-campaign for that, especially when your studio’s under new management and the scrutiny that accompanies it. And yet, that new management was brought in precisely because the studio was losing money. And running a multimillion-dollar Oscar campaign for a film that may well top out under $20 million — wow.

addCredit(“Clint Eastwood: Merie W. Wallace”)

On the other hand, would you want to be the intern dispatched to Eastwood’s fearsome Carmel keep to deliver the bad news? “Uh, Mr. Eastwood?”


“So, uh, Brad Grey sent me to tell you he’s not going to bankroll–“

Braveheart it.”


Braveheart it. You people did it before, now do it again.”

“That was a long time ago, Mister Eastwood. Now we mostly just have a ‘private investigator’ break the other Oscar contenders’ kneecaps. And we don’t even have the budget for that anymore, not with the money we spend on perimeter Cruise deterrence. He really is that agile, you know. Hops the electrified razor-wire like it’s nothing–“

“This sketch is going nowhere!” [sound of Eastwood eating intern and ending sketch, mercifully]

Will the Flags Oscar saga end just as clumsily? Only time and Clintillions of dollars will tell.