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'Social Network' Juggernaut Rolls Over the Globes

Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg in 'The Social Network
Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Rotten Tomatoes tweets, "Will [Social Network] now definitely take the Oscar?" Not necessarily, but Sorkin and Rudin do smart campaigning on the Globes stage.

Bagging three out of four important Globes (picture, director and screenplay, leaving only Colin Firth's inevitable best actor win to rival King's Speech), plus the less crucial best score prize (and the night's top tally, four Globes to The Fighter's two, The Kids Are All Right's two and everyone else's one), The Social Network looks increasingly hard to stop as a runaway train.

But the bully pulpit of a Globes thank-you speech is no time to stop campaigning and fixing the film's image in the public mind. Writer Aaron Sorkin did it by stressing how smart the film is, and by implication, how smart Oscar voters would be to go for it: He called it "a triumph" for "everyone at Sony who believe that people who watch movies are at least as smart as people who make movies."

Sorkin also did damage control aimed at those who may have heard Zuckerberg's allies calling his portrait in the film "horrifically unfair," hammering home the same point he made at Friday's Critics' Choice Awards. Then, he said, “Rooney Mara’s character was wrong. [Zuckerberg] grew up to be a leader and altruist to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.” Backstage, Sorkin said when you're writing a biopic, "You're not gonna play fast and loose with real people's lives."

At the Globes on Sunday, Sorkin said, "Rooney Mara's character makes a prediction at the beginning of the movie." She says to Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), “You're going to go through life thinking girls don't like you because you're a tech geek. I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole.”

"She was wrong," said Sorkin. "You turned out to be a great entrepreneur, a visionary and an incredible altruist."

Rudin thanked "Mark Zuckerberg for his willingness to allow us to use his life and work as a metaphor for which to tell a story about communication and the way we relate to each other."

I'm not sure that's exactly how Zuckerberg actually sees it. His defender David Kirkpatrick called the portrait "horrifically unfair," but it was smart of Rudin to neutralize the criticism by his canny palliative comments.

This is how you spin a tricky PR problem, with language woven craftily as a screenplay. It's all drama.