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OCT
13
9 MOS

'Fruitvale Station' Screeners Mailed With Major Error (Exclusive)

The Weinstein Co. is working to correct the mistake: Oscar voters were asked to consider Melonie Diaz and Octavia Spencer in the lead actress category, even though both are actually being pushed in the supporting category.

Fruitvale Station Octavia Spencer - H 2013
The Weinstein Co.

'Tis the season for Oscar screeners -- see here and here -- the specially packaged DVDs and/or Blu-Rays of Oscar contenders that studios send to Academy members to try to make sure that their films actually get seen. They also serve to remind voters about the Oscar categories in which the studios want their films and talent to be considered. Many voters refer to their screeners for reminders of their options when they are filling out their nomination ballot.

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So what happens when a screener case that contains a huge error is sent out to voters?

Last week, The Weinstein Co. mailed Oscar voters screeners of Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station, its Sundance-to-Cannes-to-July-release indie hit. Someone neglected to proofread the case, though. It encouraged voters to consider Melonie Diaz and Octavia Spencer in the lead actress category, not the supporting actress category in which they are actually being pushed. (The film's sole lead performance comes from actor Michael B. Jordan.)

On Thursday -- after someone probably received a call to remember from Harvey Weinstein -- TWC's awards office sent a follow-up e-mail to Academy members. It began: "Dear Academy Member, It has come to our attention that there was a misprint on the packaging of the DVD screener of FRUITVALE STATION. The actresses Melonie Diaz and Octavia Spencer are to be considered in the category of Best Actress In A Supporting Role. If you have not received your screener yet, you will receive it shortly. If you have any questions or issues, please contact our Awards Office..."

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Will this blooper actually impact Oscar voting in any meaningful way? We'll never know for sure, but it's possible. This year's best supporting actress Oscar race is unusually wide open -- only 12 Years a Slave's Lupita Nyong'o and Lee Daniels' The Butler's Oprah Winfrey seem like locks right now. Spencer, more than Diaz, is currently seen as being right on the bubble, along with August: Osage County's Margo Martindale and Julia Roberts, Blue Is the Warmest Color's Lea Seydoux, Blue Jasmine's Sally Hawkins, Her's Scarlett Johansson, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom's Naomie Harris, Nebraska's June Squibb, Prisoners' Melissa Leo and the as-yet-unseen Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle.

Under these circumstances, if even just a few voters decide not to nominate Spencer in the supporting category -- which she won two years ago for The Help -- because they believe she is being pushed for the lead, it could complicate her quest for another nom.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg