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Racy posters for The Players, a sex comedy starring Jean Dujardin, were being taken down in Paris on Friday, even as Oscar campaigners wondered whether the Gallic-flavored scandale could put a dent in The Artist’s bid for Oscar supremacy.
“The posters have been taken down, and the distributor excused himself – it’s over. It’s finished,” The Artist producer Thomas Langmann told The Holllywood Reporter on Friday. Asked whether the flap could affect The Artist’s Oscar campaign, he answered, “We don’t have an opinion on that.”
The billboard posters, which show Dujardin framed by a woman’s upraised legs, are being removed at the suggestion of the ARPP, the French authority that regulates advertising.
But while the contretemps has been quickly resolved in France, it reverberated in Hollywood since it came just as final ballots were being sent to Oscar voters. With competing teams of Oscar campaigners all in a state of high anxiety, every step, and possible mis-step, is being scrutinized for its possible impact on the race.
Something similar happened last year when ads for the sex comedy No Strings Attached began appearing just as Natalie Portman was making her final bid for a best actress Oscar for Black Swan. Although some wondered whether the ads, in which the actress was seen in a flirty morning-after pose dressed only in a man’s shirt, would undercut her seriousness and damage her Oscar changes, the ad ultimately had no effect, and she went on to take home the best actress prize.
However, in 2007, when Eddie Murphy was nominated for best supporting actor for Dreamgirls, many felt that ads for the broad comedy Norbit, in which Murphy played an oversized woman, may have hurt his chances, and he went on to lose the award to Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine.
The Players, which hits theaters Feb. 29, consists of a series of vignettes centering around the theme of infidelity. The posters feature the film’s lead characters, played by Dujardin and his co-star, co-writer and co-director Gilles Lellouche in compromising positions with faceless women in submissive poses. The Dujardin poster carries the ad line, “I’m going to a meeting,” while another featuring Lellouche bears the line, “It’s going to cut out. I’m entering a tunnel.”
Dujardin grew to fame in France as a comedian, so most of the French public haven’t been shocked to see him playing such a role, but Gallic press wondered if the ads would tarnish Dujardin’s image as a charming, dapper Frenchman leading up to the Oscars.
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