This is Hollywood’s kind of ‘Town’

By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa with Megan Johnson
Boston Herald
January 26, 2011

The 16 Oscar nominations for three locally made flicks could be the last hurrah for made-in-Mass. movies.

The Academy Award bounty for Mark Wahlberg’s “The Fighter” and Harvard-to-Facebook tale “The Social Network” — and a Best Supporting Actor nod for Jeremy Renner, who played a bank-robbing Charlestown punk in Ben Affleck’s “The Town,” — comes at a time when the number of films shot in the Bay State is on the decline and Gov. Deval Patrick, who once proposed capping the state’s film tax credits, has seized control of the Mass. Film Office.

Patrick’s cap (which he’s since backed away from) was blamed for driving movie business out of state — 153 films were shot here in 2008 but only 86 in 2009. Still, state officials put on a happy face yesterday.

“These nominations highlight Massachusetts’ talented film workforce and great environment for creating Hollywood magic,” Betsy Wall, the executive director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, said in a statement.

Ben Mezrich, the Harvard alum whose book proposal was the basis for “The Social Network,” said he hopes the Oscar nods remind Hollywood that the Bay State still is a great place to make movies.

“There are great stories here waiting to be told,” he said. “Massachusetts is a fertile ground for stories, like mine, about young people doing impressive, crazy things. I hope the community realizes that Boston is an amazing place to film.”

“The Social Network” had been considered the frontrunner for Best Picture until “The King’s Speech” grabbed 12 nominations yesterday.

“I hope we win it,’’ Mezrich told the Track. “We deserve it because Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher were an incredible pairing. If we don’t, I think we will have been robbed.’’

Mezrich said he and wife, Tonya, plan to head out to Hollywood to do the party and interview circuit for the Big Night. And don’t be surprised to see him on stage if “The Social Network’’ wins Best Picture.

“I was on stage at the Golden Globes and it was amazing,’’ he said, adding that he was producer Kevin Spacey’s “plus one’’ for the Hollywood Foreign Press party where the Facebook flick won Best Picture.

While “Network” is expected to battle it out with “The King’s Speech’ for Best Pic, “The Fighter” is a longshot. But locals say — you guessed it — it’s an honor just to be nominated.

“I was shocked that we got seven nominations,” ex-boxer Micky Ward, aka “The Fighter” told the Track. “But I was really disappointed that Mark didn’t get a Best Actor nomination, I guess my character wasn’t flashy enough. But I’m really happy for Christian Bale because he played my brother like no one else can.”

Bale, who channeled Ward’s crack-addled trainer/bro Dicky Eklund, and Melissa Leo, who played Micky’s manager/mom Alice, are the odds-on faves for Supporting Actor trophies.

“Every nomination is a nomination for Mark Wahlberg,’’ Leo said yesterday on “Good Morning America’’ after the early-morning announcements. Melissa also gave a shout-out to Alice Ward, who is recuperating from a heart attack.

“We’re going to the Oscars, Alice!’’

Local actresses Erica McDermott and Melissa McMeekin, who played two of Micky’s big-haired, tough-talking sisters, cheered on “The Fighter’’ at a breakfast viewing party at the Mandarin Oriental hosted by The Ellie Fund.

“I want (the movie) to win for Mark Wahlberg,’’ said McDermott, who played Ward’s half-sis Cindy “Tar’’ Eklund. “He put so much into it.’’

Ward, McDermott and McMeekin, BTW, will make their way out to La-La for Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards where the cast is up for Best Ensemble.

Another local — Keith Dorrington, who wrote the original story that “The Fighter” is based upon — was honored in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

“It’s hard to put into words how gratified I am with the Oscar nominations for ‘The Fighter,’ ” he e-mailed the Track. “From 1999, when I started to film Micky and Dicky to now, has been a long and sometimes difficult road and (the) news makes it all worth it. I am thrilled for everyone involved — the cast and crew and most of all Micky and Dicky.”

Dorrington said the Oscar nominations are “a great shot in the arm for Massachusetts film-making.”

“With budgets being cut and tax credits being put at risk, the success of ‘The Fighter’ shows how much local film-making can mean to the local economy,” he said.

Other nominees with local ties include Debra Granik, a 1985 Brandeis alum and the director and screenwriter of the art-house sensation “Winter’s Bone.” Her film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress Jennifer Lawrence and Best Supporting Actor John Hawkes. And Newton homegal Sara Neeson will compete in the Documentary Short Subject category for her film, “Poster Girl,” about an Army Magazine covergal Robynn Murray who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following her return from Iraq.

And The Nominees Are…Massachusetts Films!
Oscar acquires a Boston accent



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