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Joan Allen on ABCNEWS.com: Is the 'The Contender' Biased?

Entertainment Editors

NEW YORK--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)--Oct. 20, 2000

Two time Oscar-nominee Answers Criticism that

Film Plays Political Favorites

During Interview Today on SamDonaldson@ABCNEWS.com

Two time Academy Award nominee, Joan Allen ("The Crucible", "Nixon") appeared on SamDonaldson@ABCNEWS.com - Sam Donaldson's daily webcast at ABCNEWS.com - and addressed a co-star's criticism that her new film, "The Contender" (DreamWorks SKG) plays political favorites.

Gary Oldman portrays Republican congressman Sheldon Runyan in "The Contender." Oldman and his manager, Douglas Urbanski, have complained that the film was edited in a way that glorifies Allen's Democratic character, while turning Oldman's Republican character into a villian.

Sam Donaldson asked Allen about the criticism.

Donaldson: Here's the controversy. Of course the picture is distributed by DreamWorks -- and we know who runs DreamWorks -- Spielberg and Geffen and Katzenberg -- and they are well known, very strong supporters of the Democratic Party and in this present race Al Gore for instance. And here's what Gary Oldham, who plays the chairman there as we saw, says about this. He charges that the film was edited to make his character look more sinister. He says it made his character look like a balding, nasty Republican Congressman bent on destroying the reputation of an elegant, righteous Democrat. Is he right?

Allen: Oh, I don't think so. First of all, DreamWorks was not attached to the film at the beginning. It was an independent film, totally done by independent financing. DreamWorks saw a finished cut of the film and decided to pick it up and distribute it. So they had nothing to do with it in the beginning at all whatsoever, except seeing it as a finished product and deciding to distribute it.

And, secondly, I think his character always had somewhat of a -- I don't want to oversimplify, but a bit of a villainous side to it. I think it was clear from the beginning that "The Contender" was always Lane Hanson. And so I think one thing that Gary does so brilliantly is he believes in his character so much. And I think there's a lot in his character to recommend. I think there are perhaps people in this country who would tend to side with his character, and think that somebody who was as liberal as Lane Hanson and is an atheist and is pro-life is not good for the country, and that whatever means necessary to undermine her is worth it. And so I think that that was always in the script to begin with. There was not -- it hasn't been substantially changed. And I think it's a matter of perception and relating to your character strongly.

Allen also addressed criticism that Hollywood, in general, is biased in favor of Democratic politics.

Donaldson: So, let's not talk about film singularly here. What's your perception -- does Hollywood slant movies one way or the other?

Allen: Well, you know, I think it's been a long time since a serious political movie has been made for one thing, and this is the first serious political movie in several years. I mean, if you look at "Primary Colors" and "Dave," those are wonderfully delightful and amusing films. So I think it's the first time that really it's been evaluated again in a film.

I think perhaps in my observation -- I am not deeply political by nature -- but I think in my observation Hollywood tends to be a more Democratic town, and I think perhaps there is a bit more of a slant in that direction.

The complete interview can be viewed by logging on to www.sam.abcnews.com.
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Date:Oct 20, 2000
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