Producers Sue Variety For Bad Review

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Focusing new attention on the influence of advertisers on the content of trade journals, the producers of Iron Cross on Tuesday sued Variety , claiming that its sales representatives "induced" them to spend $400,000 on a "for your consideration" Oscar campaign for their movie, then published a "scathing ... inaccurate and hostile" review that "seriously undermined, if not completely destroyed" its Oscar chances. In the lawsuit, Calibra Pictures claims that the Variety representatives had assured them that Iron Cross , which starred the late Roy Scheider in his final film role, had a real chance of being included among the Oscar nominees, although none of them had actually seen the film -- and although the film lacked a distributor. (It still does.) The matter came to light last week when several websites reported that Variety had removed the review, by frequent freelance critic Robert Koehler, from its online archive following protests by Calibra but that it was still accessible via Google's cache. ( Variety has since restored the review, saying that it was taken down to investigate accuracy issues.) The complaint seeks unspecified general and punitive damages and an injunction barring Variety from further commenting on the movie. In a column last week, Los Angeles Times columnist Patrick Goldstein remarked that "if filmmakers really think that a $400,000 ad buy can guarantee a good review, even in Variety , they're even more gullible than the people who went to see Valentine's Day because someone called it 'HILARIOUS!' in the Blurb ads."



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