Mar 04 2010

Five things you didn't know about 'Precious'

< > In anticipation of the 82nd Academy Awards, The National Post writes up five things you didn't know about the six-time Oscar nominated film "Precious".

Tune in to the live airing of the awards ceremony on Sunday, March 7th 8:00pm EST/5:00pm PST on ABC.

1. Helen Mirren was originally supposed to take the role of the social worker played by five-octave-spanning diva Mariah Carey. As director Lee Daniels told Essence, the much-decorated British thespian dropped out at the last minute:

"Helen Mirren fell out--she called me up and said that she had a paying job. I got a phone call like three hours later from Mariah asking me to come over to play. I said, 'No, I'm working.' I told her what I was working on and she was like I know that book. And, then I called Helen back and was like, 'What do you think of Mariah playing this role, a social worker.' She said it was genius. She said you know "If I do it Lee, it's expected but if Mariah does it, it's really unexpected. "

Dame Helen may now be cursing her decision — shockingly to everyone who's seen Glitter, Mariah Carey's acting is earning some of the best reviews of her life.

2. Impress your friends at the Oscar party with the correct pronunciation of the young star's name, Gabourey Sidibe. Inherited from her Senegalese father, it's pronounced SIH-deh-bay. And if you want to be one of those annoying people who's all "I'm an entertainment insider" and calls Sandra Bullock "Sandy" and Martin Scorsese "Marty," you can make Gabourey "Gabby."  Although you may want to watch what you say to Gabby anyway. One of her most-excellent quotes from a profile in New York:

"They try to paint the picture that I was this downtrodden, ugly girl who was unpopular in school and in life, and then I got this role and now I'm awesome. But the truth is that I've been awesome, and then I got this role."

3.  Mariah Carey isn't the only non-conventional casting, but her glammed-down presence has still managed to overshadow Lenny Kravitz, who plays a handsome nurse. Daniels told Rolling Stone:

"From my first film, Monster's Ball, with Puffy and Mos Def to Macy Gray in Shadowboxer, Eve in The Woodsman with Kevin Bacon, a musician has been in every film I've done. I love musicians. I'm going to do a musical next year [with Kravitz]. I'm not allowed to talk about it."

4. Vanity Fair's annual Hollywood cover was widely criticized for being very white, very young, and, frankly, kind of creepy (ok, that last bit may just be me).  Along with Avatar/Star Trek sylph Zoë Saldaña, Sidibe was one of the less-snowy-hued actresses many felt should have been on the cover, instead of just inside.  But Sidibe isn't sweating it, she tells OK!:

"Was I satisfied? Yeah, well… I mean, I come from a world where I'm not on covers and I'm not in magazines at all," she said. "And so I was happy to be in the magazine. Gabourey continued that if she was chosen for the cover, which included up-and-coming young stars Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, Abbie Cornish, Amanda Seyfried and Anna Kendrick, she would have wondered whether she fit in.

5. The movie has inspired controversy on everything from its alleged status as "poverty porn" to Sidibe's weight to the title (the New Yorker's Anthony Lane called it "preposterous") to Mo'Nique's campaign (or lack thereof) for an Oscar. Is Mo'Nique's strategy a real disdain for the star-making machine, or a cunning way to get even more attention? Whatever it is, it's made a lot of people mad, including this guy. What it's not? the Blind Side. Some have called it that movie's "reverse."

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