Oscar Campaign for Ledger Is a Tough Balancing Act

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2008 12:58 PM CST
Ledger was previously nominated for his role in "Brokeback Mountain," here with Jake Gyllenhaal.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Warner Bros. is tiptoeing around the possible Oscar nomination for Heath Ledger, the late star of Dark Knight, writes Rachel Abramowitz in the Los Angeles Times. Hollywood insiders contend that a nod for Ledger is almost certain, but the studio must tread the line between boosting his chances and exploiting popular sympathy for the actor. The company line is that it is promoting all the film's actors equally.

Advertising seems to subvert that claim, though subtly. Ledger’s placement in campaign photographs as the Joker is front and center. Warner did a tasteful job promoting the film’s initial release, writes Abramowitz, neither ignoring or overplaying Ledger’s role. But the Oscars are a different game entirely: While the studio may not want to seem crass, a Ledger nomination could trigger a huge surge in sales. A nomination also is likely to increase viewership of the telecast substantially.