In addition, BBC, London paper Metro and the regional press covered a campaign in Norwich to name a lifesize gorilla sculpture after Partridge; Esquire offered "5 Brilliant Ways Alan Partridge Was Sold to Us"; and the travel section of the Daily Mail, which has the most traffic of any website in the world, covered his walking tour of Norwich, in association with tourist outfit VisitNorwich.

The character, created by Steve Coogan (who stars as Partridge) and Armando Iannucci, is inescapable in Britain these days. Posters are everywhere, and even sports addicts have been exposed to the mania, when Arsenal soccer player Lukas Podolski proved a hit on the team's tour of Asia after an inadvertently spot-on impersonation of Partridge's catchphrase, "A-ha."

Naturally, Coogan, who appeared on the red carpet of the pic preems in character, got plenty of coverage. And aside from doing studio interviews with Channel 4, Iannucci appeared on the political program "The Andrew Marr Show."

And, as a reminder that no one is immune to a contagious fever, Partridge appears in no fewer than two stories in Variety this week. Obviously, no one likes a media hound like the media.

-- Diana Lodderhose

Country Makes Oscar Comeback

Pakistan: Pakistan will submit an entry to Oscar's foreign-language category after a gap of 50 years, though the committee has not yet chosen the film.

Each country is allowed one submission and can decide how that film can be chosen.

The Pakistan committee has been formed independently, and no approval was sought from the government, since it is not required by the Academy. The deadline for submitting a foreign-language film to the Academy is Oct. 1.

Chairing the committee is Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, pictured above, who became the country's first Oscar winner for co-directing (with Daniel Junge) the 2011 documentary short subject "Saving Face." Also on the panel are writer Mohsin Hamid ("The Reluctant Fundamentalist"), helmer Mehreen Jabbar ("Ramchand Pakistani"), actor Rahat Kazmi, filmmaker Akifa Mian ("Inaam"), hyphenate Samina Peerzada ("Inteha") and arts academic Framji Minwalla.

They will have plenty to choose from, as after a few dormant years, the Pakistan film industry is enjoying a revival, with 21 releases in 2013.

There is no stated government policy against Oscar participation. But it seems to have been a low national priority, due to political turmoil and a general lack of precedence within the film establishment.

The country has sent only two films to the Academy since the category was created in 1956: Akhtar J. Kardar's "Jago hua savera" in 1959 and Khawaja Khurshid Anwar's "Ghunghat" in 1963.

British-Pakistani helmer Hammad Khan, whose debut feature "Slackistan" was banned in Pakistan, told Variety this week: "Pakistan has not officially submitted any films for the Academy Awards consideration in 50 years because the state has never taken film seriously, neither as a cultural art form nor as a valuable communal experience. In all those years, Pakistan has been so preoccupied with coups, wars and religion that cinema has been reduced to low entertainment by the powers-that-be. It is, of course, monumentally idiotic to ignore the power of cinema in the development of any nation's narrative."

-- Naman Ramachandran


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