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Harvey Weinstein reveals 'Blue Valentine' rating tactics on 'Morning Joe'

Harvey Weinstein vividly fleshed out the story of The Weinstein Company's successful appeal of the NC-17 rating for "Blue Valentine" on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" today.

Appearing with superstar attorney David Boies, who with former Miramax general counsel Alan Friedman helped him argue before the MPAA board for an R rating, Weinstein said that the NC-17 had "penalized" stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams and their director, Derek Cianfrance ("in the John Cassevetes mold!") for their "brilliance" at making an oral sex scene seem real -- something radically different from the fantasy sex scenes in films like "Basic Instinct." (That's Williams and Gosling photographed in New York yesterday, above.)

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In a "my son the mogul" aside, Weinstein said that his mother had always wanted him to be a lawyer and that Louis Nizer's "My Life in Court" was one of his favorite childhood books.

Weinstein explained that the turning point for "Blue Valentine" came when Boies inspired him to take the movie straight to the people the MPAA ratings were supposedly designed to serve and protect: American parents.

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They organized a screening of 300 heartland moms and dads, in Kansas City. 70 per cent of the audience said that the proper rating for "Blue Valentine" was R.

The appeals board overturned the original rating in a rare unanimous decision (14-0).

Weinstein was bullish on indie-film prospects this winter, also plugging his company's leading Oscar contender "The King's Speech." The ratings board resisted Weinstein's bid to change the rating for that film to PG-13 from R.

"The King's Speech" has been rated R for the uproarious and cathartic spectacle of King George VI spouting profanity as part of his speech therapy.

Filmmakers run from NC-17 ratings because it limits their audience: Many theaters and video outlets prohibit NC-17 films; many TV stations and newspapers won't advertise them.

The more adult your rating, the more limited your potential viewership.

After awards season is over, shouldn't the Weinstein team's next step be to question the general insanity of a system that punishes the mature handling of adult content, whether comic or dramatic?

Photo by Donald Bowers

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