Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stars excited to be in Oscar running:

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein

Dicky Eklund’s last stop yesterday was Sully’s Tuxedos in Lowell. “The Fighter’’ had received an impressive seven Oscar nominations, and Eklund was thinking about what he might wear when Hollywood hands out the hardware Feb. 27.

 “I gotta get fitted,’’ said Eklund, who’s come a long way from the crack-addled character played in the movie by Christian Bale. “Years ago, it looked like this movie wouldn’t happen. We’d get excited, it would fall apart, we’d get excited, it would fall apart again. Finally, Mark Wahlberg got it made. So, yeah, I’m pretty happy.’’

“The Fighter’’ isn’t the only film in this year’s crop of Oscar nominees with ties to Boston. “The Social Network’’ — director David Fincher’s film about Facebook founder (and former Harvard student) Mark Zuckerberg — received eight nominations, and Ben Affleck’s Charlestown-based drama “The Town’’ received one.

People involved with the three films — all of which were at least partially shot here — said the nominations are well deserved.

“It’s amazing,’’ said author Ben Mezrich, whose book, “The Accidental Billionaires,’’ is the basis of Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-nominated screenplay for “The Social Network.’’

“When I first pitched the story of writing about Facebook, (producer) Dana Brunetti told me it would make a good book, but he didn’t see a movie in it.’’

Because Harvard wouldn’t give producers permission to shoot on campus, Fincher shot some scenes at Boston University, Tufts, Wheelock, and elsewhere in Cambridge. (The movie opens with a scene at the Somerville pub the Thirsty Scholar.) The filmmakers also didn’t have the benefit of Zuckerberg’s participation. “He said, ‘Make it not take place at Harvard and don’t call it Facebook,’ ’’ Sorkin told the Globe last fall. “We weren’t going to make a movie called Headbook that would take place at Har-fard.’’

Although actor Jeremy Renner is nominated for best supporting actor for his role as a bank robber in “The Town,’’ the film costarring Affleck, Jon Hamm, and Rebbeca Hall was otherwise snubbed, which surprised and disappointed many observers. That includes Canton author Chuck Hogan , who wrote the book, “Prince of Thieves,’’ on which the film is based.

“The movie exceeded my expectations in every way,’’ said Hogan. “But, honestly, as a former video store clerk, it was really exciting just to have a horse in the big race and to watch the nominations be announced.’’

And that’s half the fun. Yesterday, Erica McDermott , a 36-year-old stay-at-home mom from Scituate who plays one of Micky Ward’s seven sisters in “The Fighter,’’ watched the nominations at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. She was joined by actress Melissa McMeekin, who plays “Little’’ Alice Eklund, another of Ward’s sisters, and actor F. Murray Abraham, an Academy Award winner in 1984 for “Amadeus.’’ (The coffee klatch was intended to promote Boston’s Oscar night party hosted by the Ellie Fund.)

“I’m out of my mind about the nominations,’’ said McDermott, who plays Cindy “Tar’’ Eklund in the film. “The chemistry between the major actors was magical and David O. Russell was able to get the best out of us.’’

McMeekin said she’s relishing the ride, which continues this weekend with a trip to Los Angeles to attend Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards. (Six of the seven actresses who play the Ward sisters will be there; the seventh, Jill Quigg, who pleaded guilty in November to stealing a television and computer, will not be.)

Reaction to “The Fighter’’ has been mixed within the Ward family. At least a few of the sisters, as well as the boxer’s 80-year-old mother, Alice, object to their portrayal as sometimes violent, tart-tongued women.

“It is what it is. There’s a lot of creativity in the movie,’’ said Dicky. “The family, they’re not too excited about their parts, but I think (David O.) Russell did an excellent job given the time he had and everything he had to get in.’’

A few weeks ago, Alice Ward, who suffers from emphysema, went into cardiac arrest and had to be revived by doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She remains hospitalized. Yesterday, Micky took a break from training boxers at Gold’s Gym in Chelmsford and talked about his mother.

“She’s hanging in there,’’ he said. “She’s the fighter of the family.’’

Melissa Leo, whose performance as Alice Ward earned an Oscar nomination, said she plans to invite the matriarch to the Academy Awards.

“I’m inviting her to sit with me, but I don’t know if she’ll be well enough to come,’’ said Leo. “Maybe I’ll sit with an empty chair.’’