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It ain't over until the postman rings

"Il Postino" will premiere on PBS at 9 p.m. ET Fri., Nov. 25 as part of the Great Performances series. Based on the 1994 Italian film, it stars tenor Plácido Domingo.

By Jana J. Monji

The opera "Il Postino" in its name shows its curious lineage. While not a great opera, "Il Postino" does feature the performance of Plácido Domingo, one of the great opera tenors, in a role specifically written for him during the world premiere performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

The opera is in Spanish, not Italian as its name suggests. "Il Postino" is also the name of the much acclaimed 1994 Italian movie that although originally released in the United States as "The Postman," is now referred to as "Il Postino" to avoid confusion with Kevin Costner's 1997 post-apocalyptic movie based on the 1985 David Brin novel.

The movie "Il Postino" was also based on a novel, Chilean writer Antonio Skármeta's 1983 "Ardiente Paciencia" (Burning Patience) which was later retitled "El Cartero de Neruda" (Neruda's Postman). The Italian movie "Il Postino" (Skármeta directed a 1983 Spanish language movie of his novel) transferred the location from Chile to Italy, changed the time period and the ending. As you might expect, the movie was in Italian.


Winslet, Ledger: Who's supporting whom?

"I don't think we need another film about the Holocaust, do we? It's like, how many have there been? You know? We get it. It was grim. Move on. No, I'm doing it because I've noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust, you're guaranteed an Oscar.... 'Schindler's Bloody List,' 'Pianist' -- Oscars comin' outta their ass."

-- Kate Winslet (in character) on "Extras" (2005)

There are two main reasons I don't do Oscar predictions: 1) I'm bad at it; and 2) the Oscars take place in a corner of the cinematic universe that's only tangentially related to the movies I love. The Oscar ceremonies have been called the Gay Super Bowl and that's as good a characterization as any -- or at least it was, until "Crash" won.

But some peculiarities at the Golden Globules got me to wondering about the Academy rules. Although I remembered that Peter Finch had won a posthumous Oscar for "Network" in 1976, I didn't know for certain if the rules permitted a posthumous nomination -- like, say, for Heath Ledger, who won a Globule for best supporting actor as the Joker in "The Dark Knight." Turns out, nothing in the Academy's Rule Six: Special Rules for the Acting Awards prohibits it.

Perhaps a more pertinent question would be: Is it really a supporting role? Kate Winslet got her hands on two Globules this year -- one for lead performance in "Revolutionary Road" and another for supporting performance in "The Reader." Some have suggested that the latter is a little like considering Faye Dunaway's role in "Chinatown" a supporting one, but I figured the Hollywood Foreign Press Association just wanted to award Winslet a pair of Globulettes for reasons known best to themselves, so they went out of their way to nominate her in separate categories.

UPDATE: Indeed, Oscar voters have nominated Winslet's "Reader" performance in the lead category. She did not receive a nomination for "Revolutionary Road" -- even though she may well have received enough votes to qualify for both. At least, I think that's what this rule says:

5. In the event that two achievements by an actor or actress receive sufficient votes to be nominated in the same category, only one shall be nominated using the preferential tabulation process and such other allied procedures as may be necessary to achieve that result.

[Oscar rules below.]

Movie Answer Man

Movie Answer Man (01/07/1996)

Q. Of all the films we saw last year, my favorite was "The Postman," from Italy. Now I heard something about how it isn't eligible for the Academy Award as best foreign film. Surely this is a major miscarriage of justice? (Susan Lake, Urbana)

Movie Answer Man

Movie Answer Man (08/27/1995)

Q. I saw "Dangerous Minds," which was an OK movie, but could have been better. My question is, what happened to the scene where the students and teacher are playing pool? This scene is a major part of all of the previews and is still in some of the TV commercials. Why did they decide to cut that scene? -- David Becerra, San Diego