Hollywood braces for "Blood Diamond" War
Nelson Mandela will act as a spokesman for the international diamond cartel to defuse any negative publicity caused by Ed Zwick's new film "The Blood Diamond," starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimoun Hounsou, due out in December.
The film, a fictional tale, is set during the all-too-real '90s decade of African civil wars when rebel armies seized control of diamond mines, traded conflict diamonds for arms and murdered, raped and mutilated thousands of innocent people.
The film's barely finished shooting but the World Diamond Council has already asked Zwick, the film's producer/co-writer/director to add a disclaimer at the end that puts the nasty rough diamond trade in the past and the current industry in a better light.
Honest, those creepy rebels with nasty amputation habits are gone. Today's mining conditions are way improved and diamonds are now carefully documented thanks to the Kimberly Process, a voluntary industry agreement made in 2000, which tracks and certifies the movement of rough diamonds.
Human rights groups such as Amnesty International don't buy it. But if you do, I've got some great New Orleans property near some lovely new levees you might also like. Zwick's response? He gave it to E! Online yesterday.
A bitter battle is clearly brewing. But how will Team De Beers, headed by Mandela, do against Team Zwick? Let's compare the players. Ready for their turn at bat are the "Blood" actors, all politically active and involved with a variety of humanitarian causes.
DiCaprio is outspoken about ecology and global warming issues. His website was redesigned and launched in 2004, the same year he joined the boards of NRDC and Global Green USA. Hounsou was born in Benin, near Niger. He participated in Amnesty International's Live for Darfur concert series last fall. It's safe to say that he has strong opinions on the illicit diamond trade's impact on Africa peoples. And Jennifer Connelly was just named Amnesty International USA's (AIUSA) Ambassador for Human Rights Education last winter.
But Zwick may also have a trump card, an actress who could give his team an unbeatable hand....
Zwick directed Brad Pitt in "Legends of the Fall." And Pitt is now Super Glued to (and might as well be married to) (ta-dah!) Angelina Jolie - a tireless Mother Teresa-like human rights activist and respected United Nations rep who has visited refugee camps all over Africa and has seen firsthand the impact of the conflict diamond trade on African people. Her compelling book "Notes From My Travels" documents her visits to refugee camps in the Congo and Sierra Leone.
Don't forget that Brad and Angelina also hung out in Namibia for the birth of their first child where they could have been briefed by the Namibian government on De Beers consumption of - and price control of - Namibian diamonds.
Zwick also produced "Shakespeare in Love" so maybe we should toss in politically active Ben Affleck, who had a small role in the Oscar-winning film. Zwick also produced "Traffic," directed/co-produced by Steven Soderbergh, who is good buds with all those cool outspoken liberal activist "Oceans" dudes, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Pitt. Damon even starred with Jolie in the upcoming film, "The Good Shepherd" so they've already got "I've got your back" team spirit.
With me so far?
Soderbergh could be on Team Zwick too. He's tight with Clooney, having directing him in oh, just a few films including "Solaris," "Out of Sight" and the upcoming "Michael Clayton." He also produced Clooney's "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "Syriana" and "Good Night, and Good Luck."
The latter were two of the most successful controversy films of the 2006 Awards Season. Coincidentally, WB produced and distributed Clooney's "Syriana" which got an original screenplay Oscar nod for Stephen Gaghan and a best supporting Oscar for Clooney. Clooney's love child, "Good Night, and Good Luck," was produced/distributed by Warner Independent and got six Oscar nominations.
So let's review. Nelson Mandela has to play hardball against Warner Bros' crack PR team, Ed Zwick, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Djimon Hounsou, Steven Soderbergh and maybe Ben Affleck?
Good luck, Nelson.
Photo Credit: Will Angelina Jolie speak out about the still suffering victims of Africa's rough diamond trade portrayed in "The Blood Diamond?" What do you think?