Maybe Polanski and Pete Rose can apologize together

Polanski’s Fugitive Status Clouds Oscar Chances
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Filmmaker Roman Polanski might be considered a front-runner to claim the Academy Award as best director for his acclaimed Holocaust drama “The Pianist,” except for one thing — he’s a fugitive from justice.
The fact that Polanski fled to France in 1978 as he was about to be sentenced for having sex with a minor and faces arrest the moment he sets foot in the United States makes it highly unlikely that he will show up for the Academy Awards, even if he wins.
The 69-year-old director, a French citizen who resides in Paris, would hardly be the first absentee Oscar winner. Marlon Brando, George C. Scott and Woody Allen have all snubbed the Academy Awards, but Polanski would be the first kept from collecting his statuette by the threat of incarceration.
“He has no plans to come to the United States,” his Los Angeles-based agent, Jeff Berg, told Reuters on Tuesday. “He lives in Europe, and his home is there, and the legal issues are unresolved, and he has no plan for returning.”
Polanski himself made no mention of his legal quandary in a brief statement issued by the film’s U.S. distributor, Focus Features: “I am deeply honored by these nominations and regard them as a tribute to all those who made such fine contributions to ‘The Pianist.”‘
“The Pianist,” which garnered a total of seven Oscar nominations and was voted best film at Cannes last spring, is based on the 1946 memoir of pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who survived Nazi-occupied Warsaw. But Polanski drew heavily on his childhood Holocaust experiences, including his memory of his father telling him, “Walk, don’t run,” as he escaped a roundup of Jews sent to Auschwitz.
Polanski has earned a measure of sympathy in Hollywood for having lived through another personal tragedy — the murder of his pregnant wife, the 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate, by followers of Charles Manson in 1969.
The victim at the center of the 25-year-old statutory rape case against him, now a married mother of three living in Hawaii, also has said she forgives Polanski and believes his exile from Hollywood has been punishment enough.
Polanski originally was indicted on six counts, including rape, for having sex with a 13-year-old girl while she was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The director insisted the sex was consensual but pleaded guilty to a single count of having sex with a minor, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He fled to France shortly before sentencing.
A civil suit brought by the girl’s family was eventually settled. And in 1997, a series of closed meetings between the director’s lawyer, prosecutors and a judge sparked speculation that a deal was in the works to permit the filmmaker to return, but nothing ever happened.
One Oscar pundit, Tom O’Neil, said Polanski would be a clear favorite to win the Oscar were it not for his legal past, though he still has a “realistic” chance of an upset victory. O’Neil said Hollywood has a long history of forgiving the sex scandals of its stars on the Oscar stage, citing extramarital affairs by actresses Ingrid Bergman and Elizabeth Taylor as examples. Taylor, widely seen as having broken up Eddie Fisher’s marriage to Debbie Reynolds, went on to win an Oscar for “Butterfield 8.” Bergman was named best actress for “Anastasia” several years after she sparked a public furor by having a child out of wedlock with Italian director Roberto Rossellini.
Polanski’s nomination for “The Pianist” is his third as a director, with previous nods for the 1979 drama “Tess” and 1974’s “Chinatown.” He also received a screenplay nomination for “Rosemary’s Baby.”
A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Sandi Gibbons, said the status of Polanski’s case remains unchanged. She said a retired lawyer who still represents Polanski contacts prosecutors about once a year, and did so in the last few months.
But because the director had already pleaded guilty and was waiting to be sentenced when he fled, “it’s not within our power to ease the way for Mr. Polanski. He has to make arrangements with the court,” Gibbons said.