All change for Syriana

When is an adapted screenplay not adapted?

File this one under Oscar Quirks: Syriana, which is considered by such august – and, let’s face it, knowledgeable – sources as the Writer’s Guild Of America as an adapted screenplay, has been adjusted by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences to an original script.

With only days to go before Oscar ballots are due in, it’s a confusing situation made all the more weird by the fact that the Academy made its decision without, er, informing Warner Bros or the writer, Stephen Gaghan.

"I'm in shock," writer-director Gaghan told The Hollywood Reporter, who only discovered the change when he received his ballot. "A phone call would have been nice, or an email or letter. I understand it's a grey area, but I'm saddened. Just let us know." Gaghan admits that while he veered from his source, Robert Baer’s memoir See No Evil: The True Story Of A Ground Soldier In The CIA's War On Terrorism, he still considered it an adapted screenplay.

The Academy’s writers branch executive committee apparently made the change in late December, but told no one about it. Let’s wait and see what this means for Syriana’s chances for a Best Screenplay Oscar come 5 March...

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