You know you're an Oscar frontrunner when the defensive becomes the default. Ask Fox Searchlight — they'll tell you.
A Fox rep sends word to Defamer that this week's coverage of young Slumdog Millionaire stars Rubina Ali and Azharuddin Ismail's questionable compensation scale has thrust the children and their families into grave danger. "Due to the exposure and potential jeopardy created by the unwarranted press attention and violation of the privacy of the children and their families, the filmmakers are arranging for flats for Azhar and Rubina, and their families, that will be paid directly by the filmmakers," we're told. This is in addition to supporting the kids' education and trust funds noted in our initial BacklashWatch report on Tuesday, and reiterated today by the same rep.
While we sincerely empathize on one hand, we're tabulating numbers on the other: $85 million (and counting) worldwide gross. Ten Oscar nominations. Four Golden Globes. One huge SAG Awards honor recognizing the film's ensemble — slum kids included. We're not here to broker settlements, but it seems clear enough that Slumdog's social implications require a little more finessing under the circumstances than those of rolling out Little Miss Sunshine's yellow bus or Diablo Cody's back story for impressionable Oscar blue-hairs. Try as you might, Searchlight, you can't have "unwarranted press attention" both ways.
Speaking of which, some persistent Indian protesters will get a police investigation into whether or not the term "slumdog" — coined by Millionaire screenwriter Simon Beaufoy — is in fact an offensive reference to Mumbai's slum-dwellers. Director Danny Boyle and Co. received the word yesterday; the worst-case scenario would require retitling the film in India without the word "dog." Good luck with that.