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Budweiser gripes about its bottles in Denzel Washington drunk scenes

Denzel Washingtis Whip Whitaker 'Flight' from Paramount Pictures.

Denzel Washington is Whip Whitaker in "Flight" from Paramount Pictures.

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Updated: December 8, 2012 6:20AM

D enzel Washington’s star turn as an alcoholic and drug-addicted pilot in South Side native Robert Zemeckis’ “Flight” is generating a lot of Oscar buzz, but that isn’t swaying the folks at Anheuser-Busch, brewers of the iconic Budweiser beer.

The Bud bunch’s problem: The film reflects poorly on their brand, since Washington’s character is often seen drinking to excess, snorting cocaine — and surrounded by bottles and cans of Budweiser and other alcoholic beverages.

Unhappy Budweiser vice president Robert McCarthy has released a letter written to director Zemeckis’ production company, Image Movers — plus Paramount Pictures (the film’s distributor) — asking “the studio to obscure the Budweiser trademark in current digital copies of the movie and on all subsequent adaptations of the film, including DVD, On Demand, streaming and additional prints not yet distributed to theaters.”

Anheuser-Busch “had no knowledge of the use or portrayal of Budweiser” in the movie, McCarthy wrote.

According to a source long involved in promoting and selling Budweiser, “This was absolutely not a case of product placement, since the placement of Budweiser in this movie would hardly have been a positive thing.”

McCarthy added, “We would never condone the misuse of our products, and have a long history of promoting responsible drinking and preventing drunk driving. It is disappointing that [the filmmakers] chose to use one of our brands in this manner.”

“Flight” is unlikely to face any legal challenges from Anheuser-Busch, as courts have ruled products can be shown in movies without manufacturers’ approval. Daniel Nazer, a resident fellow at Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project, told the AP that trademark laws “don’t exist to give companies the right to control and censor movies and TV shows that might happen to include real-world items.”

At press time, there was no comment from the “Flight” team in response to the Anheuser-Busch complaints.

BACK TO THE FUTURE?: Not only is there a ton of buzz about future “Star Wars” films — now under the ownership of Disney — but there’s also word some of the original George Lucas stars are open to reprising those iconic roles that brought them worldwide fame.

Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are “open to the idea” of doing at least the already-announced “Star Wars” sequel, according to an Entertainment Weekly source, who says even Harrison Ford is open to reviving Han Solo.

If this comes to pass, it would be a seeming reversal for Ford — who said in a 2010 ABC interview that Solo “as a character … was not so interesting to me.”

Turning a bit more humorous, Ford told ABC, “I thought he should have died in [‘Return of the Jedi,’ Solo’s last film] to give it some bottom. …George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”

TEEN MOM NEWS: It’s going to be a girl! According to InTouch magazine, “Teen Mom 2” cast member Leah Messer, who discovered she was expecting shortly after marrying pipe layer Jeremy Calvert in April, has just learned she’s expecting a baby girl. This will be Messer’s third daughter, joining twin girls Aliannah and Aleeah — fathered by ex-husband Corey Simms.

InTouch also was first with the news that “Teen Mom 2’s” Kailyn Lowry quietly married Jose “Javi” Marroquin. The couple tied the knot in Pennsylvania in September. According to Lowry, Marroquin proposed by sending her on a scavenger hunt that ended up with her finding a diamond ring.

NEW DIRECTIONS: Even though good Oprah Winfrey pal Tyler Perry has inked an exclusive TV production deal with her OWN network, that doesn’t necessarily mean OWN is abandoning its established focus on self-improvement. However, in a meeting with financial analysts Tuesday, Discovery CEO and Winfrey partner David Zaslav stressed OWN did need more of a mix of programming to broaden its reach.

Addressing the Perry deal, Zaslav said, “This is something Oprah really wants. We were much too teachy and preachy and earnest when we started. We want to have fun.”

QUITE THE RIDE: Volo Auto Museum’s Brian Grams says he’s been amazed by the reaction he’s getting — from around the globe — to his pending auction of what he calls the museum’s “Diana car.”

On Friday, the 27th anniversary of Princess Diana’s first visit to the United States (when she was driven in this Rolls-Royce), the car will go on sale to the highest bidder. The online auction will last for seven days. During that time, museum visitors can see the car on display at the musem in far northwest suburban Volo.

SEEN ON THE SCENE: There was some nice star power in RL Monday night as Angela Bassett dropped by for dinner with Rochelle Trotter, wife of food guru Charlie Trotter. ... There was a lot of political reminiscing going on at O’Brien’s Restaurant in Old Town on election eve Monday as former Lt. Gov. Neil Hartigan, ex-Cook County Assessor and Dem chair Tom Hynes and former Cook County Sheriff Richard Elrod dished over dinner. … Taking a break from the campaign, Gov. Pat Quinn got his barbecue fix at Chicago Q on Dearborn Monday. … As far as we know, no politics was on the menu as actress Abigail Breslin dined at the Pump Room — also Monday. … Bulls guard Marco Belinelli checked out the wares at Haberdash EDC in River North, picking up a few fashionable additions to his wardrobe.

MIGHTY MAESTRO! A big bow to Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti — presented with the prestigious Vittoria De Sica Prize on Tuesday by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano at the Quirinale Palace in Rome. The honor is from the Academy of Italian Cinema — presented for extraordinary contributions to the arts, culture, science and society.

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