‘Green Book’ director apologizes for penis prank just as Oscar voting begins

It’s been a bad day for “Green Book.”

Just three days after winning three Golden Globes, and as Hollywood begins choosing its Oscar nominees, the acclaimed film became mired in a couple of off-screen messes. One involves a past penis prank by director Peter Farrelly and the other relates to a now-deleted inflammatory tweet by screenwriter Nick Vallelonga.

Stories in Newsweek and The Observer from 1998 chronicle director Peter Farrelly’s old habit of flashing his penis as a prank have resurfaced, courtesy of The Cut. The Observer story says: “Peter admits that after doing this trick ‘easily 500 times’ he is now in a state of forced early retirement.”

Farrelly issued a statement to USA TODAY Wednesday apologizing for his behavior. “True. I was an idiot. I did this decades ago and I thought I was being funny and the truth is I’m embarrassed and it makes me cringe now. I’m deeply sorry.”

Hours later came a fresh Twitter fracas. “Green Book” screenwriter Vallelonga, whose father, Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga, was Dr. Don Shirley’s driver, came under fire for a 2015 tweet in which he supports then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s discredited claim that Muslims in New Jersey were seen on TV cheering the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Vallelonga has since deleted his Twitter account.The now-deleted tweet deemed Trump “100% correct” in his false 9/11 assertion. The user @NickVallelonga wrote “I saw it, as you did, possibly on local CBS news.” New York news organizations investigated Trump’s claim and found no information to support it.

Buzzfeed said Vallelonga’s manager confirmed that it was the writer’s tweet.

Vallelonga was roundly ripped for the tweet, with “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz noting that Mahershala Ali, who won a Globe for his portrayal of Shirley, “is a Muslim, and a beautiful, generous and kind man. This is all just too disgusting.”

“Green Book” itself has also been criticized by members of Shirley’s family. Maurice Shirley, Don’s brother, described the film as “a symphony of lies” in an interview with Shadow and Act.

Farrelly’s past behavior and Vallelonga’s tweet land in the news just three days into the voting period to determine Oscar nominations, a common time for detrimental news about contending films to surface.

“Green Book” follows the relationship between an Italian-American New York bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) who chauffeurs a black classical pianist (Ali) in the 1960s South.

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