Fox Searchlight is suddenly screening Crazy Heart, the Jeff Bridges character drama that Hollywood Reporter columnist Steven Zeitchik has described as a country-music version of The Wrestler, and frequently — two showings today and a couple more tomorrow and/or Friday, a friend reports. But so far no screenings are slated for the New York crowd. Or so I’m concluding due to a lack of response after writing Fox Searchlight’s Manhattan p.r. crew this morning.

Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal in Jeff Cooper’s Crazy Heart.

L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein reported yesterday that the film, directed and written by Jeff Cooper, is opening limited in NY and LA on 12.11. FS is looking for reactions from key blogger/columnists to see if it has the heft and the chops to be an awards competitor. Look for posts later today from the usual online suspects.

I know if I was running the Fox Searchlight show I’d want to hear from the Manhattan crowd concurrently. I probably speak for many of us in expressing a feeling of being under-appreciated.

This episode underlines the unfortunate fact that New York-based handicappers are often at a distinct advantage at this time of year. If I could have swung it I would have bunked in Los Angeles all during November and into early December, because that’s where most of the action is during this awards-contention period. Bicoastal-ness is too often a myth in this respect. Apart from the long-lead monthly screenings for big-time editors and feature-profile writers, the New York pulsebeat crowd often seems to get sloppy seconds, certainly around this time of year.

Adapted from Thomas Cobb‘s 1989 book, the downbeat drama (country music, alcoholism, parenting, looking for closure) costars Bridges, Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall.

The film was produced by Cooper, Duvall, Judy Cairo and Rob Carliner. The film has an original soundtrack by T-Bone Burnett.

Here’s a Library Journal summary of Cobb’s book, which may or may not have been strictly followed by Cooper’s script:

“Singer and guitarist Bad Blake (Bridges) was once a first-rate country-and-western star, but now he’s 57, an alcoholic, a failure at four marriages, and playing in third-rate clubs. The biggest gig he can get is opening for Tommy Sweet (Farrell), the kid Bad got started and whose career has now eclipsed Bad’s.

“Bad meets Jean Craddock (Gyllenhaal) when she comes to interview him and they fall in love. Her little boy, Buddy, inspires Bad to search for his own long-lost son, but there’s no happy ending there. And when Bad, hungry for a drink, loses Jean’s son, things take a downturn, despite Bad’s fling with AA.”