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Gold Derby nuggets: SAG exec apologizes for nominees boycott | Vultures' Oscars view: 'Slumdog' up; 'Dark Knight' down | Karger: Meryl Streep could be front-runner

January 16, 2009 |  8:05 pm

• Fandango asked moviegoers to name their biggest gripes about the Oscars. No surprise: Half the respondees (51%) want the celebrities' political speeches nixed. Rants one poster to the contenders: "Shut up and entertain us. We don’t care what you think about politics. A bit of graciousness would be in order." FANDANGO

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• Variety reports SAG board member Frances Fisher has apologized for suggesting a boycott of eight nominees at the upcoming guild awards who oppose the union exec's efforts to get a strike authorization. "I apologize directly to Josh Brolin, Kevin Spacey, Susan Sarandon, Michael C. Hall, Sally Field, Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell and Tony Shalhoub for any discomfort my actions may have caused," Fisher said. Earlier this month, she forwarded a pair of anonymous e-mails proposing that SAG members not vote for the eight. That prompted former SAG president Richard Masur to compare Fisher's action to the blacklist of the 1950s. SAG president Alan Rosenberg also said that voting for the awards should be purely on artistic merit but added that he understood the "anger and frustration" that had prompted the boycott suggestion. VARIETY

• In the final Oscar Futures issued before nominations are announced next Thursday, the Vultures see the rise of "Gran Torino" -- "Yes, it would almost certainly lose to 'Slumdog Millionaire,' but Oscar-watching Daves Karger and Carr think its surprise box-office victory means it could sneak in there" — and the decline of "The Dark Knight" –- "Ignored by BAFTA, maybe it's not a lock for that fifth slot!" Also way up is Danny Boyle — "His predictable victory at the Golden Globes and 'Slumdog's' BAFTA nomination count (along with the fact that his movie's won basically every other award), make his lead seem even more insurmountable than it was last week" — while "Knight" helmer Christopher Nolan is down — "With 'Gran Torino' and 'The Reader' making last-minute surges, will he and his movie get snubbed?" NEW YORK

Dave Karger takes a closer look at the lead fillies in the best actress race and notes that there is only "one actress who's been recognized by each and every big pre-Oscar group and has a substantial win under her belt: Meryl Streep, who claimed the other best actress prize from the BFCA." As he concludes, "In this year's tightest major race, will consistency make the difference and propel Streep to her third Oscar win after all? Or will Kate Winslet or Anne Hathaway overcome a past snub to win favor with the academy? When the nominations are announced next Thursday, we'll see perhaps the most important factor: How many nominations voters throw to 'Revolutionary Road,' 'Rachel Getting Married' and, of course, 'Doubt.' I'm convinced that overall academy support for the eventual winner's film will be the deciding factor in which actress goes home with the trophy." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

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• And T.L. Stanley, who pens Gold Rush, revisits the best actor race, wondering whether Clint Eastwood can make another of his last-minute surges and "pull out nominations for himself and 'Gran Torino?' If he does, we're wondering at whose expense his nods will come. 'The Dark Knight' and Christopher Nolan, if he's a contender for best picture and director? And in the best actor race, could he bump Richard Jenkins or Leonardo DiCaprio, who are seeming like longer shots with each passing day? (That means the race could shape up like this: Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, Frank Langella, Brad Pitt and Eastwood). There's no denying how revered Eastwood is, particularly by the male Hollywood establishment and, by extension, lots of academy voters." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

• The American Film Institute lifetime achievement kudos fest has found a new home on TV Land, reports Variety. "The channel has signed a four-year deal with the AFI for exclusive broadcast rights to the event starting this year. Deal kicks off with the 37th annual lifetime kudo, which will be handed to Michael Douglas June 11 in Los Angeles. Event will premiere July 19 on TV Land’s prime-time programming block." VARIETY

• Tony, Emmy and SAG Award champ Christine Baranski will return to series TV with her upcoming guest spot on "The Big Bang Theory." She will appear as the mother of Leonard, played by Johnny Galecki. Last season, according to TV Squad, his fellow "Roseanne" alum, "Emmy-winner Laurie Metcalf, appeared in season one as a super-religious Texas mama who knows better than anyone how to get to Dr. Sheldon Cooper. Now Leonard's mother is going to be introduced . . . and she's a brainiac. Her specialty is research on the human brain, and according to Bill Prady, 'Big Bang' executive producer, 'There's the possibility that Leonard is the least successful in his family, that his parents always pushed him toward academic success.'" TV SQUAD

• Army Archerd revisits his 1969 column that reported that the "totally new concept in Academy Awards shows gets under way this weekend as Gower Champion tells Gregory Peck and board members plans for the gala April 14 doings at the Music Center setting." As Archerd writes, "Laurence Mark and Bill Condon, producer and exec producer of the 81st Oscars, Feb. 22, are heavily into meetings and awaiting the academy's announcement of nominees Thursday. When I read the above excerpt of my 40-year-old column about that year's show to the two of them they both happily exclaimed, 'That's absolutely the show that inspired us.' It was the first old Oscars tape they asked the academy to show them. 'It was one of my first significant showbiz inspirations,' Condon said. 'He [Champion] gave it [the Oscars] elegance.'"VARIETY

Read related posts:

Gold Derby nuggets: Dave Karger on wide-open acting races| Sasha Stone previews BAFTAs| Will TV's 'Arrested Development' and 'Pushing Daisies' make it to big screen?

Gold Derby nuggets: Will Oscars imitate Golden Globes? | Karger: Could 'Gran Torino' get best picture nod? | Will 'Mad Men' creator Matt Weiner return for third season?

"Dexter" photo courtesy of Showtime, "Gran Torino" photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

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