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Gold Derby nuggets: Peter Jackson ups ending in 'Lovely Bones' | Dave Karger: Can 'Avatar' play on DVD? | Lady Gaga ineligible for new artist Grammy

November 18, 2009 |  9:00 am

The Lovely Bones poster • Oscar winner Peter Jackson ("The Lord of the Rings") tells Iain Blair that test audiences demanded a more gruesome ending for one character in the upcoming "The Lovely Bones." As Peter explains, "We got a lot of people telling us that they were disappointed with this death scene, as they wanted him to see [the character] in agony and suffer a lot more. They just weren't satisfied." The solution, says Jackson, was to "go back to the editing room and use digital effects to add shots where [the character] bounces against the cliff on the way down. We had to create a whole suffering death scene just to give people the satisfaction they needed." And as for the awards prospects of the picture, Peter admits, "I do feel I don't need to prove anything anymore. But winning and even being nominated for an Oscar is still an enormous privilege and big thrill. The great thing about having won is that you do feel, no matter what happens in your career now, you've always got that Oscar and it's a nice thing to wake up to in the morning and go to the office and see them sitting there on the shelf." REUTERS

• Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls") has inked a deal to headline "Winnie" -- a biopic of the controversial Winnie Mandela, ex-wife of South African leader Nelson Mandela. The production will be directed by Darrell Roodt, whose 2004 film "Yesterday" lost the foreign film Oscar to "The Sea Inside." As Michael Fleming observes, "She has been depicted as the mother and wife who was a steadfast supporter of her activist husband and who was jailed herself for campaigning for his release and fighting against apartheid. Her image was subsequently tarnished by association with a bodyguard who murdered a 14-year old alleged informer, and she was later convicted of fraud." Hudson says, "Winnie Mandela is a complex and extraordinary woman and I’m honored to be the actress asked to portray her. This is a powerful part of history that should be told." VARIETY

Brad Brevet addresses the upcoming release map of "The Road." He writes, "Recent rumors stated its wide release was whittled down to theaters in only New York and Los Angeles, so I did a quick check and it appears it's going to be hitting 31 markets on Nov. 25. Weinstein has also confirmed an additional rollout, but haven't confirmed markets." ROPE OF SILICON

Sasha Stone takes a closer look at the upcoming National Board of Review awards and foresees "a hodgepodge of types of films" making the top 10. Sasha says these half-dozen films will be on the list: "The Hurt Locker" (maybe for the win), "Precious," "An Education," "Up in the Air," "Nine," and "Invictus" (if they see it in time, which they should). Beyond that, Sasha has another eight entries that could make the cut as well as three films -- "In the Loop," "District 9" and "The Messenger" -- on her wish list. And the one film that is "definitely not their thing" -- "Avatar." AWARDS DAILY

Avatar Poster • And Dave Karger has an interesting angle on the odds of "Avatar" making it into the top 10 at the Oscars -- the reaction of voters watching at-home screeners of the big-screen fantasy. As Dave says, "When I watched a 30-minute preview of the film a few months ago, Cameron’s gorgeous 3-D visuals were certainly the most impressive aspect of the production. But the studio can’t force all 6,000-plus Academy members to show up at a theater to watch it." He notes that Fox has "not announced if and when they’ll be sending out 'for your consideration' DVDs that will, of course, only feature two of the film’s three dimension." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Pete Hammond is quite enthused about the last Oscar entry of the year -- the Dec. 30 release of "The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond," which is directed by Jodie Markell from Tennessee Williams' unproduced 1950s screenplay. As he notes, "Even though Williams died in 1983, he is still eligible for posthumous consideration in the original screenplay category. The filmmakers are also hoping for some attention in the acting categories, particularly for lead actress Bryce Dallas Howard and supporting actress Ellen Burstyn." Pete says, "In that regard they plan a series of events and retrospectives to drum up attention for the little indie release, including a Museum of the Moving Image series Dec. 5-13 (at IFC Center) called 'Tennessee Williams on Film,' a panel discussion at Times Center in New York City with the stars on Dec. 9, and a Dec. 9 American Cinematheque-sponsored West Coast retrospective at the Egyptian featuring screenings of 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' and 'Suddenly Last Summer.'" NOTES ON A SEASON

Paul McCartney has been named the third recipient -- after Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder -- of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. As per the official website, "The prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins." Says Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who made the selection: "It is hard to think of another performer and composer who has had a more indelible and transformative effect on popular song and music of several different genres than Paul McCartney." LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Lady Gaga The Fame cover • While Paul McCartney and the rest of the Fab Four won best new artists at the 1964 Grammys, Melinda Newman reports that Lady Gaga isn't eligible to contend for that honor at this year's awards. Says Melinda, "because her No. 1 hit 'Just Dance' received a nomination for dance recording for the 51st annual Grammys (last year), she is not eligible for new artist, according to Grammy regulations." And Melinda notes, "Two other possible contenders are also not eligible: Kid Cudi, a Kanye West protege whose 'Day 'n' Nite" took up residence on the Hot 100, did not release an album within the eligibility period (contenders must have an album out, not just singles); and French art rockers Phoenix, who finally broke through this year on their fourth album, one too many to be eligible in the new artist category." VARIETY

Steve Pond gives his take on the current state of the animated feature race, noting that "nominations in the animated feature category are made by a special Animated Feature Film Award Screening Committee. The committee is open to members from all branches, although apparently about half its members come from the short films and feature animation branch." Says Steve, "If 'Up' and 'Coraline' are the odds-on favorites for two slots, 'Mr. Fox' likely will be facing competition from the likes of 'Ponyo,' Disney's 'The Princess and the Frog' and 'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.'" However, he adds, "I just saw a dark-horse candidate last night, though, and I have to say that if I had a vote, 'Mary and Max' would absolutely be one of my five picks, probably right behind 'Up.' The Australian film is twisted and strange and very adult, with deadpan humor and a wonderfully dark narrative." THE ODDS

• "Twilight" star Rob Pattinson may seem like the kind of heartthrob who has it all, but he's missing one thing: the car he drove to the Oscars last year. He told Entertainment Weekly: "I drove to the Oscars in my little old car, which I don't even know where it is anymore. I lost it! . . . .  I borrowed a fancy car for five days and crashed it." IMDB

Lori Fradkin dishes with Emmy winner Christine Lahti ("Chicago Hope"), who is replacing Oscar champ Marcia Gay Harden ("Pollock") in her Tony-winning role in "God of Carnage." Says Lahti, "I saw actually the first preview a long time ago. It was on my last night in New York on one of my theater trips, which I take a lot, so it was my only chance to see it. And I was floored. I was so impressed by the acting and the play, and there was laughing and I was actually moved by it. And I went by to say hi to Jeff Daniels, who’s a friend. I actually called up my agent a couple days later and said, 'Okay, love the play, have to play that part.'" NEW YORK

Photos, from top:"The Lovely Bones" poster (DreamWorks); "Avatar" poster (Fox); "The Fame"  cover (Streamline)

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