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Gold Derby nuggets: Marc Shaiman added to Oscarcast team | Pete Hammond cheers 'Blind Side' | Sasha Stone on state of Oscars race

November 23, 2009 |  3:38 pm

Marc Shaiman • Five-time Oscar nominee Marc Shaiman is returning to the Oscarcast as musical director six years after conducting the orchestra for Billy Crystal's swan song as host. Shaiman earned three of his four Emmy nods for his work on the Oscars, sharing in the 1992 writing win for penning Crystal's opening medley to the 64th edition of the kudos. Shaiman has lost Oscar bids for both scores --  "The American President" (1995); "The First Wives Club" (1996) and "Patch Adams" (1998) -- and songs --  "A Wink and a Smile" from "Sleepless in Seattle" (1993) and "Blame Canada" from "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" (1999). For that last losing nod, Shaiman played escort to co-writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone dressed a la Jennifer Lopez and Gywneth Paltrow. The talented musical maestro will be reuniting with Oscarcast producer Adam Shankman who helmed the 2007 film version of Shaiman's Tony-winning 2003 musical "Hairspray." AMPAS

Todd Martens judged the AMA performances and gave his top marks of A- to Rihanna -- "Ne-Yo told us that the R' in her 'Rated R' stands for either 'remarkable' or 'really, really sexy.' Not quite sure if it completely hit both of those notes, but it was definitely over too soon" -- and Whitney Houston -- "If her instrument isn't what it once was, it can still silence a room. Compared to Blige a few songs ago, Houston was perhaps a bit over the top, but she belted until she was nearly out of breath. It was a powerful moment." POP & HISS

Rick Porter reports that Sunday night's AMA Awards got the biggest audience for the Alphabet net's annual musicfest in seven years. However, even this was not enough to beat the Peacock's NFL game: "NBC averaged 12.94 million viewers and an 8.0 rating/13 share in households on Sunday, edging CBS (12.69 million, 7.8/12) and ABC (12.14 million, 7.3/12) for the lead." ZAP2IT

The Blind Side PosterPete Hammond continues to tout the Oscar potential of Sandra Bullock, star of "The Blind Side." Admits Pete, "I remain the only one of the 20 pundits predicting that Sandra Bullock will be one of the five Best Actress Oscar nominees. I stand by this more than ever now that the movie has opened with an over-performing $34.6 million (Bullock's best ever) and a very rare A + Cinemascore rating." Pete thinks, "It's a big star turn in the kind of real-life role that gets Oscars attention a la Julia Roberts in 'Erin Brockovich.'" However, as he notes, "Universal conducted a large-scale campaign for 'Brockovich' and also landed it a Best Picture nomination, something 'Blind Side' won't likely be able to do. There's also the fact that Bullock has always been a popular star actress as opposed to the kind of critical darling that usually wins the bigger film awards. This, however, is arguably the best performance of her career." NOTES ON A SEASON

Ryan Adams was wowed by Sunday's "60 Minutes" segment  on Oscar-winning helmer James Cameron ("Titanic") and his upcoming "Avatar." Said Ryan, "there’s an entirely different segment of the Academy elders who recognize the respect and prestige a '60 Minutes' profile can bestow. Having Morley Safer, the veteran CBS Yoda of culture and sophisticated taste give a movie his stamp of enthusiastic anticipation is a showcase more esteemed than money can buy. After some recent worries that 'Avatar' marketing was skewing for maximum youth appeal, many of us have been needing to see it validated as sincere grown-up sci-fi, hoping for a re-certification of maturity. Tonight on '60 Minutes' I think we got it."  AWARDS DAILY

• Following in the footsteps of James Cameron as this year's recipient of the Vanguard award from the Producers Guild of America is Joss Whedon. The award salutes achievements in new media and technology and the roster of previous recipients also includes George Lucas and John Lasseter. Whedon -- equally successful as a TV producer ("Buffy the Vamprie Slayer") and webcast wiz ("Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog") -- was cited by kudos co-chairs David Friendly and Laurence Mark for having, "mastered the art of melding the newest technology with inspired storytelling, truly exemplifying the spirit of the Vanguard Award." PGA

• The Santa Barbara filmfest also has a Vanguard award and this year is spreading the wealth around naming a quartet of talent -- Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Stanley Tucci and Christoph Waltz -- as winners. The kudo "was created in recognition of an actor who has forged his/her own path, taking artistic risks and making a significant and unique contribution to film. In previous years, this award was first bestowed on Ryan Gosling and last year to Kristin Scott Thomas." For fest director Roger Durling, “This group of supporting actors encompasses the best of the best; their roles have made us love them as well as hate them, sometimes all at the same time. I am so pleased to have all of them together, in one place to celebrate them and thank them for the cinematic treasures they have created." SBIFF

Up in the Air poster • For Sasha Stone, "There is more white noise than ever before the start of the actual season, but worse, there seems to be a gaping hole where movies should be." Says Sasha, "'Up in the Air' is the juggernaut everyone should fear. I suspect that it will have one or two challengers but for now, it seems to have a clear shot to victory. They aren’t upsetting the apple cart with too much buzz, noise or ads and they still have the film’s release to look forward to. We can only hope that these films, these Oscar movies, can somehow cross over into the public consciousness. Can Oscar and the public reach synergy? If anyone can do it, George Clooney and Jason Reitman can. Maybe Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman can. Maybe Rob Marshall can. Maybe Jim Cameron can. Maybe Nancy Myers, Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin can." Wonders Sasha, "Are there any surprises left to be played out?" AWARDS DAILY

Lane Brown sees the Oscar hopes of "Nine" as on the rise: "For a movie this well pedigreed not to get a nomination, something would have to have gone terribly wrong. A big response at a SAG screening seemingly indicates that that hasn't happened." And among actors, Lane says, "Just three weeks after entering the race, "Crazy Heart" star Jeff Bridges is already the prohibitive favorite. And a great-looking new trailer subtly reminds us that the four-time Academy Award nominee has never won." NEW YORK

Jeff Wells remains down on the best picture prospects of "Up." Says Jeff, "I sure didn't see 'Up' as a metaphor for anything in my life, I can tell you. It's just a high-strung animated story with a lot of gee-gosh stuff going on and some recognizable heart-and-spirit issues propelling the two main characters." HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

• And Anne Thompson was less than impressed with the American remake of "Brothers." As Anne writes, "David Benioff is a gifted writer ('The 25th Hour'). Jim Sheridan is a gifted director ('In America'). Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman are gifted actors. So what went wrong on the road to Relativity and Lionsgate’s American adaptation of Danish writer-director Susanne Bier’s extraordinary 2004 movie 'Brothers'?" THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Photos from top: Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Marc Shaiman at the 1999 Academy Awards ceremony (Los Angeles Times); "The Blind Side" poster (Warner Bros.); "Up in the Air" poster (Paramount)


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