Gold Derby nuggets: Busy week for Clint Eastwood; 'Twilight' dominates People's Choice noms; identity crisis for 'A Single Man'; can 'District 9' land in top 10?
• The eagerly anticipated December release "Invictus" was screened today for the first time to people not employed by Warner Bros. Viewers were hand-picked by director Clint Eastwood -- "people he has long-term relationships with," says a rep.
• Rebecca Leffler reports, "Clint Eastwood will add Commander of the French Legion of Honor to his many awards and accolades on Friday in a ceremony in Paris presided by French President Nicolas Sarkozy." Foreign folk are usually dubbed knight or officer but Eastwood is one of a handful to merit the higher honor. Says Rebecca, "Eastwood didn't have to cross the Atlantic for the award -- the director has been spending time in London recently shooting his next film 'Hereafter' with Matt Damon and Belgian actress Cecile de France, after wrapping production for the film in Paris just weeks ago." Hollywood Reporter
• "Invictus" star Morgan Freeman will be feted by the Palm Springs filmfest on Jan. 5 with a career achievement award. The event -- hosted by "Entertainment Tonight" anchor Mary Hart -- kicks off the 21st edition of the festival. In announcing this honor for Freeman, fest chairman Harold Matzner cited "his large and extraordinary body of work and his many memorable performances throughout the years, including his role as Nelson Mandela in 'Invictus.' " Palm Springs Film Festival
• Five-time Emmy champ Candice Bergen ("Murphy Brown"), three-time Emmy-winning art director Charles Lisanby, legendary announcer Don Pardo ("SNL"), the late "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, controversial comedy duo Tom and Dick Smothers and nine-time Emmy-winning game show exec Bob Stewart are the next inductees into the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame. These newest additions will be honored at a special ceremony Jan. 20 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. ATAS
• "Twilight" leads the pack with six nominations at the 36th annual People's Choice Awards in these categories: movie franchise, actor (Robert Pattinson), actress (Kristen Stewart), breakout movie actor (Taylor Lautner) and screen team. Vampires also rule the TV airwaves as "True Blood" is nominated for both sci-fi/fantasy TV show and TV obsession while star Anna Paquin earned a nod for TV drama actress. Fans cast more than 18 million votes online to determine the nominees in each of 35 categories. They chose from short lists of a dozen top contenders per race as determined by box office, TV ratings, record sales and air play. Winners -- also determined by online voting -- will be announced during the Jan. 6 show on CBS, hosted once again by Queen Latifah. People's Choice
• "Up in the Air" will compete at the Golden Globes as a drama. Paramount rep Lea Yardum tells Gold Derby. "We grappled with it since the movie clearly has very distinct elements of both. Ultimately, we polled the members and they felt the movie had the kind of gravitas that would ultimately make it a drama for them."
• After Kate Winslet was crowned best actress at the Oscars last February for her performance in "The Reader," the UK Film Council decided to use her as a test case to determine the value of a film star to the British economy. Using a number of factors -- from her basic salary to the promotional effect that her films have on British tourism -- David Steele derived the "Winslet algorithm." As the head of research and statistics at the UK Film Council explained, "When an actor achieves international prominence, they have a general effect of boosting their country of origin that works its way through television appearances, advertising and celebrity news." The formula will now be applied to other homegrown talent with the results used by diplomats and film executives to promote the British film industry abroad. Sunday Times
• Peter Knegt compares the two trailers for "A Single Man" and notices something missing from the second version -- "a few choice shots, pretty much all of which are suggestive of the film’s gay content." As Peter sees it, "The new trailer essentially is altered to suggest the core of the film is the relationship between Colin Firth and Julianne Moore’s characters, even removing from the end of the trailer the names of both Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult (who play Firth’s love interests)." Peter cites further examples of this shift in focus: "In the first trailer, we see Firth’s character kiss both Goode and Moore, in the second we just get Moore. There’s also a sequence of shots in the first trailer that crosscuts Firth, who plays a professor, staring into the eyes of both a female student and a male student. In the second, as you might guess, we get only the female (in a telling twist, instead of cutting to the male eyes, the trailer cuts to a quote from Entertainment Weekly saying '[Firth’s] performance is bound to win attention in this year’s Oscar race')." Indie Wire
• Voters got another DVD screener this week -- "The Stoning of Soraya M." -- starring Oscar nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo ("The House of Sand and Fog").
• Andrea Reiher reports on an emotional Rihanna receiving an award in Gotham on Tuesday for speaking out on behalf of other victims of domestic violence. During her acceptance speech, the Grammy-winning singer said, "I am shaking right now, I am so nervous. It was a real honor to be named Glamour's Woman of the Year, especially because I think of myself as just becoming a woman. I just turned 21 this year. Just to be mentioned in this group of women is overwhelming. I love being a part of a night where we're celebrating women and such strong women." Zap2it
• Steve Pond says "District 9" could be an Oscar contender. As he explains, "The Peter Jackson-produced film, about aliens who are herded into dismal South African camps when their ship loses power above Johannesburg, was easily one of the freshest and most original films of the summer. It’s a best-picture long shot, to be sure – but when the Academy talks about expanding the category to include more diverse, audience-friendly films, this is the kind of movie they might as well be talking about. And even if it doesn’t get into the best-pic race, it should be a player in other categories, including makeup and special effects." The Odds
• Scott Feinberg does a crackerjack job detailing the use of Twitter by awards contenders this season. He lists all the key players who are sending out tweets -- "Precious" leads with seven users while "Up in the Air" has six. In his thorough analysis Scott wonders, "Can Twitter really do anything to boost a film’s awards prospects, as well? My initial inclination was to say no -- after all, how many Oscar voters are on Twitter at all, let alone following the contenders? But it’s actually not as simple as that." As he explains, "Even if awards-hopefuls’ Tweets aren’t directly reaching voters, that doesn’t mean they’re not impacting the race in other ways. Twitter has made the Oscar circle a lot smaller and inter-connected. Film buffs interact with Oscar bloggers, Oscar bloggers interact with Oscar contenders, and Oscar contenders interact with film buffs more now than ever before. This keeps the contenders on the minds of fans and bloggers, who are perhaps more inclined to write or continue to write about them as a result, and for many of the contenders nothing is more essential to their awards prospects than staying in the news." And the Winner Is
• NBC Universal Chairman Jeff Gaspin, creative wiz David E. Kelley, ad exec Irwin Gotlieb and "Judge Judy" star Judith Sheindlin will be honored with the National Assn. of Television Program Executives' seventh annual Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Awards. The kudos will be presented Jan. 25 during the NATPE 2010 Market & Conference in Las Vegas. Hollywood Reporter
Photos, from top: Warner Bros.; Summit; Weinstein Co.; TriStar