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Gold Derby nuggets: Billy Crystal as Oscar host? | Mariah Carey looks 'Precious' | Lifetime kudos for Caleb Deschanel and Sidney Lumet

November 2, 2009 |  4:35 pm

Billy Crystal Oscars • Vegas oddsmaker Johnny Avello is at odds with Gold Derby readers about who should host the Oscars. His top choice is Billy Crystal, whom he considers a 5 to 2 favorite to return to the podium. Avello didn't even consider your top pick Ricky Gervais while Tina Fey came in at a mere 18 to 1. However, he does rate another of your favorites -- Neil Patrick Harris -- at a respectable 8 to 1. E ONLINE

Roger Friedman makes an impassioned plea for Billy Crystal to host the Oscars for a ninth time. Says Roger, "the Academy will be assured of a funny show, hilarious film parodies, and a knowing nod to the industry." While all that may be true, there is no guarantee Cyrstal would be the ratings hit that Roger thinks. Only two of his eight turns as host drew more than 30 million viewers to the Oscarcast and one of those was 1997 -- the year of the "Titantic" tidal wave.  SHOWBIZ 411

• Wonder what odds Johnny Avello would give to "30 Rock" being renewed by German broadcaster ZDF following its dismal debut last night to fewer than 5,000 viewers. The Emmy champ aired on the relaunched digital channel NEO and did not register even one-tenth of a point in the ratings. HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Mariah Carey PreciousPete Hammond reports on the rapturous reception for "Precious" at yesterday's screenings at both the AFI Fest and for all guilds at the Pacific Design Centre as well as the HFPA presser. Says Pete, "There were numerous Academy and Golden Globe voters attending the 'Precious' festivities Sunday and the vibe was strong that a best picture nomination in both contests is almost a foregone conclusion."  NOTES ON A SEASON

Mariah Carey admits her role as a sympathetic social worker in "Precious" demanded more from her than just acting ability. Her look in the film -- bad hair, dowdy clothes, even a faint mustache -- meant shedding her usual glamorous appearance. "It wasn't just de-glamorized. They added some hideousness on top of that too. I drank some ugly juice," she said, laughing. US MAGAZINE

Alex Ben Block takes an in-depth look at the expanded best picture race observing that, "Tried-and-true campaign strategies are being tweaked, the definition of an 'awards movie' is being re-evaluated, and some are even questioning whether the value of the best picture nomination has been diluted." And as Block points out, "Having 10 picture nominees is not the only factor that will reshape this awards season. Another key change is the longer time period after the New Year before ballots are due. Last season, that window was barely a week; this year it will be closer to three weeks -- which means more opportunities to screen movies, run For Your Consideration ads and generate interest before ballots are due Jan. 23." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

• A new exhibit at the Grammy Museum in downtown L.A. allows visitors to bust a move a la Michael Jackson on interactive floor tiles that light up to the tune of "Billie Jean." The just-opened "Michael Jackson: A Musical Legacy" includes clothing, gloves, and a hat as well as original lyrics from the late singer/songwriter. Eight monitors play clips of Jackson's appearances on Grammycasts. LA TIMES

The Patriot • Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel will receive a lifetime achievement award from his peers at the 24th edition of the ASC awards on Feb. 10. The five-time Oscar nominee prevailed in one of his three ASC bids with a win for "The Patriot" in 2000. Making the announcement, ASC President Michael Goi said, "Caleb Deschanel is an extraordinarily talented cinematographer who has played an influential role in cinema history, and driven artistic excellence in contemporary film-making." SCREEN DAILY

Sidney Lumet will be honored this weekend in Rome with a lifetime achievement award from the Federico Fellini Foundation. Foundation chair Pupi Avat said Lumet was chosen for "his ability to explore many potential possibilities of the film medium, by taking great risks." Lumet follows in the path of previous recipients including Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski and Manoel de Oliveira. VARIETY

• A decade on, Winona Ryder is still battling rumors she resented "Girl, Interrupted" supporting player Angelina Jolie winning an Oscar while she was not even nominated. Ryder tells Black Book magazine, "I was hurt that people thought that. Everyone assumed I was really jealous because I thought this would be my vehicle. We said from the very beginning that the actress who played Lisa (Jolie's part) would probably win an Oscar, because it was the big, great, showy part. I fought very hard for her (Jolie) to have that part." WENN

Photo credits: ABC; Lionsgate; Columbia

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