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Gold Derby nuggets: Steve Pond reveals Oscars ballot secrets | 'Up in the Air' covers EW | 'Avatar' sexy extras

December 30, 2009 |  3:58 pm

Oscars New President Tom SherakSteve Pond continues his crackerjack reporting on the secrets behind the secret ballot at the Oscars. "All the ballots come with an attached letter from AMPAS president Tom Sherak briefly explaining the voting process. The acting ballot comes with a separate letter from branch governors Annette Bening, Tom Hanks and Henry Winkler, which lays out 'a circumstance [that] exists in no other area of Academy Awards voting,' in which voters not only select the work they deem the best, but also the category, leading or supporting, in which it belongs." As Steve notes, "The note tells actors to place each performance into the category in which they 'genuinely believe it belongs,' and includes two notes in red: 'You are not obligated to place a performance in a category because 'for your consideration' ads have been suggesting that it belongs there,' and 'You are not obligated to place a performance in a category because another organization that presents motion picture awards has placed it there.'" THE ODDS

Gordon Smart writes that five-time Grammy nominee Lady Gaga "is a Susan Boyle supporter too. And as crackers as this sounds, she's not ruling out a GaGa/SuBo collaboration. The 'Poker Face' singer said: 'I love Susan Boyle. She is my woman of the year. She has achieved more in this year than most artists will in a lifetime. This time last year nobody even knew who she was and now she is knocking the world's most established artists off the album and singles charts. Our styles are different. I don't know if we could work together, but never say never. It would be great to work with somebody of that talent.'" THE SUN

Donna McConnell details the dramatic turnaround by diva Mariah Carey. As Donna reports, "Big screen success has eluded the singer since she was widely panned by the critics for her role in film 'Glitter' (2001) for which she won the Razzie Award for Worst Actress." However, Carey "enjoyed a glamorous night in Capri at the town's annual Hollywood International Film Festival where she was honoured with an award for her very unglamorous role in the movie 'Precious.' Mariah took home the prize for Supporting Actress of the Year for her role as social worker Mrs. Weiss in the Lee Daniels film where she stars opposite Mo'Nique and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe. And she's in good company, as past recipients of the Supporting Actor nod include heavy-hitters Dennis Hopper in film 'Elegy,' Amy Ryan for 'Gone Baby Gone' and Matt Dillon for 'Crash.'" DAILY MAIL

Joan Rivers -- who ruled the red carpet at awardscasts on behalf of E! for a full decade ending in 2003 -- will be back on cable net in the new year to host a series of specials. As per the press release, Rivers is returning "to bust badly dressed celebs in a series of awards-season 'Fashion Police' operations. The clothes-minded critiques begin with 'Fashion Police: The 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards,' Jan. 18. Joining Rivers on the red carpet beat will be E! Network personalities Khloé Kardashian Odom, Giuliana Rancic and Jay Manuel." E ONLINE

EW1084CVR_PROMODave Karger sets down in print a slew of Oscar predix in the new issue of EW. And a trio of Oscar hopefuls -- "Up in the Air" stars George Clooney, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick -- appear on the cover with the tag line "Watch your back Avatar!" Inside, Clooney reveals in an interview that "he immediately saw parallels between the character and himself. 'Jason came to my house and brought the script and I read it. There were some things that sounded like they were taken from a Barbara Walters special that I had done. I’m not completely unaware of people’s perceptions of me. I sort of felt like, if you were ever going to deal with it, this is probably the best way to do it and the best person to do it with. If you can’t point at what people think are your shortcomings, then you’re boxing yourself in.'" ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Rebecca Keegan makes merry with the proliferation of pictures trying to make the top 10 at the Oscars this year. "Mounting a best-picture campaign can cost a studio more than $1 million in trade ads, screeners, catered parties and traveling hair-and-makeup pit crews for their talent. Deciding which films warrant the 'For Your Consideration' treatment becomes even trickier when there are twice as many reasons for filmmakers to be encouraged. Earlier in the year a broad group of noteworthy directors had reason to hope for awards-season love for their sometimes wart-covered babies." VANITY FAIR

Anne Thompson admits, "I’m having a devil of a time figuring out what this year’s Oscar nominations for best picture are going to be. As the ballots are going out, I usually have a fair idea of the final five. But this year there are ten best picture slots instead of five. If voters had trouble coming up with their top five in the past, won’t they have even more trouble filling out a ballot with ten?" THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Avatar Poster • Guaranteeing even greater sales of the DVD edition of "Avatar," director James Cameron says the disc will show what the movie is missing -- the love scene between Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. "We had it in and we cut it out. So that will be something for the special edition DVD, if you want to see how they have sex." As the sultry Saldana explains, "because Jim was shooting for a PG-13 rating, we couldn’t move in certain directions. The motion would look a little too past the PG-13 rating standards. So it was really funny for Sam and me. We had a lot of giggles there." REELZ CHANNEL

Alex Dobuzinskis reports that "Nine" will still "play in 1,412 screens in the United States this coming weekend, the same number as last weekend. 'At this moment in time there has been no plan between us nor the theater chains that we deal with to cut any theaters,' David Glasser, an operations executive for the independent Weinstein Company told Reuters on Wednesday. 'We are going to hold our theaters as planned. The movie is working.'" However, as Alex notes, "'Nine' was one of the most anticipated movies of the year and cost an estimated $64 million to produce. But it finished eighth at the North American box office on its second week last weekend with a modest $5.5 million in ticket sales." REUTERS

Top photo: Academy Award statuettes. Credit: AMPAS

Middle photo: "Entertainment Weekly " cover. Credit: Entertainment Weekly

Bottom photo: "Avatar" poster. Credit: Fox

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