Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' actors snub explained | Harvey Weinstein campaign tactics | Tina Fey encoring Sarah Palin?
• Rachel Abramowtiz writes that, "the 'Avatar' actors have not nabbed a single major critic's award, or guild prize. The snubs reflect the apparent ambivalence of the film community -- especially actors -- to 'Avatar' and its revolutionary use of 'performance capture,' a new technology that combines human actors with computer-generated animation to create the blue, 10-foot-tall creatures who are the heart of the movie." Rachel notes that director James Cameron "fiercely promotes the contributions of his cast to the success of 'Avatar.' He and other advocates of performance capture (known as 'motion capture' in its previous, less sophisticated incarnation), including Steven Spielberg, say not enough actors have experienced the process to appreciate it. 'There's a learning curve for the acting community, and they're not up to speed yet,' Cameron said. 'We didn't get out and proselytize with the Screen Actors Guild as we probably should have to raise awareness. Not only should they not be afraid of it, they should be excited about it. There is a new set of possibilities, after a century of doing movie acting in the same way.'" LOS ANGELES TIMES
• After dropping in on the ladies of "The View" -- where grand slam awards winner Whoopi Goldberg congratulated him on his great roles for women -- James Cameron then sat down with Charlie Rose for a 30-minute interview. Over the course of the conversation, Cameron set out his best-case Oscars scenario -- a best picture win for "Avatar" and a directing Oscar for his ex Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker"). PBS
• James Cameron will be doing the interviewing when he sits down with "Avatar" stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and three-time Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver on behalf of Oprah Winfrey. Other pairings on the March 3 ABC special include "Fatal Attraction" adversaries Glenn Close and Michael Douglas, "Good Will Hunting" Oscar screenplay champs Ben Affleck and Matt Damon chatting with "Hurt Locker" nominee Jeremy Renner, and acting winners Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") and Penelope Cruz ("Vicky Cristina Barcelona") in conversation.
• Nicole Laporte reports Harvey Weinstein is hoping for a very different outcome at the Oscars from Cameron as he campaigns for Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds." Nicole notes that Weinstein's "track record is better than most -- Miramax dominated the Oscars in the mid-1990s and early 2000s -- thus no one is willing to completely ignore his soap-box demonstrations." And, as Nicole observes, "Not that it's possible to ignore Harvey. Over the past several weeks, Weinstein -- whom Tarantino affectionately refers to as Joe Namath, the quintessential underdog -- has been on a tirade of publicity for the movie: buying ads (an eight-page insert ran in the Los Angeles Times this week), and hosting and attending parties and events. He's also been strong-arming, or at least attempting to, everyone into noticing. When Tarantino's über-agent, Ari Emanuel, recently hosted a dinner for Basterds at Mr. Chow, Weinstein threw a fit when he was told that Emanuel did not want reporters to attend. Even though the Weinstein Co. is reportedly cash-strapped, no expense has been spared on the 'Basterds' campaign. Sources say that both Tarantino and his producing partner, Lawrence Bender, are chipping in to foot the bill." THE DAILY BEAST
• "Up in the Air" novelist Walter Kirn complained via Twitter that he has not been invited to the Oscars. As he explained to Emma Rosenblum, "It wasn't just me popping off. It was me finally saying something after being approached by a million friends in the press and in Hollywood, saying, 'See you at the Oscars!' And I'd have to explain with great embarrassment that I hadn't been invited, over and over." Though Kirn has been tirelessly promoting a movie that "I don't make any money from," in his words, he says he hasn't reaped many benefits of its success. "I have a book out there to sell, and quite frankly, I've got a family to support. People vastly overestimate the amount you get paid when your novel becomes a movie, and for me to go to the Oscars would have been good publicity." NEW YORK
• Sandy Cohen wonders, "what is it about iniquitous villains that actors, moviegoers and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences find so compelling? 'I think we take a vicarious pleasure in the problems that they present, in the pain that they inflict, and not least of which in the demise that they suffer at some point,' says Stephen Lang, who plays the vengeful, scar-faced military officer Miles Quaritch in 'Avatar.' 'It's like having a vaccine,' says Karen Sternheimer, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California. 'It's a low dose of something that you really don't want to experience in real life, a way of experiencing something really awful about the human condition from a safe distance.'" This season's crop of nefarious characters highlights a long-standing pattern among academy voters of tending toward the dark side." AP
• Tina Fey told Jake Coyle that she is likely to reprise her portrayal of GOP politico Sarah Palin when she guest hosts "SNL" in April. As Coyle notes, "Fey made four appearances on the show as Palin, earning her an Emmy in September for guest actor. She was also voted 2008's AP Entertainer of the Year." In the interview, Fey described the whole experience as "a little overwhelming." She said, "it was the strangest thing that's ever happened to me. I've never had anything fall in my lap like that. Everything is usually me trying to convince the people of Earth that it's OK for me to perform. That felt like the opposite." AP
• While Pete Hammond predicts "Crazy Heart's" Jeff Bridges is likely to win the best actor Oscar, he wonders, "could an obstacle be looming this weekend across the pond in England where the British Academy Awards are going to be handed out? Colin Firth, who won the first best actor prize of the season at the Venice Film Festival, is the hometown boy in London, not Bridges, and many thought his critically acclaimed performance as a gay man questioning the value of his life after his lover suddenly dies in Tom Ford's 'A Single Man' would be seriously giving the other contenders a run for their money at every award show. Basically since Venice he's been a bridesmaid with either Bridges or earlier in the race, George Clooney taking some key contests. With the exception of Morgan Freeman, the BAFTA best actor lineup is the same as the academy's." NOTES ON A SEASON
• Mark Malkin reports that, "Drew Barrymore will receive the Vanguard Award at this year's GLAAD Media Awards. A longtime best friend of the gays, Barrymore most recently played a lesbian opposite Robert De Niro and Kate Beckinsale in 'Everybody's Fine.' She also just picked up a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Little Edie Beale in the HBO adaptation of cult documentary, 'Grey Gardens.' Wanda Sykes will be honored with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award.The funny lady came out of the closet in 2008 during a Las Vegas rally for gay marriage. Sykes' wife, Alex (they legally married in California before the Prop 8 debacle), gave birth in April to twins, Olivia Lou and Lucas Claude. The 21st annual awards show takes place April 17 and will be hosted by Candis Cayne and Wilson Cruz." E ONLINE
Top photo: Publicity still from "Avatar." Credit: Fox
Middle photo: "Inglourious Basterds" poster. Credit: The Weinstein Co.
Bottom photo: Tina Fey and Sarah Palin on "SNL." Credit: NBC