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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars: No singing, lots of dancing | Oscars nominee luncheon reports | James Cameron: 'Failure is an option'

February 16, 2010 |  3:53 pm

Rahman Slumdog Millionaire Oscars • For Dave Karger, the decision to drop performances of the best song nominees from the Oscars is a mixed blessing: "Even though I’m a fan of front-runner 'The Weary Kind,' T-Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham’s theme from 'Crazy Heart,' I can’t say I’ll miss hearing the performances of any of the other nominees. You’ll recall that last year, telecast producers Larry Mark and Bill Condon allowed only 90-second performances from each of the songs, causing nominee Peter Gabriel ('Down to Earth' from 'Wall-E') to back out of his appearance. This is just the next step in my mind. Clearly Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic are aiming for a more audience-friendly production, and they’re apparently willing to break from tradition in order to achieve it." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• Without all those production numbers, one wonders what to make of these tweets from Oscarcast producer-choreographer Shankman: "FYI: there's 69 dancers this year... All there for the movies!" and "SYTYCD'ers on the #oscars: Travis, Ivan, Jaimie, Kayla, Ellenore, Russell, Jakob, Kathryn, nick lazzarini, legacy, Channing, Lil c &more..." TWITTER

Melena Ryzik reports on her conversation with Harvey Weinstein at one of Peggy Siegal's soirees for "Inglourious Basterds." Says Harvey, “For best picture, this race is so wide open right now. I think it’s between three movies – 'Inglourious,' 'Hurt Locker' and 'Avatar.' We have all the actors -- it reminds me of my 'Shakespeare in Love' upset over 'Saving Private Ryan.' All the actors voted for us. And then we’re building all the other people. It’s half a Universal movie, half Weinstein, so it’s like that hybrid of studio and independent, and it did business, and people saw it, and it’s great. And he has a body of work that people honor. I wouldn’t be here or doing a campaign at this point if I thought it wasn’t totally winnable. And I think it is.” NEW YORK TIMES

Oscar nominations 2010 Avatar The Hurt Locker The Blind Side Up in the Air UpSasha Stone's savvy take on Monday's Oscar nominees luncheon included the following observations: "Jeff Bridges is very popular among his fellow actors and Academy members.They like him. A lot. He will win. Similarly, Maggie Gyllenhaal got a lot of friendly applause and seemed quite popular.  Conversely, Mo'Nique was not there. 'Precious' has much more support than 'Crazy Heart' overall, and if Mo’Nique is going to be that film’s one big win it seems like a done deal. But if Maggie Gyllenhaal does upset Mo’Nique it won’t be because she gave the better performance, but because she is more well liked overall within the Academy. Yes, Virginia, it really does work that way. Friends vote for friends. Had I watched the luncheon the year Alan Arkin beat Eddie Murphy, we probably could have seen it play out long beforehand. Sandra Bullock was also the big star of the day. This was due mainly to the fact that she’s very funny, charming and well-liked by both audiences and her fellow actors, but also that she was a first-time nominee. Everyone was pleased to see her get this kind of attention." AWARDS DAILY

Bob Tourtellotte reports from yesterday's luncheon that "the show's producers offered tips on giving the 45-second acceptance speeches. Typically, that advice is to keep them short and avoid a long list of 'thank yous' to agents, directors, spouses and family. Oscar co-producer Bill Mechanic called those often teary-eyed thanks 'the single most-hated thing on the show.' Instead, he and co-producer Adam Shankman will have winners give two speeches: one onstage telling audiences what winning an Oscar means to them, and a second backstage for a 'Thank You Cam' where winners can say 'Thanks' to whomever they want. 'Share your passion on what the Oscar means to you with the audience,' Shankman told nominees at the luncheon. He said the backstage video would be posted on the Web and winners could use them however they liked -- e-mail them to their friends and even post them on their Facebook pages." REUTERS

• As per  Greg Ellwood: "For the second year in a row, Creative Screenwriting magazine held a panel last night for all the Academy Award nominees for screenwriting.  Held at the Los Angeles Film School in Hollywood, the theater was jam packed and there was even a line around the block of cinefiles who couldn't even get in." Says Greg, "The 90 minute plus discussion covered a wide array of topics including the writer's worst jobs (Jason Reitman won with his Universal Studios gig anecdote), the percent of Improv in the finished films and how they tackled their genre twisting films.  Moreover, after a long season of campaigning they were full of funny anecdotes and one liners they had no doubt been repeating for months. But, this eager crowd ate it up." HIT FIX

James Cameron Avatar Oscars • At this weekend's non-profit Technology Entertainment Design (TED) conference, James Cameron ("Avatar") spoke of his passion for exploration. "You're doing it for the challenge, the thrill of discovery and the strange bond that happens when a small group of people form a team. In that bond you realize the most important thing is the respect that you have for them and they have for you." And he says he applied this same lesson in the four years he spent making "Avatar." "Curiosity is the most powerful thing you own. Don't put limitations on yourself. Other people will do that for you ... failure has to be an option in art and exploration because it's a leap of faith. In whatever you're doing, failure is an option, but fear is not." CNN

• A revival of David Hirson's "La Bete" that begins in London in June will be on Broadway in the fall starring two Tony champs David Hyde-Pierce ("Curtains") and Mark Rylance ("Boeing-Boeing") as well as the lovely Joanna Lumley ("Absolutely Fabulous"). While the play flopped on Broadway in 1991, it won the 1992 Olivier Award for best comedy. "It is described in press materials as a comic tour de force about Elomire (Pierce), a high-minded classical dramatist who loves only the theatre, and Valere (Rylance), a low-brow street clown who loves only himself. When the fickle princess (Lumley) decides she’s grown weary of Elomire’s royal theatre troupe, he and Valere are left fighting for survival as art squares off with ego in a literary showdown for the ages." PLAYBILL

Top photo: A.R. Rahman performing "Jai Ho" on the 81st annual Oscars. Credit: ABC

Middle photo: Academy Award statuettes. Credit: AMPAS

Bottom photo: James Cameron on the set of "Avatar." Credit: Fox

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Comments

SO SICK of hearing Harvey's bloated, arrogant self important ranting...He devalues the system by trying to manipulate it on a regular basis...replacing
artistry with influence peddling..... He "has all the actors" does he? that will come as a surprise to many..who find his pressure tactics repellent..
Is it really news that he's doing what he always does...or is the press just as complicit by enabling him. Any actor who seriously considers IG a better
movie than The Hurt Locker...should vote for it. Any Actor who is doing it to feed "the Machine" should be ashamed of themselves.


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