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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars selling out ads | Sasha Stone: 'Avatar' to win | 'The Hurt Locker' also top pick for top pic

March 1, 2010 |  4:21 pm

Oscars New Members movie news 1357986Anthony Crupi reports, "ABC heads into its 35th consecutive Oscars telecast with two or three remaining avails, as a roster of returning sponsors and an improving economy have aided the sales process. The three top spenders of a year ago (Hyundai, Coca-Cola and JCPenney) are back in the limelight, reversing a micro-trend that saw perennial high rollers General Motors and L’Oréal drop out of the Academy Awards altogether. Pricing for time in the 82nd Academy Awards is trending higher than last year’s event, when ad rates fell. ABC has written deals at $1.4 million to $1.5 million per spot, versus $1.3 million last year, sources said." To avoid running into the academy's stringent rules regarding nominees appearing in ads appearing on the Oscarcast, "Hyundai decided to shoot seven spots with other A-list voice-over talent. Jeff Bridges suggested a short list of colleagues, and last week Hyundai finished recording the final ad, with an assist from actress Kim Basinger. Other stars filling in for Bridges are Richard Dreyfuss, David Duchovny, Catherine Keener, Michael Madsen, Mandy Patinkin and Martin Sheen." BRAND WEEK

• On Friday, the academy announced five funny people -- Sacha Baron Cohen, Jason Bateman, Steve Carell, Tina Fey and Ben Stiller -- would be appearing on the Oscars. On Monday, the original "Funny Girl" Barbra Streisand was one of three lead actress winners -- along with Kathy Bates ("Misery") and Charlize Theron ("Monster") -- confirmed for the kudocast. Also added to the roster are past nominees Robert Downey Jr., Queen Latifah and John Travolta. AMPAS

• The ABC 30-minute Oscar pre-show will have three co-hosts: Entertainment Weekly editor Jess Cagle, model turned design mogul Kathy Ireland and Sherri Shepherd ("The View"). TV Guide just announced the addition of Vivica A. Fox to their red carpet lineup which already includes two ABC reality TV stars -- "The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison and "Dancing With the Stars" judge Carrie Ann Inaba.

• The offical academy YouTube channel showcases rookie Oscars producer Adam Shankman as he takes would-be dancers through their paces in advance of stepping onto the stage of the Kodak Theatere Sunday.  YOUTUBE

Avatar Poster • After a thorough analysis, Sasha Stone predicts "Avatar" will win best picture. Sasha says, in part, "Remember, ABC is inviting people to see the 'popular Oscars,' the 'So You Think You Can Dance' Oscars, the reality-tv Oscars. The 'you’ve never seen Oscars like this before.' So, if it goes 'Avatar''s way, the people will dance in a tribal circle and rejoice that the Academy have recognized them at long last. It just feels right to me that this is how it will turn out. I can’t explain it – and it makes no sense in terms of what I know about the Oscar race (nobody knows anything), and how the story has gone so far. And it will mean that the Academy agrees only with the Golden Globes for Best Picture of 2009. It will also mean that a Sci Fi pic has won. And it will also mean that a film with no writing or acting nominations has won – something that hasn’t happened since 1931. Now, to be fair, they did used to have three separate writing categories – there was one for original story and maybe 'Avatar' would have gotten one of those." AWARDS DAILY

Ramin Setoodeh researches what happens to the Oscar ballots after they are delivered to PriceWaterhouseCoopers no later than 5 p.m. PT Tuesday. On Wednesday, "All ballots are opened by four accountants overseen by two 'balloting leaders' in a room with one door and no windows. It takes three days to tabulate the 24 different Oscar categories. The ballots are counted by hand, with each accountant responsible for one fourth of the total. They are forbidden from sharing information, and only the balloting leaders tabulate the final results, which are then locked in a safe. They will remain the only two people in the world who know the names of the winners before they are announced." NEWSWEEK

Claudia Puig reviews the 10 animated and live-action shorts and gives top marks to "A Matter of Loaf and Death" -- "Oscar winner and claymation maven Nick Park can do no wrong when it comes to short films, and the latest entry into the Wallace and Gromit canon is no exception" -- and "The Doors" -- "The bleak terrain is evocative and the brief, but well-made, tale is deeply poignant."  USA TODAY

Melena Ryzik sits down with "Precious" casting directors Billy Hopkins and Jessica Kelly and discovers their difficulties in finding the right actress for the title role. "Mr. Hopkins and Ms. Kelly spent five months searching for the right person to play Precious, scouting the streets, subways and McDonald’s, before finding their eventual star (and Oscar nominee) through a connection with a drama teacher at Lehmann College, where Ms. Sidibe was a student." THE NEW YORK TIMES

The Hurt Locker poster • One of the top Oscarologists in the business, Tariq Khan, begins a week-long series in which he reveals his predictions for the top Academy Awards. As our good pal writes, "before this year’s nominations were even announced, I correctly predicted 19 of the 20 acting contenders -- including Maggie Gyllenhaal in 'Crazy Heart,' something other entertainment journalists described as 'shocking.' They were right." He then concedes, "True, I’m not always right. My love of danger causes Dr. Oscar to sometimes take risks, like calling for a surprise win by Amy Adams in 'Doubt' last year and a best picture nomination for 'The Hangover' this year. (Two things that didn’t happen.) Just remember that I described those as strong possibilities, yet far from certain. Yes, I hedged. I wasn't born yesterday." So says Tariq, "I’m giving both 'Avatar' and 'Inglourious Basterds' a 15 percent chance of winning. I’ll stand by my prediction that 'The Hurt Locker' will prevail." FOX NEWS

Lane Brown, one of those sassy vultures, offers up predictions in all 23 competitive categories at the Oscars. He sees "The Hurt Locker" winning three awards -- picture, director and editing -- while "Avatar" should take home five -- art direction, cinematography, sound, sound editing and visual effects. Lane is going with the four acting front-runners. NEW YORK

Tim Masters talks to Andy Serkis about a separate acting honor for performance capture. "'It's a very interesting debate,' Serkis told the BBC. 'The industry is going to be using performance capture more and more in films. Personally I've never believed there should be a separate category because the essence of the performance is pure acting.' Serkis is an expert in the field, having played Gollum and King Kong via a performance capture suit. He will be seen as Captain Haddock in Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson's Tintin trilogy using the same technology." BBC

• The show that launched Susan Boyle -- "Britain's Got Talent" -- is contending for best entertainment program at the Royal Television Society annual kudos against "The X Factor" and "Newswipe With Charlie Booker." Among the other categories, "EastEnders," "The Bill" and "Casualty" have all been nominated for best soap/ continuing drama while "The Thick of It" -- from which the Oscar nominated "In the Loop" was spun off -- vies for comedy series against "Miranda" and "The Inbetweeners." Winners will be announced March 16 at London's Grosvenor Hotel.  THE STAGE


'Precious' sweeps NAACP Image Awards

ASC focused on 'The White Ribbon'

'The Hurt Locker' sounded like a winner to CAS

'The Hurt Locker' debate: accuracy vs. entertainment

Poll: Do you prefer Sacha Baron Cohen as Oscar host?

Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars odd couple | 'Lost' actors find new work

Will 'The Hurt Locker' team be punished for breaking Oscar rules?

'Hurt Locker' producer apologizes for his 'extremely inappropriate' e-mail

Gold Derby nuggets: Dave Karger predix Oscars | So does Sasha Stone | Oscars marketing gambits

Tom O'Neil's 'fearless, peerless, 100% accurate Oscar predictions'

Top photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

Middle photo: "Avatar" poster. Credit: Fox

Bottom photo: "The Hurt Locker" poster. Credit: Summit

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