Gold Derby nuggets: Sacha Baron Cohen bounced from Oscars | 'The Hurt Locker' hit by lawsuit | Michael Buble leads with six Juno noms
• Claude Brodesser-Akner reports, "that an 'Avatar' sketch planned by Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Stiller was nixed yesterday by show producer Bill Mechanic, who worried that James Cameron would be so offended by it that he might even walk out of the Oscar broadcast on live TV." It seems "Baron Cohen planned to appear onstage as a blue-skinned, female Na’vi, with Stiller translating 'her' interplanetary speech. As the skit went on, though, it would become clear that Stiller wasn’t translating properly, because Cohen would grow ever more upset. At its climax, an infuriated Baron Cohen would pull open 'her' evening gown to reveal that s/he was pregnant, knocked up with Cameron’s love child, and would go on to confront her baby daddy as if s/he were on 'Jerry Springer.' Mechanic, now both a producer of motion pictures and of this year’s Oscar telecast, was head of 20th Century Fox when Cameron’s 'Titanic' famously went massively over budget and over schedule, so he’s well acquainted with Cameron’s sense of humor or lack of it. "Let’s just say that Cameron isn’t known to be, shall we say, ‘self-deprecating,’ explained one insider familiar with the decision to cut the sketch." NEW YORK
• On Barbara Walter's final Oscar night special, Mo'Nique reveals the intimate secrets of her marriage to Sidney Hicks as well as her more unusual grooming habits. But she won't tell TV's confessional queen what she will say if she wins -- as everyone is predicting -- the supporting actress Oscar for her performance in "Precious." "I don't like thinking about that, because I'm big on the universe. I don't want to start making this speech or [think about what] I'm going to say because I don't want the universe to say, 'Really? You so sure about that?' Let's not jinx it." NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
• Cameron Diaz may not be in the running for a Razzie this year for her performance in the box office bomb "The Box" but the editors of Latina named her the winner of a Lazzie as the worst Latina actress of the year, citing her "bad Southern accent" and her "deer-caught-in-headlights facial expressions." "Fame" star Walter Perez "won" worst actor and "Fast & Furious" was the worst film.
• Matthew Belloni delivers a fascinating Q&A with David Quinto, a partner at L.A.'s Quinn Emanuel, Quinto who (along with Academy general counsel John Quinn) aggressively protects the Academy's copyrights and trademarks worldwide. When asked why the Academy is so zealous, Quinto explains, "75% of the Academy’s income comes from the awards ceremony. It’s important that people remain interested so the Academy wants to prevent anything that would damage or tarnish the reputation of the Oscar. It wants to maintain the Oscar as an image of excellence in motion picture making. I frequently get asked why the Academy is aggressive in trying to make sure the Oscars don’t get sold. The Oscar should remain a symbol of achievement in motion picture making and it should demonstrate exclusivity. If there’s a perception that anyone with money can buy one, then people may start to lose interest in it." THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
• Harriet Ryan reports that, "an Army bomb squad leader who served in Iraq is accusing the makers of the Academy Award-nominated movie 'The Hurt Locker' of stealing his identity, cheating him out of box-office profits and falsely portraying him as 'a reckless, gung-ho war addict.' In a federal suit filed Tuesday in New Jersey, Master Sgt. Jeffrey S. Sarver claimed he was the model for the film's protagonist and even coined the title phrase in describing his life detonating improvised explosive devices. The suit accuses screenwriter , director Kathryn Bigelow and others of defamation, invasion of privacy, fraud and other counts." As Ryan notes, "In an interview with The Times on Tuesday, Boal described Sarver, whom he met as an embedded reporter six years ago, as 'a brave soldier and good guy,' but he denied that Sarver was the model for main character Will James. 'Like a lot of soldiers, he identifies with the film, but the character I wrote is fictional. The film is a work of fiction inspired by many people's stories,' Boal said. The screenwriter spent a month with Sarver's squad in Iraq in 2004 researching a story published in Playboy the following year. The story prominently featured Sarver, a West Virginia native and Bronze Star recipient. The suit alleges that when Boal later developed a screenplay from the experience, he relied on Sarver's background, turns of phrase, physical appearance and wartime experiences for the story." THE ENVELOPE
• Mike Fleming breaks the news that, "just because he's been banished from Sunday's Academy Awards doesn't mean 'Hurt Locker' producer Nicolas Chartier won't have any place to watch. Instead. I've learned he'll be with a crowd of people who'll make him feel like a winner. The Voltage Pictures chief and his family will be the guests of honor at a viewing party that is being put together by WME Global chief Graham Taylor and Blue Valentine producer Lynnette Howell, who is Graham's wife. Taylor wasn’t involved with the film, but I understand he hated the prospect of an indie filmmaker getting ostracized for being overly enthusiastic about his film." DEADLINE
• Pete Hammond previews Friday's Spirit Awards, noting that Oscar front-runner "The Hurt Locker" contended there last year as it was eligible due to its debut at the 2008 Toronto filmfest. "Film Independent's executive director, Dawn Hudson, told me that it's a rule they will probably be looking at closely in light of the 'Hurt Locker' situation. That glitch aside, the organization couldn't be happier about the industry acceptance of the Spirits and its hallowed space in the awards firmament coming as the second-to-last stop of the season just before Oscar and often drawing just as impressive a turnout in its own way. This year for the first time the ceremony has been moved from Saturday afternoon in a massive tent at the Santa Monica beach to Friday night in a massive tent on the rooftop of L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles, where it will become the first-ever "late night" award show broadcasting live at 11 p.m. Eastern time on IFC, hosted by Eddie Izzard." NOTES ON A SEASON
• Michael Buble leads with six nominations at the 39th edition of the Juno Awards -- the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys. As Ben Rayner reports, "the Vancouver crooner is up for artist of the year, songwriter of the year, single of the year for “Haven't Met You Yet” and pop album of the year with 'Crazy Love' squaring off against Billy Talent's 'III,' Diana Krall's 'Quiet Nights,' Johnny Reid’s 'Dance With Me' and Justin Bieber’s 'My World' in the all-important album of the year category. Bublé will also battle Ginette Reno, Johnny Reid, Maxime Landry and Nickelback for the viewer-voted Juno Fan Choice Award." TORONTO STAR
• Joe Flint reports, "The Paley Center for Media, the television industry's think tank, library and historian, is moving ahead with exploring the possibility of creating its own awards shows that could end up competing with Emmys. Overseeing the planning committee for the awards are industry big shots Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television, and Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and chief executive of the Fox Networks Group. Also on the committee is Dick Lippin, chairman of the Lippin Group, which used to handle media strategy for the Television Academy of Arts & Sciences, which produces the Emmy Awards. Both Mosko and Vinciquerra have ties to the Paley Center, serving on various boards for the institution. 'The formation of this planning committee is to explore the opportunities that we believe exist to create an awards program or franchise of programs,' said Pat Mitchell, president and chief executive of The Paley Center for Media." COMPANY TOWN
• Our old pal Thelma Adams proffers her predictions for the Oscars. While Thelma is going with all of the front-runners for the top six races but also weighs in with her personal picks. Among the categories where Thelma would like a different nominee to prevail is best actor: "In 'Up in the Air,' George Clooney takes another little piece of his heart out, and then another, stripping himself bare naked beneath that gorgeous veneer. It's a suavely tragic performance that cries out, 'Don't hate me because I'm beautiful!'" IVILLAGE
• Gerard Butler is quite the jokester as evidenced by this exchange with Bennett Marcus: "Gerard Butler may not have gotten nominated for an Oscar this year, but he thinks he should have. 'To be honest, I’m surprised I wasn’t nominated for an Oscar,' he said at the Cosmopolitan Fun Fearless Male Awards this week. 'I mean, did they see Ugly Truth? Did they see Gamer? But I have the honor of presenting at the Oscars, and I had this genius idea that I was going to record it on my DVR, and then just watch it backwards, and then I’m going to feel like I won. Who’s going to know the difference?'" NEW YORK
Top photo: Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher at the 2007 Academy Awards. Credit: AMPAS
Middle photo: Jeffrey Sarver. Credit: EPA
Bottom photo: "Crazy Love" album cover.
Credit: Reprise Records