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Category: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Gold Derby nuggets: 3 or 5 animated feature Oscar nominees? | "SNL" = Oscar good luck charm?

October 29, 2010 |  4:11 pm

MegaMindPete Hammond has the scoop on the possibility of the animated feature Oscar race expanding this year. As he reports, "the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences sent out a reminder confirming the 5 PM PT November 1st deadline for 2010 Best Animated feature entries. At this point there do not appear to be enough entries to trigger five nominations rather than the more common three but there is still time, brother. What wasn’t mentioned in the release is the number that have been received so far at the Academy. A really good clue though is a  letter I have learned that was  sent late last week updating members and potential members of the Animation committee (the ones doing the voting)  and informing them that 14 entries had been received but that it was still possible to reach 16, the magic number needed to expand the category." DEADLINE

• In his latest edition of Oscar Futures, Lane Brown touts the rise of best actor contender James Franco ("127 Hours") -- "Reviews for his movie are ecstatic, reviews for his book are not bad, and S.T. Vanairsdale has him leapfrogging Firth to top position this week" -- and the decline of Jesse Eisenberg ("The Social Network") -- "Buzz seems to be cooling down here. Was he really as good as everybody thought a month ago?" VULTURE

• In a fascinating read, Guy Lodge looks back at British success at the Oscars and forecasts the chances for this year's contenders "The King's Speech," "Made in Dagenham" and "Another Year." IN CONTENTION

• After seeing "Morning Glory," Jeff Wells says, "this film is close to 'Broadcast News' level Brooks + grade A, totally-on-his-game Michell + Harrison Ford's best performance in years + Rachel McAdams giving an ever better performance than she did in 'The Wedding Crashers' (and that's saying something). Ford's performance as a grumpy, past-his-prime, Dan Rather-ish newsman has a shot at a Best Supporting Actor recognition. Or not. He's surly but smirking all the while. The role as written isn't quite home-run-level, but it's fair to call it a solid triple, I think." HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

• In the context of announced gigs by Jeff Bridges ("True Grit") and Anne Hathaway ("Love and Other Drugs"), Mike Ryan investigates the correlation between hosting "Saturday Night Live" and nabbing an Oscar nomination. He discovers, "since SNL’s debut in 1975, 27 future Oscar nominees have hosted Saturday Night Live during the same season that they were nominated or won. (Nine more, including winners Adrien Brody, Richard Dreyfuss, Angelica Huston and Geena Davis actually hosted during the season, but after the ceremony; call those a victory lap.) Of that 27, seven have gone on to win the award he or she was nominated for, most recently Forest Whitaker, who hosted on Feb 10, 2007." MOVIELINE

Dave Karger reports, "this week I saw the first For Your Consideration trade ad that listed possible contenders by category. The distinction goes to Disney’s 'Alice in Wonderland,' which is being touted for Best Picture, Best Director (Tim Burton), Best Actor (Johnny Depp), and Best Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway), along with 13 other categories." OSCAR WATCH

• For Steve Pond, "Trent Reznor may have taken a circuitous route to writing the music for David Fincher's 'The Social Network,' but he and his longtime collaborator Atticus Ross made the most of the gig once they took it. The Nine Inch Nails mastermind and his co-composer have created one of the year’s most imaginative and bracing film scores, a piano-rooted, synthesizer-drenched work that is by turns plaintive and assaultive, and always adventurous and unconventional." THE ODDS

• And Sheila Roberts sits down with Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman ("Slumdog Millionaire") to talk about his score for "127 Hours." COLLIDER

Photo: "MegaMind" poster. Credit: DreamWorks Animation.

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Gold Derby nuggets: IDA nominees announced | Lesley Manville: Lead or supporting? | 'Driving Miss Daisy' debuts on Broadway

October 28, 2010 |  2:38 pm

• Nominees for the International Documentary Assn. Awards were announced Wednesday. Contending for the top prize of best feature documentary are: "Exit Through the Gift Shop," "The Oath," "Steam of Life," "Sweetgrass" and "Waste Land." In making the announcement, IDA executive director Michael Lumpkin said, "This has been another banner year for documentary films, and that is reflected in our list of nominees. Entries to the awards increased by nearly 20% this year, and the quality of the films vying for recognition is unprecedented." The awards will be handed out in a Dec. 3 ceremony at the Directors Guild Theater in Los Angeles, hosted by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. IDA

• And Peter Knegt wonders whether the feature documentary "Waiting for Superman" can make it into this year's best picture race. INDIE WIRE

• As S.T. Van Airsdale notes: "All is mostly calm as the second month of Movieline's Oscar Index commences; mostly, that is, unless you're at the top of three of the four acting categories and/or trying to get your embattled African-American ensemble drama through stolid barriers of critical mass. Otherwise, it's just hunches, gossip and word-of-mouth business as usual." MOVIELINE

• Following Tuesday's release of the satirical "Mr. Men" illustrated book comes news of another tome spun from the gold that is "Mad Men." As David Itzkoff reports: "The Grove Press imprint of Grove/Atlantic Inc. said it would release 'Sterling’s Gold: The Wit & Wisdom of an Ad Man,' a memoir the publisher attributes to the 'advertising pioneer and visionary Roger Sterling Jr.'" ARTSBEAT

Lesley ManvilleBrad Brevet conducts a fascinating online round-table debate about whether "Another Year" player Lesley Manville should go lead or supporting. As per Brad: "I've had her listed as a Supporting Actress contender since seeing the film back in May at Cannes only to learn today that's just not the way it is ... at least not right now. Before going any further with my predictions I felt it was finally time to get a clear answer from Sony Classics and find out exactly how they were going to promote Manville's 'Another Year' performance. For the record, I was the only one that had her listed for Best Supporting Actor among Oscar pundits and as it turns out, I was the only one that was wrong. In a phone call this morning with Sony Classics co-president Michael Barker I was told Sony Classics is currently pushing her as a lead actress. The argument is she has the largest amount of screen time in the film and Barker has said he's asked around and lead is the general consensus based on whom he's spoken with. However, it seems as if the door is far from closed." ROPE OF SILICON

Jeff Wells is "vaguely bummed out" about the news that James Cameron is to direct back-to-back sequels to 2009 best picture nominee "Avatar." As he explains" "It's a downer because it's basically a corporate cash-grab move. (Rothman and Gianopulos: 'They'll pay to see this again ... twice! Revenues! Hah-hah-hah!') Because it's a creatively lazy enterprise for Cameron as it'll be no great feat to come up with a prequel and a sequel. Because 'Avatar' was a great four-course meal, and I'm not feeling a need to go there again. Because the ending of Avatar was perfect (i.e., the opening of the transformed Jake Sully's eyes), and I'm thinking 'leave it there.' And because a guy like Cameron committing to a two-movie, four-year rehash project that is primarily about making money (i.e., certainly on 20th Century Fox's end) is a kind of capitulation to the golden-calf mentality." HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

• Nominees Marc Anthony, Aida Cuevas, Jenni Rivera, Gilberto Santa Rosa Aleks Syntek, and Johnny Ventura will perform at the 11th annual Latin Grammy Awards, which are to air on Univision live from Las Vegas on Nov. 11. LATIN GRAMMYS

• The first rialto production of "Driving Miss Daisy" opened this week to strong reviews for stars Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones, prompting David Ng to ask, "How will Tony organizers treat 'Miss Daisy'?" As he explains: "According to recent Tony rules, a production can qualify as a 'revival' if the committee deems the work a 'classic' or part of 'the popular or historical repertoire,' which is to say that it's a subjective call." CULTURE MONSTER

• College students will get another chance to cover the Oscars as the academy and MTVU announced the return of a contest to pick three roving correspondents. Entrants have until Dec. 6 to submit an audition tape with voting on the top-10 being held online from Jan. 10 to Jan. 28. Three finalists will be flown to town to cover lead-up events, with the winner getting a spot on the red carpet. AMPAS

• The upcoming fifth season of "Big Love" will be the last, as per the announcement Thursday by paycaster HBO. The series about polygamy contended for best drama series at the 2009 Emmys and likewise at the Golden Globes for the last three years.

• To qualify in the animated feature film category for the upcoming Oscars, entry forms and supporting materials are due at the academy by 5 p.m. PDT on Nov. 1. The deadline to submit accompanying film prints is Nov. 12. AMPAS

Photo: Lesley Manville in "Another Year." Credit: Focus Features

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Animal Kingdom' dominates Aussie 'Oscars' noms | 'The Hobbit' staying in New Zealand | 'The King's Speech' to Broadway?

October 27, 2010 | 10:41 am

Animal Kingdom poster • As Michael Bodey reports, "Crime drama 'Animal Kingdom' has swamped the Australian Film Institute nominations, grabbing a nod in every category for which it was eligible. The film about a Melbourne crime family overseen by a charismatic matriarch (played by Jacki Weaver) earned 18 nominations, with war drama 'Beneath Hill 60' next in numbers with a surprising 12 nominations. Jane Campion's British-Australian co-production 'Bright Star' earned 11 nominations, the teen novel adaptation 'Tomorrow When The War Began' earned eight and indigenous musical 'Bran Nue Dae' and the French-Australian co-production 'The Tree' grabbed seven nominations each. All six films will vie for the best film prize." THE AUSTRALIAN

Mike Fleming has the scoop: "Attorneys representing the Gotham-based real estate clan The Durst Organization are threatening to sue over the December release of 'All Good Things.'" The pic stars Ryan Gosling as a character allegedly modeled on Robert Durst, who was accused of murdering his wife and friend. DEADLINE

Kyle Buchanan considers whether or not Sandra Bullock will be able to avoid the curse that has befallen other best actress champs as of late. As he notes: "If all goes according to plan, Bullock's next three films will be 'Gravity,' an ambitious space drama directed by Alfonso Cuarón ('Children of Men'), an adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's acclaimed novel 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' by Stephen Daldry ('The Hours'), and an untitled comedy that would find Bullock co-starring opposite A-listers like Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey." VULTURE

The HobbitRichard Verrier has all the details on the decision to keep production of the prequels to Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning trilogy "The Lord of the Rings" in New Zealand: "The nation's prime minister, John Key, announced Wednesday that his government had reached an agreement with the producers of the two 'Hobbit' movies to keep the $500-million production in his country. 'I am delighted we have achieved this result,' Key said in a statement. 'Making the two 'Hobbit' movies here will not only safeguard work for thousands of New Zealanders, but it will also follow the success of the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy in once again promoting New Zealand on the world stage.' The agreement comes after Key held talks with New Line Cinema President Toby Emmerich and other executives, who wanted assurances that the production would not be disrupted by labor unrest. They also were seeking additional financial sweeteners, which they received." COMPANY TOWN

Jeff Wells examines the awards prospects for "I Am Love" leading lady Tilda Swinton. HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

Guy Lodge sings the praises of Emma Stone for her sparkling performance in the teen comedy "Easy A," and bemoans the lack of love from the academy for funny turns by pretty young things. IN CONTENTION

• The 2008 Tony best musical champ, "In the Heights," is closing Jan. 9. Creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda, who won a Tony for his score, will be returning to the show for the final two weeks. PLAYBILL

The Kings Speech • As Patrick Healey notes: "If the highly anticipated Colin Firth film 'The King's Speech' performs well this awards season, chances are a stage version will come about relatively quickly on Broadway, in London's West End, or both. Michael Alden, a producer on the Broadway musical 'Grey Gardens' and the Sarah Jones solo show 'Bridge & Tunnel,' said in an interview on Tuesday that he was developing a stage production of 'The King’s Speech' after acquiring the rights to the work, about the real-life relationship between King George VI of Britain (the World War II monarch and current queen’s father) and a speech therapist named Lionel Logue, who helped him overcome a stammer." ARTS BEAT

• Reports Joyce Eng: "Justin Bieber, Ke$ha and Katy Perry will make their American Music Awards debuts next month as performers, producers announced Wednesday. All three are multiple nominees and will duke it out in the artist of the year race alongside Lady Gaga and Eminem. Bieber is up for four awards, while Ke$ha and Perry each have three nominations. Eminem and Lady Antebellum lead with five bids." TV GUIDE

Upper photo: "Animal Kingdom" poster. Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Middle photo: "The Hobbit" book cover. Credit: Houghton Mifflin

Lower photo: Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Mad Men' gets 'Mr. Men' treatment | Jennifer Lawrence is rising star for Palm Springs filmfest

October 26, 2010 |  4:46 pm

• Submissions for consideration by the nominating panels of the SAG Awards have to be in by 5 p.m. PDT Thursday. SAG AWARDS

Sasha Stone examines the truthfulness of certain best picture contenders, including front-running "The Social Network," and considers this in terms of the state of the race. AWARDS DAILY

John Lopez looks at the long list of lead actress contenders. LITTLE GOLD MEN

Draper-1d • Three-time Emmy champ "Mad Men" has inspired a British satirical website to create a cheeky revamp of the "Mr. Men" series of cartoon characters by the late Roger Hargreaves. Included in their tongue-in-cheek report, is this statement from spokesperson Camile Von Bach: "Pre-orders for 'Mr. Sterling Gets Angry' have exceeded all expectations, so we can’t wait to see what happens with 'Mr. Draper Loses His Trousers' or 'Little Miss Peggy Gets Another Bump In Her Tummy.'" THE POKE

• The motion picture academy has set up a Twitter feed. The first tweet — "I'm ready for my close-up" — is an abridgment of that memorable final line of dialogue from 1950 best picture nominee "Sunset Boulevard" when faded star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) descends into madness. TWITTER

Pete Hammond reports on the first of many weekends filled with screenings and parties touting various awards contenders and caps this off with a peek behind the scenes at Monday's Hollywood Film Awards. DEADLINE

Steve Pond has the scoop on the online voting for the kudos handed out by the International Documentary Assn. Among the details: "To be approved to vote using the new system, members cannot have any professional connection to a nominee, must agree to watch all five films in their entirety, and must have a high-speed Internet connection and satisfy minimum browser requirements." THE ODDS

Katie Hasty chatted with writer-director Tyler Perry and two of the women — Anika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad — featured in his new film "For Colored Girls." HITFIX

• The Palm Springs film festival will fete lead actress contender Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone") as a rising star at the annual gala Jan. 8. In making the announcement, fest chair Harold Matzner said, "Call it a gift for us all when a young performer comes along, demonstrating such natural theatrical instinct." Past recipients include Jessica Biel, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Bryce Dallas Howard, Terrence Howard, Anna Kendrick and Scarlett Johansson. PSIFF

Ryan Adams praises the relatively short running time of "127 Hours" and considers this in light of the academy's ususal preference for pictures that run longer. However, as he writes, "the brevity of 'Marty,' 'Driving Miss Daisy' and 'Annie Hall' work so well because they’re 100% free of excess padding. '127 Hours' is exactly as lean and mean as it needs to be." AWARDS DAILY

Anne Thompson thinks, "The only way for (Tilda) Swinton — who is admired by critics and art house audiences alike — to make the best actress Oscar grade this year for 'I Am Love' (which played the fest circuit before opening in June), is for critics to make a fuss over her in their year-end wraps and ten-best lists, and for critics groups and the Golden Globes to reward her with prizes and nominations and thus turn the screener into a must-see for SAG and Academy actors." THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Image: Mr. Draper from "Mad Men." Credit: ThePoke.co.uk.


Gold Derby nuggets: SAG Awards sets calendar | Evening Standard long list includes budding stage star Keira Knightley

October 25, 2010 |  1:48 pm

• The Dec. 16 nominations announcement for the Screen Actors Guild Awards will air live on TNT from the Pacific Design Center. Nominees are determined by the 4,200 SAG members who sit on separate film and television screening panels. In the wake of the success of other awardscasts going live nationwide, the 17th annual edition of these kudos will follow suit. TNT and TBS will beam the Jan. 30 festivities from the Shrine Auditorium live from coast to coast beginning at 5 p.m. PT. SAG AWARDS

Scott Kraft chats with "Fair Game" star Naomi Watts and Valerie Palme, the real-life subject of the film. L.A. TIMES

Erik Childress surveys the lead actor field and speculates on a last-minute entry by Christian Bale ("The Fighter"). MOVIEFONE

Sasha Stone points out a clever marketing trick pulled off online by "The Social Network" and "Black Swan." AWARDS DAILY

Keira-Knightley • The long lists for one of the top three West End kudos have been released and, as Natalie Woolman notes, "Judi Dench, Gemma Arterton, Sheridan Smith and Keira Knightley are among the nominees for the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress." Knightley made her West End debut in a production of Moliere's "The Misanthrope" last spring and received generally good notices. Also in the mix is "Another Year" star Lesley Manville for her performance in "Six Degrees of Separation." The final list of nominees will be released on Nov. 21 with the winners announced at a ceremony one week later. THE STAGE

• Knightley is set to return to the West End in the new year headlining a revival of Lillian Hellman's provocative 1934 play "The Children's Hour" opposite Elisabeth Moss ("Mad Men"). The subject was quite shocking at the time -- two schoolteachers whose close friendship subjects them to the scurrilous rumor that they are lesbians. And, as per Patrick Healy, with all going well in the West End, American audiences will see Knightley make her Broadway debut next fall. ARTS BEAT

Anne Thompson dismisses the notion that Tyler Perry could get into the game for his screen adapatation of the 1977 Tony-nominated play "For Colored Girls." THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Greg Ellwood catches up with Jennifer Lawrence, lead actress hopeful for "Winter's Bone," during her whirlwind visit to L.A. during a break in filming "X-Men: First Class" in London. HIT FIX

Jeff Wells wonders why more pundits aren't predicting that Anne Hathaway in "Love and Other Drugs" will be in the awards mix. HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

Photo: Keira Knightley in "The Misanthrope." Credit: Comedy Theatre.


Gold Derby nuggets: 'Shutter Island' reopens | '127 Hours' news and views | Casting news for 'The Hobbit'

October 22, 2010 | 11:29 am

Pete Hammond delivers the scoop on a "high profile kick-off to Paramount's 'Shutter Island' Oscar campaign." As Pete reports, "American Cinematheque will present a retrospective of the film collaborations of Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre the weekend of November 13 with the pair participating in a live 'conversation' following a November 14 screening. DiCaprio will appear in person while Scorsese will be satellited in from London where he is currently working on his new film 'Hugo Cabret.'" DEADLINE

• In the latest installment of their weekly Oscar Talk podcast, Anne Thompson and Kris Tapley dish about the odds of films like "Solitary Man" and "Welcome to the Rileys" making it into the race. THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

127 HoursGraydon Carter moderates a compelling Q&A with "127 Hours" director Danny Boyle and star James Franco and the real-life subject of the film Aron Ralston, who was forced to cut off his own arm when he was trapped by a boulder while hiking alone. LITTLE GOLD MEN

Sasha Stone admits, "I don’t think I’ve ever spent a more riveting or emotionally moving hour and a half in the theater as I did last night watching '127 Hours.' It confirms what I already knew about Danny Boyle: that he is a genius visually, intellectually, emotionally. He knows that it isn’t just the story of how Ralston got out of that canyon; it’s that key bit of truth we all must remind ourselves of everyday: life is not lived alone. We need each other. We need to be able to ask for help." AWARDS DAILY

• The American Society of Cinematographers has named three more honorees who will be feted alongside Roger Deakins at the 25th-anniversary edition of their kudos on Feb. 13. John Seale will receive the International Award, Michael D. O’Shea is to get the Career Achievement in Television Award, and photographer Douglas Kirkland will take home the Presidents Award. ASC

• Casting has come together for Peter Jackson's two-part film adaptation of "The Hobbit." As Harley W. Lond reports, "Martin Freeman will star as Bilbo Baggins and Richard Armitage will play head dwarf Thorin Oakenshield. Other cast members — all of them to play dwarves — include Rob Kazinsky, Aidan Turner, Graham McTavish, John Callen, Stephen Hunter, Mark Hadlow and Peter Hambleton." MOVIEFONE

• "Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich and screenwriter Michael Arndt sit down with Terry Gross for a fascinating conversation about the making of this best picture contender as well as the history of the franchise. NPR

• The British Library has acquired more than 50 awards bestowed on the late Harold Pinter, including his 2005 Nobel Prize in literature. As Zainab Rahim reports, "The library acquired the awards through the government’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme, which seeks to ensure that important cultural treasures pass into the UK’s public collections. The BL, which is also a charity that advocates for the preservation of knowledge, previously acquired the playwright’s archive in December 2007 including his handwritten notes, typed drafts covered in annotations and his Nobel Prize acceptance speech that he was unable to deliver due to ill health " THE STAGE

Photo: Danny Boyle, left, and James Franco on the set of  "127 Hours." Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

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Gold Derby nuggets: Steve Pond digs into documentary race | Guy Lodge on category fraud | Guests line up for Conan O'Brien

October 21, 2010 |  5:10 pm

Steve Pond delves into the selection process for the documentary feature Oscar race. As he reports, "in a remarkable year for non-fiction filmmaking of all kinds, the looming possibility of more Oscar-doc controversies means it’s time to take a look at a process in which: films are judged by surprisingly few people; the most active filmmakers are ineligible or unable to vote; and the final slate of nominees is almost invariably made up of issue-oriented docs — to the exclusion of the odder, entertaining works that make the field so vital these days." THE WRAP

Sasha Stone finds much to quote from the script for "The Social Network," leading off her list of favorite lines of dialogue with this one: "Let’s gut the nerd." AWARDS DAILY

Caitlin King says, "Gwyneth Paltrow will be taking the stage at next month's Country Music Association Awards as a performer. She'll sing the title track of her new movie, 'Country Strong,' and will be joined by Vince Gill." AP

• From London, Mark Shenton reports, "Four days of performances for Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Love Never Dies,' the sequel to 'The Phantom of the Opera,' have been taken off sale at London's Adelphi Theatre for the week commencing Nov. 22. Performances are set to resume Nov. 26. During the shutdown, revisions will be made to the show. A spokesman said, 'Some changes were written up over the summer and destined for the Australian production and as they make improvements to the show we'd be mad not to put them into the Adelphi [production in London].'" PLAYBILL

The Kids are All RightGuy Lodge asks, "Is Focus right to campaign both Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as leads in 'The Kids Are All Right,' or would it be more appropriate (and tactical) for one to drop to supporting? Can Lesley Manville be declared a lead in 'Another Year' when her character flits around two more constant — but also more passive — presences in the film? Will 'True Grit' newcomer Hailee Steinfeld be the victim of the unwritten campaigning rule stating that minors are, by definition, supporting players — whether they’re carrying a film on their shoulders or not?" IN CONTENTION

Peter Knegt takes a closer look at the Gotham Awards nominations. "Handed out by Independent Feature Project (IFP) for the past twenty years, they have always offered an interesting and generally deserving batch of nominations. But they are also quite inconsistent both category to category and year to year, which to some degree makes them a bit difficult to prove a stable predictor of anything beyond them." INDIE WIRE

Jeff Wells reports from a screening of "Love and Other Drugs" that "Hathaway's performance is the killer, and it is, I suppose, because you can read every emotional tick and tremor on her face, and because your heart goes out to any character coping with a debilitating disease (stage-one Parkinson's) and who wants to keep herself aloof and in control. But Gyllenhaal gives his most winning performance ever — not the deepest or darkest or saddest, perhaps, but 100% likable with no audience-alienation issues except for emotional avoidance. They're quite a pair, these two. All you want is to see them keep it together and somehow make it work." HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

Jean Bentley has the lineup of bold-faced names who will appear on the first week of Conan O'Brien's new TBS talker: "The first episode of Coco's new late night talk show will feature Seth Rogen and musical guest Jack White, along with the winner of the first guest poll — a hotly contested competition between The Pope, Jack Nicholson, Vladimir Putin, REO Speedwagon, The Sultan of Brunei, Justin Bieber, Thomas Pynchon, Gerhard Ertl, Arlene Wagner, Lady Gaga, the cast of the live-action 'Fat Albert' movie and Tom from MySpace to decide the first guest. Nov. 9 will feature Tom Hanks (fittingly, Hanks was the last guest on the O'Brien-hosted 'Tonight Show'), Jack McBrayer (another Coco pal) and Soundgarden. Nov. 10 will see Jon Hamm, Charlene Yi and Fistful of Mercy, and Nov. 11 will feature Michael Cera, Julie Bowen and comedian Jon Dore. TV SQUAD

• Writes Jenelle Riley,"Here's some video of the 'Conviction' Q&A we did with Sam Rockwell a couple weeks ago. The film opened in 11 theaters last weekend, averaging $10,000 per theater — a figure that is either pretty good or a complete disaster, depending on whose hype you believe. What's most important is that everyone I've spoken to who's actually seen the movie has high praise, particularly for Rockwell, who still looks like the one to beat for Best Supporting Actor come awards time." BACKSTAGE

• "South Park" skewered "Inception" on Wednesday night's episode and, as Brian Rafterty notes, "a DiCaprio doppelgänger tried to make sense of the film's dream-warrior premise. 'You just don't get it, 'cause you're not smart enough!'" VULTURE

Photo: Annette Bening, left, and Julianne Moore in "The Kids are All Right." Credit Focus Features.

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' extras and sequels in the works | 'Glee' courts controversy with GQ cover | Cussing in 'The King's Speech'

October 20, 2010 |  2:17 pm

• On Tuesday, James Cameron revealed he will direct two sequels to "Avatar" simultaneously: "Our plan right now is to do two and three as a single large production and release them a year apart. In order to do that, we have to refine our technical processes beyond the end of where we were finishing 'Avatar' one year ago. We need to future-proof ourselves out five or six years to the end of the third film." MOVIEFONE

• Reporting from the Scream Awards, Katey Rich says that in anticipation of the Nov. 16 DVD and Blu-ray release of "Avatar," "Cameron showed up to present one never-before-seen clip, in which we meet Jake Sully back on Earth and see him as a bar brawler -- a paraplegic bar brawler, mind you." CINEMA BLEND

Kyle Buchanan sits down with "The Social Network" supporting player Armie Hammer, who portrays twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. As Buchanan observes, "Since there's only one of Hammer, that meant the actor was often acting opposite a body double whose face he'd be digitally grafted onto in postproduction (and when you consider the notorious amount of takes that an exacting director like David Fincher requires, Hammer's nimble pair of performances is all the more impressive)." VULTURE

Glee GQ cover • As Mary McNamara writes, "A mildly pornographic slideshow of photos accompanying GQ's November cover story about 'Glee' recently went up on the magazine's website, and the onslaught from parents groups has begun, with terms like 'pedophilia' being used and renewed complaints that the show is too sexually explicit for the tween end of the audience it courts." However, in McNamara's opinion, "the problem isn't so much the sex as the sexism. And the disappointing banality of it all." SHOW TRACKER

• The academy has revealed the five recipients of the 25th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting, who will be honored at a gala dinner in Beverly Hills on Nov. 4: Destin Daniel Cretton, Marvin Krueger, Andrew Lanham, Micah Ranum and Cinthea Stahl. AMPAS

Naomi Watts talks to Katie Hasty about playing exposed CIA operative Valerie Plame in "Fair Game" and reveals, "It's not about 'this is my chance to take a stance or opinion.' It's about the essence of the character. That was the case with Valerie. The fact that it was rooted in truth made it very compelling." HITFIX

Patrick Healy says, "Mike Nichols confirmed on Wednesday that he would mount a Broadway revival of 'Death of a Salesman' next fall starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willy Loman and Linda Emond as Linda Loman. Mr. Hoffman, an Academy Award winner for 'Capote' and a Tony Award nominee for 'True West' and 'Long Day's Journey Into Night,' has been eager to play Willy for some time, Mr. Nichols said in a telephone interview, and the two men have been making plans for a production for months." ARTS BEAT

Guy Lodge delivers the news that only those 15 and over will be able to see "The King's Speech" in British movie theaters. Both the Brits and the MPAA (which gave it an R rating) did so on the basis of a scene in which King George VI (Colin Firth) says the same curse word repeatedly as part of a speech therapy exercise. IN CONTENTION

• As Peter Kafka observes, "Conan O’Brien didn't really embrace the Web until he was just about out of his last job at NBC. But now he's in a well-documented digital bear hug: O’Brien and his team use Twitter, Tumblr and viral videos to promote the man and his new show on Time Warner's TBS. The newest venture -– a 24-hour live 'behind the scenes' Webcast, produced in conjunction with Google’s YouTube." ALL THINGS DIGITAL

• As Caroline Westbrook reports, "Abigail Breslin charmed cinemagoers everywhere with her role as an unlikely beauty queen in the 2006 hit 'Little Miss Sunshine.' But four years on, the cute actress is looking all grown up in a photo shoot for new magazine Bullett. Abigail, now aged 14, sports a goth look in the black and white pictures which could not be further removed from the bespectacled, gap-toothed seven-year-old she played in the Oscar nominated movie." DAILY MAIL

Photo: November cover of GQ. Credit: Terry Richardson / GQ

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Gold Derby nuggets: Fest faves James Franco & Carey Mulligan | Tom Bosley dead at 83 | Sasha Stone on best picture race

October 19, 2010 |  1:41 pm

• "127 Hours" leading man James Franco will receive the outstanding performance prize from the Santa Barbara filmfest on Jan. 29. In making the announcement, fest exec Roger Durling described him thus: "A truly exceptional actor who embraces the character and lives the story to tell it, James Franco eases onto the screen, seducing the audience no matter if he is the hero, the villain or the victim." Among the roster of talent that has taken home this prize in the past: Colin Firth (2010), Penelope Cruz (2009), Angelina Jolie (2008), Helen Mirren (2007), Heath Ledger (2006), Kate Winslet (2005) and Charlize Theron (2004). SBIFF

Carey Mulligan will be feted by the Palm Springs filmfest with the breakthrough award on Jan. 8. Previous recipients include Mariah Carey -- who made headlines last year with her wobbly acceptance speech at the event -- Freida Pinto, Marion Cotillard and Jennifer Hudson. PSIFF

Steve Pond reports, "a handful of upcoming films got their first widespread exposure last week at the National Association of Theater Owners’ ShowEast conference in Orlando, Florida. And judging from conversations with exhibition executives who attended the four-day conference, the news is good for 'The Fighter' 'Tangled' and 'Morning Glory,' but not so much for 'Due Date' and 'Fair Game.'" THE ODDS

• Lionsgate marketing chief Tim Palen has captured the stars of "For Colored Girls" -- Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Kerry Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad and Loretta Devine -- in a series of "Living Portraits." They will be displayed at the Lehman Maupin gallery in Gotham between October 24 and 27. HIT FIX

Tom Bosley Happy DaysTom Bosley, best known as the kindly patriarch on the classic sitcom "Happy Days," died Tuesday at age 83. The veteran actor won the Tony Award in 1960 for his performance as colorful New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in the Pulitzer-winning tuner "Fiorello!" Over the 11 seasons of "Happy Days," Bosley contended only once for the supporting Emmy, losing that 1978 race to Rob Reiner who won his second of two trophies for "All in the Family." Since "Happy Days" signed off in 1984, Bosley kept busy with several more series ("Murder, She Wrote" and "The Father Dowling Mysteries") as well as returning repeatedly to his first love, the stage, most recently in a tour of "On Golden Pond" with Emmy champ Michael Learned ("The Waltons").  TV GUIDE

Anthony Breznican sits down with Oscar champ Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") to discuss the remake of "True Grit," which reunites him with the Coen brothers 12 years after "The Big Lebowski." USA TODAY

• "Glee" will be showcasing two potential guest actress contenders in upcoming episodes. Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow appears on Nov. 16 as a substitute teacher who takes over the New Directions while six-time Emmy champ Carol Burnett debuts the following week as Sue Sylvester's (Jane Lynch) Nazi-hunting mother. PLAYBILL

• In anticipation of the Blu-ray release of his 1979 best picture nominee "Apocalypse Now," director Francis Ford Coppola chats with Alonso Duralde. MOVIELINE

Sasha Stone assesses the derby in light of the Gotham Award nominations and says, "The Best Picture race is nowhere near set. With each award announcement, the picture becomes clearer. 'Winter’s Bone' didn’t look like it would be one of the ten. 'Secretariat' did. Now, 'Winter’s Bone' looks good, and 'Secretariat' will need something extra to push it through. When the Los Angeles and New York film critics make their announcements, things will again shift. They will keep shifting through the Golden Globes, the Producers Guild, and most importantly, the Directors Guild." AWARDS DAILY

• After making note of the four films sent out by Sony Pictures Classic, Scott Feinberg says, "My only criticism related to SPC’s screeners is the decision -- which admittedly may not have been the studio’s alone — to promote Annette Bening's performance in 'Mother and Child' for best actress. Bening is terrific in the film, but the studio and Bening have to know that she stands an infinitely better chance at a best actress nod for her performance in the much higher-profile 'The Kids Are All Right' and that they -- unlike the people pushing her for that film -- could actually justify pushing her for 'Mother and Child' in the supporting category, which is wide open, because she’s but one member of a large ensemble." SCOTT FEINBERG

Ryan Adams passes along a post from a reader that reviews possible contenders for the cinematography award and finds 40 names in the mix. AWARDS DAILY

Photo: Tom Bosley in a promotional still for "Happy Days." Credit: ABC.

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'The Fighter' trailer packs a punch | Mark Zuckerberg on 'The Social Network' | Sasha Stone: supporting actress race 'wide open'

October 18, 2010 |  2:44 pm

Mark Wahlberg Christian Bale The Fighter • For Kyle Buchanan, the trailer for "The Fighter," which debuted during Sunday's airing of "Mad Men," was a "wowser." He thinks this preview of the biopic starring Mark Wahlberg is expert at "reestablishing the movie as a highbrow awards pick in a two-minute spot so confident that a dessicated, transformative Christian Bale gets less screen time than Melissa Leo's amazing hair. (But what hair it is! Oscars now for that, please.)" VULTURE

Pete Hammond has all the details of the Oscar push for "Alice in Wonderland." As he reports, "this 6th biggest grosser of all time will start an unusual four-day theatrical engagement Sunday aimed squarely at attracting Academy members and Hollywood guilds. A full-page Sunday newspaper ad will launch the 3D run at the Arclight Hollywood and AMC Santa Monica from October 18th to 21st. The run will be accompanied by an exhibit of Colleen Atwood's costumes in the Arclight lobby." DEADLINE

Jeffrey Wells (Hollywood-Elsewhere) and Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) have fun sparring on their fourth Oscar podcast. OSCAR POKER

• Oscar-winning screenwriter Michael Arndt ("Little Miss Sunshine") will deliver the keynote address at the academy's 25th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting presentation dinner Nov. 4 at the Beverly Wilshire. The academy annually awards up to five Nicholl fellowships of $30,000 each. This year, 10 scripts have advanced to the final round. Since the program's inception in 1985, 113 fellowships have been awarded. AMPAS

• Speaking at Stanford University on Saturday, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg addressed being the subject of "The Social Network." As Rachel Sklar reveals, "Says every shirt in the movie he still owns; he's been with the same girl since before FB launched; did not do it for the girls: 'They just can't wrap their head around the idea that someone would build something because they like building things!' " MEDIAITE

• Don't look for Zuckerberg in the audience when the cast of "The Social Network" is feted with the ensemble award at the Hollywood Awards Gala on Oct. 25 at the Beverly Hilton. HFF

• For Guy Lodge, "admittedly, 11 out of 65 is a figure that is only impressive if you're counting the listenable tracks on most latter-day hip-hop albums, but as a measure of the number of Best Foreign Language Film contenders I've seen, it's more than I've ever managed by this early point in the race. For that, I have my growing trail of film festivals to thank (even if I also have Venice schedulers to blame for ensuring that I missed Canada's hot prospect 'Incendies' in favour of, of all things, 'Miral'), and this year's London Film Festival has served me particularly well in this regard." IN CONTENTION

From the Scream Awards, Matt Donnelly filed a dispatch, which opens as follows: "Though merely misty at Los Angeles' Greek Theatre on Saturday, it was raining celebs for Spike TV's Scream Awards -- an annual celebration of creepy, cringe-worthy and fanboy fare. Backed by a massive outdoor set inspired by Christopher Nolan's 'Inception,' tons of bold-face names came to present and claim trophies as well as to unveil new footage from upcoming films. In a tiny gold cocktail dress, Halle Berry opened the show by introducing Nolan, who scooped up several statuettes for his Leonardo DiCaprio-led flick." MINISTRY OF GOSSIP

Sasha Stone surveys the field of potential supporting actress contenders and finds, "This is going to be a wide open category, I suspect, but by December we should have a better idea where it's going." AWARDS DAILY

Nathaniel Rogers concurs, commenting that, "the Supporting Actress Race is, as you've presumably surmised (being the smarty that you are) unpredictable at the moment. Almost everyone who people think might be in the running is an uncertainty." THE FILM EXPERIENCE

Rihanna will be the opening act for the 38th edition of the American Music Awards, airing live on ABC on Nov. 21. That is five days after her new album "Loud" is released. Previously announced performers include Usher, Pink and Bon Jovi. RAP-UP

• Seven-time Emmy champ Ed Asner has inked a deal for a supporting role on "Working Class," the first sitcom from cablecaster CMT. As this report notes, "His return to TV follows recent successes for two fellow cast-mates from the legendary 'Mary Tyler Moore Show': Betty White on TV Land's 'Hot in Cleveland' and Cloris Leachman on Fox's 'Raising Hope.'" AP

• Voting is now underway to determine the nominees for this year's People's Choice Awards. Fans can vote in 40 categories for their favorites in movies, TV and music. The top five nominees in each category will be announced on Nov. 9 and Queen Latifah will host the 37th annual kudocast on Jan. 5. PCA

Photo: Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in "The Fighter." Credit: Paramount

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Gold Derby nuggets: Pete Hammond: Oscars in November | 'The Hobbit' sets starting date | Supporting race surprises

October 15, 2010 |  5:23 pm

• After reviewing the pros and cons of moving the Oscars, Pete Hammond proposes that they should indeed change the ceremony's timing. However, for Pete, such a shift should not be just the few weeks being bandied about as of late but months earlier -- in November. DEADLINE

Sasha Stone considers five films that could replicate the success of "The Blind Side" at this year's Oscars. Leading her list is "For Colored Girls" followed by "Love and Other Drugs" and "Secretariat." "How Do You Know" and "The Town" round out her selections for that slot. AWARDS DAILY

Kris Tapley and Anne Thompson welcome In Contention contributor Guy Lodge and Indie Wire blogger Peter Knegt to the latest installment of their weekly Oscar Talk podcast. IN CONTENTION

The Hobbit • "The Hobbit" is a go, says Sharon Waxman. Peter Jackson, who hauled home three Oscars for his work on the final film in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, is helming the two prequels with lensing on the first to start in February. As Sharon notes, "Jackson was already on board to write and produce 'The Hobbit.' But because of financial turmoil at MGM, which owns half of the franchise together with Warners' New Line Cinema, the project became one of the most torturous in Hollywood history. Sets have already been built in New Zealand, and actors -- including Sir Ian McKellan -- have been on hold for months; Martin Freeman has been rumored to play Bilbo Baggins." THE WRAP

• On Oct. 18 at 1 p.m. ET, former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell will host a live webcast to reveal the nominees for the 20th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards. The awards will be handed out on Nov. 29 at Cipriani Wall Street. In addition to the competitive kudos, actors Robert Duvall and Hilary Swank, director Darren Aronofsky and Focus Features’ CEO James Schamus will each be presented with a career tribute. GOTHAM AWARDS

• With two-time Oscar champ Hilary Swank's latest film, "Conviction," opening Friday, Kyle Buchanan and Claude Brodesser-Aknera analyze her award and career prospects. As they observe, "Unlike many actresses her age, the 36-year-old Swank is better suited for award-caliber dramas than romantic comedies, and while Hollywood is rough on women already, it's even less receptive to the idea of building a mid-priced drama around one." VULTURE

Nathaniel Rogers turns his attention to the supporting actor race. As he notes, "Lately, Oscar voters have been on a villainous bender in the Supporting Actor category. There are many reasons for this, the first being who the hell would deny Ledger in '07, Bardem in '08 and Waltz in '09? But aside from a great quality performance -- not usually the deciding factor -- Oscar has always enjoyed a good stock role, particularly in the Supporting categories. Are they in the mood for The Sidekick, The Villain, The Wisened Old Man/Mentor, The Sad Sack, or The Eccentric Weirdo?" THE FILM EXPERIENCE

Erik Childress makes the provocative suggestion that Annette Bening should consider dropping down to the supporting race for her performance in "The Kids Are All Right." MOVIEFONE

Image: "The Hobbit" book cover. Credit: Houghton Mifflin Co.

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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars not moving ... in 2012 | Clint Eastwood on 'Hereafter' | Matthew Weiner teases 'Mad Men' finale

October 14, 2010 |  4:43 pm

• Looks like the Oscars won't be moving up to January after all as per the following statement: "The Academy’s Board of Governors has determined that the date of the 84th Academy Awards in 2012 will not be significantly earlier than the now-traditional last Sunday in February. A different date still remains a possibility in subsequent years, and the Academy’s staff and Board will continue to evaluate the advantages and challenges associated with such a change."

Anne Thompson analyzes the list of the 65 films contending for the foreign language Oscar and notes, "Per usual, Sony Pictures Classics boasts four entries this year: 'Incendies,' 'Of Gods and Men,' 'In a Better World' and 'Life, Above All,' so many in fact that co-president Tom Bernard was hard-pressed to name them all. Most years, at least one SPC film winds up being nominated, so I’m putting all four on my lead contenders list." Anne rounds out her top 10 with a half-dozen others, including "Biutiful" and "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives." THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

• And Bilge Ebiri handicaps the documentary feature Oscar race with the following expected to make the top five: "Client 9," "Inside Job," "A Piece of Work," "The Tillman Story" and "Waiting for Superman." VULTURE

Clint Eastwood Cecile de France HereafterAnthony Breznican gets the taciturn Clint Eastwood to talk and finds that, "The real Eastwood is quick with a wisecrack, though strangers tend to see only the intimidating visage, not the amiable sense of humor. And he doesn't pretend to have every answer." As Anthony notes, "If anything, his best movies tend to be about irresolvable questions: 'Unforgiven' (1992), about whether violence can ever be justified, or 'Million Dollar Baby' (2004), which explored the pain of how a life should be allowed to end. 'Hereafter' is similar territory." Says Eastwood, "I'm not necessarily trying to find if there is a hereafter. I don't know. I go by proof. If somebody said, 'Do you believe in purgatory and heaven and all that kind of stuff?' I say that's to be proven. But I'm willing to be proven anything." USA TODAY

Dave Karger reports, "A week after the MPAA branded its domestic drama 'Blue Valentine' with an NC-17 rating, the Weinstein Company has decided to appeal the decision and hope for an R without any trims to the film." As Dave notes, "The NC-17 would limit the film’s audience and its Oscar chances. The question is whether the notoriously stubborn MPAA will budge." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Lou Lumenick reveals, "Two Oscar hopefuls have had their December theatrical debuts cancelled after they were tepidly received at last month's film festivals. The Weinstein Co. yanked Julian Schnabel's 'Miral' from a Dec. 3 limited opening and will dump, er, release this decades-spanning drama improbably starring India's Freida Pinto as a Palestinian in March. Meanwhile the Weinsteins' former associates at Disney have pulled the plug on plans to release John ('Shakespeare in Love') Madden's 'The Debt,'' a remake of an Israeli film with Helen Mirren as a guilt-stricken Mossad agent, on Dec. 29. NEW YORK POST

Jeff Wells pens a love letter to Rosamund Pike who has supporting roles in "Made in Dagenham" and "Barney's Version." Says Jeff, "People are going to have to sit down and see these films and realize on their own that Pike is the best thing about both, and then do and say something about that." HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE

• And Peter Knegt points out 10 other performances that could get overlooked in this year's awards derby. Among them "Ghost Writer" adversaries Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor and "Another Year" best friends Jim Broadbent and Peter Wight. INDIE WIRE

• As Joel Keller admits, "I had been trying to pin down an interview with Matthew Weiner since before the fourth season of the show ('Mad Men') began, and we finally were able to sit down and discuss the season earlier this week. What follows is a long, but pretty extensive, overview of season four, and while Weiner doesn't give any details about this Sunday's season finale, he does hope that 'people will see the finale and understand the journey that they went on for the season.'" TV SQUAD

Maureen Dowd uses the upcoming release of "Fair Game" to revisit the real-life controversy seven years on. For Dowd, "The movie makes clear that Plame was not merely 'a secretary' or 'mediocre agent' at the agency, as partisan critics charged at the time, but a respected undercover spy tracking Iraqi W.M.D. efforts." NEW YORK TIMES

John Lopez kicks off the "Little Gold Men" column with an in-depth look at the state of the Oscar race to date. VANITY FAIR

Photo: Clint Eastwood on the set of "Hereafter" with Cecile de France. Photo credit: Warner Bros.

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