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Tom O'Neil has the inside track on Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and all the award shows.

Category: Quentin Tarantino

Hey, where's the love for Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus at Grammy auction?

July 28, 2010 |  8:54 am

How sad. Taylor Swift's "Fearless" reaped a golden gramophone as best album of 2009 at the Grammys, but no one has yet pledged $75 to buy a signed CD at the awards ceremony's EBay auction. One buyer has met the minimum bid of $125 to acquire a baseball cap and Grammy poster signed by three-time Grammy champ Keith Urban, but no one's topped that.

Most curious: Considering all of the superstars who've signed a Breedlove acoustic guitar, you'd expect to see more than one bidder ($800). Among the signees: Adam Sandler, Ke$ha, Norah Jones, Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Quentin Tarantino, Mos Def, Justin Bieber, Jeff Bridges, Lionel Richie, Marc Anthony, Miley Cyrus, Wyclef Jean and Russell Brand.

So far, the highest bid for any item at the auction is $2,500. That's the sum people have offered to pay to be a seat filler at the Grammy ceremony. Ditto to be a VIP guest in the Grammy show's mosh pit.

Hey, music fans: This means there are big bargains to be found at the auction that continues until July 30. Sales benefit MusiCares and the Grammy Foundation.

Miley Cyrus Justin Bieber Taylor Swift Keith Urban news

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For sale at Emmys EBay auction: Signed scripts, set visits, bleacher seats

Photos: National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences

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Oscar predictions smackdown: Tom vs. Pete (the cliffhanger rematch)

March 5, 2010 | 10:58 pm

Over the years, my Envelope colleague and good friend Pete Hammond (Notes on a Season) has trounced me now and then at Academy Award predictions, but I've had a nice run lately. I beat him last year. Most recently, when predicting Oscar nominees, I edged him out. Has my luck finally run its course? Will Pete rally? Usually we disagree in just two or three categories, but this year we clash in seven contests. Who do you think has the most correct Oscar predictions?

Watch videos of me and Pete dishing the Oscars' bias against sci-fi films like "Avatar" and the question of whether or not Sandra Bullock really deserves to win best actress for "The Blind Side."


Oscars academy awards news

BEST PICTURE: "Inglourious Basterds" (Tom), "The Hurt Locker" (Pete)
BEST ACTOR: Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart" (Tom, Pete)
BEST ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side" (Tom, Pete)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds" (Tom, Pete)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo'Nique, "Precious" (Tom, Pete)
BEST DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker" (Tom, Pete)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: "Up In The Air" (Tom, Pete)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: "Inglourious Basterds" (Tom, Pete)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: "Avatar" (Tom Pete)
BEST ART DIRECTION: "Avatar" (Tom, Pete)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: "The Young Victoria" (Tom, Pete)
BEST FILM EDITING: "The Hurt Locker" (Tom, Pete)
BEST SOUND MIXING: "Avatar" (Pete), "The Hurt Locker" (Tom)
BEST SOUND EDITING: "Avatar" (Pete), "The Hurt Locker" (Tom)
BEST MUSIC SCORE: "Up" (Pete, Tom)
BEST SONG: "Weary Kind," "Crazy Heart" (Tom, Pete)
BEST MAKEUP: "Star Trek" (Tom, Pete)
BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS: "Avatar" (Tom, Pete)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: "The Cove" (Tom, Pete)
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: "China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province" (Tom), "The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant" (Pete)
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: "The White Ribbon" (Tom), "The Secret in Their Eyes" (Pete)
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: "Up"
BEST  ANIMATED SHORT: "A Matter of Loaf and Death" (Tom), "Logorama" (Pete)
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT: "Kavi" (Tom), "The New Tenants" (Pete)

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Gold Derby nuggets: Sacha Baron Cohen bounced from Oscars | 'The Hurt Locker' hit by lawsuit | Michael Buble leads with six Juno noms

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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

Illustration by Tom O'Neil

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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars previews and reviews | Whither Oscars ratings? | Emmys live nationwide

March 5, 2010 |  3:07 pm

Oscar nominations 2010 Avatar The Hurt Locker The Blind Side Up in the Air UpMelena Ryzik reviews the road to the Oscars noting that, "first, the move to 10 nominees produced its own wave of critics, armchair and industry insider alike, who grumbled that the expansion would dilute the value of being noticed; or that there should have been a companion doubling of best director nominees; or that the Academy couldn’t come up with 10 good movies, period. This griping largely stopped when the best picture nominees were revealed, and the Academy did exactly what it was supposed to do, pull in unexpected and popular titles like 'The Blind Side,' 'District 9' and 'Up.'" THE CARPETBAGGER

• In his thorough preview, Scott Bowles says, "Leave it to Oscar to pile on the drama. For starters, you have ex-spouses as competing directors vying for the same short metal trophy. Then there's the David and Goliath thing as the biggest film of all time squares off against one of the most obscure for best picture. Oh, and the voting rules have changed, along with the number of contestants. Don't feel bad if you can't recall all 10 movies in line for best picture at Sunday night's Academy Awards. This season, Oscar looks nothing like his old self. That's the point." USA TODAY

Cathy Yan profiles four first-time filmmakers -- Scott Cooper ("Crazy Heart"), Neill Blomkamp ("District 9"), Oren Moverman ("The Messenger"), and Mark Webb ("(500) Days of Summer") -- who hit the jackpot as their debuts are in contention at the Oscars. WALL STREET JOURNAL

• Wondering "whatever happened to the Oscars sweep," Tom Shone discovers, "the Academy has always liked to spread the wealth, of course, but this fragmentation testifies to a deeper economic shift in the movie industry. There are blockbusters and there are low-budget indies, but gone is the middle-class movie that used to provide the Academy with its prize winners: middle-brow, mid-priced “prestige” pics like 'Driving Miss Daisy,' 'Amadeus,' and 'Dances With Wolves,' films that hymned the moral efficacy of a single individual. As one Disney producer recently remarked, 'Everything in the middle is toast.' This year, for instance, the typical Oscar movie was Clint Eastwood’s 'Invictus.' which had barely finished shooting before it had been tagged and handicapped for Oscar glory, solely on the basis of its subject (Nelson Mandela) and its genre (Sports Underdog Movie). In fact, it turned out to be an undernourished piece of work, and though it grabbed two acting nominations, it was boxed out of Best Picture and Director by the gritty Iraq war drama 'The Hurt Locker,' which cost just $16 million, and James Cameron’s special-effects epic 'Avatar,' which cost upwards of $300 million: the indie and the blockbuster, exactly the two types of movie Spielberg predicted would inherit the earth." NEW YORK

Oscars Steve Martin Alec Baldwin • Says Bill Gorman, "considering the Academy Awards viewership peak was the last time James Cameron made a movie ('Titanic' also the top grossing of all time, at the time), I’d be stunned if we didn’t see an increase in the ratings this year. Forty million average viewers would not surprise me at all, but above 45 million would." TV BY THE NUMBERS

• After chatting with the Oscarcast producers Steve Pond reports, "So far, the Academy has announced the names of 31 presenters, one of whom, Sacha Baron Cohen, has since dropped out. Most years, that would constitute most of the lineup -- but this year, a staffer says that the roster of presenters has been expanded from the usual 40-50 to about 70. With 24 categories, along with the 10 Best Picture clips, a mid-show dance number and other assorted film packages, that means we’ll undoubtedly see very few solo presenters, lots of couples, and some larger groups." THE ODDS

• Veteran Oscarologist Jack Mathews thinks, "If the Academy hopes to ever get its TV Oscar ratings back up, it will have do something more dramatic than having Miley Cyrus and Taylor Lautner present awards. It needs to move the show up, way up, to mid-January, at least. That would create chaos among other organizations and awards schedules, but so what? All the earlier awards -- whether given by critics, industry guilds or fan clubs like the National Board of Review -- are parasites that draw the blood out of Oscar's body long before it's ready for its close-up. So here we are, two days before the Big Night, talking about awards that have been decided for weeks, if not months." MOVIEFONE

Susan Wloszczyna along with Damien Bona, Steve Pond, and yours truly consider the fates of 10 previous Oscar winners. Among them, "the prom king and queen" Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, "missing in action" Helen Hunt and Joe Pesci, and "history makers" Halle Berry and Denzel Washington. USA TODAY

Dave Karger says, "In the fifth of my series of six OscarWatch TV installments (and the final episode before this Sunday’s ceremony), Missy Schwartz and I tackle the two races that have the most people talking this year: Best Picture and Best Actress." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Emmy Awards EmmysRick Porter reports NBC will air the Emmys live coast-to-coast for the first time in more than three decades. "NBC aired the Golden Globes live across the country this year and had some success with it; ratings were up by about 10 percent over the 2009 awards. The Emmys are scheduled for Aug. 29 -- earlier than usual so as not to interfere with NBC's 'Sunday Night Football' broadcasts, which will kick off in September." ZAP2IT

• Attention, Emmy police: You really need to pay more attention to the illegal sale of statuettes on the Web just like the Oscars, who are ruthless enforcers. While Oscar statuettes won after 1950 cannot be legally sold, the Emmys bestowed all the way up till the late 1970s are fair game. After that, no dice. That's when winners started to sign affidavits promising they wouldn't sell out. However, every year dozens of illegal Emmy statuettes are sold on line. Like this one currently at Ebay: best costume design, "General Hospital" (1997-1998). Lucky for the TV academies, it's priced ridiculously high ($15,000). Its actual market value is about one-tenth of that price, so it's not likely to sell for the asking price. EBAY

Michael Adams makes merry with 1966's "The Oscar," which he deftly describes as, "that filmic fondue, a cauldron of cheese cooked up by director Russell Rouse, writer Harlan Ellison, stars Stephen Boyd and Tony Bennett, and a who’s who of Hollywood donating cameos." MOVIELINE

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Top photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

Middle photo: 82nd annual Academy Awards poster. Credit:ABC

Bottom photo: Emmy Awards statues. Credit: ATAS

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Oscar derby update: Surprise wins for best picture and actress?

March 4, 2010 |  3:48 pm

Don't believe Oscar pundits who are over-smug about their predictions. Some suspense still surrounds who'll win the Academy Awards in a few top races, including best picture, actress and original screenplay.

Oscars Academy Awards news The Hurt Locker

Yes, virtually all pundits say "The Hurt Locker" will prevail for the top Oscar, but it's really been hurting lately, being under attack from three fronts: 1.) for not being accurate; 2.) for being too accurate (an army sergeant claims the movie rips off his own story); 3.) for its producer being banned from the ceremony for breaking campaign rules.

Most of this hubbub has occurred at the tail end of the voting period, but many academy members were late submitting their choices, confused over how to fill out the preferential ballot for best picture. According to one report, more than 1,500 out of 5,800 ballots were still out late last week and more than 500 were submitted on the final deadline day (Tuesday).

Late submission probably helps "Inglourious Basterds," which got a post-noms push from Quentin Tarantino's pals, who threw him bashes on both coasts to rally support that might've come earlier if Weinstein Co. had given up on "Nine" when its kudos prospects started to fade. Most Oscar voters I've dished with say that they ranked "Basterds" in one of their top three slots. That's not true of "Avatar," which has lots of No. 1 ranked votes -- probably more than "Basterds" -- but also lots of lower rankings, which pulls down its over-all prospects.

"The Hurt Locker" seems to have the most No. 1 votes, but it's also ranked low by many voters. Some are irked by the blitz of recent bad news. Others think the film is overrated. Bottom line: It doesn't fit the typical Oscar profile of a best-picture winner, so it's vulnerable. It doesn't feature A-list stars. It was a box-office flop. It's about the Iraqi war, a subject that's usually cursed at the Oscars. Nonetheless, "The Hurt Locker's" support among Oscar voters is immense and wide. If I was betting a ranch, I'd put it on "The Hurt Locker" to win best picture, but since I'm merely wagering my professional reputation, I'll stick with "Basterds" as my official prediction, thank you.

As for best actress: Yes, Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") seems to be ahead, according to pundits. But they're not academy members. When you talk with actual Oscar voters, you hear many of them say that the film and Bullock's performance are too lightweight. You hear lots of votes for Meryl Streep ("Julie & Julia"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and -- surprise -- Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious"). Still, smart money is on Bullock considering she won both the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards and seems to have the most buzz across Hollywood.

If "The Hurt Locker" pulls off a sweep, as many pundits believe, then it may take the Oscar for original screenplay with it. Right now that category seems like the property of "Basterds," but sweeps are powerful things. If this one is strong enough, it could mean victories for screenplay, cinematography and both sound categories too  -- all races that are currently up in the air.

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Illustration by Tom O'Neil

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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars countdown | James Cameron OK with 'Avatar' Oscars spoof | Oscar gold equals box office green

March 4, 2010 |  2:10 pm

Oscars New Members movie news 1357986Sandy Cohen reports, "Oscar producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic are bridging stage and screen with an advanced, automated set at the Kodak Theatre and a super high-tech program planned for TV viewers. After days of technical tests on their stage setup, Shankman and Mechanic moved into the Kodak Theatre Wednesday, where they're seeing their whole show come to life in person and on screen. 'Today's the first day we're up fully running,' Mechanic says. 'We had three days of tech and now it's camera...' 'Camera, scripting, scenic transition, we're camera-blocking some stuff,' Shankman says, finishing his partner's sentence. 'This is probably as technically advanced a show as you've ever seen or as you will have ever seen,' Mechanic says. 'But what I really like about it, and yes that's true,' Shankman says. 'But on the monitors it actually looks much more simple in a weird way. It's elegant and it is more advanced but it's actually very focused and very simple.' " AP

• Half a dozen Oscar nominees have the added pressure of presenting on Sunday's big show. Two of the six already have Oscars on their shelves. Both supporting-actor contender Matt Damon ("Invictus") and writer-director Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds") won original-screenplay Oscars, Tarantino in 1994 for "Pulp Fiction" and Damon three years later for "Good Will Hunting." Five-time nominee Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") is the favorite in the lead-actor race this year, as is first-time nominee Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") in the lead-actress race. Also presenting are first-time nominees Carey Mulligan ("An Education") and Anna Kendrick ("Up in the Air"). AMPAS

Oscar nominee Lee Daniels ("Precious") tells Donna Freydkin that "work has been a welcome distraction from the madness of awards season. 'Simultaneously I'm working on a pilot for HBO. It pulls me away from having to think about the Oscars. It's God's way of pulling me away.' Daniels is very busy prepping the feature film 'Selma' about the civil rights struggle and says, 'I have to really start casting the movie because we're shooting it soon. The only person I've nailed in for sure is Hugh Jackman. It's all over the place.' " USA TODAY

James Cameron Avatar OscarsCristina Gibson says, "At least one person wouldn't mind an 'Avatar' Academy Awards this Sunday. James Cameron. The Oscar-nominated director told me this exclusively tonight at the Global Green party at Avalon. Cameron said he wasn't aware that a proposed 'Avatar' sketch involving Ben Stiller and Sacha Baron Cohen had been cut from the show, presumably to avoid upsetting the director. 'I don't know anything about that. ... I don't produce the Oscars. If they want to poke fun at 'Avatar' Sunday, that's OK by me,' said Cameron, 'I'm sure we'll laugh.' " E ONLINE

• The second edition of "The Oprah Winfrey Oscars Special" on ABC -- which paired up Oscar champs and nominees like Halle Berry ("Monster's Ball") and Penelope Cruz ("Nine") as well as James Cameron and his "Avatar" cast for intimate conversations with narration by Winfrey -- was a bust in the ratings Wednesday, down 19% from the recently canceled "Ugly Betty" in the time slot. THE LIVE FEED

• Had Winfrey worked the late-night circuit like Barbara Walters has been doing in advance of her final Oscar-night special, she might have reaped more ratings points. Walters did the top 10 on Wednesday's "Late Show With David Letterman" and then dropped by "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" to dish on her decision to stop these gabfests after 29 years.

• As Zachary Pincus-Roth discovers, "In recent years, a number of Oscar-nominated performances have involved some form of low-talking, be it mumbling, muttering, slurring, or a lack of volume, either because of the actor's choice or the requirements of the role. It's not that they're completely unintelligible -- it's that on the spectrum that runs from Laurence Olivier in 'Richard III' to the Olsen twins in 'Full House,' they're a few standard deviations toward the latter. Every year, there are at least one or two acting nominees who are in this category, and this year it's Jeff Bridges and the tight-lipped Gabourey Sidibe in 'Precious.' Last year, it was Frank Langella's gravelly former president in 'Frost/Nixon' and Robert Downey, Jr.'s white actor pretending to be black in 'Tropic Thunder.' Recent low-talking winners include Tim Robbins in 'Mystic River,' Javier Bardem in 'No Country for Old Men,' Renée Zellweger in 'Cold Mountain,' Benicio Del Toro in 'Traffic,' and Jamie Foxx in "Ray.'" THE DAILY BEAST

Sandra Bullock • In a fascinating read, Michael Cieply writes, "When the estimated salaries of all 10 of the top acting nominees are combined, the total is only a little larger than the $20 million that went to Julia Roberts for her appearance in 'Erin Brockovich,' a best-picture nominee in 2001, or to Russell Crowe for 'Master and Commander,' nominated in 2004." As Michael reports, "the fashionable deal now is called 'CB zero.' It stands for “cash-break zero,” and refers to an arrangement under which the star or filmmaker begins collecting a share of profits after the studio has reached the break-even point. Such deals can be extremely lucrative when they give stars a substantial share in home-video revenue. So Sandra Bullock, who cut her usual $10 million fee to just $5 million for 'The Blind Side,' another of this year’s nominees, will eventually make $20 million or more from the movie because it was a hit. Mr. Clooney similarly stands to make additional millions when all the revenue from 'Up in the Air' is finally counted." NEW YORK TIMES

• Everyone can predict the winners in at least a couple of the Oscar races this year -- supporting actor and actress for a start. But getting them all wrong -- that takes talent. Sasha Stone is running a contest looking for someone to score 0 out of 24. But be warned for, as Sasha writes, " It is a lot harder than you might think.  My friend Ed is the one who does this every year, and despite his best intentions, last year he actually got a few right." AWARDS DAILY

• That sassy Tariq Khan is not content just to be aces at predicting the Oscars; now he wants to be part of the action and has offered up some jokes for your consideration. As he writes, "Hosting the Oscars is no easy task. Just ask David Letterman. (Remember the “Uma …Oprah” bit?) Keeping the show moving and the audience laughing for as long as four hours requires a lot of humor. But not just any humor -- OSCAR humor. To help out this year’s co-hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, Fox411 has come up with some award-worthy jokes. We think they’re pretty funny and bet that the Academy (and Oscar audience) will, too. So Steve and Alec -- please feel free to read, laugh and lift from the list below. And if you use any of them, maybe you can give 411 a little plug. That’s not too complicated, is it?" FOX 411

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Top photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

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

Bottom photo: Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side." Credit: Warners

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'The Hurt Locker' accuracy questioned | Sandra Bullock vs. Meryl Streep

February 24, 2010 |  5:45 pm

The Hurt Locker Oscars • After acknowledging he is not a film critic, Paul Rieckhoff, executive director and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), writes in a guest column for Newsweek: "As a voice of the new veterans' movement, and of thousands of IAVA members across the country, I have a responsibility to serve as pop-culture watchdog, and to help the American public understand what accurately depicts the military's experience in Iraq and what doesn't. Especially because with less than 1 percent of American citizens now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, films are one of the few ways to connect the other 99 percent of Americans to the reality of modern combat." He then says, "'The Hurt Locker' tries to articulate that experience, but those of us who have served in the military couldn't help but be distracted by a litany of inaccuracies that reveal not only a lack of research, but ultimately respect for the American military" and catalogs these errors. Rieckhoff concludes, "Americans want to think they know what the ground truth is in Iraq, but until Hollywood and the media give them the right information, our experience will continue to be lost in translation. So someone, do us a favor and tell our story properly. Or maybe Hollywood will help one of us tell it ourselves." NEWSWEEK

Christopher Torchia talks to the members of a bomb disposal squad in Afghanistan and discovers "finding and destroying IEDs is, of course, slower and more nuanced than the high-octane version portrayed in the movie thriller directed by Kathryn Bigelow, which could make a run for the Oscars." While the soldiers like "The Hurt Locker" well enough as a movie, they questioned its accuracy. Platoon leader Sgt. 1st Class Natividad Ruiz said, "We don't dress up in that big old suit," referring to the heavy bomb gear worn in the movie. Staff. Sgt. Joshua Rickerts "said his job was about teamwork, and that the movie's portrayal of 'an EOD guy gone rogue' was inaccurate, though he acknowledged its entertainment value." And Senior Airman Kyle Brown said, "Some of the things he does in the movie -- quite out there. I wouldn't say we were that undisciplined. It makes us look like rebels in the military." AP

Pete Hammond surveys the Oscars race and observes, "Most see this as 'The Hurt Locker' versus 'Avatar,' or David versus Goliath as it has been called so many times. Now in the final stretch, with awards galore and the wind behind its back, 'The Hurt Locker,' it seems, has turned into Goliath and 'Avatar' is becoming David. Weird. The real question is, what 'message' do academy voters want to send? Do they want to embrace the future, the global popularity and the success of 'Avatar'? Or the independent spirit and pure visceral film experience of 'Hurt Locker'? Or will those 'Basterds' creep in?" NOTES ON A SEASON

Sandra Bullock Meryl Streep OscarsAnne Thompson writes, "At this stage of the Oscar race, Jeff Bridges ('Crazy Heart') has taken the momentum away from  former front-runner George Clooney ('Up in the Air') for Best Actor, but some in Hollywood sense growing support for newcomer Jeremy Renner ('The Hurt Locker'). Meanwhile, rookie Oscar nominee Sandra Bullock ('The Blind Side') and 16-time nominee, two-time winner Meryl Streep are in a tight race for Best Actress. In this dueling blog, Moviefone Oscarologist Jack Mathews and I consider the odds of a Renner upset and another Streep defeat." THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

Scott Feinberg crunches the numbers for the 81 best actress races to date at the Oscars and discovers that the statistics favor a win by Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side"). Among the factoids Scott uncovers: "Since the first SAG Awards in 1994, only 4 women have won the Golden Globe for best actress (either drama or comedy/musical) but not the SAG Award for best actress and still gone on to win the best actress Oscar. This bodes well for Bullock, but not for Streep." AND THE WINNER IS

•The academy is celebrating the Oscars with a week-long series of screenings and symposia at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. It is not surprising that the screenings of the nominated shorts -- at a bargain $5 for the public and just $3 for members -- are selling out while the free sessions on foreign film and makeup and hair are fully booked. AMPAS

Melena Ryzik has fun with the following news: "In a move that absolutely no one saw coming whatsoever, 'Avatar' swept the International 3D Society’s inaugural awards. It got both the month-old group’s top prize and a People’s Choice award for best live-action film over worthy competitors like 'G-Force' and 'Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.' Somewhere, Nick Jonas is crying. Giovanni Ribisi, who played a baddie but not the baddest of the bunch in 'Avatar,' accepted the awards on its behalf. 'Up' won best 3-D animated film. Nope, not predictable at all." THE CARPETBAGGER

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Top photo: Scene from "The Hurt Locker." Credit: Summit

Bottom photos: Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side" (Warners) and Meryl Streep in "Julie & Julia" (Columbia).

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

February 23, 2010 |  4:12 pm

The Hurt Locker poster • Before revealing that he is sticking with "The Hurt Locker" for the best picture Oscar, Dave Karger recaps the derby parallels between that film and "Brokeback Mountain" four years ago: "'Brokeback' managed the rare feat of winning Best Picture and Best Director at both the New York and Los Angeles film critics awards; so did 'Hurt Locker.' 'Brokeback' also picked up those two big prizes at the Broadcast Film Critics Awards; so did 'Hurt Locker.' 'Brokeback' won the trifecta of PGA, DGA, and WGA trophies; so did 'Hurt Locker. 'Brokeback' won 4 BAFTAs, including Best Film, Director, and Screenplay; 'Hurt Locker' picked up 6 awards, including Best Film, Director, and Screenplay. And of course, 'Brokeback' lost the SAG cast award, and so did 'Hurt Locker.' (The main difference between the two films’ tallies is that 'Brokeback' did win four Globes, including Best Drama and Best Director, while 'Hurt Locker' went 0 for 3.)" ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

• After noting that, "'The Hurt Locker' director Kathryn Bigelow could be the first woman to win Best Director, a triumph for female filmmakers everywhere," Nicole Laporte wonders, "is the Academy voting for her movie or her gender?" She begins her analysis of the issue with this anecdote: "At a recent awards ceremony where Bigelow accepted one of the many accolades she's earned on the pre-Oscar circuit, Bigelow, who is 58, was met with a whooping cry of 'Go, Girl!' It was the kind of remark that's hard not to smile at -- at least, at first -- but that lingers in the air, eliciting a longer-lasting cringe, and ultimately dumps out a suitcase's worth of sexist issues of the sort that have been trailing Bigelow on her long march to the Academy Awards." THE DAILY BEAST

Pete Hammond reports, "campaigners are pulling out all the stops trying to position their movie as the one with the gravitas that befits a best picture winner. In addition to the usual trade and newspaper ads, TV spots and billboards, at least one 'Hurt Locker' nominee apparently feels the best way may be hand-to-hand combat via e-mail. The Academy may frown at this direct attempt to contact its members, but 'Hurt Locker' co-producer Nicholas Chartier, who through his Voltage Pictures was the film's key financing wizard, is making pleas to friends and friends of friends to get out the vote for 'Hurt Locker' like it was some sort of political grass-roots campaign. His pitch isn't so much about the quality of the film, but rather its independent nature versus that movie with the blue people that cost so much to make. He doesn't mention 'Avatar' by name." NOTES ON A SEASON

• Gold Derby's Emmys forum has been buzzing with speculation over which category Showtime will enter "Dexter" star John Lithgow: supporting or guest? Lithgow recently won the Golden Globe in the supporting slot, but Showtime media chief Richard Licata tells us that Lithgow will compete in the guest slot at the Emmys. The actor won the first of his four Emmys as a guest performer on the series "Amazing Stories" back in 1986. The other three came for his regular lead role on the laffer "Third Rock From the Sun."

The Blind Side PosterSasha Stone offers up her Oscar predictions in a compelling piece of writing that includes these observations: "In the Best Actress category, it is perhaps a three-way race, with Sandra Bullock firmly in the lead, followed by Meryl Streep and then perhaps Carey Mulligan in a possible upset. There is little doubt that Meryl Streep gave the best performance, but Sandra Bullock has paid her dues and 'The Blind Side' managed to get a Best Picture nomination, which is practically a miracle. For Bullock to lose at this point there would have to be a good reason for it -- and that reason would probably be something like a messy divorce or a bar room brawl. Best Actor still feels like it’s Jeff Bridges’ to lose. There isn’t anyone gaining Adrien Brody-like steam. The only one would have been Viggo Mortensen in 'The Road' but he didn’t get a nod. Jeff Bridges is so beloved and his performance was so good -- and he was in a movie that people seem to really like, certainly enough to give Maggie Gyllnehaal the supporting nod." She also says, "Supporting actor and actress couldn’t be more locked. Both will seen as the big wins for their respective films, which means they can’t really lose. The two open categories right now are still Picture and Original Screenplay in the major categories. Everyone is so quick to call the race done and done, but the truth is, with ten nominees and preferential ballot, anything could happen." AWARDS DAILY

Randy Lewis reports, "Jeff Bridges, T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham will make what may be their swan song appearance together in conjunction with the film 'Crazy Heart' when they perform one of the movie’s songs at  the 25h anniversary Spirit Awards ceremony on March 5 in Los Angeles. Rather than singing the much-lauded theme 'The Weary Kind,' the best-song Oscar-nominee that Bingham and Burnett wrote, the trio plans to offer up 'Fallin’ and Flyin’, written by the late Texas singer and songwriter Stephen Bruton, who oversaw the film’s music with producer and longtime friend Burnett. Bruton died of cancer shortly after completing work on the music." POP & HISS

Roger Friedman reports, "Monday night in the main ballroom at the Plaza Hotel, AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, gave its lifetime achievement awards to an eclectic bunch. They were: 'Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, CBS' Charles Osgood, 'Soul Man' Sam Moore, the cast of 'Sesame Street' and Latin American artist Juanes. The winners inspired an equally eclectic group of presenters: Don Imus, for Sam Moore; Tony Bennett, for Juanes; Bill Geist for Osgood." SHOWBIZ 411

Oscars Expanded Best Picture RaceMelena Ryzik makes merry with the academy's proposed party kit for Oscar night. "When you think Oscars, you think, 'Bingo!' right? The Academy’s reaching-out-to-the-youth campaign continues with snazzy party-planning tips on its website, including a downloadable card for Oscar bingo, with squares for 'Crying,' 'Winner Accepts Oscar in a Foreign Language' and, mystifyingly, 'Lauren Bacall.' (Spoiler?!) Also on the Academy’s fun primer -- available at oscars.org/partykit -- is a video with Cheryl Cecchetto, a producer of the Governors Ball, the official Oscar afterparty, offering 10 tips for throwing your own Oscar-watching party. 'Must-have number three,' according to Ms. Cecchetto: 'Set the mood by featuring the soundtracks of the nominated pictures.' (Right, since you won’t be hearing them on the actual show.) And must-have No. 4 is 'Champagne, Champagne and more Champagne.' No argument there." THE CARPETBAGGER

• While Heidi Klum won't be on hand, the academy is staging its own version of "Project Runway" this year. Nine up and coming designers -- five from LA, two from New York, and one each from Chicago and Phoenix -- have created gowns to be worn by the models who appear onstage at the Kodak Theater. But only of their creations will make it to the Oscars with online voting from now till March 1 determining the winner. The unveiling of this design will be in the pre-show airing on ABC just before the Oscars on March 7. AMPAS

• One star who has definite ideas about what she will be wearing to the Oscars is best actress nominee Carey Mulligan ("An Education"). As Phil Boucher writes, "Having already appeared once in Vogue, is Mulligan taking editor-in-chief Anna Wintour’s advice on what to wear to the Oscars? Not according to Mulligan, who has visions of her own. 'Anna said I should wear short for the Oscars,' says Mulligan. 'I was like 'No, that is so not what I had in my head when I was six years old!'" PEOPLE

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

Middle photo: "The Blind Side" poster. Credit: Warners

Bottom photo: Academy Award statuettes. Credit: AMPAS

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'The Hurt Locker' wins six BAFTA Awards

February 21, 2010 |  2:34 pm

The Hurt Locker poster "The Hurt Locker" won six of its eight races at the BAFTA Awards in London including the top prize of best picture. Since the BAFTAs were moved up in 2000 to take place while academy members were still voting for the Oscars, these laurels have foreseen only three of the nine best-picture winners: "Gladiator" (2000), "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003) and last year's "Slumdog Millionaire."

Unlike this year's Oscars, there were only five films nominated for the top BAFTA and the winner was decided by a simple vote count. Of the four other nominees, all of which are also in contention at the Oscars, "Avatar" took two of its eight races, production design and visual effects; "An Education" prevailed with just one of its eight nominations, best actress (Carey Mulligan); "Up in the Air" went one for six winning adapted screenplay; and "Precious" came out on top in one of its four categories, supporting actress (Mo'Nique).

The BAFTAs have done better at predicting the acting Oscar champs since the date change. Of the 36 acting Oscars handed out this decade, 22 went to BAFTA winners. In 2006 and 2007, all four BAFTA champs went on to win at the Oscars. Last year, three of the four BAFTA winners repeated at the Academy Awards; Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler") was the exception. 

However, this year the BAFTA track record is likely to be just two for four. The lead acting BAFTAs went to two homegrown stars, neither of whom is favored at the Oscars: Colin Firth winning the only award for "A Single Man" and Mulligan doing the same for "An Education." However, the supporting BAFTAs were won by, no surprise, Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") and Mo'Nique. 

That win by Waltz was the only one for "Inglourious Basterds," which had six nominations including directing and screenplay bids by Quentin Tarantino.It was not nominated for best picture, however. Among the other best-picture Oscar hopefuls, "District 9" lost all seven of its races; "Up" took two of its four categories, animated film and score; and "A Serious Man" lost its only BAFTA bid, for original screenplay, to "The Hurt Locker." As "The Blind Side" has yet to open in Britain, it was not eligible for consideration.

Thus that film's star, Oscars front-runner Sandra Bullock,  was not eligible to contend here for best actress. Mulligan -- the only English rose in the BAFTA bunch -- bested two of her American Oscar rivals -- veteran Meryl Streep, who scored her 12th nomination for "Julie & Julia," and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious") -- as well as two second-time nominees -- Ireland's Saoirse Ronan ("The Lovely Bones") and France's Audrey Tautou ("Coco Before Chanel"). The BAFTA best actress has won the Oscar six of nine times this decade.

To win best actor, one-time past nominee Firth edged out three of his Oscar competitors -- three-time previous BAFTA nominee George Clooney ("Up in the Air") and first-time contenders Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") and Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker") -- as well as fellow Brit and first-time nominee Andy Serkis ("Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll"). The BAFTA best actor has repeated at the Oscars five of nine times this decade.

In the supporting actor race, Waltz won over just one other Oscar nominee, Stanley Tucci ("The Lovely Bones"), and Mo'Nique bested the Oscar-nominated "Up in the Air" co-stars Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. The BAFTA supporting actor champ has prevailed at the Oscars four of nine years, and the supporting actress winner has taken home the Oscar an impressive seven of nine times.

Although only four of the nine BAFTA directing champs of this decade went on to victory at the Oscars, this year's winner, Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker"), is likely to even those odds. Two of her Oscar rivals  -- James Cameron ("Avatar") and Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds") -- were also in contention at the BAFTAs.

Among the other highlights of the ceremony at the Royal Opera House, Prince William, the newly announced president of the British academy, and Uma Thurman presented the fellowship -- the equivalent of the honorary Oscar -- to Vanessa Redgrave.

For the full list of winners visit the BAFTA website.

Photo: "The Hurt Locker" poster. Credit: Summit

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Gold Derby nuggets: Oscars nixed 'Bruno' for host | Dave Karger BAFTAs predix | WGA Awards preview

February 19, 2010 |  3:26 pm

Bruno Oscars Sacha Baron Cohen • The Oscars took pity on the poor ABC censor when they said no to rookie show producers Bill Mechanic's and Adam Shankman's idea to have Sacha Baron Cohen ("Bruno") host the Oscars. As Shankman told "Fresh Air" host Terry Gross, "it would just be spectacular. But I think the Academy felt like not only is it unpredictable but it could overshadow the nominees. Then we immediately went to this idea of co-host." Among the other tidbits he shared was this one about the presentation of the acting Oscars: "We're doing something a little bit different with it, but in point of fact, something like that is going to be done and the way we're doing it has to do with a bit more of interconnectivity because what was really, really stunning about last year the way they did that was the video clip buildup to the reveal of the stars, I mean the editing of that stuff was so breathtaking and so big that when those screens went up and you saw the five walk out, you're just like going, whoa, my God, it was so dramatic and beautiful." NPR

• As well as all those previous Academy Award winners, last year's Oscars also had "Twilight" star Robert Pattinson presenting. This year, the other two sides of the love triangle at the heart of the film -- Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner -- will be onstage at the Kodak Theatre on March 7. Stewart admitted to Mark Malkin that she is very nervous. "I'm trying to pick shoes that I know I won't fall down in." E ONLINE

• "Up in the Air" novelist Walter Kirn will be in the audience after all to see whether Stewart falls. Following his earlier airing of his frustration that he had not been invited to the Oscars, today he tweeted: "thanks to Paramount Pictures for coming through with Oscar tickets and proving true to its word, which i shouldn't have doubted." TWITTER

Bafta StatueDave Karger says, "I've always been a firm believer in the power of the BAFTA Awards to give us an idea of how the overall awards-season winds may be shifting. After all, 'The Hurt Locker' tied 'Avatar' with the most nominations at the BAFTAs before it managed the same feat on Oscar nomination day. But then there’s the BAFTA wild card, 'An Education,' which also scored eight nods." Says Dave, "Avatar" will win best picture while for best director "clearly this is a race between Cameron and Bigelow. I’m wondering if 'The Hurt Locker' might be too American-indie feeling to sway the British voters, but I still think Bigelow will take it." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Pete Hammond reports, "Voters seem more confused than ever on the new preferential voting even though the academy tried to diligently spell out specific instructions for members who may be ballot-challenged when it comes to selecting their best picture choices in order of preference. One academy member, a savvy publicist I know who has worked on many campaigns, is puzzled himself by the new process that requires voters to rank the 10 nominees. 'I have read the instructions four times now, and I still don't know what they want from me,' he said in total frustration. 'I have no dog in this hunt this year, but if I can't figure this out, how do they expect others to, especially the older ones used to just picking one winner?'" NOTES ON A SEASON

• And Jack Mathews bemoans the late date of this year's Oscars. "The Academy Awards season, even with a mid-to-late February finale, is far too long. And as it has turned out this year, as it turns out in most years now, many of the winners are known long before the show. Current example: Golden Globe and SAG winners Jeff Bridges ('Crazy Heart'), Sandra Bullock ('The Blind Side'), Christoph Waltz ('Inglourious Basterds') and Mo'Nique ('Precious') have nothing to fear but forgetting people to thank on March 7." MOVIEFONE

Wga-awardSasha Stone delivers an insightful analysis of this Saturday's WGA Awards. Says Sasha, "Since 'Inglourious Basterds,' 'In the Loop,' 'District 9,' 'The Messenger,' Up,' and 'An Education' were all ineligible for the WGA, things are bumped off the rails even more. It could mean that, for the first time in five years, there will be a mis-match in Original Screenplay." She concludes with, "for now, I’m going with 'The Hurt Locker' and 'Up in the Air' for the WGAs and 'Inglourious Basterds' and 'Up in the Air' for the Oscar." AWARDS DAILY

Top photo: "Bruno" publicity still. Credit: Universal. Middle photo: BAFTA statuette. Credit: British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Bottom photo: Writers Guild of America award. Credit: WGA

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'Avatar' leads with 10 Saturn Awards nominations

February 19, 2010 | 11:08 am

Avatar Oscars Nuggets"Avatar" leads the competition at the upcoming Saturn Awards, with 10 nominations including bids for best fantasy picture, leads Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana and supporting players Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver.

"Sherlock Holmes" has eight nominations while "Watchmen" and "Inglorious Basterds" earned seven apiece. "District 9" and "Star Trek" both contend in six races, though Oscar nominee "District 9" did not earn a best picture bid from these kudos.

This 36th annual edition of the awards honors films across four genres -- sci-fi, fantasy, horror and action/adventure/thriller. Though there are four best film awards, the other categories cull nominees from all four genres.

The best director race includes "Avatar" helmer James Cameron -- who has won this award four times -- and two of his Oscar rivals Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") and Quentin Tarantino ("Inglorious Basterds"), with both their films contending in the catch-all action/adventure/thriller category. The other nominees: J.J. Abrams ("Star Trek"), Neil Blomkamp ("District 9"), Guy Ritchie ("Sherlock Holmes") and Zack Snyder ("Watchmen").

Robert Downey Jr. -- who won the best actor award last year for "Iron Man" and in 1993 for "Heart and Souls" -- is nominated for "Sherlock Holmes" against "Brothers" star Tobey McGuire -- who won in 2004 for "Spider-Man 2" -- four-time runner-up Viggo Mortensen ("The Road") and first-time nominees Denzel Washington ("The Book of Eli") and Worthington.

The best actress race includes first-time nominees Melanie Laurent ("Inglorious Basterds"), Alison Lohman ("Drag Me to Hell") and Saldana as well as "Brothers" star Natalie Portman -- who won this race in 2007 for "V is for Vendetta" -- two-time nominee Charlize Theron ("The Burning Plain") and one-time nominee Catherine Keener ("Where the Wild Things Are"). 

Members of the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror decide on both nominees and the winners, which will be announced June 24. Begun in 1972 to honor often overlooked films, the organization has expanded its reach in recent years, adding TV awards in 1989 as well as that expanded category of action/adventure/thriller films in 1994 and DVD releases in 2003.

For the full list of nominees, visit the academy's website.

Photo: "Avatar" publicity still. Credit: Fox

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Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' actors snub explained | Harvey Weinstein campaign tactics | Tina Fey encoring Sarah Palin?

February 18, 2010 |  4:49 pm

Avatar single shot 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.

Inglorious Basterds posterNicole 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 Sarah Palin SNL Emmy Awards Guest Actress Entertainment News 2468097Tina 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

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Gold Derby nuggets: Brits go Lady Gaga | Oscars set set | Prince William presenting at BAFTAs

February 17, 2010 |  5:03 pm

Lady Gaga BritsLady Gaga went three for three at Tuesday's Brit Awards in London, winning international album, female and breakthrough act. Home-grown boy band JLS won best British breakthrough act and best single for "Beat Again." Dizzee Rascal, Florence and the Machine and Lily Allen also picked up prizes. "Two special categories were created to celebrate the 30th Brits ceremony -- the Spice Girls' 1997 performance of their hits 'Wannabe' and 'Who Do You Think You Are' was named the best moment in Brits history, while Oasis' '(What's the Story) Morning Glory' was named best album. Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher accepted the award, with no sign of brother Noel, and threw the statuette straight into the crowd. Robbie Williams received the honorary award for outstanding contribution to music, ending the show with a live medley of his greatest hits including 'Let Me Entertain You,' 'No Regrets' and 'Angels.'" BBC

James Cameron told Christopher John Farley, "the book version of 'Avatar' will follow the film version 'quite closely' in terms of the plot. But the novel will also include 'interior monologues' and provide details about the characters and Pandora. 'There are things you can do in books that you can’t do with films.' Cameron said he first considered writing the book when he was filming the movie. 'I told myself, if it made money, I’d write a book,' the director said. 'Avatar' has grossed more than $666 million domestically." WALL STREET JOURNAL

• Says Steve Pond, "I think the preferential system will definitely hurt 'Avatar,' but I think it’ll help 'Basterds' less than it’ll help 'The Hurt Locker.' 'Basterds' may be less divisive than 'Avatar,' but it’s not the kind of broad, consensus favorite that could challenge the frontrunners. It’s too sprawling, too audacious, too violent and too brazenly, defiantly revisionist to be an everybody’s-top-five kind of movie. Yes, 'Basterds' beat 'Locker' for the SAG ensemble award. But that prize traditionally goes to big casts, not small ones. I don’t see that translating into a decisive edge with the Academy’s actors branch, which gave the two films the exact same number of nominations: one Best Actor nod for 'Locker, one Supporting Actor plaudit for 'Basterds.' As for the other films that could sneak in via the preferential ballot, 'Up in the Air' and 'Up' may well make moves as the count goes into its later rounds, making up for a smaller number of Number One votes with lots of Twos and Threes. But they’re going to start with a significant disadvantage (particularly 'Up'), and I don’t think they’ll be able to make up ground fast enough to become real contenders." THE ODDS

Oscar Set 2010 • Steve Pond also reports, "the academy unveiled its most complicated, high-tech Oscar set ever at a Wednesday morning press conference in the lobby of the Kodak Theater, where the show’s crew now has about 14 days to mount and fine-tune the collection of rotating LED panels, turntables, film projection screens and mirrored curtains before the stars start showing up. 'We have two weeks to get it right, and the best technical people in the world,' said show co-producer Bill Mechanic after the unveiling. 'Two weeks to get all the bugs out. One of the risks of being ambitious is that you could trip. But if we don’t trip, you’re going to get one of the most dynamic shows that you’ve ever seen.' The set was designed by David Rockwell, who did the Oscars for the first time last year, although he and his firm also designed the Kodak Theater itself. Rockwell’s set for 2009’s 81st Oscar show, was, said co-producer Adam Shankman, 'one of the stars of last year’s show.'" THE ODDS

• Predicting the Oscars? There's an app for that, says the academy: "The app’s features give iPhone and iPod touch users access to a nominees list for each of the 24 categories, see trailers for the 10 Best Picture-nominated films, and predict winners in each of the categories. Users’ predictions will be saved to a database that will enable sharing with friends via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter as well as by e-mail and SMS text. 'We want to connect with movie lovers wherever they are,' said Janet Weiss, the Academy’s director of marketing. 'Our Oscar App gives fans a way to participate in all the excitement and buzz right up to and through the show.'" AMPAS

Chris Willman says, "It's considered a given that Jeff Bridges will win best actor for portraying fictional country singer Bad Blake in 'Crazy Heart' and that the same film's primary theme song, "The Weary Kind," is a shoo-in for best song. But the movie's backers aren't taking any chances, so Bridges actually sang for his supper -- or his Oscar -- at an exclusive mini-concert in Los Angeles Monday night attended by a crowd heavy on Academy members. The actor was joined in his performance by T Bone Burnett, who produced the music for 'Crazy Heart' as well as co-writing most of its songs, and alt-country favorite Ryan Bingham, who co-wrote "The Weary Kind" and has a small part in the film as a pickup musician. Also putting in cameo musical appearances at this unusual gig: Robert Duvall, Harry Dean Stanton and a seriously underrated honky-tonk pianist by the name of Elton John." CMT

Prince WilliamPrince William will bestow the BAFTA fellowship -- the equivalent of a honorary Oscar -- on Vanessa Redgrave at this Sunday's awards. There is a certain irony to this as Redgrave -- who accepted a CBE in 1967 -- is said to have turned down the honor of being made a Dame of the British Empire in 1999. William's grandmother Queen Elizabeth II would have been the one to officiate at Redgrave's induction.  DAILY MAIL

Sasha Stone does her usual thorough analysis of the BAFTAs including these observations: "In terms of Actor and Actress, it’s a tough call. But let’s say that Actress could be down to Meryl Streep versus Carey Mulligan. Streep has never won a BAFTA since the date change and has been nominated six times, including one year where she was nominated for both lead and supporting. It would be a shame if the BAFTA didn’t recognize Streep here, but you know how everyone feels about Carey Mulligan. Odds are probably on Mulligan for the win. With a teentsy potential upset with Gabby Sidibe. Actor is probably going to be either Colin Firth or Jeff Bridges. I didn’t get much of a 'Crazy Heart' vibe from the BAFTA, though, gotta say. The truth is, any of them could win it. Bridges holds steady if he is nominated. George Clooney could get a tiny bump, but not likely. The real upset here would be Jeremy Renner winning. That boy is like fire and gasoline when you get him on stage so if he gets one chance to win it might make him some competition for Bridges." AWARDS DAILY

Top photo: Lady Gaga backstage with her three Brits. Credit: Brit Awards

Middle photo: 82nd Annual Academy Awards set. Credit: AMPAS

Bottom photo: Prince William. Credit: The Prince of Wales website

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

Gold Derby nuggets: 'Avatar' & 'Hurt Locker' win with guilds | Barbara Walters ends Oscars specials | Emmy champ David Canary leaving 'AMC'

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