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

Category: The Blind Side

Gold Derby nuggets: Bigelow more influential than Cameron | 'Chicago' creators allege accounting razzle dazzle | 'The Hobbit' arrives in 2012

April 29, 2010 |  2:01 pm

Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker OscarsKathryn Bigelow has bested her ex James Cameron once again. The Oscar-winning director of "The Hurt Locker" secured the third spot on Time's top 25 most influential artists of the year -- only Lady Gaga and Conan O'Brien ranked higher -- while the onetime "king of the world" had to settle for the last slot despite creating the biggest moneymaker in movie history with "Avatar." Also earning places of distinction were director Neill Blokamp -- who contended at this year's Oscars for his script for best picture nominee "District 9" -- at No. 16 and best actress champ Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") at No. 22. Neil Patrick Harris -- who hosted both the Emmys and Tonys last year and opened this year's Oscars -- was ranked No. 10. TIME

• James Cameron may not cut it with Time magazine, but the folks at NASA listen to him. Emma Gallegos reports that the Oscar winner met with Charles Bolden, the head honcho of NASA, in January to persuade him to include a 3-D camera on Curiosity, a rover headed to Mars next year. PASADENA STAR NEWS

Cara Shultz considers Sandra Bullock's acceptance speeches at the Oscars and Golden Globes in light of the revelation Wednesday that she and her then-husband Jesse James had adopted a baby in January. Onstage at the Kodak Theater, Bullock said, "I would like to thank what this film is about for me -- the moms that take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from. Those moms and parents never get thanked." And at the Globes in January, she said, "A family is not just who you were born to, or what color you are. It's who's got your back." PEOPLE

Chicago DVD • Composer John Kander and representatives of the late lyricist Fred Ebb and director-choreographer Bob Fosse -- who together brought "Chicago" to Broadway in 1975 -- are suing the producers of the 2002 Oscar-winning film adaptation. The lawsuit alleges that "the studios' 'financial theatrics' ... resulted in a nearly $200 million increase in the 'Adjusted Gross Receipts' from which plaintiffs' participation is calculated. With interest, the net impact on plaintiffs is the wrongful reduction of their share by upwards of $12 million." PLAYBILL

Kid Rock has confirmed he will host the ninth annual CMT Music Awards. In a three-sentence post on his website, Rock said, "The rumors are true – I’m hosting the CMT Awards live from Nashville on June 9th… All I can promise is I will be awesome." Last year the rocker won Wide Open Country video of the year for "All Summer Long." This year, eight of the nine categories at the CMTs have eight contenders apiece. Online voting that runs till Monday will winnow these to four finalists in each category, which will be announced May 11. Then another round of online voting through June 8 will determine the winners. Voting for video of the year is different. There are 10 semifinalists, which will be cut down to a final five that will be revealed at the start of the awards ceremony, and the winner of the top prize will be determined by votes cast online and via text message during the kudocast.

• The power of a Facebook petition helped land Betty White a hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live." Now, there is a movement afoot online to have "Glee" devote an episode to the music of Barbra Streisand, much as it did last week with Madonna. Writes Allison Walman, "What do you think it meant when co-creator Ryan Murphy accepted the Golden Globe for 'Glee' last January, he said, 'Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press and Miss Barbra Streisand.' That was a shout-out linking Streisand to that show. And don't forget that for sectionals, Rachel channeled Streisand when she sang 'Don't Rain on My Parade.' " TV SQUAD

The Hobbit • The status of "The Hobbit," the long-in-the-making two-part prequel to the hit trilogy "The Lord of the Rings," just became much clearer. The first of the films -- produced by Peter Jackson, who picked up three Oscars for the final installment of "LOTR" and directed by Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labryinth") -- will arrive in theaters in December 2012 and the second will be out a year later. As Borys Kit reports, "A confusion over release dates surfaced earlier today when Imax announced an overall, 20-film, three-year deal with Warners. In outlining which films would be included, Imax incorrectly gave 2013 as the release date for the first 'Hobbit' movie." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Top photo: Kathryn Bigelow backstage at the 82nd annual Academy Awards. Credit: AMPAS.

Middle photo: "Chicago" DVD cover. Credit: Miramax Home Entertainment.

Bottom photo: "The Hobbit" book cover. Credit: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Gold Derby nuggets: Banned 'Hurt Locker' producer's Oscars speech | Stone & Hammond on 'Avatar' loss | Alec Baldwin on Oscars gig

March 9, 2010 |  2:29 pm

The Hurt Locker posterEugene Hernandez does a crackerjack job reporting on how banned "Hurt Locker" producer Nicolas Chartier spent Oscar Sunday. He was feted by 300 people gathered at the Malibu home of reality TV/film producer Mike Fleiss,  who co-hosted with WME Global chief Graham Taylor and his producer wife Lynnette Howell ("Half Nelson"). As Eugene writes, "The crowd was clearly biased in favor of 'The Hurt Locker' and when the movie won the final award of the night, an uproar was unleashed. Chartier silenced the crowd to listen to the televised speeches and then stepped onto a footstool for his own acceptance. Someone handed him a small plastic statue that looked a bit like an Oscar." Eugene's thorough report also includes video of the "acceptance" speech, including this soundbite: "It’s about the movies. This is what we live for, to tell stories, to make people laugh and cry. To entertain and sometimes to make art." INDIE WIRE

• As Steve Krakauer reports, documentary short Oscar winner Roger Ross Williams ("Music for Prudence" got interrupted again on "Larry King Live" Monday night. After a brief interview in which he spoke about the film's producer -- Elinor Burkett -- who cut short his acceptance onstage at the Oscars Sunday, Williams was to give his complete speech but time ran out and he was pre-empted, this time by "Anderson Cooper 360."  MEDIAITE

David Letterman made merry with this "Kanye" moment on Monday's "Late Show." As Steve Itzkoff writes, "Mr. Letterman was performing a set of jokes about the unending Oscars telecast when he, too, was halted by a protester who demanded, 'Let the woman talk!' "  Video of these hijinks is included in the write-up. NEW YORK TIMES

Steven Zeitchik fills us in on what we can expect next from this year's crop of Oscar champs. Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") is shooting "True Grit" while Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") has "Green Hornet," in the can with both films due out in December. Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") has nothing lined up and Mo'Nique is busy with her BET talker. Two-time winner Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") turned down the Spider-Man reboot and "her next project will likely be her reteaming with Mark Boal on 'Triple Frontier.' The Paramount film is an adventure story set on the border of several South American counties." 24 FRAMES

Avatar PosterSasha Stone weighs in on why "Avatar" lost the best picture race at the Oscars. As Sasha says, "why not be happy with what 'Avatar' is, not what it isn’t. It isn’t an Oscar movie, not with that screenplay. It only had to be a little better, a little less cliched.  A little less 'Pocahontas' and 'Dances with Wolves' and a little more innovative in terms of STORY, not just in terms of effects. Most of the members of the Academy are actors, writers and directors. Is it that much of a surprise that they would pick A) the film that moved them the most, and B) the film they wanted to make the most?  How many of them really want their future to be wrapped up in 3-D technology, motion-capture actors?" AWARDS DAILY

• For Pete Hammond, "If ever there was a question in my mind as to why 'Avatar' probably had no realistic chance of taking the best picture Academy Award, it was answered at the Oscars viewing party, "Night Of 100 Stars," I covered Sunday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It was the actors branch, dummy. With 1,205 members, three times as many as any other peer group in the academy, they are collectively a powerful voice and if you don't have them behind you, your best- picture chances are slim." NOTES ON A SEASON

• "Up in the Air" was shut out of Sunday's Oscars, despite six nominations including a best picture bid. One of the deleted scenes from the film has been released by Paramount to promote Tuesday's DVD release. In the scene, the inveterate traveler played by best actor nominee George Clooney dreams of wandering home in an astronaut suit as Ricky Nelson singing "Lonesome Town" plays in the background. ZAP2IT

Emma Rosenblum talks to the Emmy-winning Sherri Shepherd ("The View") about her gig Sunday as one of three hosts of the frenetic 30-minute Oscars pre-show. Reveals Sherri, "I love Taylor Lautner, but I couldn't ask him too many questions. We had a lot of red tape and protocol from ABC, and they told me I couldn't ask Taylor about the 'Twilight' sequel or his body. And I said, 'Then what am I going to talk to him about?!' He's a big boy, he could handle it." NEW YORK

Oscars Steve Martin Alec Baldwin • Oscars co-host Alec Baldwin penned a post with his thoughts on the gig. "Hosting the show is an odd experience because you're out there, but it isn't about you. Steve Martin and I worked rather hard, along with the writers and producers, to make sure our contribution did not detract from the primary purpose of the evening, honoring the highest achievements in film. We tell some jokes and show some clips, but the night belongs to the great talent in that room." HUFFINGTON POST

Brian Moylan solves 10 mysteries of the Oscars, including this one: "Why the hell was there street dancing at the Oscars?" As Brian writes, "a troupe of television dancers were given the stage to do strange hip-hop contortions to the classically-influenced music of the Best Score nominees. We solved how it happened -- director Adam Shankman who is a choreographer and TV dance show host -- but we will forever be asking why. Why, why, why?" GAWKER

• And if you are still in need of an Oscars fix, surf over to the telecast's official website for clips from the red carpet, backstage and VIP room, as well as speeches from the winners into the "thank you" cam. Best actor champ Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart") had so many people to thank that his speech is split up into five parts. OSCARS

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

Middle photo: "Avatar" poster. Credit: Fox

Bottom photo: 82nd Academy Awards poster. Credit: ABC

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Oscar winners were predicted by guild awards

March 8, 2010 | 11:57 am

Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker Oscars 82nd Academy Awards "The Hurt Locker" won a leading six Oscars, including best picture and best director for Kathryn Bigelow. The Iraq war drama also picked up prizes for original screenplay, editing, sound mixing and sound editing. As is often the case at the Oscars, many of these wins followed up on equivalent kudos from the respective guilds, largely because the two sets of awards share many of the same voters.

But the scale is hugely different. There are, for example, 1,240 members of the academy's acting branch but more than 100,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild. The academy includes 374 directors while the vast majority of the 13,000 helmers who belong to the DGA create TV shows, commercials and music videos instead of feature films.

"The Hurt Locker" won with the Producers Guild of America,
helmer Kathryn Bigelow won with the Directors Guild of America,
scripter Mark Boal won with the Writers Guild of America,
cutters Chris Innis and Bob Murawski won with the American Cinema Editors, and
sound mixers Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckettwon with the Cinema Audio Society.

Among the four Oscar acting winners, the supporting  champs -- Christoph Waltz("Inglourious Basterds") and Mo'Nique ("Precious") -- had taken virtually every precursor prize leading up to Sunday night, including from the Screen Actors Guild.

Oscars_guild_awards

Lead actor winner Jeff Bridges("Crazy Heart") likewise had a good run, winning with the Screen Actors Guild, as well as with the Golden Globes, Indie Spirits, L.A. critics and Critics Choice. Bridges lost the National Board of Review and New York film critics prizes to George Clooney

Lead actress champ Sandra Bullock ("The Blind Side") also won with the Screen Actors Guild as well as the Golden Globes and tied with Meryl Streep at the Critics Choice. Streep also won the Golden Globe (comedy) and the New York film critics prize.

There is no music guild that bestows equivalent kudos, but "Up" composer Michael Giacchinodid win with the Golden Globes and BAFTA as well with the IFCMA. The theme from "Crazy Heart" -- "The Weary Kind" -- won the Golden Globe for best song.

Continue reading »

'The Hurt Locker' wins six Oscars, including history maker for director Kathryn Bigelow

March 7, 2010 |  9:38 pm

Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker Oscars 82nd Annual Academy Awards The 82nd Academy Awards followed the script set down by pundits, as the front-runners for all of the major Oscars won Sunday night. "The Hurt Locker" led with six Oscars, including best picture and best director for Kathryn Bigelow, who became the first woman to win this award. The Iraq war drama also picked up prizes for original screenplay (Mark Boal), editing, sound mixing and sound editing.

"Avatar" went into the night tied with "The Hurt Locker" with a leading nine nominations but had to settle for three Oscars for art direction, cinematography and visual effects (and a $2.4-billion and counting box-office take). See a complete list of all Oscar winners here.

Lead actor went to Jeff Bridges, a four-time also-ran at the Oscars, who finally won for his performance as a down-and-out country singer in "Crazy Heart." The theme song for that film, "The Weary Kind," won best original song for Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett.

First-time nominee Sandra Bullock won lead actress for best picture nominee "The Blind Side," edging out, among others, Meryl Streep, who was contending for a record 13th time in this category. The lead acting nominees were introduced by performers with whom they have a connection before last year's winners, Sean Penn ("Milk") and Kate Winslet ("The Reader"), bestowed the Oscars. Last year, each of the four acting categories was handled by five past winners who each spoke about one of the nominees.

It was no surprise that the Academy Awards for supporting actor and actress went to Christoph Waltz ("Inglourious Basterds") and Mo'Nique ("Precious"). The pair had picked up all of the precursor awards going into the Oscars. Waltz's win represented the only Oscar for that best picture nominee, which had eight nominations in total while "Precious" -- which had six nominations, including a best picture bid -- also won adapted screenplay for Geoffrey Fletcher

The animated feature race was won by best picture nominee "Up," which edged out Gotham and L.A. critics choice "Fantastic Mr. Fox" among others. "Up" became the fifth Pixar picture -- after "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Ratatouille" and "Wall-E" -- to win this category since it was introduced in 2001. "Up" also won best score.

Of the 10 best picture nominees, four were completely shut out -- "District 9" (with four noms), "An Education" (three noms), "A Serious Man" (two nominations) and "Up in the Air" (six). 

"El Secreto de Sus Ojos" became the second feature from Argentina to win best foreign-language film, and "The Cove" won the documentary feature Oscar. For her costume design for "The Young Victoria," Sandy Powell took home her third Oscar, following wins for "Shakespeare in Love" and "The Aviator." "Star Trek" won for makeup.

Continue reading »

Poll: What film will win best picture at the Oscars?

March 7, 2010 | 10:22 am

For the first time since 1943, there are 10 nominees for best picture at the Academy Awards. Although "The Hurt Locker" has been the front-runner for the last several weeks, in the closing days of voting, the war drama faced attack on three fronts: 1) issues of accuracy, 2.) for perhaps being too accurate (an army sergeant claims the movie rips off his own story) and 3.) because its producer was banned from the ceremony for breaking campaign rules.

Traditionally, most voters completed their Oscar ballots as soon as they arrived. However, this year -- with the introduction of the preferential method for determining the best picture winner -- more than 1,500 out of 5,800 ballots remained outstanding in the final week, and more than 500 were submitted on the deadline day (Tuesday).

That late Oscar voting may help "Inglourious Basterds," which got a post-noms push from Quentin Tarantino's pals, who threw him bashes on both coasts to rally support. Most Oscar voters I've dished with say 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 pull down its overall prospects.

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Gold Derby nuggets: Big bash for banned Oscars nominee | Mixed reviews for Indie Spirits

March 6, 2010 |  5:12 pm

The Hurt Locker posterMike Fleming of Deadline reports: "Sunday's Oscar viewing party for 'The Hurt Locker' producer Nicolas Chartier has officially become a hot ticket. I'm told the bash had to be relocated to the Malibu home of reality TV/film producer Mike Fleiss when the guest list tripled. Three hundred people are now expected to attend or stop by. Fleiss is co-hosting the bash with WME Global chief Graham Taylor and his wife Lynnette Howell, the producer of 'Blue Valentine' and 'Half Nelson.' " 

Peter Bowes of the BBC talks to first-time Oscars director Hamish Hamilton. " 'There are so many emotions going through my head,' says Mr. Hamilton, who admits to being nervous about the big night. 'I'm genuinely excited, genuinely thrilled, really prepared, and I feel like I'm peaking at the right time. I'm also incredibly honored, but I'm feeling the weight of the world and Hollywood on my shoulders.' The job comes with a formidable responsibility to orchestrate a show with a global audience of hundreds of millions. 'It can make you shiver,' he says." 

• Gold Derby on TV: Tune in to KTLA's red-carpet Oscar show on Sunday between 3 and 5 p.m. PT. You'll find me teaming up with Sam Rubin and Jessica Holmes, but not on the actual red carpet. I've got a busted foot that's in a cast, so I plan to hang back in a comfy chair in the studio and get beamed into the show. On early Sunday morning, I'll be on KNBC with Ted Chen at 7 a.m. Over the next few days I'm on TV Guide Channel giving you the career dish on Oscarcast co-host Steve Martin: March 6 (10:30 p.m. ET/PT), March 7 (noon, ET), March 9 (2 p.m. ET/PT), March 14 (midnight ET/PT).

• For Sasha Stone of Awards Daily, "It’s time to do our final No Guts, No Glory for the year. Up to three, and here’s to making it count. Don’t pick alternates (like 'Avatar' for Best Pic) but real and true upsets. Here are mine. And by the way, as soon as I type them I know they won’t come true. 1. 'In the Loop' upsets in the Adapted Screenplay category. 2. 'Star Trek' wins in both Sound categories. 3. 'The Blind Side' wins Best Picture." 

Independent Spirit Awards LogoAnne Thompson of Thompson on Hollywood bemoans the shift in locale for the Indie Spirit awards. "I wasn’t able to take my sunny beachside pictures of the indie gang because it was dark on the rooftop at L.A. Live, a monstrously large modern complex near the L.A. Convention Center. On a Friday night, many people had to escape early from work, hitting heavy traffic heading downtown -- I had spectacularly bad luck, hitting an accident bottleneck on the Santa Monica Freeway -- and some folks were tired. (In fact, three grown men -- Scott Cooper, Lee Daniels and Geoffrey Fletcher -- broke down and cried during the course of the evening.) There was competition too: many Spirits attendees blew off the IFC after-party across the street in favor of WME and/or CAA pre-Oscar fetes."

• However, for Steven Zeitchik of 24 Frames, "Concerns that the casualness of the event would be lost without the Santa Monica beachside setting turned out to be misplaced, as the usual preshow mingling, and in-show strolling and table-hopping, unfolded pretty much as it always has. Fears, meanwhile, that a popular Friday night slot would have the Spirits a sparsely populated second choice for Oscar weekend partiers proved overblown as well. Although some attendees rushed from or to agency parties -- a William Morris Endeavor Entertainment fete at Ari Emanuel's house and a party thrown by CAA's Bryan Lourd -- the event still felt packed with industry insiders and stars. Of the major nominees, the Coen brothers and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were among the few that didn't show. (Jeff Bridges, Carey Mulligan, Woody Harrelson and Mariah Carey were among those who did.)" 

• A trio of intrepid USA Today reporters -- William Couch, Arienne Thompson and Joshua Hatch -- present an assortment of Oscars facts and figures in this interactive illustration. As the introduction notes, "This year’s Academy Award acting nominees cover the spectrum from been-around-forever veteran (Christopher Plummer) to never-acted-before newcomer (Gabourey Sidibe). Yet, you may be surprised to learn that they all share connections in their personal and professional lives that bind them together, no matter how long their résumé." 

Eriq Gardner of the Hollywood Reporter counts down "the 10 most interesting Oscar-related lawsuits ever" with the top case being when "Disney sues the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, alleging that the infamous Rob Lowe-Snow White duet at the 1989 Oscars was unflattering to the beloved character and lacked permission." 

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Photos: (Top) "The Hurt Locker" poster. Credit: Summit   (Bottom) Independent Spirit Awards logo. Credit: Film Independent

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Tom and Pete dish Oscars: Does Sandra Bullock deserve to win?

March 5, 2010 |  8:57 pm

My Envelope colleague Pete Hammond (Notes on a Season) and I recently hooked up at the Hollywood Museum to dish some of the hot Academy Award topics of today against the backdrop of Oscars of yore.

Sandra Bullock 2 Oscars Academy Awards news

Among the items in the museum's collection, for example, are the shoes and pocketbook of Bette Davis, who won two Oscars for the wrong movies ("Jezebel" and "Dangerous") instead of her classics "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" and "All About Eve." Davis' old Oscar nemesis Katharine Hepburn once warned that you usually win for a role "that doesn't rate it." Hepburn ought to know. Oscar's biggest winner claimed four, only one for a truly socko performance ("Lion in Winter").

So does that view apply to this year's lead-actress race? If Sandra Bullock wins for "The Blind Side," will she deserve it? Is this the film she should be remembered for? Some Oscar-watchers don't think so, but Pete disagrees and defends her performance strenuously.

By the way, one of Bullock's "Blind Side" costumes is on display at the Hollywood Museum. Read more here about everything on view in our award-season exhibition and how you can see items from "The Hurt Locker," "Julie & Julia" and "Gone with the Wind" up close. Check out Pete and my video dishfest on the question: Are the Oscars biased against sci-fi movies like "Avatar"? See Pete and my Oscar predix here.

Video by Steve Nycklemoe

Photo: Robert Freeman (Hollywood Museum)

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Get drunk, win Oscar

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

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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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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: Pete Hammond: Best actress 'down to the wire' | Oscars leading men

March 2, 2010 |  4:29 pm

Sandra Bullock Meryl Streep OscarsPete Hammond -- who pegged Sandra Bullock as a contender weeks before anyone else -- surveys the lead actress field and finds it "all over the map." Pete concludes, "EW's annual survey of four academy voters (not the biggest sample exactly) had Streep winning with 3 to Bullock's 1. I think it is likely much much closer and Gabby and Carey are significant factors. Warner Bros. strategists working on Bullock's behalf privately tell me they prefer that.  A tighter four-way contest is better for Bullock's ultimate chances of prevailing than going one-on-one with the imposing Streep. This one's going down to the wire." NOTES ON A SEASON

• "Down to the wire" could well describe the last-minute decision-making of Oscar voters. Tuesday at 5 p.m. PT marked the deadline for returning completed ballots to PricewaterhouseCoopers -- that well-known "independent accounting firm" -- which will tally the votes. That pesky preferential method for best picture slowed the usual quick rate of return; in previous years, the majority of ballots were returned within 10 days of receipt. The ballot listed nominees in only 19 of the 24 categories. Academy members were required to attend screenings if they wished to vote for foreign-language film, documentary features and shorts, and animated and live-action shorts.

• The P.R. people for the Oscars are busy coming up with cute headlines for their now daily announcements of the latest bold-faced names slated to appear on Sunday's show. Tuesday's release was headlined "The Guys Have It" as it touted first-time appearances by Gerard Butler, Bradley Cooper, Tom Ford, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds and Sam Worthington, the third appearance by Jake Gyllenhaal and the fifth appearance for Keanu Reeves. AMPAS

Robert Osborne Oscars • One guy that certainly has it all is Robert Osborne, who will be returning to the red carpet for the fifth year in a row to welcome Oscar's guests. Per the press release: "'Being on Oscar’s red carpet is unlike any other experience,' said Academy President Tom Sherak. 'Robert is the perfect person to welcome our guests and ease them into a night of spectacular celebration.' His red carpet celebrity chats will be audible to the other arriving guests as well as to the bleacher fans on the opposite side of the carpet." The included bio notes, "In addition to writing a column for The Hollywood Reporter, Osborne is the primetime host of Turner Classic Movies and a frequent host of Academy public events in New York and Los Angeles. He also is the author of the Academy’s '80 Years of the Oscar,' the official history of the Academy Awards, and hosts Robert Osborne’s Classic Film Festival in Athens, Georgia." AMPAS

• As per an AP report, Jeff Bridges crooned the right kind of tunes in "Crazy Heart" to win an Oscar. "With a .500 batting average, country has a better track record than other music genres at the Oscars. Soul has produced a string of Oscar losers, including Eddie Murphy for supporting actor as the fictional James 'Thunder' Early in 2006’s 'Dreamgirls' and Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne in the lead categories as Tina and Ike Turner in 1993’s 'What’s Love Got to Do With It.' Jazz and standards singers also have a spotty Oscar history, the losers including Michelle Pfeiffer for best actress as fictional torch singer Susie Diamond in 1989’s 'The Fabulous Baker Boys' and Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in 1972’s 'Lady Sings the Blues.' As French songbird Edith Piaf, Marion Cotillard won best actress for 2007’s 'La Vie en Rose.' Jamie Foxx could be an honorary winner for the country crowd with his best-actor triumph as Ray Charles in 2004’s 'Ray.' Charles’ music drew on soul, blues, jazz, country and other genres, and he did a two-volume series of albums titled 'Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.' " AP

• As Josh Duboff reports, "New York’s Oscar fans may be in for a surprise Sunday night … and it won’t be because of a major upset. ABC’s New York affiliate, WABC-TV, is threatening to pull the Oscar telecast if it doesn’t receive the payment it is demanding from Cablevision. The TV station and cable provider, who have not had a deal for two years (they’ve been 'granting extensions on a month-to-month basis'), are disputing retransmission fees. As a bargaining tactic, ABC has said it will inform subscribers that they may no longer have access to the station beginning March 7, the day of ABC’s Academy Awards telecast. NEW YORK

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

Bottom photo: Robert Osborne at the 81st annual Academy Awards. Credit: AMPAS

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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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