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Hilary Swank - What Will She Wear This Time?


As the 78th Annual Academy Awards approach, the question I have is what will Hilary Swank wear? All I can say is last year, she was totally hot in this blue body fitting dress. I'll bet she got so many date offers it screwed up her marriage to Chad Lowe. Note to Chad: you're still friends; be the dog! Go after that bone!

Jack Nicholson Joins Presenters for 78th Annual Academy Awards


My question: will he wear sunglasses?

Presenters Announced
for 78th Academy Awards®

Beverly Hills, CA — Academy Award® - winning actor Jack Nicholson will join Oscar® nominee Jake Gyllenhaal, Eric Bana, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller, John Travolta and Ziyi Zhang as presenters at the 78th Academy Awards ceremony, telecast producer Gil Cates announced today.

These presenters will join Hilary Swank, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, Jessica Alba, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, Will Ferrell, Queen Latifah, Terrence Howard, Meryl Streep, Will Smith, Steve Carell, Nicole Kidman, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Uma Thurman, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, Lily Tomlin, Reese Witherspoon, George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek on the telecast.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2005 will be presented on Sunday, March 5, 2006, at the Kodak Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network beginning at 5 p.m. PST. A one-hour red carpet arrivals show will precede the telecast at 4 p.m.

# # #

A.M.P.A.S.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
(310) 247-3000
www.oscars.org
publicity@oscars.org

Madea's Family Reunion Rules Week's Box Office

Wow! This is a sure sign of the changing tastes of the American public. Madea's Family Reunion, a movie about, well here's the plot line: "While planning her family reunion, a pistol-packing grandma (Perry) must contend with the other dramas on her plate, including the runaway who has been placed under her care, and her love-troubled nieces." --but really features a black man -- Tyler Perry -- in drag, is a hit as he explores black issues and family matters in a humorous way. But in a (thankfully) increasingly interracially mixed America, Perry plays to a wide audience.

Weekly:
Feb. 24 - Mar. 2, 2006
in millions

1 Madea's Family Reunion
$35.1

2 Eight Below
$19.2

3 The Pink Panther
$13.0

4 Date Movie
$10.9

5 Curious George
$8.6

6 Firewall
$8.3

7 Final Destination 3
$7.0

8 RUNNING SCARED
$4.6

9 Doogal
$4.2

10 Freedomland
$3.8
Expanded 'Idol' rolls again
Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

By RICK KISSELL - Variety.com

With the hot "American Idol" again accounting for more than 75% of its sked, Fox cruised to victory on Wednesday in key young-adult demos, while the night's top scripted dramas delivered low-range scores.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, "American Idol" averaged roughly a 12.1 rating/31 share in adults 18-49 and 29.4 million viewers overall from 8 to 9:31, dominating in each half-hour. That big score provided nice sampling for a special preview episode of slacker comedy "Free Ride" (roughly 6.1/14 in 18-49, 13.5 million viewers overall), which will regularly air on Sundays.

"Idol" seemed to have an effect on both ABC hit "Lost" (roughly 6.9/16 in 18-49, 16.5 million viewers overall from 9 to 10:03), which hit a firstrun season low, and CBS drama "Criminal Minds" (3.6/9 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall), which posted its second lowest tally.

The Eye was also on the low end but still won as usual at 10 with "CSI: NY" (4.4/12 in 18-49, 13.7 million viewers overall), topping NBC's "Law & Order" (4.0/11 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall) and ABC's "Barbara Walters Oscar Special" (roughly 3.8/10 in 18-49, 9.8 million viewers overall); latter had run on the night of the Academy Awards prior to this year.

From 8 to 9, NBC's "Deal or No Deal" (3.3/9 in 18-49, 10.6 million viewers overall) placed second to "Idol" with the net's best series showing opposite "Idol" in the hour since May 2004.

Preliminary 18-49 averages on the night: Fox, 10.6/27; ABC, 4.3/11; CBS, 3.3/9; NBC, 3.2/8; WB, 1.2/3; UPN, 0.7/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 25.5 million; CBS, 11.1 million; ABC, 10.8 million; NBC, 10.4 million; WB, 3.0 million; UPN, 1.7 million.

Night Before ups its score - Oscar eve party wraps up $6 million

By NICOLE LAPORTE - Variety.com, March 3, 2006

The annual Night Before party, held on Oscar eve at the Beverly Hills Hotel, continues its ascent as the hottest pre-Academy Awards ticket. This year's event has raised more than $6 million, up from $4 million last year.
Proceeds from the party benefit the Motion Picture & Television Fund. The Night Before accounts for more than a third of the $15 million the MPTF has raised over the last year.

"The numbers are staggering, given the fact that (the Night Before) didn't exist four years ago," said MPTF chief exec Ken Scherer.

Because of fire marshal-enforced safety requirements, guest list is limited to about 800. Among those who will be attending are Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, George Clooney, Jamie Foxx, Hilary Swank and Night Before host Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Producers, directors, studio executives and lawyers also will be part of the crowd. The only non-invitees are press agents and members of the press -- an attempt to keep things more personal and low-key.

"What we set out to do four years ago was provide an environment where people could talk and have conversations," Scherer said. "We wanted to make it a real community effort."

The Night Before was started by Katzenberg and Variety in 2002 as a charitable solution to what was always a fairly dull evening in Hollywood -- the night before the Oscars, when industryites are typically recovering from Friday night events, such as Ed Limato's pre-Oscar party, and preparing for post-Oscar fetes, such as the Vanity Fair party and the Governors Ball, held on Sunday.

Another tradition is the Night Before the Night Before, on Friday, when there'll be a dinner at Spago for sponsors. Border Grill chef-owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger will be on hand to teach guests how to make tamales; Mariah Carey will perform after dinner.

The number of Night Before corporate sponsors has grown by two and includes Variety, McDonald's, L'Oreal, Lexus, Hewlett-Packard, Target and AOL.

Scherer said the surge in raised funds resulted from the increase in sponsors, which each contribute $350,000, and from a greater number of contributors who made a five-year commitment of $10,000 a year to the MPTF (in exchange for getting their names placed on retirement cottages on the fund's Woodland Hills campus).

Tickets to the Night Before start at $25,000 for a group of four.

Katzenberg also has rallied to raise money.

"He's the man," Scherer said of the DreamWorks Animation head. "Jeffrey and (wife) Marilyn both step up and give the same amount that sponsors give. More importantly, his passion for this charity is so strong -- he just spends hours calling people and making sure people support the organization, which is so critical to our success."

Besides charity, of course, there's swag, and the Night Before ranked high on the free goodies list last year, with guests taking away expensive sneakers and computers. This year Lexus is giving away a car, Hewlett-Packard has donated 58-inch plasma TVs and color printers and AOL is giving away a Fender guitar.

The nonprofit MPTF, headquartered in Woodland Hills, was founded in 1921 to offer charitable relief for those in the film industry who had fallen on hard times. Today, the fund provides the industry with a full-scale residential retirement community and child-care center, as well as health care, human services and financial assistance.

Tom O'Neil: Is secret homophobia fueling a possible 'Crash' upset?

Tom O'Neil of the LA Times penned this column which I just read. It's not designed to be directly linked to, so here it is:

"I don't think he's right, but there's some of it. I think Brokeback will win because it's got too many mainstream A-List Hollywood people behind it. But we'll see.


Is secret homophobia fueling a possible 'Crash' upset?

Something weird is going on among Oscar voters — and it's also going unspoken. "Crash" and "Good Night, and Good Luck" have their passionate supporters who gush with their honest love of those best picture nominees, but most non-"Brokeback" votes I hear from Oscar voters are really anti-"Brokeback."

Scads of academy members fume to me when they tattle on how they're inking their ballots, "I'm not voting for 'Brokeback'!" Then they calm down a bit and add, "I'm voting for (fill in the blank)" and give a positive reason to justify their decision for picking an alternative. In most cases I hear contrary votes for "Crash," but there's also surprising strength for "Good Night, and Good Luck." So far I've heard equal numbers of votes for "Brokeback" as "Crash," with "Good Night" not far behind. The best picture race is really thisclose.



It's the fury that voters express when mentioning "Brokeback" that's so odd and suspicious. In some cases I believe they're people who think the film is overrated. Or they're just weary of gay cowboy jokes. But in the majority of cases I suspect it's something else and something bad that they feel they can't utter out loud, so they're holding it in. You can see it on their faces.

Could it be secret homophobia? Perhaps. The academy is comprised mostly of straight white guys with white hair who know it's intolerable to bash gays in lavender-friendly, liberal Hollywood. But I really don't think it's that in any large way. Instead, I think it's the same frustration non-Jews feel when there's a glut of Holocaust films leading the Oscar pack in Jewish-friendly Hollywood. They want to exclaim, "Enough already with the Holocaust films!" This time I suspect many straight Hollywooders — who are totally cool with gay people in general — are fighting the urge to shriek, "Enough already with the gay persecution films!"

This Oscar year there really is a glut of them and, if I'm right in my predictions, we'll see the all-gay Oscars on March 5 with victories in the top categories by "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote" and "Transamerica."

How widespread is this anti-"Brokeback" tide? It's hard to say because it's mostly unspoken, but it's very real and it makes predicting the best picture race a crapshoot. It's quite possible that we could see another one of those best picture/director splits that used to be so rare, but are now commonplace with "Chicago," "Shakespeare in Love" and "Gladiator" winning best picture while the director laurels went to, respectively, Roman Polanski ("The Pianist"), Steven Spielberg ("Saving Private Ryan") and Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic"). Whatever happens this year, it's clear that Ang Lee has the best director trophy in the bag.

In the end, I believe "Brokeback" will win because there's a clear voting pattern in the top category recently: academy members want to be on the winning team. Front-runners tend to win even when there's a growing surge against them. Backlash against "The English Patient" was so widespread that "Seinfeld" did a whole episode about it, but it still won. Even though "A Beautiful Mind" was under attack on all fronts a few years ago, it nonetheless prevailed. "Chicago" pulled off its best picture victory even though late-breaking momentum for "The Pianist" was so strong that it won the top prizes for director, actor and screenplay. That bodes well for the gay cowboys remaining tall in the saddle on Oscar night.

Crash Cost $6.5 Million to Make; It's Oscar Campaign Was $4 Million - A Look at The High Cost of Gaining an Oscar

Oscar Economics 101
Lions Gate opens the books on 'Crash's' academy campaign.
James Bates - LA Times
February 12, 2006

It's appropriate that Oscars are gold, since winning one can make a fortune for talent or a studio. This column will look at the business of Hollywood's awards season, and what all that money being spent really buys. Send your ideas, comments, criticisms, tips and pontifications to James.Bates@latimes.com

______________________________________________

Thanks to Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and federal laws requiring companies to disclose meaningful developments to investors, we can all get a "Crash" course in Oscar economics.

Last week, Lions Gate (which recently decided to save space by referring to itself as Lionsgate) publicly disclosed to Wall Street that its profits will be crimped in 2006. One reason: the company is spending "an additional $2 million" to promote director Paul Haggis' "Crash" during the stretch run of the best picture race, which ends March 5 with the Academy Awards.

The operative word here is "additional." That's because it's double what the company had already spent to promote the movie for various awards. All told, Lions Gate is expected to spend $4 million to campaign for a film that only cost $6.5 million to make.

What's interesting about last week's corporate disclosure is that it may be the only time anyone has had to publicly own up to how much cash is being thrown around to buy Oscar votes.

Ang Lee Runaway Favorite for "Best Director" Oscar for Brokeback Mountain


This I saw result at an LA Times poll. Lee scored 61 percent over his competitors, including Steven Speilberg for "Munich." Lee -- who takes chances with daring work like "The Hulk" and the current "Brokeback Mountain" -- is certainly deserving of the Oscar.

Heath Ledger's "Silly" SAG Speech Blown Out of Proportion - But Could Cost Him Best Actor

The flap's a small one, but remember that Russell Crow's front-runner status in the 2002 race for Best Actor took a nose-dive after it was revealed he beat up the band director at the BAFTA awards that year. The eventual winner was Denzel Washington for "Training Day." So, from that perspective, the following may have sealed Heath's fate.

http://www.oscarwatch.com/

Much Ado About...Heath at the SAG

Apparently, there was some sort of commentary buzzing about Heath and Jake's awkward, giggly intro for Brokeback at the SAGs. People were left shaking their heads - Heath called in to the LA Times to explain why. But for some reason, the whole thing might been better off left alone. Nonetheless, OH NO THEY DIDN'T is running, so there you go.

Heath Ledger is in Oscar damage control after his bizarre giggling behaviour at the recent Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The Australian Oscar nominee raised eyebrows when he appeared on stage during the January 29 ceremony at Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium with Jake Gyllenhaal to introduce their nominated film, Brokeback Mountain.

The job was simple.

Ledger and Gyllenhaal had to read a blurb from an autocue about Brokeback Mountain, just as actors from the four other nominees for the Outstanding Performance by a Cast SAG category - Crash, Capote, Hustle & Flow and Good Night, and Good Luck - were called on to do.

Ledger's behaviour, with Hollywood's A-List crowd sitting before him and a worldwide audience watching on TV, was odd.

Some wondered if, as the Los Angeles Times described it, he was performing "some kind of gay spoof".

Ledger was giggling, his body was slumped and his left hand was on his hip in a "teacup" position.

It is not the kind of behaviour that would impress the 5,798 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who will decide on March 5 if Ledger should be honoured with the best actor Oscar, ahead of the distinguished Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Ledger was apparently so horrified about the reaction to his SAG performance he called the LA Times to set the record straight.

"I am so sorry and I apologise for my nervousness," Ledger told the newspaper.

"I would be absolutely horrified if my stage fright was misinterpreted as a lack of respect for the film, the topic and for the amazing filmmakers."

Ledger blamed his behaviour on a mix-up.

He said he was sitting with his Brokeback Mountain castmates at the ceremony when he asked Gyllenhaal who would be introducing their film.

"I leaned over and asked Jake and he said, 'We are. Didn't you get the script?' I said, 'What?' I thought it was a script for the Directors Guild Awards a few nights earlier," Ledger said.

There was no time to rehearse as they were soon called on stage.

"I am not a public speaker and never will be ... I'm just not one of those naturally funny, relaxed actors who enjoy the spotlight and are so good at it," Ledger said.

"And this was really weird because we were basically introducing ourselves, like here's this brilliant cast and guess what, it's us."

That's why he acted like a giggly kid.

"How can you say all that stuff - 'two brave cowboys' - with a straight face", he said.

"It was just so surreal."

Ledger also explained what he described as his "teacup hand" position.

"I've stood like that since I was a kid," Ledger said.

"You can ask me mum. It's nerves I guess."

Ledger's apology came at a crucial time in his Oscar campaign.

Last Wednesday the Academy mailed the final ballots to the Oscar voters. Ledger's apology appeared in Friday's LA Times, the day most voters would have received their ballots.

It is a well known rule in Hollywood that Oscar nominees need to be on their best behaviour in the lead-up to the Academy Awards.

Russell Crowe's infamous confrontation with the TV producer of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) telecast in 2002 is part of Hollywood folklore.

Crowe was the favourite for the best actor Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, but after he blasted the producer for cutting short a poem he wanted to recite in his BAFTA acceptance speech, the New Zealand-born actor was snubbed by Oscar voters.

Crowe's blow-up that year also came at the worst time - when the Oscar voters received their final ballots.

Paramount's Pres Gail Berman The Target of Hollywood's Backstabbers -- And She Just Got There. Is Hollywood Too Sexist?


Paramount Pictures new President Gail Berman is described as tough, directive, well-spoken, and assertive -- and Hollywood apparently can't stand women like that. The person who brought many of our most-watched shows is being skewered for nothing having to do with the bottom line. It's a sign of how far we still have to go in America, but it's also a tale of a successful woman in a place that seems to elevate good business women, as much as it despises them.

Here's part of the story. For the rest, click on the title of this post.


Rough transition to film for TV veteran Berman

By Anne Thompson
In Hollywood, a rumor is like a hurricane: It starts from a small nugget of truth and can build into a disruptive force. Even when the person at the eye of the storm knows it's all bollocks, it's no fun.

Ever since Paramount Pictures president Gail Berman, the former Fox Broadcasting entertainment president, arrived on the Melrose Avenue studio lot, gossips have been predicting an end to her tenure even though it has barely begun.

That's because there is always an awkward period for a studio in transition, when the town still hasn't figured out the new rules of engagement. Which producers and directors are in or out? What kinds of movies does this new production chief like? A career TV executive like Berman -- while she brought TV watchers everything from "Arrested Development" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to "American Idol" -- is coming into the movie business with neither a track record of produced movies nor established relationships with filmmakers and stars. Hollywood is notoriously tough on outsiders. And women. Berman is both.

Another Way to Fill Movie Theaters - Concerts

This is a novel trend, and one that should see the maintenance of -- and perhaps the expansion of -- single-screen theaters in the future.

Rock Fans, Sit Back, Relax, Enjoy the Show

Article Tools Sponsored By
By MARC WEINGARTEN - NY Times
Published: January 24, 2006

In this digital age of expanding leisure options, some old-school ideas still have staying power. Take the very 1970's concept of music fans' attending movie theaters to watch their favorite rock stars on the big screen. It's mounting something of a comeback, as illustrated by a one-night-only event in 115 theaters across the country: a showing tonight of "Coachella," a documentary highlighting six years of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.

Of course, there was a time when rock 'n' roll movies were a big deal. The three-hour film of the 1969 Woodstock music festival won the Academy Award for best documentary, and everyone from Pink Floyd (the 1972 "Live at Pompeii") to the Grateful Dead (the 1977 "Grateful Dead Movie") produced concert films for theatrical delectation in the pre-MTV 70's. For the price of a movie ticket, music fans could experience their favorite rock stars at the local multiplex much as they experienced Luke Skywalker. But the concert films in theaters more or less died with the advent of cable television in the late 70's, as well as the explosion of the video rental business.

Apparently you can't keep a good idea down for long. The exhibitor behind "Coachella" and other recent concert films, Big Screen Concerts, is seeking an elegant solution to a nagging problem: how to fill those thousands of theater seats that tend to collect dust during the dormant preweekend lull, especially with overall ticket sales down by more than 10 percent last year.

"The idea came from trying to figure out what types of content, other than movies, might bring people into the theater from Monday to Thursday," said Kurt Hall, chief executive of National CineMedia, a joint venture of the theater behemoths Regal Entertainment Group, AMC Entertainment and Cinemark USA that includes Big Screen Concerts among its divisions. "There is a 75 percent drop-off in movie attendance during the week, yet it seems that there's always an urge among people to get out of the house."

Especially grown-up music fans, Mr. Hall said, who are well past the age of jostling for position at the foot of the stage with other fans who tenuously cling to sloshing Styrofoam cups of beer. "Older folks don't want to deal with the hassle of rock concerts," Mr. Hall said. "Also, movie theaters provide a safe environment for parents to experience rock shows with their kids."

With access to more than 13,000 screens, Big Screen Concerts offers an enticing chance for music labels to reach tens of thousands of engaged fans with one big, surround-sound bang. The company uses a closed digital network to distribute via satellite its concert events, which thus far have either been live concerts or pretaped promotional events for upcoming DVD releases. Among the more notable over the last year were a DVD screening of a Bruce Springsteen concert from 1975 to coincide with the release of Mr. Springsteen's "Born to Run" 30th-anniversary box set; a live Bon Jovi concert in September transmitted from the Nokia Theater in Manhattan, which helped the New Jersey band sell more units of its album "Have a Nice Day" in its first week of release than any other album in the band's 23-year history. Big Screen Concerts also distributed the jam band Phish's final two shows at the Coventry festival in Vermont in April, beamed via live simulcast to 40,000 fans in theaters in 54 cities.

Fans pay $10 and up for the privilege of viewing the digital events, depending on the economics of the event. (Phish, at $20, has been the top-tier ticket thus far.)

For participating artists, the appeal of Big Screen Concerts isn't too hard to fathom. For one thing, a touring band can extend its reach beyond the cities that might be on its itinerary, or perhaps not even tour at all. But what's more important from a marketing standpoint is the lead-up to the event. "The key to the whole thing is not so much the viewing experience, but the promotion Big Screen Concerts can do on their 13,000 movie screens," said Doc McGhee, manager for Kiss, which put on the first Big Screen Concert event in 2003; he has entered into a business partnership with Big Screen Concerts for future events. "When your band is being shown along with the trailers for 20 minutes on all of those screens, you get that nice marketing kick."

Kiss fans responded to their two-dimensional idols much as they would at a live concert, with all of the attendant applause and lusty vocal support. For Mr. McGhee, that makes Big Screen Concert events a more attractive alternative to concerts beamed on the Web. "It's hard to get excited about a band when you're looking at them on your laptop," Mr. McGhee said. "You don't get that 5.1 surround sound, or the crowd participation."

In addition to music events, Big Screen Concerts is trying to figure out other novel ways to use empty theaters during their off-hours, leasing them out for big corporate confabs (or cine-meetings, as the company likes to call them) and possibly beaming sporting events too. Meanwhile, the lure of the venerable concert film remains strong. "We screened the old 'Grateful Dead Movie' last year," Mr. Hall said, "and it was one of our most popular events."

"King Kong" Director Peter Jackson Snubbed by Directors Guild of America (DGA)'s Awards -- Jackson Battled to Have Collegues Recognized

The DGA -- Director's Guild of America's -- awards nominations were annouced. They are:

George Clooney (Good Night and Good Luck), Paul Haggis (Crash), Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain), Bennett Miller (Capote) and Steven Spielberg (Munich).

I did some research and learned that King Kong Director Peter Jackon had requested two of his co-workers to be honored as "Assistant Directors" along with him, something the DGA has never done. He did this back in November of 2005. So, it seems his film's being "locked out" of the lower awards for reasons having nothing to do with how good it is.

Since King Kong is picked as an Oscar "Best Picture" candidate, Jackson should be nominated for Best Director as well. It's not as if Jackson was acting out of hubris, but the pure recognition that the movie's production was not "all about him." That's rare and should be rewarded.

Go to www.oscar.com and tell them how you feel about that, before this political game is allowed to continue.