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September 24, 2008

Oscar loves new blood


Is this good news or bad news for those of us who revolted against last year's interminable, lackluster montage-crazy Oscar telecast?

We vote for optimism!

The Academy has just hired a couple of newbies (as in, haven't done a bloated three-hour-plus live TV show before) to handle the Feb. 22 event, and they're well versed in the song and dance. Maybe not so much the montage? Fingers crossed!

Producer Laurence Mark and writer-director Bill Condon have double-Oscar-winning "Dreamgirls" under their belt as a team and a lot of major awards hardware between them.

Condon was the screenwriter on six-time Golden Guy winner "Chicago," and notable indies "Kinsey" and "Gods and Monsters" (the latter snagged Condon a writing Oscar). He's working on a Richard Pryor biopic now. Mark has "Working Girl," multiple Oscar nominee/winner "As Good as it Gets," "The Lookout," and multiple Oscar nominee/winner for Cuba Gooding Jr.,  "Jerry Maguire," to his credit and he's in post-production on "Julie and Julia" based on the best-selling book.

New blood! Guys who know good material and how to bring it to life! Reason to look forward to, rather than dread, the annual kudofest? Could be.

In other Oscar developments: THR will help you navigate the complicated foreign-language race -- new rules! more inclusive! -- here. And brother blogger Steven Zeitchik sizes up some of the contenders and convinces us to see "The Class" at the first available opportunity.


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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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