Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gold Derby nuggets: Can 'Star Trek' launch land Oscar nods? | Trio of best song contenders | 'Chuckles' scribe David Lloyd dies

Greg Ellwood reports from Monday's DVD launch of "Star Trek" held at the historic Griffith Observatory overlooking L.A. Observes Greg, "As for 'Trek's continually discussed Oscar hopes, many hoped the advent of the new ten nominee system would sneak a popular and critical blockbuster like 'Star Trek' into the mix, but that doesn't appear to be the case this year. Granted, 'Inglourious Basterds' has a strong chance of making the field as well as the animated Pixar wonder 'Up,' but those hits have much more of a prestige pedigree than 'Trek' does." And, Greg adds, "let's be honest, as amazing a job Paramount has done in revitalizing the 'Trek' brand, for many Academy members the stigma of what the franchise was may just be too hard to forget. That's why baring a dramatic turn of events, 'Trek' will have to make due with more technical nods such as visual effects, production design, costumes, sound and (hopefully) best original score. And considering where 'Trek' left off with 'Nemesis' in 2002 that's leaps and bounds higher on the respectability scale." HIT FIX

Steven Zeitchik pens a provocative piece titled "Why the Best Actress Race Is Enough to Make You Depressed." Says Steven, "The lack of depth has led to a slew of awards-season chatter, from the expected downplaying -- all categories are cyclical -- to blanket explanations about studios making fewer awards movies in general. Of course if the latter explanation were a factor, best actor also would be weak this year. It’s not." Rather, "for all the strides made by the women behind the camera, the women in front of them can still be subject to the old prejudices. Indeed, the more cynical in town -- including at least one actress awards-contender -- say that the director and actress trends are hardly a coincidence. Many female directors, they argue, can feel pressure to cast a preponderance of strong male leads to negate the perception that theirs is a female-oriented film." HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

• The "Crazy Heart" trailer has hit the Web and showcases lead actor contender Jeff Bridges as a washed-up country singer with the film's theme — potential best song nominee "The Weary Kind" — playing in the background through most of the two-minute spot. The tune was penned by Stephen Bruton and T Bone Burnett and is sung by Ryan Bingham. APPLE

• Another possible best song nominee could be the new tune "Cinema Italiano," penned by Tony winner Maury Yeston for "Nine" and sung and danced by Kate Hudson. As Yeston explained to Harry Haun of Playbill, "Kate as a Vogue reporter — American to the core, seduced and enchanted by Guido's work, by his style, by his world — can educate contemporary audiences about this era while celebrating the 1960s. She can tell us everything about what Italian movies meant to the world at that time by singing 'Cinema Italiano,' a production number in which I could pull out all the stops, characterize her, entertain and, at the same time, depict this whole world that we're talking about." YAHOO

Avatar Poster • And a third best song contender could be "I See You" from "Avatar." The song — written by two-time Oscar champ James Horner ("Titanic") and "My Heart Will Go On" producer Simon Fraglen and sung by British diva Leona Lewis — debuts on the "Avatar" soundtrack that drops three days before the film's Dec. 18 release worldwide. THE INDEPENDENT

Scott Feinberg says, " 'Avatar' could still win the best picture Oscar for the same reason that 'The Greatest Show on Earth' and 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' did in their respective years: all three are cinematic game-changers, important less for their acting than the palette on which their acting takes place." Under the headings of technology, exhibition, history and studio, Scott then enumerates ways in which "Avatar" could be a game changer. AND THE WINNER IS

• The Gotham Awards kick off the start of the season with a Nov. 30 kudos fest at Cipriani Wall Street. Among those bold-faced names making appearances at the 19th annual edition of these awards sponsored by the IFP are Shohreh Aghdashloo, Joel and Ethan Coen, Willem Dafoe, Anthony Mackie, Oliver Platt, Jim Sheridan, Brooke Shields and Meryl Streep. Comic Kumail Nanjiani hosts the festivities. IFP

• Those Oscar voters who didn't receive the screener of "An Education" on Monday should be getting it today. That DVD joins "The Messenger," which, as we already reported, was sent out to the entire academy Friday. Earlier this derby season, voters received "Anvil," "The Damned United," "Whatever Works" and "Coco Before Chanel." "Trucker" was sent only to members of the actors' branch.

Roger Friedman catches up with Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the 2007 best song Oscar winners for "Falling Slowly" from their semiautobiographical film "Once." As Roger recounts, "Well, they’re back, only they split as a couple. Glen tells me they’re just friends. They’re now called The Swell Season. They’re sort of like Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. And they’ve got a new, terrific album called 'Strict Joy.' The first single should be a hit if, you know, radio stations still played music by people over 12. It’s called 'Low Rising.' " SHOWBIZ 411

Chuckles • A funeral service will be held Wednesday for David Lloyd, who won the first of his three Emmy Awards in 1976 for writing the infamous "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." TV Guide named this funny funeral the greatest episode in television history. The following year Lloyd shared in the writing win for the last episode of the classic sitcom and he picked up other writing nods for his work on "Rhoda," "Taxi" and "Cheers." Lloyd won his third Emmy as part of the producing team for "Frasier" in 1998. He died of prostate cancer last week at his home in Beverly Hills at the age of 75, according to his son, Christopher, who was also part of the Emmy-winning team on "Frasier." LONG BEACH PRESS TELEGRAM

Brad Brevet reviews the Blu-Ray edition of 1939 Oscar champ "Gone With the Wind." He says, "Not only is the packaged presentation some of the best I have seen from the studio, the film itself has never looked better and I can't imagine it ever will, at least not on home video." However, Brad adds, "As far as the special features are concerned, I'm honestly not bowled over, that is in terms of getting anything all that 'new' is concerned. Everything from the four-disc set is here and still in standard definition along with only a few new bonuses, but hardly anything worth getting excited over." ROPE OF SILICON

Leo Barraclough reports that two-time Oscar champ Michael Caine ("Hannah and her Sisters," "The Cider House Rules") will receive the Variety award at the Dec. 6 British Independent Film Awards in London. "Steven Gaydos, Variety’s executive editor of features, hailed Caine for his 'versatility and durability and his passionate and generous commitments to new filmmakers and edgy film projects.' Caine’s latest pic, urban Western 'Harry Brown,' was recently picked up in the U.S. by Samuel Goldwyn Films, which will release the pic next year." VARIETY