Top 10 Tweets on Academy Awards Night

Numbered Oscar statuettes are seen backstage ... AP

As much competition as there is at the Academy Awards, Oscar night on Twitter is far more cacophonous.

Social network traffic soars during the Oscars, as viewers compare notes on the broadcast. The Academy Awards might be “movie’s biggest night,” but it’s also social media’s.

Multitasking co-host James Franco tweeted from backstage. Mark Ruffalo, nominated for best supporting actor in “The Kids Are All Right,” even tweeted his acceptance speeches hours before the ceremony, listing his thank-you’s since he didn’t expect to win.

But Twitter is ultimately for the onlookers, outsiders and comedians. Here are 10 of the best Oscar tweets from Sunday night:

– “Is it me or does it look like James Franco would cut his arm off to get out of hosting the Oscars?” – comedian Kevin Nealon

– “Watching the Oscars. Not crazy about the womb Natalie Portman’s baby chose to wear.” – late-night host Conan O’Brien

– “I might switch over to the Puppy Bowl.” – comedian Rob Huebel

– “And now, Gwyneth Paltrow, in a tribute to the saying ‘Don’t Quit Your Day Job.'” – comedian Andy Borowitz

– “What I’ve learned so far watching the Oscars: I need to buy nicer envelopes.” – “Late Night” writer Steve Young.

– “Please have the baby right now, Natalie.” – comedian Michael Ian Black.

– “No African American nominees? If you’re black and want to make it on Hollywood this year, you better be a swan.” – TV host Bill Maher.

– “Daniel Day Lewis has the depth of commitment to the craft of acting to die just to liven up next year’s death montage.” – comedian Patton Oswalt

– “This night will be a waste if Anne Hathaway and James Franco don’t do their hilarious ‘Who’s On Firth” bit.’ – “Late Night” writer Paul Masella

– “Stay tuned for the official Republican rebuttal to the Oscars shortly after the show.” – Satirical newspaper the Onion.

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)


4 Rules to Win Your Oscar Pool

NYT Times’ Nate Silver is providing awards-season insight for Carpetbagger leading up to the 83rd Academy Awards on Feb. 27. Mr. Silver is the author of The Times’s FiveThirtyEight blog, which is devoted to the analysis of statistics and data in politics and other areas.

Oscar shaped chocolate statuettes are seen at ... AP



Two years ago, I tried to predict the Oscar winners for New York Magazine by crunching data from the last 30 years of awards history. The project was a mixed success. I got 4 out of 6 categories right, an acceptable score on paper. But several of the choices (like “Slumdog Millionaire” for Best Picture) were giveaways and conversely, the system’s longshot pick — Taraji P. Henson for her role in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” — was a total flop.

Okay, so the system isn’t exactly Watson (not that Watson doesn’t make mistakes too). Nor, really, could any system be when trying to predict the behavior of the relatively fickle group of human beings who make up the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

But I’ve dusted off the database (literally: it was on an old desktop that had begun to gather moss) and aimed to simplify it — boiling it down to a few core factors that have been especially reliable predictors in the past. The idea is to focus on those variables that have some logical meaning rather than being statistical artifacts. Here, then, are the rules-of-thumb for predicting the Oscars:

1. By far the best predictors are the winners of other major awards, like the Golden Globes. That isn’t rocket science, I know. But there is some utility in knowing which awards have the best track records in which categories. In the best picture category, for instance, awards given out by ‘outsiders’ like critics tend to be far less reliable predictors than those given out by professionals like directors and producers.

2. A nomination for best picture is a boon in the other cateogries. If one nominee for best actress appears in an Oscar-nominated film and another does not, the one in the nominated film is more likely to win. Unfortunately, now that 10 rather than five movies are nominated for Best Picture, this state of affairs is less likely to happen.

3. The Academy — which can take itself very seriously — is relatively unfriendly toward comedies. If two candidates otherwise seem tied, lean toward the more dramatic film. The exception is in the supporting actor and actress categories, where the Academy likes to have a bit more fun and playing comedic or otherwise quirky and offbeat roles may actually be an advantage.

4. Hollywood has some tendency to “spread the wealth” — generally, it hurts a nominee’s chances if she’s won in her category before. The converse is also somewhat true — if someone has been nominated a lot but has not won, they may build up some sympathy points. This is not absolute, however — otherwise, Meryl Streep would not have been shut out in her last 11 best actress nominations.

That is pretty much what we have to work with. By contrast, other variables like release dates, Rotten Tomatoes scores and box office grosses (otherwise, how could “Avatar” have been upset last year?) don’t seem to matter, at least not once you’ve accounted for these other factors.

Of course, there might also be all sorts of intangible dimensions to voter psychology that are fun to speculate about, but are hard to quantify. And the Academy can go through different moods — recall for instance, its tendency to favor glossy but somewhat vapid films like “Terms of Endearment” during parts of the 1980s. So while our database goes back to 1979, we put more weight on more recent winners.

Here is how the system handicaps the odds in the six major cateogies:

BEST PICTURE As I’ve noted, although “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” have won a roughly equal number of awards, “The King’s Speech” has won those that matter most, like the awards from the directors’ and producers’ guilds. The statistical case for “The Social Network” rests on its victory at the Golden Globes, which does have some predictive power; the psychological one probably depends on it now having become the underdog since “The King’s Speech” has been on such a winning streak. Nevertheless — although we’re retiring the pretense of decimal-point precision this year in favor of a softer, gentler approach — “The King’s Speech” is overwhelmingly more likely to win.

BEST DIRECTOR Often the most boring award since it so closely tracks to best picture, but this year is a potential exception. Betting markets, even though they have “The King’s Speech” heavily favored for best picture, have “The Social Network’s” David Fincher slightly favored for best director. And our system likes Mr. Fincher, too.

The most formidable piece of evidence is that the awards were split in exactly this fashion at the Baftas (the British equivalent of the Oscars), with “The King’s Speech” winning best film but Mr. Fincher best director. Also, when there has been a split between the two categories, it is sometimes the more adventurous film (think “Brokeback Mountain” to “Crash”) that wins best director while the other wins the big prize; this can be observed, for instance, in the fact that awards given out by critics (almost all of which were won by “The Social Network”) do have some predictive power for Best Director, which they do not for best picture.

Another factor is that if it does not win best director, “The Social Network” may be entirely shut out of the major awards; just one of its actors (Jesse Eisenberg) was nominated and he is unlikely to win. Finally, going by the sympathy points theory, Mr. Fincher has been nominated before (for “Benjamin Button”, which was also shut out) while the director of “The King’s Speech,” Tom Hooper, has not.

Are you persuaded? It’s a tentative case — and notably, Mr. Hooper won the Directors Guild of America award, which is the single best predictor of the lot. But you have to take a few risks to win an Oscar pool, and predicting the split here is a pretty decent one.

BEST ACTOR No need to get fancy here: Colin Firth has swept every major award and is the overwhelming favorite.

BEST ACTRESS. Annette Bening won the Golden Globe for her role as Nic in “The Kids Are All Right”, but Natalie Portman has won the majority of awards and — recalling our rule-of-thumb from above — the Academy tends to prefer serious roles to comedic ones when the choice is otherwise close. Plus, everyone seems either to have loved “The Black Swan” or thought it so terrible that Ms. Portman deserves some empathy for having competently played such a ridiculous character (guess which group I’m in?). A small factor helping Ms. Bening is that she has twice been nominated before without winning (for “American Beauty” and “Being Julia”), but this is Ms. Portman’s award to lose.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR. Geoffrey Rush made this mildly more interesting by winning the Bafta. But despite one recent coup — the Baftas rightly picked Alan Arkin for “Little Miss Sunshine” when most other awards did not — the Brits have a fairly poor track record in this category and the weight of the evidence points toward Christian Bale for his performance as a crack-addicted former boxer in “The Fighter.” If you wanted to pick a long-shot, in fact, you might do just as well to go with Mark Ruffalo from “The Kids Are All Right,” since his was the only comedic performance nominated and since that’s actually an advantage in this category.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Here too, the Baftas split from the other awards by picking Helena Bonham Carter rather than Melissa Leo. But the victory was a bit tainted since neither Ms. Leo nor the lovely Hailee Steinfeld (whom the Baftas quite rightly considered a leading actress for her role in “True Grit”) was nominated.

So could Ms. Steinfeld win instead? She could; this is among the hardest categories to predict, and we did adjust the system some for the fact that there is some confusion over her role. Nevertheless, Ms. Leo won both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards in direct competition with her, and so the case for Ms. Steinfeld is more sentimental than statistical.

New York Times

Dior Suspends Galliano for Alleged Anti-Semitism

The house of Dior suspended Galliano as its creative director Friday after he was accused of hurling an anti-Semitic insult during an alcohol-fueled spat at a Paris bar.

The designer vigorously denied wrongdoing and said the move was “totally disproportionate.” The suspension comes just a week before Dior’s fall-winter 2011-2012 ready-to-wear show on the catwalks of Paris.

In a terse statement, Christian Dior SA said the suspension would remain in effect pending an investigation into the altercation Thursday night at La Perle, a trendy eatery in Paris’ Marais district.

Paris prosecutors said the British designer was questioned by police and released after a couple accused him of hurling an anti-Semitic slur at them. A police official said the designer also exchanged slaps with the couple.

The prosecutors and police, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, say Galliano’s blood alcohol levels were excessive.

Fallout was swift.

Just hours after news of Galliano’s brief detention hit French websites, Dior CEO Sidney Toledano announced the suspension, saying: “The House of Dior confirms, with the greatest firmness, its policy of zero tolerance for any anti-Semitic or racist comments.”

Galliano’s lawyer, Stephane Zerbib, said the Gibraltar-born designer was “totally surprised” by the suspension.

“He never made an anti-Semitic remark in more than 10 years at Dior,” Zerbib told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “He was insulted, and he responded to the insults.”

Under French law, making anti-Semitic remarks can be punishable by up to six months in prison. Public figures in France have been convicted for anti-Semitic remarks in the past, but are usually given only suspended sentences.

Galliano, 50, was born in Gibraltar and grew up in London, where he graduated from St. Martins School of Art in 1984.

He moved his design studio to Paris in the early 1990s. He joined Givenchy in 1995 and came to Dior in late 1996. His first design for the house was worn by Princess Diana.

Under his tenure, Dior has attracted many A-list fans, from Kate Moss, whose wedding dress he designed, to actresses Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron and Marion Cotillard. French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy — a former supermodel and friend of Galliano — is rarely seen in anything but Dior for official functions.

Galliano oversees the design of both Dior’s ready-to-wear and its made-to-measure haute couture collections.

In fashion weeks past, the audience inevitably roared with approval as Galliano took to the catwalk for his hallmark post-show strut, his chest puffed out like a proud rooster and sporting a different outlandish costume each season. (AP)

Secrets of the Oscar Ballot Box

I found this Brisbane Times newspaper article while searching for printable Oscar ballots. Thought I’d pass it along for those who don’t know about the voting process – I sure didn’t!

NOT long after Adam Elliot won an Oscar in 2004, he became a member of the organization that bestowed the award, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. One of the first things he received from the organization was a book of etiquette for members: one of its strictest rules, he says, is that ”you can’t be photographed with false icons”, that is, in the company of giant Oscar statuettes. Copyright rules mean, he says, that you can’t even be photographed with an exact replica.

Membership also means that he can vote for the awards and, once again, there are rules laid down about procedures.

”You’re not meant to accept studio gift baskets and you can’t be taken out to dinner by studios during the Oscar season,” Elliot says.

Living in Melbourne, he says, he is less affected by things like Oscar buzz and hype, which he imagines can be a factor in Hollywood. ”I’ve been there during Oscar season and there’s billboards everywhere with ‘for your consideration’ in giant letters. Even though they can’t send gifts, money talks, and the media saturation for certain films and buzz has to be persuasive, particularly if the audience is in Los Angeles.”

The voting process begins for him in October, when he starts to receive between 60 and 100 DVD copies of films – sent in low-key packaging, without lavish brochures, as decreed by the academy. The organization does not give out names and addresses, so it is up to members to contact studios to be put on mailing lists.

Elliot knows, from his own experience, that this is an expense for low-budget productions to meet – last year when he had a feature film contender, Mary And Max, it cost about $50,000 to send out DVDs.

One year, because of concerns about piracy, he recalls, ”they sent every member a special DVD player that would only play academy-approved encrypted DVDs”, but the experiment was never repeated.

He takes the issue of security seriously in any case, adding: ”I’m paranoid; I destroy them after I have seen them, and I’ll buy a copy of the films I like – I think that’s only fair.”

Sitting down to vote for the first time, he felt a sense of responsibility. ”I realized,” he says, ”that we may have only won by one vote. You feel like you have a lot of people’s careers in your hands. An Oscar does change people’s lives.”

There are more than 6000 members of the academy, which is an invitation-only organisation of film practitioners. The membership is divided into 15 branches, ranging from producers to editors to public relations people. The largest is the actors branch (1183 members), the smallest is make-up artists and hairstylists (118).

The awards were first presented in 1929. While there has been airtight secrecy about the tally since 1940 – a change that took place when the embargoed results were published by the Los Angeles Times ahead of the ceremony – there is less control involved in monitoring the voting.

Five years ago, a reporter quoted Samuel L. Jackson claiming he let his maid and his nanny fill in the ballot papers – something the actor furiously denied ever saying.

There is also an industry joke that ”producers’ wives” are the most consistent voters. Some categories are decided by a designated group of academy members who attend screenings, but otherwise there is no way of knowing who has filled in the ballot, or whether the voter has seen the films.

The Academy Awards are very different, however, from the Golden Globes, Elliot says. Last year, when he submitted Mary and Max for consideration by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which runs the Golden Globes, he was told he would have to put on a special catered screening for its 80 members. ”I would have to provide a star: could I bring Philip Seymour Hoffman [the voice of Max]?”

He then discovered that Pixar, which was submitting Up, was taking all the members on hot air balloon rides.

Another Australian Oscar voter is director Fred Schepisi, who has been an academy member since the early 1980s. He participates every year, although he regards it as more of ”a bit of fun” than anything else. ”I’m not a lover of awards; I see them as a marketing exercise.”

Schepisi finds it relatively straightforward to make his voting decisions, he says, ”although if it’s a really good year you might have two or three films where you think the direction is pretty well equal”.

And when he watches the Oscars, he generally has two opinions: ”What I think will win and what I think I’d like to win.” There’s generally not much of an overlap.

This story was found at:

Drama Desk Awards to Air on Cable

The Drama Desk Awards ceremony is getting a little more glitzy.

Producers on Friday said the annual awards show will be televised for the first time nationally, the ceremony will be moved to the more spacious Hammerstein Ballroom and Harvey Fierstein will be the host.

The Drama Desk was founded in 1949 and honors both Broadway and off-Broadway productions. The Tony Awards only consider Broadway shows.

This year’s Drama Desk show will take place during a gala dinner Monday, May 23 at the Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center, a change from its usual Sunday night celebration at Lincoln Center.

The show will be taped and have two primetime airings – plus four additional national broadcasts — on the cable channel Ovation from June 2 to June 15.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

INXS Re-record Hits for New ‘Original Sin’

You know something’s up with INXS when they release a version of “Mystify” in French. It’s one of the songs on “Original Sin,” in which they create new versions of their hits with different singers.

Rob Thomas sings the title track, Pat Monahan of Train does “Beautiful Girl” and Ben Harper remakes “Never Tear Us Apart.”

INXS drummer Jon Farriss says he respects those singers for trying to do what Michael Hutchence did, and he says no one tried to replace Hutchence.

Another singer who appears on the album: J.D. Fortune, who won “Rock Star: INXS” and later claimed the band dumped him in Hong Kong. Farriss says that was a miscommunication, they get along great and Fortune has been touring with them for the past 18 months.

“Original Sin” is out this week on Amazon and in stores on April 5.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Where Stars Stash Their Oscars

The most popular spot to stash an Oscar? The bathroom!

In honor of the 83rd annual Academy Awards (taking place Feb. 27), The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at the surprising places stars store their statues:

Susan Sarandon (Best Actress, Dead Man Walking, 1995): For years she kept it in the guest bathroom of her home – along with all of her other award hardware. Now, she tells THR it’s on tour with the Gold exhibit organized by The Museum of Natural History. Says Sarandon, “I haven’t seen it in a few years.”

Robin Williams (Best Supporting Actor, Good Will Hunting, 1997): He keeps his Oscar in his home in Tiburon, Calif. – sandwiched between two Screen Actor Guild awards. “They stand on either side,” he tells THR. “So they have security.”

Timothy Hutton (Best Supporting Actor, Ordinary People, 1980): He once told USA Today his sister thought it would be a good idea to keep his Oscar in the refrigerator. “She thought that would be kind of funny to put the Oscar in the refrigerator when people would go grab a beer or something … It’s still there.”

Reese Witherspoon (Best Actress, Walk the Line, 2005): After winning her Oscar, she told People magazine she considered making it into a door knocker or a necklace, “but neither one of those options was very practical. I just keep it in my living room.”

Jodie Foster (Best Actress, The Accused [1988], The Silence of the Lambs [1991]): She used to keep hers in the bathroom “because they looked good with the faucets,” she has said. “But when they started getting corroded on the bottom, I had to move them to a trophy case in my den.”

Catherine Zeta Jones (Best Supporting Actress, Chicago, 2002): She has kept her Oscar in a hot spot. “He’s in our home in Bermuda,” she once told InStyle. “I figured that not many Oscars have lived there. Of course, everyone who visits wants a photograph with him.”

Holly Hunter (Best Actress, The Piano, 1994): She told Oprah Winfrey earlier this year that she keeps her award at filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen’s office in New York – along with actress Frances McDormand’s Oscar for her Best Actress role in Fargo. “It’s all just one big happy family,” Hunter said.

Cuba Gooding Jr. (Best Supporting Actor, Jerry Maguire, 1996): “For six years it was in our old house in Coldwater Canyon,” he has said. “We had a wine cabinet, and it sat behind the glass on one of the shelves. People would say, ‘Is that it?’ The cabinet was temperature controlled because of the wine, so the Oscar stayed beaming new. Now that I keep it out in the open in my screening room, it has become tarnished—which is kind of cool. It’s starting to age and get character. Like me.”

Cate Blanchett (Best Supporting Actress, The Aviator, 2005): She doesn’t keep her statue in one place. She once told InStyle, “It’s been in the study recently. It moves around a bit like my family and I do. I don’t look at it every day though. Life goes on.”

Kate Winslet (Best Actress, The Reader, 2009): It’s in her bathroom so guests “can sneakily have a little [hold] and put it back down again,” she said last year on the UK TV show GMTV. “…Basically everybody wants to touch it, everybody wants to hold it and go ‘Oh, my gosh,’ and ‘How heavy is it?’ So I figured if I put it [in there], then people can avoid the whole, ‘Where’s your Oscar?’ thing.”

Tom Hanks (Best Actor, Philadelphia [1993], Forrest Gump [1994]): “Where are they now? They are on the family trophy shelf, next to the soccer trophies,” he has said. “I think the World’s Greatest Mom trophy from Mother’s Day is up there as well.”

Hilary Swank (Best Actress, Boys Don’t Cry [1993], Million Dollar Baby [2004]): “They’re in the family room – on a great shelf, next to my books,” she once said.

Emma Thompson (Best Actress, Howard’s End, 1992): Yup, she stores her statue in the bathroom too. “They look far too outré anywhere else,” she has told Time. “They’re great big, gold, shiny things. They’re up there tarnishing quietly along with everything else I own, including my body.”

Anna Paquin (Best Supporting Actress, The Piano, 1994): Asked where she stores her statue, she told Playboy in 1999, “In the bottom of my closet, gathering dust.”

Hollywood Reporter