<p>George Clooney is returning to the director's chair with &quot;The Ides of March.&quot;</p>

George Clooney is returning to the director's chair with "The Ides of March."

Credit: AP Photo

Oscar Bait Alert: George Clooney finds 'The Ides of March' with Ryan Gosling

Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti and Marisa Tomei will also star

George Clooney has landed the financing to return to the director's chair.  Exclusive Media Group and Cross Creek Pictures ("Black Swan") announced today they will finance and co-produce "The Ides of March" which Clooney will direct and star in.

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Nicole Kidman in the new poster for John Cameron Mitchell's "Rabbit Hole"

Nicole Kidman in the new poster for John Cameron Mitchell's "Rabbit Hole."

Credit: Lionsgate

Exclusive: Nicole Kidman looks forward in new 'Rabbit Hole' poster

Acclaimed new drama a wildcard in the Oscar race

Most movie marketing campaigns have months, sometimes years to come to fruition.  Even coming up with a trailer and a poster can take months on end of creative discussion.  In fact, in an extreme case, I remember seeing hundreds of comps for the final poster for "The Hours" back in the day when I was at Paramount.  You literally have no idea how many months it took for everyone to agree what order to put Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman in against a white background.  But, something must have worked because the film was nominated for best picture and Kidman won her first best actress Oscar (or maybe it was just the movie).  Eight years later, Kidman has delivered her finest performance since in John Cameron Mitchell's "Rabbit Hole."

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Eddie Izzard

The Indie Spirits are heading to Santa Monica this February, but will last year's host Eddie Izzard be going with them?

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Oscar Watch: Indie Spirit Awards head back to Santa Monica

Plus: Jeff Bridges is hosting 'SNL'

What was pretty much guaranteed within days of last year's ceremony has officially come to pass: the Independent Spirit Awards are going home.  After making a 25th Anniversary prime time stop at L.A. Live this past March, the 2011 edition of the Spirts will return to the friendly, if not windy confines of Santa Monica Beach. 

This year's ceremony will be held Saturday, Feb. 26 at 2 PM PST.  However, unlike previous years where the ceremony was broadcast live, IFC has decided to rebroadcast cast the show in an edited form later that night at 10 PM EST/PST.  That will no doubt save the company money on satellite feeds, but ruin some of the fun for awards season fans.

Film Independent did announce more good news, however, when it revealed that Audrey Morrissey has agreed to join Dick Clark Productions to Executive Produce this year's telecast.  A veteran of the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, 2010 People's Choice Awards and 2009 MTV Latin American VMAs, Morrissey should bring a more professional and slicker presentation to what has always been a mixed bag affair.  Whether last year's host, Eddie Izzard, will be given another chance in a better setting remains to be seen (here's hoping). 

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Halle Berry goes psycho in "Frankie and Alice"

Halle Berry goes psycho stripper in "Frankie and Alice."

Credit: Freestyle

Oscar Watch: Halle Berry crashing the best actress race with 'Frankie and Alice'

Plus: LAFCA honors Paul Mazursky, BAFTA's Britannia Awards finds a TV home

Can Oscar lightning strike twice?  That's what Freestyle Releasing and Halle Berry are hoping for after moving the former best actress winner's new film, "Frankie and Alice," to a limited release in Dec.

Directed by Geoffrey Sax ("Othello," "White Noise"), the '70's era true story finds Berry playing Frankie Murdoch, a stripper trying to deal with her dissociative identity disorder or multiple personalities, one of which just happens to be racist (uh-oh).   The film debuted at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, and while the picture didn't set the Croisette on fire, Berry got strong notices for her performance.  Now, Freestyle will release the picture for a qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 17, before a regular theatrical release occurs on Feb. 4, 2011 (assuming Berry gets a nomination).  

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<p>Jean-Luc Godard</p>

Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard will not accept his honorary Oscar in person

French filmmaking legend won't make the trip to the Governors Awards

As many expected, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that French filmmaking legend Jean-Luc Godard won't make the trip to the Governors Awards to accept his honorary Oscar in person.

In a statement from the Academy, Academy president Tom Sherak noted, “He reiterated his thanks for the award and also sent his good wishes to the other individuals being honored the same night – Kevin Brownlow, Francis Ford Coppola and Eli Wallach – who he refers to as ‘the three other musketeers.’”

This isn't a huge surprise for the Academy as Godard is known to fear air travel and has even skipped Cannes to avoid it.

The Academy will pay tribute to Godard through film clips and commentary by his admirers (although why a satellite hook up isn't being arranged or even a Skype call is unclear). The award will be accepted on Godard’s behalf by the Academy and following the event his statue will be delivered to him in Switzerland.

The Governors Awards take place at the Hollywood and Highland complex on Nov. 13.

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Tyler Perry discusses his first adaptation, "For Colored Girls"

Tyler Perry discusses his first adaptation, "For Colored Girls."

Tyler Perry says adapting 'For Colored Girls' was about 'surrender'

Plus: Anika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad on the new drama

There is something interesting going on with the early reviews for Tyler Perry's "For Colored Girls."  The adaptation of Ntozake Shange's play is the first picture Perry has directed that's not based on his own source material. It's his most challenging work to date and features stellar turns from Kimberly Elise, Thandie Newton and Phylicia Rashad among others.  But will the critics give Perry's latest a fair shot?  We're not so sure.  But more on that later... 

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Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence at the premiere of "The Burning Plain" last year in New York.

Credit: AP Photo/Pete Kramer

Jennifer Lawrence skips 'X-Men: First Class' to return to 'Winter's Bone'

48 hour trip to LA to campaign for her Sundance breakout

Jennifer Lawrence cant get the blue makeup off her right ear.  The 20-year-old actress is in the middle of a 48-hour reprieve from being covered head to toe in blue make up in Matthew Vaughn's reboot of the Marvel mutant franchise, "X-Men: First Class," but even half way across the world from "X-Men's" London soundstages, she can't get rid of the blue stuff.  Lawrence has returned to Los Angeles to remind voters about her acclaimed performance in "Winter's Bone." And you can't blame her or distributor Roadside Attractions for breaking out the wine glasses once again.

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Oscar winner Nicole Kidman in the new drama "Rabbit Hole."

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman during an emotional moment from the new drama "Rabbit Hole."

Credit: Lionsgate

Watch: Nicole Kidman returns to form in new 'Rabbit Hole' preview

First trailer pulls new punches for John Cameron Mitchell's latest

Nothing is more disheartening than when a studio pulls what's known as a "cheat" when creating a movie trailer or TV spot.  That usually means cutting material to make the picture look like it's something that it's not.  Most of the time, it's used to make a comedy look much funnier than it is, but it can even be done to position a picture as more "important" than it is (see the latest trailer for "Made in Dagenham," a movie this pundit is actually a fan of).  It's refreshing then, that Lionsgate isn't pulling any punches with the new preview for "Rabbit Hole."

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Colin Firth talks about royalty and managing speech impediments in "The King's Speech"

Colin Firth talks about royalty and managing speech impediments in "The King's Speech."

Oscar Watch: Colin Firth talks royalty and 'The King's Speech'

Plus: Paramount begins their 'Shutter Island' campaign

It's going to be another busy fall and winter for Colin Firth.  After campaigning hard last year for his acclaimed work in "A Single Man," Firth is back in Oscar's cross hairs with another great turn in the upcoming drama "The King's Speech."

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Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Kevin Durant have the power in this Marvel inspired cover for ESPN the Magazine.

Kobe Bryant, Lebron James and Kevin Durant have the power in this Marvel inspired cover for ESPN the Magazine.

Credit: ESPN

Disney does Marvel synergy right with 'Tron' and ESPN

Studio smartly working its $4 billion purchase throughout its properties

Having worked at two major media companies I know something about how difficult it is to get different divisions to work together.  Synergy was the buzz word in my early days at NewsCorp owned 20th Century Fox International and seemed always more of a talking point than anything that was ever seriously implemented (at least back in the day).  At Viacom's Paramount Pictures, divisions could certainly work with each other, assuming you'd pay something out of your budget to make it happen.  Competitors always thought the studio had it easy with MTV, but unless it was an MTV Film or someone shouted from the top of the Viacom ladder, you weren't getting much help from the all important cable net.  So, it's something of a surprise that after only one year, the Walt Disney Company has been able to integrate its Marvel properties so quickly into the entire operation.

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