Red carpet favorite Brad Pitt is a must-have for any Academy Awards show producer, but the chances of his attendance at this year's ceremony have diminished considerably.  Sure, Pitt is a longshot for a best supporting actor nod for playing Lt. Aldo Raine in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," but co-star and Cannes Film Festival winner Christoph Waltz should take the thriller's slot in that category.  Instead, Pitt was expected to be a contender for his role in Terrence Malik's new drama "The Tree of Life."  That may still occur, but it won't be this year.

In news that was somewhat expected, Apparition head Bob Berney told Thompson on Hollywood that any chance of the distributor's drama making an end-of-year release date is "wishful" and moreover "it's definitely" not being released in 2009.  Malik notoriously takes an excruciatingly long time to edit his films so the quick turnaround would have surprised many.  To be clar, Pitt's role in the drama certainly wasn't guaranteed a nod, but if two of his films were nominated within the new ten nominee system?  That scenario would have made it very difficult for Mr. and Mrs. Jolie to decline an invitation. Last year Pitt and Jolie were both nominated in the Best Actor and Best Actress category respectively for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Changeling."   Now, the Academy and ABC will pray "Basterds" gets in and Weinstein somehow convinces Hollywood's first family to take in the show. Perhaps they'll get lucky and Robert Patinson will decide to grace the Oscars with his presence once more.

In other awards season news, Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones" landed a plum gig today as it was selected as The Royal FIlm Performance for 2009.  The annual event is attended by members of the Royal Family and is a major charity event on the London social calendar.  No indication on which castmembers or members of the Royal Family will attend what will effectively be the film's world premiere, but Prince William and Prince Harry have been fixtures at the event over the past decade (when not in military service of course).  While star Saorise Ronan is the only Brit in the primary cast, Film Four co-financed the film with Paramount/DreamWorks and evidently worked some magic in landing the pr-friendly honor.  Previous Royal Film Performance screenings have included "Casino Royale," "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," "Titanic," "Empire of the Sun" and "West Side Story."  The event will take place at an undisclosed date late next month at the Leicester Square cinemas.  "Lovely Bones" opens in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 11 and then expands nationwide on Jan 15.