<p>&quot;Everybody chill out. I&nbsp;got this.&quot;</p>

"Everybody chill out. I got this."

Credit: AP Photo/Amy Sancetta

AMPAS president Tom Sherak has his say on Oscargate

The catch phrase at the Academy is (as Ford Prefect would say): “Don’t panic.”

It was a whirlwind week for Oscar. Between Brett Ratner’s hasty resignation as the Oscarcast producer followed immediately by Eddie Murphy bowing out of his hosting duties and Brian Grazer stepping in to join forces with Don Mischer to rescue the show, the Academy has barely had time to catch its breath, much less take proper notice of the @MuppetOscars campaign on Twitter. This afternoon’s announcement that Billy Crystal will host the 2012 Academy Awards effectively dashed any remaining “Rainbow Connection” Oscar remix dreams.

In the wake of Oscargate, Academy president Tom Sherak has stepped forward to assure Hollywood (and the Oscar viewing audience at large) that everything is thoroughly under control. “If this happened in January, I would be hiding under my desk,” he told Deadline in one of a number of interviews today. “Look what has happened. We are actually two and a half weeks ahead of where we were last year, in terms of naming a host.”

Read Full Post
Old friends
Old friends
Credit: AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Billy Crystal steps in for Eddie Murphy to host this year's Oscar telecast

The 84th annual ceremony will be his ninth stab at the emcee gig

Okay, so like I said, I imagine it went something like this: "Let's make this easy on everyone. Let's get Billy Crystal in here and let's forget this whole mess ever happened." Sorry, Muppets.

Billy Crystal has been tapped as the host of this year's Oscar telecast. I'm fine with it. What was the last one he did? 2003? And he's been itching to get back into that seat. So I'm happy for him. And I'm happy this whole thing was settled so quickly. I wish the show the best moving forward and I have no doubt it'll be a fun and classy event.

It all started with a Tweet (which could have easily been a joke, but that doesn't stop the desperate world of online journalists from single-sourcing and running with it). But that news was eventually confirmed by the Academy to numerous sources, including HitFix. So Billy's our guy.

Read Full Post
<p>Roger Corman at the Governors Awards two years ago.</p>

Roger Corman at the Governors Awards two years ago.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Interview: Roger Corman remains unflinching in the face of an evolving industry

The subject of the doc 'Corman's World' reflects on his legacy and unmet goals

"Every year at the Academy Awards they give out a lifetime achievement award," actor Bruce Dern says in the new documentary "Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel." "How they can not have gotten to Roger Corman by now is disgusting. And I don't know that they ever will because they say, 'Well, what are the great movies that he made?'"

That, of course, was an interview from a few years ago. Since then, the Academy has indeed toasted the life and times of Roger Corman, tapping him in 2009 for an Honorary Oscar at the Governors Awards, a designation many in the industry would agree was a long time coming.

Corman has produced nearly 400 films since 1954. Indeed, they might not register on the objective scale of "great movies," as Dern notes, but his legacy is undeniable. Corman has had a definitive hand in shaping the modern Hollywood landscape. He gave breaks to Francis Ford Coppola, Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese and Ron Howard among countless others. He broke the greats of today into the business, and yet he has remained on the fringe, borderline obscure.

Read Full Post
<p>A scene from &quot;Transformers:&nbsp;Dark of the Moon&quot;</p>

A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Tech Support: 'War Horse,' 'Transformers' in the, uh, mix for Best Sound Mixing

And could we see, of all things, 'The Artist' pop up?

When dialogue was originally introduced into films, Charlie Chaplin considered it a fad that wouldn’t last. Alas, we now know how wrong that was. But sound can not only enrich a film by its addition of dialogue. The use of sound can build mood and tell the story in ways that would not be possible if our films remained silent.

Formerly called simply "Best Sound," the category of Best Sound Mixing awards the individuals who: 1) mix together dialogue, music, sound effects and everything else we hear in the soundscape of a film (up to three re-recording mixers) and 2) capture the sound as it is being filmed (the production sound mixer). This distinguishes the category from Best Sound Editing, which awards the creation and integration of artificially created sounds.

The category has an affinity for blockbusters and war films. That said, musicals frequently show up here, too. Moreover, Best Picture contenders can surprisingly get caught up in a sweep (“The King’s Speech”’s nomination last year is a good example).

Read Full Post
<p>Eddie&nbsp;Murphy in &quot;Eddie Murphy:&nbsp;Raw&quot;</p>

Eddie Murphy in "Eddie Murphy: Raw"

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Oscarweb Round-up: Murphygate

Also: Clooney would be shocked by 'Descendants' snub and Wasikowska hits the circuit

This has been the week from hell. But at least we're on the down-slope of it. And yesterday's quickly developing flurry of news has left plenty of pieces across the web in its wake. And to think, I was considering skipping Oscar Talk this week due to travel plans. Today's round-up is packed with stuff about that news, so strap in. And to kick things off, Nathaniel Rogers was actually at a lunch for "Martha Marcy May Marlene" in New York when the news hit. (There was a similar one here in Los Angeles but I had to skip it when the news started flying.) Rogers was seated with a trio of Academy members, so, naturally, he asked their thoughts on the situation. [Film Experience]

Read Full Post
<p>Ms.&nbsp;Piggy would like you to think really hard about this.</p>

Ms. Piggy would like you to think really hard about this.

One last 'Muppets' nudge... from Miss Piggy

The @MuppetOscars campaign should at least warrant a mention on the show

Alright, so we all had our fun. With the news that Brian Grazer is coming on board to "save" the Oscars, one gets the feeling that the Academy is ready to just move along, swiftly. So I'm not betting on the most creative Oscarcast. Do your best and get the hell out of this year. That kind of thing.

So, no room to pay for and mobilize The Muppets to have a key role in things, no matter if all you really need is a chair with a hole in it. But earlier today, the @MuppetOscars Twitter account shot up by 6,000 followers (going from 700+ in the morning to over 6,700 as of 9pm PT), with "Muppets" trending at one point. The Facebook page blew up with "likes" and messages; 10,000 followers there. Members of the international audience even chimed in: "I'd actually watch it... at 4am!" Fan art. Etc.

Read Full Post
<p>Carey Mulligan in a scene from &quot;Shame&quot;</p>

Carey Mulligan in a scene from "Shame"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Interview: Carey Mulligan redefines the ingénue with ‘Shame’ and ‘Drive’

The actress looks to stretch herself in the wake of 'An Education'

Carey Mulligan found herself propelled onto the world stage after she was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of the sharp, witty and painfully young Jenny Mellor in 2009s “An Education.” Though doors began to open for the actress, she was disappointed to discover that most of them led to rooms of similar shapes and sizes. “A lot of people just wanted me to sort of do what I had already done,” she recalls. “Films that reminded me of that part weren't films that I was interested in.”

If there is such a thing as a safe and secure course in the development of an ingénue’s career anymore, then Mulligan has chosen not to follow that trajectory. The actress took one leading, and several supporting roles (the most high-profile of which was in Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”) after “An Education” and then stopped working for a year.

When she returned it was in pursuit of projects that would move her beyond the limited scope of the classical leading lady and/or give her the opportunity to work with filmmakers that she found compelling. She began with director Nicolas Winding Refn’s urban fable/meditation on violence, “Drive.”

Read Full Post
Brian Grazer (left) with Brett Ratner at the Los Angeles premiere of "J. Edgar."
Brian Grazer (left) with Brett Ratner at the Los Angeles premiere of "J. Edgar."
Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Brian Grazer to the rescue

Academy Award-winning producer takes reins from Brett Ratner

Well, that was quick. Though when you're starting from scratch to mount a major television event in a little over three months, with host and star producer both off the project, taking your time isn't really an option.

So it is that hedgehog-haired mega-producer Brian Grazer -- an Academy Award winner himself for "A Beautiful Mind" a decade ago -- is joining Don Mischer to steer the 2011 Oscar show, taking over from the disgraced Brett Ratner.

It's always hard to predict what sensibility film folk will bring to live events like this, but Grazer seems a safe, if not particularly inventive, pair of hands for the job: probably a more sensible choice than Ratner ever was, though not someone you necessarily expect to give the show the radical overhaul it needs after two disastrous years.

Read Full Post
<p>Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer in &quot;The Help.&quot;</p>

Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer in "The Help."

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

The Long Shot: Big enough for the both of us

When deserving acting contenders face formidable foes in their own co-stars

Last week, approximately one eon behind every other film writer on the beat, I finally saw “The Help.” As I’m sure many of you will agree, it’s not always easy seeing a film months after its supposed plus and minus points have long since been concretized by the critical majority, but I was pleased to find myself agreeing with everything that’s been said, even by the film’s detractors, about Viola Davis’s performance: graceful, intuitive, material-elevating, all that. If she has the Best Actress Oscar wrapped up (and even with the Streep Express still unseen, I’d wager that she has), I take no issue with that.

But over in the film’s Best Supporting Actress camp, things start coming a little unstuck. Octavia Spencer is a set-in-stone nominee—and in some pundits’ minds, the notional frontrunner—for her grandly sassy turn as the mouthy maid who redefines the term ‘just desserts.’ And to apply a favourite South Africanism: jawellnofine. Spencer’s a good time in the film, but she’s working several rungs below the astonishing Jessica Chastain, who may even outdo Davis in terms of enlivening and complicating a waxily written character: her guilelessly empathetic bubblehead is the film’s most interesting characterization, and the sharpest of Chastain’s 47-odd performances this year. She may well find her way to a nomination, particularly given the category’s predilection for dual nominees from a single film, but Spencer remains the sure thing – and there you have one of my first beefs of the awards season.

Read Full Post
<p>The&nbsp;Muppets are ready for their close-up, Academy.</p>

The Muppets are ready for their close-up, Academy.

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Why the Academy needs to drown this controversy in a healthy dose of 'The Muppets'

Screenwriter Nick Stoller weighs in with his thoughts on the notion

So I put the question out to you, both here and on Twitter: Who should host the Oscars now that Eddie Murphy has bowed out?

The replies include the usual wish-list picks (Neil Patrick Harris, Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey) to preferred returning emcees (Hugh Jackman, Steve Martin, Jon Stewart) to interesting original picks (Albert Brooks, Amy Poehler, Craig Ferguson). And while those are all nice and make sense for various reasons, I think the best option is staring us right in the face.

I have to come clean. I was not aware of the online campaign to get The Muppets to host the Oscars (which obviously lost steam once Eddie Murphy was tapped) until this morning. You can read all about it @MuppetOscars and at Facebook. And here's the thing: BRILLIANT.

Read Full Post