As we enter the homestretch, announcements and bookings from the writers and cinematographers, and something new from the Academy:
WRITERS & PALS
The Writers Guild Awards are all about honoring the folks who pen the screenplays – but even the WGA knows that sometimes the star power has to come from outside its own ranks.
Saturday's West Coast WGA Awards ceremony, the guild announced on Tuesday, will feature pairings of writers with actors and directors who’ve collaborated with them. Among the duos: writer Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow (left), who made "The Hurt Locker" together; actor Hank Azaria with writer Mitch Albom ("Tuesdays with Morrie"); actress Amy Poehler with "Parks & Recreation writer-producer Greg Daniels; and writer-director-producer J.J. Abrams with his "Fringe" leading lady, Anna Torv.
Also in the mix for honorary awards: Columbia Pictures chairman Amy Pascal, producer Scott Rudin and director Steven Spielberg.
THEY FORGIVE YOU, JULIA
The American Society of Cinematographers, meanwhile, announced on Tuesday that they'll be saluting someone at whom they've frequently aimed their cameras over the years: Julia Roberts will receive the 2011 Board of Governors Award.
"Cinematographers and actors have a special rapport that begins with a mutual trust," says ASC Awards Committee Chair Richard Crudo in the press release announcing the award. "Julia brings something extra to that relationship, and further elevates what we do with her beauty and grace. She's a gift to every cinematographer she works with."
The ASC might have forgotten, but Roberts has sometimes irked its members. One such moment came at the Oscars in 2003, when she presented the award for Best Cinematography. She did so not by reading the lines that had been written for her – admittedly florid passages that saluted the art of "lighting shadows and shadowing light" – but by coming up with a line of her own: "I find this a personally fantastic award, because I happen to know what I look like at five o'clock in the morning when I go to work."
Afterwards, an Academy official grimaced about the new text, which was not uncommon for that category. The cinematographers "hate to have their art form reduced to making the star look good," he said. "That is the one thing that just drives them up the wall, but the actors all think it's a great and original joke. Every time it happens, there's an uprising in the cinematography branch."
Apparently, though, all is forgiven.
The ASC Awards will take place on February 13.
ALMOST LIKE BEING THERE?
In the past, the Academy has displayed Oscar statuettes in New York and Los Angeles, and even allowed fans to hold one of the trophies (albeit one secured by a heavy cable and watched over by a security guard).
This year, AMPAS announced on Tuesday, they're adding flashing lights and paparazzi to the equation, though the statuette is now virtual, which means it'll weight a lot less than eight-and-a-half pounds.
An interactive Oscar sidewalk debuted at 1333 Broadway in New York City this week, featuring a series of linked LCD screens that give passers-by what the Academy says is "a virtual red carpet experience." And at the end of that experience, they'll be able take of photo of themselves "holding" an Oscar statuette, and then email that photo to anyone they want.
But if you just have to get your hands on a real statuette, don't worry: that's coming, too, but not until Wednesday, February 23.