Good Morning Hollywood, November 4: New Hollywood Reporter Tackles Awards Season

Today’s roundup of Oscar news ‘n’ notes has been hijacked by the appearance of the first weekly print edition of the Hollywood Reporter, which squeezes in some awards coverage in between its full-page advertisements for Ferragamo and Moet & Chandon.

(This installment will be lighter on links than usual, because much of the content can only be viewed in print. But the Reporter’s home page is here.)

The Hollywood Reporter“Awards Season Begins Now,” trumpets the cover of the oversized, glossy 152-page magazine. While I figured that awards season started a while back, I guess this makes it official – as do bits and pieces scattered throughout the magazine, which has a touch of In Style, more than a touch of Us Weekly, and a nod to the past of THR in the way it fits producers and executives into the kind of pieces that would ordinarily feature movie stars.

(One can only assume, and hope, that “Agents, they’re just like us!” is not in the offing for a future issue. Because, you know, nobody would believe that  premise.) 

The one column that is specifically focused on the race is, appropriately enough, called the Race, and it kicks off with Stephen Galloway saying that the average age of an Academy voter (which he says is 57.7, though that’s really just the average age of the random sample of 500 AMPAS members surveyed by the Reporter last year) is “perhaps the most important factor” in which film will win. His conclusions: “The Social Network” might be skew young, “127 Hours” might skew too young, “Black Swan” might skew too young, “Blue Valentine” might skew too young, “Toy Story 3” might skew too young and “Inception” might skew too young, but “The King’s Speech” is perfect.

The problem with placing all this weight on the age issue, as I see it, is that the recent string of Best Picture winners – “The Departed,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Hurt Locker” – are far from being retirement-home picks. If voters had gone for, say, “The Queen,” “Atonement,” “Frost/Nixon” and “The Blind Side,” he might have a stronger argument.

The cover story, meanwhile, is a THR awards-season tradition, a roundtable interview with six actresses, four of whom I’d guess will probably receive nominations: Best Actress candidates Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”), Nicole Kidman (“Rabbit Hole”), Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) and Hilary Swank (“Conviction’), and Supporting Actress hopefuls Amy Adams (“The Fighter”) and Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech”).

The talk, in which the actresses respond to questions from Galloway and Matthew Belloni, ranges far and wide and highlights some nice camaraderie, as these things usually do; the most amusing part comes when Bening tries to goad a reluctant Swank and an even-more-reluctant Adams into talking about the role in Alex Kurtzman’s upcoming “Welcome to People” that they were both up for.

You’ll have to go to the print edition to read the article, though subscribers can see the entire transcript of the interview. The website has video of the conversation in five parts.

Other content that has some bearing on Oscar season includes a detailed and fairly typical “anatomy of a contender”story about “The King’s Speech,” the first in a series; sorry, it’s for print readers and subscribers only, though you can read the first 25 words here.  Elsewhere, the costume designer of  “Tron” gets a two-page shout-out (and an online photo gallery); a short piece covers the Leonardo DiCaprio dilemma (will he be nominated for “Inception” or “Shutter Island”) without mentioning that the likely answer is “neither”; and a chart makes the Pixar vs. DreamWorks Animation battle seem closer than it actually is.

One cool feature that I’d like to see turned loose on the Oscar race: “Poll Intelligence,” in which a global research company conducted an exhaustive and entertaining numbers-based survey of the late-night television landscape.

Then there’s that crucial question that has nothing to do with the editorial content: what about the ads? Well, the 152 pages contain a little less than 70 pages of ads, though only 11 ¾ of those are “for your consideration” or true awards-season ads, with “Inception” the big spender with a two-page spread that includes the inside front cover.

Otherwise, most of the ads are for luxury goods or film-industry services, along with a bizarre open letter in which the famously inept German director Uwe Boll – sorry, “Dr. Uwe Boll” – takes shots at George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and others for not watching his movie “Attack on Darfur.”