With only nine days remaining until the Oscars, one nominee has spoken out against some of the producers' "reimagining" of the ceremony. Peter Gabriel, nominated for a song from "WALL-E," has declined his invitation to perform.
"I was delighted when 'Down to Earth' was nominated for an Oscar," Gabriel said on his website. "I was also pleased to have been asked to perform the song in the Oscar ceremony. However, in recent discussions with the Producers, it became clear that despite there being only three nominees, only 60-65 seconds was being offered, and that was also in a medley of the three songs. I don’t feel that is sufficient time to do the song justice, and have decided to withdraw from performing."
Gabriel added that while he "fully respects" and "looks forward" to the Producers’ right to revamp the show, he regrets "that this new version of the ceremony is being created, in part, at" the expense of song writers. He still plans on attended the ceremony, where he competes against two songs from "Slumdog Millionaire."
The Spirit Awards, on the other hand, have announced they'll be giving due time to five different musical performances during its February 21st ceremony, and they don't even have a song category.
"Unlike the Oscars, which have tried to throw the Cone of Silence over its plans for this year's remodeled telecast, the Spirit Awards are happy to let the cat out of the bag," explains The Hollywood Reporter's T.L. Stanley. "At least as far as some of the performances go."
Spoofing the best film nominees via song-and dance, Christina Applegate will take on "Frozen River," Taraji P. Henson plans to poke fun at "Ballast," Teri Hatcher will sing for "Wendy and Lucy," and Rainn Wilson will do the same for "The Wrestler."
"The Wrestler"'s Mickey Rourke, nominated for both a Spirit Award and Oscar, continued his aggressive talk-show-circuit campaigning on Charlie Rose. Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells was all over it. "Last night's Mickey Rourke interview on Charlie Rose was really some kind of beautiful," he said. "I haven't felt quite so affected, softened and soothed by a one-on-one in a long time."
Rourke shared his affection for fellow-nominee Sean Penn in a different interview. "Sean Penn is a good friend of mine," he told the Daily Express. "When I was down and out he got hold of me and told me exactly what to do and what not to do. I owe him so much that I hope he wins the award." Entertainment Weekly's Dave Karger agrees, going for Sean in his final predictions.
A different Dave, Carr, decided to focus on the long shots in this article for The New York Times. "For the Oscar-obsessed, there is a tendency to fix our gaze on the lustrous aspects of the event — the frocks, the megastars wearing them, the dramatic walk to the dais — but in doing so we often miss out on the more charming, demure pleasures of the ritual," he said. "More to the point, when some people say they are thrilled just to be nominated, they really mean it, and we should be thrilled along with them." Carr goes on to highlight Melissa Leo and Richard Jenkins as some examples.
Finally, the actor that seems like the farthest thing from a long shot next weekend, Heath Ledger, gets the maybe-not treatment from AwardsDaily's Sasha Stone. "I’m not saying I have the nerve to not predict him but my experience with these people tells me there is a really good chance that this will be the big upset of the night, if there is one," Stone says. "I don’t think it will be Best Picture. Short of this potential hideousness taking place (pity the poor fool who has to stand up and accept that award in Heath’s place), I do not forsee any major upsets."
indieWIRE will continue extensive coverage of the two weeks leading up to the Academy Awards and Spirit Awards, offering daily profiles of nominees (like today's James Marsh, nominated for best documentary for "Man on Wire"), predictions and these round-ups.