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Oscar Watch: Nominees Lunch Abandons Seating Plan

Oscar Watch: Nominees Lunch Abandons Seating Plan

It was too good to last. As the Academy continues on the path of making changes, it has abandoned one of its best practices. At Monday’s annual Nominees Luncheon, instead of having all the Oscar nominees sit with a smattering of Academy governors, execs and press randomly assigned on the day by lottery, there will be a seating plan.

My guess? Too many powerful folks finally prevailed, demanding protection from the unknown, whether it was aloof Daniel Day-Lewis or cranky Tommy Lee Jones. The Academy should never have backed down, because it will be difficult to go back. It was a lovely and honorable tradition.

Seventeen of the 20 acting nominees are expected to show up at noon at the Beverly Hilton on Monday, among more than 160 Oscar nominees, when the Academy honors this year’s Oscar contenders. The annual group photo is part of the tradition, as each nominee gets called to the front to accept a certificate. Everyone feels like a winner at this event.

From the Lead Actress and Actor categories: Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Quvenzahané Wallis, Naomi Watts, Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix and Denzel Washington are expected to attend. Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones, Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams, Sally Field, Anne Hathaway, Helen Hunt and Jacki Weaver will represent the Supporting Actor and Actress categories.

Four of the five nominees in the Directing category – Ang Lee, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg and Benh Zeitlin – also are expected to attend. Three of the Academy’s four 2012 Governors Awards recipients, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Hal Needham and George Stevens, Jr., will join this year’s nominees.

We’ll be covering from the press conference as well as inside the event, and we may do some interviews afterward by the pool–another tradition.

The Oscar telecast is coming up on Sunday, February 24 on ABC, hosted by Seth MacFarlane, who has managed to insert Mark Wahlberg and Ted as well as his best nominated song onto the show. At least he’ll come out ahead on that score: the jury’s out on how he’ll fare as host. It doesn’t matter what kind of pull he has this year, luckily: the competition is so fierce among a batch of popular box office champs  that folks are bound to tune in.

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