Oscars skate clear of Winter Games

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The Oscars will offer up their own version of March Madness next year. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has set Sunday, March 7, as the date for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, moving into March to avoid colliding with the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

That shifts the Oscar show, held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, to a spot two weeks later on the calendar than the one it occupied this year.

Since 2004, the Academy Awards — previously staged in March — generally have been held on the last Sunday in February. That falls on Feb. 28 next year, which would have put ABC's broadcast up against the Vancouver Olympics finale on NBC. So, as in 2006, the Academy is moving the Oscars to the first Sunday in March to avoid facing off against the Olympic extravaganza.

Although a few commentators had floated the idea that the Academy should move into January to pre-empt awards season fatigue, the Academy didn't adopt that gambit given the difficulty of compressing its awards schedule into just one month.

Next year's schedule should have Oscar campaigners applauding and groaning. There will be more time to promote Oscar contenders, but the grueling awards-season process will run two weeks longer than it did this year.

The Academy's expanded 2010 calendar will allow Academy members 11 more days to sample potential nominees because the nomination polls won't close until Jan. 23; this year, nominations ballots were due Jan. 12.

After the nominees are announced at 5:30 a.m. PT Tuesday, Feb. 2, Academy voters won't have to submit their ballots until March 2. There will be two more days between the nominations announcement and the close of the polls.

Key dates on the Academy's 2010 calendar: Screen credits will be due Dec. 1; nomination ballots will be mailed Dec. 28 and are due Jan. 23; nominations will be announced Feb. 2; and final ballots will be mailed Feb. 10 and due back March 2. (partialdiff)
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