WHO MAKES THE OSCARS LIST? Since it began in 1994, the Oscars’ “In Memoriam” montage has become one of the show’s most controversial and often head-scratching moments. Jaws dropped last year when Farrah Fawcett wasn’t included. Other scandals: no nods to John Candy in 1995 and Peggy Lee (a supporting actress nominee for 1955’s Pete Kelly’s Blues) in 2002. “We get complaints from fans about whomever is omitted, but the really hard ones are from relatives,” Academy executive director Bruce Davis says. “There’s nothing you can say the day after to someone’s daughter who calls you weeping.”
Most omissions are a question of math for a show that often runs long. “Historically, we include 26 or 27 artists. Last year, we got up to 36,” says Davis, who’s not looking forward to this year. “In 2010, we’ve had more members die, 233, than anyone can remember.”
Davis acknowledges there is campaigning. “Some subtle, some not. I get calls from hospitals a year before, a son saying, ‘My father just died, here’s the information,’ ’’ he says.
Things get tough once they whittle the list to 50. “Farrah was a conscious decision, and a tough one. As a mostly TV actress, we assumed the Television Academy would honor her,” Davis says. Michael Jackson was included in 2010, though; go figure. Davis makes the decisions with Academy president Tom Sherak and a fluctuating six-member board.
This year, the sequence — which gives each person a mere four seconds of footage to crystallize their memory — will run nearly five minutes. “And that’s way too short,” Davis says. “So we expect we’ll be getting a lot of those day-after calls.”
Ricky Gervais’ Golden Globe antics don’t hold a candle to some of the past hosts of the Independent Spirit Awards: Buck Henry, John Waters and Eddie Izzard have used the Spirit Awards to verbally run amok. When Sarah Silverman hosted in 2006, her scatological intro about douching got more coverage than the award winners. So how will Joel McHale, this year’s host, top this at the Feb. 26 Spirit nods? “There might be human sacrifice,” the actor tells THR. “Eat your heart out, Oscar hosts. Actually, I’m a bit nervous — I’ll probably vomit and evacuate all of my orifices — which luckily keeps me at target weight for the borrowed clothes. That’s all I worry about.”
Columbia/Epic Label Group topper Rob Stringer discussing a project with Glee producer Adam Anders at the Four Seasons Doheny. … Pals Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson at the SLS in Beverly Hills. … Atlantic Records execs Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman meeting at L.A. Live’s Rosa Mexicano. … Bob Dylan and T Bone Burnett with fitness trainer Witold Szmanda at the Polo Lounge. … Geoffrey Rush at the cafe at Equinox gym on Sunset. … Jeffrey Katzenberg and wife Marilyn at power table No. 1 at Craig’s; Stanley Tucci sat at a booth nearby. … Lunching at BOA Sunset in one week: Elton John, who took photos with fans; Drake and his entourage, seated near Kathy Griffin; and Jamie Foxx on the patio with his mother.