Oscar skates past Winter Olympics

Academy pushes ceremony back to March

The Oscars will offer up their own version of March Madness next year.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has set Sunday, March 7, as the date for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, moving into March in order to avoid colliding with the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

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

Since 2004, the Academy Awards -- previously staged in late March -- have generally been held on the last Sunday in February. This year, that Sunday was Feb. 22, but because of how the calendar falls, it would have moved next year to Feb. 28.

That, however, would have put ABC's broadcast of the Oscars up against NBC's airing of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics finale. So, as it did in 2006, the Academy is moving the Oscars to the first Sunday in March to avoid facing off against the Olympics extravaganza.

Although a few commentators had floated the idea that the Academy should move into January in order 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 both 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 since the nomination polls won't close until Jan. 23; this year, nominations ballots were due Jan. 12.

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

Other key dates in 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; final ballots will be mailed Feb. 10 and will be due back March 2. The Nominees Luncheon will be held Feb. 15, while the Scientific and Technical Awards will take place Feb. 20.