i>ATONEMENT TAKES THE LEAD

Atonement, the British period romance which received strong reviews and has attracted solid box-office business in limited release, received seven Golden Globes nominations today -- more than any other film. Joining it among best drama nominees were American Gangster, Eastern Promises, The Great Debaters, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, and There Will Be Blood. It was the first time that seven films had ever been included in a Golden Globes category. (The usual number is five.) The Globes, which divides the best film award into drama and comedy/musical categories, nominated in the latter category: Across the Universe, Charlie Wilson's War, Hairspray, Juno, and Sweeney Todd. While the dramatic category reflected the fare being considered by many other awards groups, the comedy/musical group surprisingly omitted the two Judd Apatow features, Knocked Up and Superbad, easily the two best reviewed and best-attended comedy films of the year. Two other surprise omissions were I'm Not There and Into the Wild in any of the drama categories. It was a particularly good day for Denzel Washington, who received a nomination in the directors' category (drama) for The Great Debaters and in the actors' category (drama) for American Gangster. Winners are scheduled to be announced during an NBC telecast on Sunday, Jan. 13.

PIRATES AGAIN SALES TO THE TOP

After mostly lackluster DVD sales this season, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment unit shipped Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End to retailers last week and consumers promptly snatched up 8 million copies, according to VideoBusiness.com. The online publication said that consumers also bought 160,000 Blu-ray copies of Pirates. Disney does not issue videos of its films in the HD DVD format. A week earlier Paramount Home Video reported that Transformers had sold the same number of DVDs in its first week.

JACKASS MOVIE GOES STRAIGHT TO THE WEB

Marking what today's (Thursday) Hollywood Reporter described as "a radical departure from the traditional movie business model," Paramount is planning to release Jackass 2.5, the latest sequel in its successful franchise, on the Internet first, then offer it on DVD -- skipping a theatrical release altogether. "It's the first broadband movie ever distributed by a major studio," Thomas Lesinski, President of Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment, told the Associated Press. Disney said that while the film will be initially available free over a two-week period beginning December 19, it will then move on to pay-per-view platforms, including Apple's iTunes store. The Reporter depicted the online release as a test of the Internet as a legitimate outlet for original film distribution. It commented: "When all is said and done, 2.5 could end up a milestone in Hollywood's transition to digital media or an overly ambitious mishap."

DRAMATIC PRICE CUTS FOR BLU-RAY PLAYERS

Retailers have reportedly been chopping the price of Samsung's Blu-ray DVD player at record speed. The website High-Def Disc News noted that just days after several retailers cut the price of the player by $100 to $299, Costco dropped it still further to $279.99. Then on Tuesday, it said, Amazon cut it still further -- to just $269.98. That puts the price within $70 of the lowest price being asked for Toshiba's HD DVD players, which are now being offered by some retailers for $199.98.

AGENT FREDDIE FIELDS DIES AT 84

Legendary talent agent Freddie Fields, who with the late David Begelman, founded Creative Management Associates in 1960 -- which later became International Creative Management -- died Tuesday of lung cancer in Beverly Hills at age 84, publicist Warren Cowan disclosed Wednesday night. His clients had included Judy Garland, Henry Fonda, Steve McQueen, Barbara Streisand, Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier and Dustin Hoffman." In a statement, Streisand called Fields "a very creative thinker," and added, "It's the end of an era."

Brian B.