OSCAR NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED

No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood received eight Oscar nominations each, the most of any films that will be competing in this year's Academy Awards. Atonement and Michael Clayton each earned seven nominations. All four films were nominated for best film, along with the comedy Juno. The nominations were announced early today (Tuesday) in Beverly Hills, hours before an informal meeting was scheduled to take place between representatives of the Writers Guild of America and media executives that could determine whether the awards ceremonies would take place as usual next month. The nominations also included two for Cate Blanchett -- one for best actress for Elizabeth: The Golden Age, the other for best supporting actress for her portrayal of the young Bob Dylan in I'm Not There. Also nominated for best actress were Julie Christie for Away from Her, Marion Cotillard for La Vie En Rose, Laura Linney for The Savages and Ellen Page for Juno. In the best actor category, Daniel Day-Lewis was regarded as a shoo-in for his performance in There Will Be Blood. Also competing for the honor will be George Clooney for Michael Clayton, Johnny Depp for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Tommy Lee Jones for In the Valley of Elah, and Viggo Mortenson for Eastern Promises. In the director's category, the contest appeared to be a two-way affair between Paul Thomas Anderson, who helmed There Will Be Blood and the Coen brothers, who directed No Country for Old Men. Also competing are Jason Reitman for Juno, Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton and Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

PETITION CALLS ON WARNER'S TO CONTINUE HD DVD RELEASES

Some 6,000 persons have signed an online petition originally posted on January 5th calling for Warner Bros. to reverse its decision to abandon the HD DVD high-definition video format and go exclusively with Blu-ray. The petition refers to HD DVD's lower hardware cost and its alleged "better technological capabilities." A counter "Let HD DVD Die" petition, seemingly aimed at Paramount/DreamWorks and Universal, has also been posted and has drawn over 1,000 signatures.

GOLDEN PARACHUTES FOR NEW LINE FOUNDERS?

Following a planned meeting this week with new Time Warner Chairman Jeff Bewkes, New Line Cinema founders Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne are expected to be terminated and New Line's projects, including The Hobbit, folded into Warner Bros., L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke reported on her Deadline Hollywood Daily blog Monday, citing no sources. With the exception of last year's Hairspray, New Line has had a nearly uninterrupted string of financial failures since its Lord of the Rings franchise ran out.

CLOVERFIELD GROWS GREENER

Paramount's Cloverfield added another $4.9 million to its record-setting (for January) weekend gross, to bring its total over the four-day Martin Luther King holiday to $44.3 million, according to Media by Numbers. Equally impressive -- if not more so -- Fox's 27 Dresses added $4 million to its gross, bringing it to $26.8 million for the four days. And with kids out of school for the holiday, Alvin and the Chipmunks rose to third place as it took in $2.4 million and put itself just an acorn's throw away from hitting the $200 million mark. (Its gross now stands at $198.7 million.) Warner Bros.' The Bucket List continued to perform solidly with $2.1 million on Monday to bring its gross to $43.7 million, while Fox Searchlight's Juno rounded out the top five with $1.7 million. Its total gross now stands at $86.7 million

Brian B.