Hollywood's strategy of releasing its more "artistic" films in December so that they would be fresh in the minds of Oscar voters, appeared to have paid off in spades when nominations were announced early today (Thursday). All of the best-film nominees were December releases with nary a blockbuster hit among them. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the biggest ticket seller of the lot ($103.6 million), did come away with the most nominations -- 13. But the studios have likely waited until the nominations were announced to give the others a wide release. They include Slumdog Millionaire, which critics appear to regard as the favorite to win and which received 10 nominations, Frost/Nixon, Milk,and The Reader. The directors of those films also received best-director nominations: David Fincher (Button), Danny Boyle (Millionaire), Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon), Gus Van Zandt (Milk), and Stephen Daldry (Reader). Among the other major nominees: Best actor: Sean Penn (Milk), Frank Langella (Frost/Nixon), Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and Brad Pitt (Button). The nominees for best actress: Kate Winslet (The Reader), Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Meryl Streep (Doubt), Angelina Jolie (Changeling) and Melissa Leo (Frozen River). The Dark Knight, the biggest box-office hit of the year, was shut out of all the major awards, except in the category of best supporting actor, which the late Heath Ledger is widely expected to win.


Warner Bros. intends to revive Tom and Jerry as computer-generated characters in live-action settings for a feature that will reveal how the cat and mouse met and formed their rivalry, Daily Varietyreported today (Thursday). The trade publication said that producer/screenwriter Dan Lin is working on the script, but it did not indicate when the studio expects to begin production.


Demonstrating once again the folly of underestimating Tyler Perry, his The Family that Preys became the top DVD seller last week, according to the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart, pushing last week's winner, Sony's Pineapple Expressto second place. (It continued to top Home Mediamagazine's rental chart, however.) The success of the DVD is expected to restore momentum to the Perry franchise (which appeared to falter at the box office with Preys), ahead of the theatrical release of Madea Goes to Jail next month.


If a commercial for a movie appears on the screen when a TV show recorded on a DVR is played back, most viewers will watch it instead of fast-forwarding through it, as is the case with most other ads, according to a study from DVR maker TiVo. (That even applied for The Love Guru, which was nominated Wednesday for the most Razzies, including worst film of the year; its ad was one of the ten most-watched by DVR users.) TiVo also reported that the fast-forward button is hit most often during the so-called sweep periods (54 percent), and the fewest during the summer rerun period (40 percent). Todd Juenger, who heads TiVo's research unit commented in a statement: "The programs with the biggest budgets, biggest audiences and highest priced advertising are exactly the same programs that are time-shifted the most, and therefore experience the most commercial fast-forwarding. The effect of fast-forwarding on all industry stakeholders is enormous and new business models must be developed."


The director of the Berlin film festival thanked its sponsors today (Thursday) for continuing their support and loyalty despite the worldwide economic downturn. In a statement, Dieter Kosslick said, "It would not be possible to realize a great event like the Berlinale without the unfailing support of the Federal Minister of Cultural Affairs and contributions from our sponsors. Despite the grim economic situation, we are pleased that our main partners ... have remained loyal to us." He particularly cited automaker Volkswagen, which will supply a fleet of cars for the festival, and ZDF, the German television company, which will provide coverage of the opening and closing galas and other events and L'Oréal, the French cosmetics company. L'Oréal, he said, plans to install a make-up studio at the festival where professional make-up artists will not only "style the stars for the red carpet" but also apply make-up to visitors, "giving them this year's Berlinale look." (He did not describe the "look.")