MARTIN AND BALDWIN TO HOST OSCARS

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is doubling the number of films nominated for its Best Picture Oscar, has also doubled the number of hosts of the awards show. It announced Tuesday that Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin will co-host the 82nd awards presentation. (The two are also co-starring with Meryl Streep in It's Complicated, due to be released on Christmas Day.) For Martin, it will be his third time hosting what is generally the second-biggest TV attraction of the year (after the Super Bowl). In an interview with the New York Times, Oscars co-producer Bill Mechanic said that the two funnymen had been cast because he and co-producer Adam Shankman "liked the idea of contrasting personalities." Commenting on the selection, Los Angeles Times TV writer Mary McNamara remarked, "It's hard to imagine this pair fumbling. With any luck, they will not only shepherd the by-nature unwieldy show through its multiple hours with minimum bumps and dead air, but they'll also do it with the old-fashioned insiders' charm that made the academy want to put the event on television in the first place."

NO MARVEL HERE: NO MOVIES, NO MONEY

Marvel shareholders were no doubt bracing for lousy news Tuesday when the superhero comics company issued its third-quarter results. After all,they realized that the company had not released a movie during the entire year. As it turned out, the company did indeed report a profits plunge of 60 percent on a 42-percent drop in revenue. It earned just $20 million on about $106 million in total sales. (Spider-Man 3 earned $148 million on its opening weekend.) Shareholder anticipation of the rotten results was apparently already reflected in the stock's price. (And, after all, Disney is acquiring the company in a cash and stock deal worth about $4 billion, keeping its current stock price perhaps artificially high.) In fact, Marvel stock climbed higher on Tuesday and higher still today (Wednesday), trading near its 52-week high of $51.86.

SCORSESE TOUTS WONDERS OF BLU-RAY

Director Martin Scorsese attempted to perk up public enthusiasm for the Blu-ray high-definition home theater system Monday by declaring that "it creates a completely different experience" from conventional DVDs. Viewing restored versions of older movies, he told a Blu-ray convention in Washington D.C. was "like experiencing the film for the first time again." He added later, "I have a daughter who's 10, and she can't tell the difference between old films and new films." While it can't beat the experience of seeing a movie in a theater on a big screen, the Blu-ray system, he said, "allows the film to be seen as closely as possible to how it was intended to be."

INITIAL PLANS APPROVED FOR SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND

After nearly a decade of on-again, off-again negotiations, the Walt Disney Co. and the municipal government of Shanghai have settled on a plan to create a $3.59-billion Disneyland-type theme park in the model city, the Chinese government confirmed early today (Wednesday). "China is one of the most dynamic, exciting and important countries in the world, and this approval marks a very significant milestone for the Walt Disney Co. in mainland China," Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger said in a statement. Some analysts also observed that the theme park would also clear the way for Disney to set up a kind of Chinese command center on mainland China where its executives and staff could importune Chinese officials to relax their tight control over the distribution of foreign movies.

COMCAST MAY PROVIDE MOVIES ON DEMAND ON DAY OF DVD RELEASE

The movie industry, already warring with the likes of Netflix and Redbox over renting movies at kiosks and online as soon as they are released on DVD, may have a new foe to fight. Comcast said on Tuesday that during the next year it expects to release about 100 movies on its video-on-demand service on the same day they are released on DVD. The announcement came as negotiations between Comcast and GE continued over the cable company's bid to acquire 51 percent of NBC Universal. If that should materialize, Reuters observed today (Wednesday), Comcast could become "an industry game-changer [by] offering blockbuster [Universal] films on movie-on-demand channels ahead of their DVD release."

Cinemark Movie Club