The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences said Wednesday that, for the first time, it will allow commercials for movies to be broadcast during the 2009 Oscar presentations. The academy imposed numerous restrictions on the ads, however. They can not promote any nominated film, nor any prequel or sequel. Only films that are scheduled to open in April or later in the year can be promoted. Each distributor will be allowed to purchase one 30- or 60-second commercial, and each can promote only one film. They may not have aired prior to the telecast. Only one movie spot can be broadcast during any commercial break. And none of the spots will be permitted to use the terms "Oscar" or "Academy Award." Meanwhile it was announced that Hyundai will replace General Motors as the telecast's primary automotive sponsor. (GM said last month that it was withdrawing from Oscar sponsorship because of the high cost of a commercial during the show, estimated at $1.8 million.)


The costly competition for Oscar recognition was responsible in large part for the collapse of several studio specialty film units and independent production houses, Los Angeles Timescolumnist Patrick Goldstein contended today (Thursday). Citing studio insiders, Goldstein said that Paramount Vantage was especially hard hit by the expense of running Oscar campaigns for No Country for Old Menand There Will Be Blood. Of $50 million spent on marketing No Country, "a healthy portion" went to run the Oscar campaign for the movie, Goldstein said. "What the Oscars have done is create a cinematic demolition derby," he wrote, pointing out that studios now hold back their best films until the last 12 weeks of the year, "forcing them to engage in a suicidal fight."


Google's YouTube is collaborating with and Apple's iTunes store to offer for sale the complete movie or television show from which the online clips are derived. In a statement, the company said that the producers will be able to garner "additional revenue from their content beyond the advertising we serve against their videos." Users will also be able to buy the complete CD through a "click-to-buy" link while watching a music video, with YouTube receiving a commission for each sale. YouTube's statement said, "This is a first step to building a broader eCommerce platform for content partners and users on YouTube," but it did not indicate what it had in mind for the future. However, the Associated Press said that the company plans "to expand beyond entertainment sales to create a shopping bazaar. For instance, a home-care how-to clip on YouTube might include a sales button for a lawn mower."


Screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh has taken his battle with Disney and ABC to the video store, where his documentary, Blocking the Path to 9/11, is being released Tuesday. Nowrasteh's ABC miniseries, The Path to 9/11,which received high ratings when it aired in 2006, contended that missteps by the Clinton administration led to the successful attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It was subsequently denounced by Clinton officials and the Democratic Party. The Path to 9/11was never repeated or released on DVD. In the documentary, Nowrasteh argues, according to the Hollywood Reporter, that ABC bowed to pressure from Clinton and other Democrats, and he shows scenes purportedly removed from the miniseries at their request.