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EXPLAINER: How the Oscar 'in memoriam' segment is decided

The film industry was devastated by two recent deaths that have led to a movement to alter this Sunday’s “in memoriam” segment of the Oscar telecast: One was the natural causes passing of comedy filmmaker Harold Ramis, 69, and the other was the accidental death of camera assistant Sarah Jones, 27, who was struck by a train in Georgia while working on a biopic of rock musician Gregg Allman.

Ramis, the star of Ghostbusters and Stripes, and director of Vacation, Caddyshack, and Groundhog Day, died on Monday at his home in Chicago, while Jones, whose credits include Midnight Rambler (the film that led to her death) and the TV series The Vampire Diaries, was killed last Thursday while filming on a bridge that authorities said was supposed to be off-limits to the production. Due to the questions surrounding her death, her name has become a rallying cry for behind-the-scenes workers calling for more scrutiny of on-set safety.

It has also led to a movement. Many are signing petitions and making telephone calls asking the producers of the Oscars to include her in the telecast’s tribute. But … that effort misunderstands how that part of the show is created. READ FULL STORY

Petitioners want 'Midnight Rider' crew member honored in Oscar segment

Camera assistant Sarah Jones died last Thursday on the set of Midnight Rider in Georgia, and now petitioners are trying to get her included in this years “In Memoriam” segment at the Oscars.

One of the petitions to have Jones’ name added to the list is on the website Care2 and says, “Crew members are the unsung heroes of film and television production who work long hours and sometimes very dangerous conditions for the love of filmmaking.”

The “In Memoriam” segment on the Oscars usually features big names in Hollywood or in society in general — last year’s included Fahrenheit 451 writer Ray Badbury and filmmaker/author/Oscar-winner Nora Ephron, for example. This is why a petition, not just a simple request, is being issued to have Jones’ name included. Another issue is time: It may not be right, but the Academy doesn’t seem to have enough time — or doesn’t seem to want to make enough time — to include everyone in the business who has passed away in the previous year. Even TV legend Andy Griffith didn’t make the cut last year.

The Care2 petition has already reached its goal of obtaining 27,000 signatures. We’ll find out March 2 if it did any good.

Oscars 2014: Going the extra mile with the makeup of 'The Lone Ranger'

The Lone Ranger is a film of epic scope. Everything is larger than life. The characters, the set pieces, the costumes, and the makeup are all created to amaze. Spectacle is the point of a summer blockbuster, after all, but it can also be a film’s worst enemy. After its poor showing at the box office, the $215 million film is now best known as one of 2013’s biggest disasters. That stigma is a hard one to shake, and can often poison the perception of both the film as a whole and the individual accomplishments of the production.

Nobody knows this better than makeup head Joel Harlow, who is up for the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar, competing against the seemingly more DIY teams of Dallas Buyers Club and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa. To look at the budget and then see how the film looks, it’s easy to assume that Harlow had it easy. “I hear people talking about how they were strapped for money and manpower and I get that, and to look at a movie like this you’d think, ‘Oh, they had every resource in the world,'” Harlow told EW. “We didn’t. For this movie, as big as it is, our core group was five people. We built all the prosthetics ourselves. We were sculpting when we weren’t filming. On the weekends, between shots, between setups, we’d go back to the trailers and sculpt.” READ FULL STORY

Oscars supercut: And the award for best winning moment goes to... -- VIDEO

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What would you do immediately after you won an Oscar? Not sure? Well, apparently neither were some of these past winners. From moments of excitement with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to being reduced to tears like Jennifer Hudson or literally jumping out of your seat like Roberto Benigni, there are many ways to react after hearing your name follow the famous “And the Oscar goes to…” Who knows who will make their moment even more memorable on Sunday after winning, but in the meantime watch our clip of some of the best moments in Oscar acceptance speeches. READ FULL STORY

Oscars 2014: A Vegas oddsmaker ranks the races

Once upon a time, unsuspecting people actually filled out their office Oscar pool ballots based on their favorite movies of the year. (Those poor, uninformed souls!) But now that the Academy Awards are subject to as much speculation as a Triple Crown race, there’s hard data we can all use to our betting advantage — and nobody knows it better than professional oddsmaker R.J. Bell, founder of Pregame.com.

For the past 10 years, Bell has polled betting venues around the world to find out which nominees are favored by the people putting real money on the race. “It’s not any personal opinion on my part; it’s a quantification of the market,” Bell says. His research shows a few movies with commanding leads in their categories: READ FULL STORY

Holocaust survivor Alice Herz Sommers, subject of Oscar-nominated doc, dies at 110

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Alice Herz Sommers, the woman featured in the 2014 Oscar-nominated documentary short The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, passed away Sunday at the age of 110.

Sommers was the world’s oldest living Holocaust survivor. The Lady in Number 6 told the story of her life, focusing on the uplifting effect piano playing had on both her spirit and those around her.

“Telling Alice’s story was a life-changing experience for everyone who worked  on the film,” director Malcolm Clark and producer Nick Reed said in a statement to EW. “Even as her energy slowly diminished, her bright spirit never faltered. Her life force was so strong we could never imagine her not being  around. We are so proud to been so fortunate to capture Alice’s  lessons for all the generations to come. We can all learn so much from this most amazing woman.”

Watch a trailer for The Lady in Number 6 below.

READ FULL STORY

Oscar Documentary Shorts: Meet the 'Cavedigger'

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Come Oscar season, all cinephiles are ready to campaign for their favorite film. Are you Team Gravity or Team 12 Years a Slave? Jennifer Lawrence or Lupita Nyong’o? While movie fans have likely seen all the big nominees by this point, there are smaller categories where even some film enthusiasts may not be as well-versed. Leading up to the Oscars, EW will tell you all about one often-overlooked category: Best Documentary Short. Come back each day this week for a look at one of the nominees, and impress your Oscar party with your knowledge when the category appears on Sunday’s broadcast.

Today: Cavedigger, directed by Jeffrey Karoff
Many have a clear-cut idea of what makes a masterpiece artist. They think of Michaelangelo, or Picasso – and probably don’t think of a man who has spent the past 29 years digging elaborate works of art into the inside of caves. But, as the aptly titled Cavedigger shows, works of art by Ra Paulette are exactly what these caves are best described as. Each creation — a cathedral-like art cave in the sandstone cliffs of Northern New Mexico —  takes Paulette years to complete, and each is a masterwork. But Paulette often runs into problems with patrons who have commissioned caves but end the project due to artistic differences.

“I wanted to do something more than make a film that showed or broadcast some artist’s work,” Karoff explained about the film, “I always hope that in art the art speaks for itself. But what I began to understand, when I got to know Ra better, is that the struggle of someone who is obsessive as he is living his dream are real. And they’re substantial.” READ FULL STORY

Who will be presenting at this year's Oscars? More like: Who WON'T be?

Sunday’s Oscar show sounds like it should win an award for Best Ensemble.

Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, the producers of the 86th annual Academy Awards, announced a mega-list of actors this morning who will be handing out awards and helping to introduce segments during the March 2 ceremony.

Some have been already announced, or were winners last year, but among the 46 were some rarities — such as Sidney Poitier, Kim Novak, Bill Murray, Robert De Niro, Jim Carrey, and Harrison Ford. Others include Emma Watson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kevin Spacey, and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt…

There are too many to single out. See if your favorite is in:

READ FULL STORY

Oscars 2014: How Steven Price created a 3-D score for 'Gravity'

Steven Price was only supposed to work on Gravity for three weeks.

The team brought him in for a quick fix. There was a screening approaching quickly and the film still didn’t have a score, so they asked Price — best known for his work as a music editor at that point — to come in. “I thought I was going to go in just to kind of help them throw things together,” he told EW. “And then I met Alfonso.” READ FULL STORY

Oscar producers: Hitchockian heroine, and 'new' superhero among Academy Award plans -- EXCLUSIVE

Oscar is holding out for a hero.

The March 2 ceremony will be flexing its muscles this year, with the overall theme being a tribute to movie characters who save the day.

Producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan sat down to talk with EW about what they’ve got in store: including an appearance by an iconic Hitchcockian femme fatale, and a tribute to superheroes that they (surprisingly) promise will bring viewers to tears.

READ FULL STORY

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