News Nuggets: Will the Oscars return to just five Best Picture nominees each year?

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences “is seriously considering a return to its former policy” of just five Best Picture nominees at the Oscars. Rules were changed the past six years to allow up to 10 nominations in that top category, but “a significant fraction” of members wonder if that strategy has failed. This year’s show featured eight contenders in that category. In addition, several board members say that too many Best Picture nominees have “watered down the prestige” without boosting Oscar telecast ratings. A decision could happen as soon as March 24 when the governors next meet. Hollywood Reporter

Neil Patrick Harris isn’t certain he would want to host the Oscars again after last month’s first time helming the ceremony. Calling it “a beast,” he admits, “I don’t know that my family nor my soul could take it. It was fun to check off the list, but for the amount of time spent and the understandable opinionated response, I don’t know that it’s a delightful balance to do every year or even again.” Huffington Post

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Will Eddie Redmayne have back-to-back chances to win at the Academy Awards? Following his recent victory as Best Actor for “The Theory of Everything,” he could compete again for “The Danish Girl.” That Tom Hooper film now has a prime awards season release date of November 27 from Focus Features. Redmayne plays 20th century transgender pioneer Lili Elbe in the historical drama. Thompson on Hollywood

Empire” is striking back as this season’s hottest TV show. The rookie Fox program is “shattering” Nielsen records as the only series to rise in the ratings for seven consecutive weeks since its premiere. That means it has climbed 37% during the short run so far. The soapy show starring Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard is also now the top-rated network drama, ahead of “The Blacklist” and “How to Get Away with Murder.” USA Today

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USA Network’s new action thriller “Dig” debuts this Thursday and is already being called “can’t miss TV.” The murder mystery series is set in Jerusalem with two FBI agents (Jason Isaacs, Anne Heche) who are also romantically involved. After a young American girl is murdered, the investigation goes deep into a conspiracy thousands of years old. E! Online

Emmy-winning costume designer Patricia Norris dies in California at age 83. She won an Emmy Award for her work on the pilot episode of “Twin Peaks” in 1990. She was also a six-time Oscar nominee for “Days of Heaven” (1978), “The Elephant Man” (1980), “Victor Victoria” (1982), “2010” (1984), “Sunset” (1988), and “12 Years a Slave” (2013). The Wrap

A new photo gallery highlights many of the top stars who are signing up for fall pilot season. The list includes Craig Ferguson, Paul Giamatti, Whoopi Goldberg, Damian Lewis, Jennifer Lopez, Rob Lowe, Margo Martindale, Eric McCormack, Sarah Jessica Parker, Monica Potter, Rob Riggle, Wesley Snipes, John Stamos, and Vanessa Williams. Variety

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