Gold Derby Nuggets: January 7

Kris Tapley details his discussion with “True Grit” producer Scott Rudin about whether Hailee Steinfeld should be in lead or supporting: “In a nutshell, Rudin’s argument (and it’s the smartest one I’ve heard in favor of supporting placement yet), is the idea that the Mattie Ross character is really the impetus for change in Rooster Cogburn’s character. And, most importantly, she doesn’t have an arc, Rudin says, while Cogburn does. He changes, she doesn’t. So Mattie is the instigator. It’s an interesting point, but I’m still not buying it.” IN CONTENTION

Dave Karger predicts that three films — “The King’s Speech,” “The Social Network” and “Inception” — could reap double digit Oscar bids. And, he says, “I have ‘True Grit’ close behind with nine nominations: picture, director, adapted screenplay, art direction, cinematography, two acting nods, and two sound nods. If it manages to snag a nomination for its costumes as well, it could also break out of the single digits. (‘The Fighter’ and ‘Black Swan,’ meanwhile, could top out around eight nominations.)” ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

The motion picture academy revealed Friday that Denny Clairmont has been awarded the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation. He will receive the honor at the sci-tech awards on Feb. 12. In making the announcement, academy president Tom Sherak said, “For more than three decades Denny has been at the forefront of camera technology, helping cinematographers, camera assistants and film students with evolving technologies and related equipment. His dedication to his craft and service to the Academy are well-known throughout the industry.”  AMPAS

Pete Hammond wonders whether Best Actress frontrunner Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) runs the risk of being overexposed with four other films due out between now and May. As Pete notes, “Portman’s other movies do provide a distraction at a time when some Oscar watchers I spoke with think it might be better just to have a laser-like focus on her acclaimed ‘Black Swan’ turn. On the other hand, it proves she’s versatile.” DEADLINE

SAG Awards voters will be able to watch “Black Swan” as well as “127 Hours” and “Conviction” via iTunes. Ben Fritz has all the details of the digital push by Fox Searchlight. “SAG members will get a code they can use to download the three Fox Searchlight films in high definition and watch them on a computer, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, or on television via Apple TV. As with any iTunes rental, films can be watched as many times as the voter wants during a 24-hour period. They will be available from Jan. 7 until Jan. 28, the day votes are due.” COMPANY TOWN

In this week’s ediition of his Oscar Futures, Lane Brown thinks that the boffo box office of “True Grit” boosts its Best Picture chances while a snub by the PGA could freeze out “Winter’s Bone” VULTURE

Last year, movie chain AMC came up with an innovative way to showcase all 10 of the best picture nominees and still keep their traditional movie marathon approach intact — spread it out over two weekends. This year’s contenders will screen on two successive Saturdays — Feb. 19 and Feb. 26 — with the Oscars airing on Feb. 27. AMC

“Mad Men,” which recently wrapped its fourth season on AMC, should be returning to the cablecaster for a fifth one at some point reports Alan Sepinwall from the TCA tour. As Alan writes, “I tracked down AMC president Charlie Collier to get a better sense of his thinking and learned, among other things, that ‘Mad Men’ is still not technically renewed. ‘The negotiations are going well,’ explained a smiling Collier, who was on the verge of leaving the press tour hotel for another meeting with Weiner and the people at the Lionsgate studio, which produces the show. ‘We’ll tell you soon.'” HITFIX

At the TCA tour, AMC did announce that the fourth season of “Breaking Bad” will begin production in Albuquerque, NM on Jan. 13. The drama series starring three-time Emmy champ Bryan Cranston will return to the AMC schedule in the summer of 2011. That means Cranston won’t be eligible to defend his title at this year’s awards. TV BY THE NUMBERS

As Melinda Newman reports, “Katy Perry is having a great week. Not only did her track, ‘California Gurls’ featuring Snoop Dogg emerge as the top single seller in 2010 (after Train’s ‘Hey Soul Sister’ has grabbed the crown based on early-December reports), but ‘Firework,’ the third 10 top from her Grammy-nominated ‘Teenage Dream’ explodes back into the top spot on the Hot 100.” HITFIX

On Feb. 24, HBO will air a filmed version of the one-man show “Thurgood” starring 2008 Tony nominee Laurence Fishburne as the jurist Thurgood Marshall. Oscar and Emmy champ George Stevens, Jr. penned the script while Emmy champ Michael Stevens directed the production. PLAYBILL

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