News Nuggets: WGA honors ‘Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening

Simpsons” and “Futurama” mastermind Matt Groening will be honored by the WGA. From the press release: “Iconic animation writer-producer Matt Groening, perhaps best known for creating the long-running, acclaimed animation series ‘The Simpsons,’ will receive the Writers Guild of America, West Animation Writers Caucus’ (AWC) 15th Annual Animation Writing Award, recognizing his outstanding contributions to the craft of animation writing, as well as his assistance in organizing primetime animation with the WGAW. The AWC’s lifetime achievement award will be presented to Groening this Wednesday, November 28, at the AWC’s annual meeting, reception, and awards ceremony at WGAW headquarters in Los Angeles. ‘Futurama’ co-developer David X. Cohen will present this year’s award to Groening, with WGAW President Christopher Keyser set to introduce the evening.”

Examining how the changed Oscar schedule is affecting campaigns: “One thing the new schedule will certainly do is increase the velocity of campaigning, even within the confines of the Academy’s definition of allowable lobbying: there are nearly six weeks between the nomination announcement and the ballot due date. That means six weeks of screeners in circulation, star appearances, parties, press and a partridge in a pear tree … This has already resulted in a pile-up of screenings and events involving probable awards candidates. As the [Carpetbagger’s] colleague Michael Cieply has noted, Tom Hooper, the director of ‘Les Miserables,’ was very nearly meant to be in six places at once this weekend, doing Q&As to promote his film. Mr. Hooper, winner of the best director Oscar for ‘The King’s Speech,’ can handle it, though, and advance word on ‘Les Miz’ suggests his efforts may already be paying off.” NEW YORK TIMES

Kris Tapley reports on Fox Searchlight’s Oscasr push for “Beasts of the Southern Wild“: “Searchlight’s other films — ‘The Sessions,’ ‘Hitchcock‘ and ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘ — didn’t end up having the stuff to make big pushes for Best Picture this year, but ‘Beasts’ could. It was conspicuously absent from the Best Feature category at the Gothams … though it did receive breakthrough recognition for Zeitlin and Wallis. Still, if the studio has a player, this is it. Tomorrow’s holiday party will bring more face time for its principals (and for those of the other films), as will Wednesday’s in Los Angeles. For [director Benh Zeitlin], though, it’s all about maintaining a foothold amid the whirlwind. ‘This is amazing,’ he told me, looking around the posh restaurant. ‘I can’t believe I’m here.'” IN CONTENTION

Strong box office improves the Oscar odds for “Lincoln” and “Life of Pi“: “With its stronger-than-expected $34 million Thanksgiving weekend haul, ‘Lincoln’ has grossed $62 million and exceeded analysts’ box office expectations since debuting on 11 screens three weeks ago. Distributor Disney expanded the DreamWorks historical drama into 1,775 theaters in its second week and then 2,018 theaters for Thanksgiving. Its per-screen average was an impressive $11,859 two weeks ago and an even-better $12,398 over the holiday weekend … With [‘Life of Pi’] in 2,902 theaters, 2,633 of which were 3D, analysts had projected a five-day take of around $22 million. It passed that on Saturday, on its way to $30 million for the long weekend. Those aren’t blockbuster numbers, but they do provide a base upon which to build with word-of-mouth and awards buzz.” THE WRAP

Judi Dench and Danny Boyle among Evening Standard Theatre Award winners: “Oscar and Tony Award winner Judi Dench (‘Skyfall‘) received Moscow Art Theatre’s Golden Seagull Award for her contribution to world theater; Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle (‘Slumdog Millionaire’) was given the Beyond Theatre award for putting together the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics; and Tony winner Nicholas Hytner (‘The History Boys’) received the Lebedev Special Award for his artistic directorship of the National Theatre, as well as being named Best Director for the National’s recent production of Shakespeare’s ‘Timon of Athens.'” THEATER MANIA

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