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Oscars will finally be about the awards

All the scaled back parties and glamour mean only one thing: the films may actually be the primary focus of all the fuss this year, which is great news for “Slumdog Millionaire.”
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This year, the usual spate of studio parties, the ones that filled my evenings during Oscar week last year, have been canceled or scaled way, way back. Ditto many of the over-the-top swag suites, gift bags and the like.

Wait a second ... could it be that this year, the Oscars are finally about the awards? At this point, you’ve probably caught on to the idea that that I expect “Slumdog Millionaire” to sweep in nearly all the categories in which it’s nominated. Kate Winslet will get her statue, and the same goes for Penelope Cruz and the late Heath Ledger. I hope Mickey Rourke wins so that he has something to fill the hand that’s usually tucked into the waist of his pants — sorry, Sean Penn.

The big surprise will be whether the production team can renew our faith in the awards show. New producers Bill Condon and Larry Marks have to bring some change people will believe in, and I’m not sure that comes by way of keeping presenters secret (witness the Grammys, which was tremendously successful, I think in part because it publicized the presenters so relentlessly).

As for Oscar glamour and the red carpet, which could suffer under the Condon/Marks administration, I actually agree with Jennifer Lopez (something I never thought I’d say). J.Lo noted that yes, the economy is bad, but “there is nothing wrong with playing dress-up right now.”

And if you’re not anywhere near the Kodak Theatre’s red carpet, there’s nothing wrong with settling into the living room couch, escaping for an evening, and enjoying the show.

In the meantime, check back here over the weekend. I’ll be updating frequently as I attend the Independent Spirit Awards and other various and sundry parties. See you in L.A.!

L.A. isn’t big enough for Prince and Madonna Or rather, it’s not big enough for each of them to host Oscar parties.

Last year, Prince’s post-Oscar party rivaled Vanity Fair’s in exclusivity. This year, there are still plans for Prince to have a bash, but only if Madonna does not.

“It will literally be decided at the last minute,” said a source close to the planning. “If she has a party, he just won’t do it.”

Stevie Nicks wrote Mariah during ‘craziness’ The first Fleetwood Mac tour in five years begins March 1 in Pittsburgh, and Stevie Nicks wants everyone to know that Sheryl Crow passed up the opportunity to join.

Celebrity Sightings

Slideshow  26 photos

Celebrity Sightings

Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. on the "Let's Be Cops," red carpet, Selena Gomez is immortalized in wax and more.

“I explained to Sheryl what it was like to be in the group — that it’s all-encompassing. Like on 2003’s Say You Will tour, we went out expecting to do 40 shows, and it turned in to 135 shows,” Nicks told Rolling Stone. “So Sheryl called me and said, ‘I’ll have to pass.’ As Stevie Nicks, I was disappointed. As her friend, I told her she made the right decision.”

Nicks, who turned 60 last year, is a friend and inspiration to other younger musicians, including Vanessa Carlton, Michelle Branch and Mariah Carey.

“When Mariah Carey was going through all her craziness a few years ago, I wrote her a long letter telling her how everybody else is crazy — not her,” she told Rolling Stone. “I saw her recently, and she told me she keeps the letter with her jewelry! I love that.”

Weekend box office If you’re one of the few people who don’t need to play catch-up before Sunday’s Oscar broadcast, you don’t have much to choose from in terms of new releases. “Fired Up” opens wide from Sony. A cast of mostly unknowns (save Molly Sims) isn’t going to do much for this film, which goes up against “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail.” In more than 2,000 theaters, the latest in the uber-successful Perry franchise should take the number one spot.

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