'Avatar,' 'Up' earn best picture Oscar nods
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The blockbusters "Avatar," "The Blind Side" and "Up" were among the 10 movies nominated for the best picture Oscar in Los Angeles Tuesday morning.
Also vying for Hollywood's top film prize are "An Education," "District 9," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "Precious," "A Serious Man" and "Up in the Air."
The nominees for the best director Oscar are James Cameron for "Avatar," Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker," Quentin Tarantino for "Inglourious Basterds," Lee Daniels for "Precious" and Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air."
Shortlisted for the best actress prize are Sandra Bullock for "The Blind Side," Helen Mirren for "The Last Station," Carey Mulligan for "An Education," Gabourey Sidibe for "Precious" and Meryl Streep for "Julie & Julia."
Nominated for the best actor honor are Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart," George Clooney for "Up in the Air," Colin Firth for "A Single Man," Morgan Freeman for "Invictus" and Jeremy Renner for "The Hurt Locker.'
The contenders for best supporting actress are Penelope Cruz for "Nine," Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick for "Up in the Air," Maggie Gyllenhaal for "Crazy Heart" and Mo'Nique for "Precious."
Competing for the best supporting actor statuette are Matt Damon for "Invictus," Woody Harrelson for "The Messenger," Christopher Plummer for "The Last Station," Stanley Tucci for "The Lovely Bones" and Christoph Waltz for "Inglourious Basterds."
Nominated for adapted screenplay are "District 9," "An Education," "In the Loop," "Precious" and
"Up in the Air."
In the running for original screenplay are "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "The Messenger," "A Serious Man" and "Up."
The Oscars are to be handed out at a ceremony March 7 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.
Report: Sony layoffs to affect 450
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- About 450 people will be impacted when Hollywood's Sony Pictures Entertainment cuts its workforce by 6 1/2 percent, Variety reported Tuesday.
"The decision to take this step was difficult," Sony bosses Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal told staffers in an internal memo. "But it's being done in the context of a strategy designed to help us safeguard our competitiveness and chart our own course through these troubled waters."
Variety said the layoffs are expected to go into effect by the first week in March and will impact a range of personnel, including senior-level executives.
About 100 open positions at the studio will remain unfilled, as well, the entertainment industry trade newspaper said.
The layoffs were blamed on an increase in online piracy, decrease in home video sales and the current economic climate, Variety said.
Rip Torn going to rehab after arrest
SALISBURY, Conn., Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Actor Rip Torn appeared in a Connecticut court Monday, but did not enter a plea in connection with his weekend arrest for an alleged burglary at a bank.
Torn, 78, is best known for his work on TV's "The Larry Sanders Show," as well as in the "Men in Black" blockbuster movies and the films "Cross Creek" and "Payday."
The Torrington (Conn.) Register Citizen said Saturday Torn set off an alarm at a Litchfield Bancorp building when he allegedly forced entry into the bank through a back window Friday night.
The actor was charged with trespassing, possession of a firearm without a permit, carrying a firearm while intoxicated, criminal mischief and burglary.
E! News said he was expected to post $100,000 bond, then check into a New York rehabilitation center to be treated for alcoholism.
Torn, who has a history of alcohol-related arrests, is to enter a plea at his arraignment, which was continued until Feb. 17, E! News said.
'We are the World' to get Olympic debut
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The premiere of "We are the World: 25 for Haiti" is to air during NBC's coverage of the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
The song's producers said it will have its television debut Feb. 12.
Producer Quincy Jones and singer/songwriter Lionel Richie -- the producer and co-writer of the iconic 1985 philanthropic anthem "We are the World" -- teamed up with producer/musician Wyclef Jean, producer RedOne and producer/musical director Ricky Minor in association with Randy Phillips, president and chief executive officer of AEG Live, to record a contemporary version of the song to benefit the Haitian earthquake relief efforts Monday. Academy Award-winning writer-director Paul Haggis filmed the session to create an accompanying video.
Following its world premiere on NBC, the new version of the song is expected to air on other networks throughout the world.
Both the contemporary version of "We are the World" and the accompanying video will be available for purchase through a consortium of on-line and retail partners with all proceeds going directly to the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.
"Twenty-five years ago, the entertainment industry showed the power of community to help our fellow man when we recorded 'We are the World' to bring relief to those suffering from famine in Ethiopia. And while the need to assist Africa continues, today the country of Haiti is suffering immeasurably from the destruction due to the recent earthquake and is in immediate need of relief that will last long after the television cameras have left," Jones said in a statement Tuesday.
Among those who helped record the new song are Carlos Santana, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, Sugarland, Lil Wayne, Jason Mraz, Earth, Wind & Fire, Natalie Cole, the Jonas Brothers, T-Pain, Brian Wilson, Justin Bieber, Julianne Hough, Mya, India.Arie, Gladys Knight, Heart, Harry Connick, Jr., Akon, Miley Cyrus, Pink, Jordin Sparks, Celine Dion, Usher, LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, Nicole Richie, Kanye West and Jeff Bridges.