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Stage set for drama
Residents await Oscars tonight
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Forsyth County News
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The Oscars will air at 8 tonight on ABC.

Many Forsyth County residents will be gazing when the stars come out tonight.

Whether it’s the honors, speeches or fashion, the 82nd annual Academy Awards has not lost its sparkle for Linda Ledbetter, who has been watching for many years.

“I’ve just always made sure that I’m home to watch it,” said the former county commissioner. “I think ‘Avatar’ will win ... it’s just an awesome movie and just quite imaginative and different.

“But now, I’ve got to take that back, because you’ve also got ‘The Blind Side,’ which ... was one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life, and gave me such a good feeling when I walked out of the theater.”

While the verdict is out for Ledbetter, Robert Altshuler is standing firmly behind “Avatar,” written and directed by James Cameron.

“It was just a great piece of work and I don’t see how it can miss,” he said.

The technology behind “Avatar” was breakthrough for the industry, Altshuler said.

And he should know.

As an assistant director for decades, Altshuler was one of the names behind notable sitcoms such as “Mork & Mindy,” “Newhart,” “Perfect Strangers,” “Full House,” “Family Matters” and “Will & Grace.”

Altshuler, who has since retired, served about eight years ago as a member of the Directors Guild of America Technology Committee, which looked toward the future of how movies would be made.

But just in that short time, the technology “has just come so far,” he said.

“The way that Jim Cameron used what technology was out there and then he came up with so much new stuff -- the guy’s brilliant,” he said. “He must have had a backup team that was just incredible.”

Based on box office numbers, “Avatar” was the most watched movie of 2009. With more than $710 billion, the movie has grossed more money than any other film.

The second highest theatrical grossing film was 1997’s “Titanic,” also written and directed by Cameron.

But some of the students in Lambert High School’s movie club aren't as optimistic about the prospects for "Avatar."

“I thought it was good, but I don’t think it should win everything,” said Trey Rosenkampff.

Fellow 10th-grader Vanessa Prema said she didn’t like the movie as much as others.

“I have strong views on ‘Avatar’ and I really don’t think they should win,” she said.

Though she suspects “Avatar” will win, Prema is pulling for "'Precious,' because it’s really moving.”

“It really shows a different side of American society and I think Americans should really see that,” she said.

Lambert High School 11th-grader Nicole Gheorghe said George Clooney likely will win for his performance in “Up in the Air.”

Like her peers, Gheorghe also predicts Sandra Bullock will win for her performance in “The Blind Side,” which was also her favorite of the 10 nominated movies.

“It was moving and it kept me interested the entire movie,” she said.

While his wife “likes the red carpet stuff,” Altshuler said he pays attention to the hosts. While “nobody beats Johnny Carson,” he said Billy Crystal came close, as did Hugh Jackman, last year’s host.

This year, the job will be shared by Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, who also battle to hold the record for most appearances on Saturday Night Live.

“Steve Martin’s great," Altshuler said. "I worked on the first movie he ever did for television, way back. I won’t even mention it because he doesn’t.

“He works really hard. And when he goes on stage, there’s no messing around.”

There are mixed reviews about the change in Oscars this year, which increased the number of best picture nominations from five to 10.

Rosenkampff said the new system provides a “more diverse choice.” But Prema said the change offers “too many options.”

From the industry perspective, Altshuler said it doubles the recognition.

“There are so many great works being done now and just to be nominated is an honor,” he said. “There is a lot of hard work that goes into those things and the people that do it deserve to be acknowledged. Not just the actors, but everybody.”