Fans of this month’s ACADEMY AWARDS – as well as the nominees themselves – are in for something new on the evening of the telecast.

SID GANIS, president of AMPAS, told the 112 contenders at the annual nominees luncheon to expect some interesting occurrences at the FEBRUARY 22 ceremony.

“Your categories are being presented in a completely different way. Heads up,” Mr. Ganis told the actors.

“Cinematographers, editors, composers…All of you. You’re in for a big surprise.”

However, he did not elaborate. This year, OSCAR organizers have made special effort to maintain secrecy about the upcoming show, including the identities of the presenters.

While the officials kept their respective lips zipped, the nominees had plenty to say.

Having never ascended to the podium during her previous five nods, BEST ACTRESS contender KATE WINSLET said that the experience has given her “a good losing face.” Yet, considering her competition this time – including MERYL STREEP with her record 15 acting nominations, including two wins – KATE said she felt the honour and intensity even more this time.

“I get very emotional about these things, I discover. I think I’m not cut out for this. I’m too emotional to lose and I’m too emotional to win.”

“I sort of wish there were some lessons in how to cope with awards season. Even though I’ve gone through it so many times before. It always feels like the first time.”

MICKEY ROURKE has earned a BEST ACTOR nod for THE WRESTLER. The story in the movie mirrors MICKEY’S real life. He squandered his early promise with bad behaviour off screen.

“I was out of work for 14 years,” he stated, adding that the biggest shock this awards season was “the fact that so many years went by and I got a second chance.”

OSCAR newcomer MELISSA LEO, a BEST ACTRESS nominee for her role as a destitute mother who turns to border smuggling in the tense FROZEN RIVER, said she never gave a thought to competing for an ACADEMY AWARD.

“I’m an actor. I think about what the next job is. I think about what my character is. I think about what my director’s needs are. I don’t dream about this. So it’s a dream I have not yet dared to dream. Win, lose or draw come the 22nd, I’ve gotten more than I ever dreamt of.”

FRANK LANGELLA, a first time nominee with an acclaimed theatrical background, said his OSCAR nod for his portrayal of Richard Nixon in FROST/NIXON was a career high point. But that it would not alter anything significantly.

“I don’t think that I’m suddenly going to turn into one of these actors who makes millions and millions of dollars and stars in films holding a gun. I’m very lucky that I can work on the stage almost any time I want. I think I’ll just continue along.”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS contender VIOLA DAVIS summed up – in a very succinct fashion – what it’s like to have lunch with the in crowd.

“This is probably a morbid metaphor. People say that if you’re in a major accident that your whole life flashes before you and, of course, it’s all the important moments.”

“Well, this would be one of the moments that would flash.”

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