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Mt. Oscar: To grab the brass ring -- or in this case the Golden O -- wrap yourself in raves and pack lots of buzz. This week's altitude readings are by Times staff writers Sheigh Crabtree, Susan King, Chris Lee and Robert Welkos.

December 19, 2007

PEAKING

SLAP HAPPY: We haven't seen as much slapping as is in "The Great Debaters" since Jack Nicholson smacked Faye Dunaway around in

"Chinatown" and that film got almost a dozen Oscar

nominations, so who knows?

CLIMBING

THE BIG GUNS:

Paramount/DreamWorks chiefs somehow lured press-shy Johnny Depp and expectant daddy Tim Burton to a "Sweeney Todd" meet-and-greet. The event was a rousing success: No meat pies were served and everyone left with necks intact.

IRONY AS STRATEGY? Trade paper ads for the mock rock biopic "Walk Hard" aim to win academy support through

sincere insincerity: "For your consideration in every category you got" reads one tagline, and in another, star John C. Reilly is flipping the bird.

AT BASE CAMP

HIM ACT GOOD: Kudos to Emile Hirsch for his

commitment to playing the starving Christopher

McCandless in "Into the Wild." But with his dramatic weight loss and general scruffiness comes an alarming resemblance to the Geico caveman.

GOING GREEN: The studios are doing their part with new screener packaging but the cardboard and stickers they use are taking a toll, leaving many DVDs unplayable. So how green is it if they end up in the trash rather than on people's shelves?

LOOKING FOR A SHERPA

GOING TO EXTREMES: If Ellen Page gets an Oscar for "Juno," she'll be the youngest lead actress at barely 21 (Marlee Matlin won at 21 1/2 ). If Mike Nichols takes directing honors, he'll be the oldest at 76 -- Clint Eastwood won at 74.

ONCE MORE: In a scene from "I Am Legend," Will Smith's lonely virus survivor precisely mimics the dialogue in "Shrek," proving he's watched it way too many times and raising DreamWorks' hope for a run on "Shrek the Third" holiday gifts.

GONE MISSING: Where were the Golden Globe nominations for Laura Linney, Hal Holbrook, Benicio Del Toro, Vanessa Redgrave, Russell Crowe. . . . We could go on but we won't.

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