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Quick Takes: 'Avatar' will land again

July 09, 2010

"Avatar: Special Edition," which includes an additional eight minutes of unseen footage, will be released in U.S. theaters on Aug. 27, marking the big-screen return of the top moneymaker in Hollywood history.

The film will only be screened in Digital 3D or Imax 3D. Director and writer James Cameron said the expanded-edition revival of the film is a response to fan demand for another big-screen return to the jungle moon of Pandora.

"Audiences repeatedly told me they wanted more of Pandora and wished they could have stayed there longer," Cameron said in a statement. "So we're making that possible." He said the additional footage includes "new creatures and action scenes."

—Geoff Boucher

'Sister Act'

to Broadway

Following productions in Pasadena, Atlanta and London, the stage musical adaptation of "Sister Act" is finally making its way to Broadway.

The show's producers — including Whoopi Goldberg, who starred in the 1992 Touchstone Pictures film — said Thursday that the musical will open in New York in the spring of 2011.

Jerry Zaks, a four-time Tony winner, will

direct the Broadway

version of the show, which features a score

by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater. Zaks has not directed the previous incarnations of the show.

"Sister Act" opened at the Pasadena Playhouse in 2006 in a production directed by Peter Schneider and choreographed by Marguerite Derricks.

—David Ng

Oscar expands effects race

The visual-effects category has gotten an upgrade for the next Academy Awards ceremony.

The board of governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences increased the number of nominees to five, up from three, for

the 83rd awards show Feb. 27, 2011.

The switch brings more attention to visual effects, which play a bigger role in Hollywood blockbusters as digital-animation technology continues to advance.

The academy also announced Thursday some changes to the feature-animation category, including shortening the minimum running time for animated contenders to greater than 40 minutes. That's down from the previous minimum of 70 minutes.

The change brings the animation rules in line with the minimum running times in other feature-film categories.

—Associated Press

Spencer family items are sold

A collection of paintings, antiques and assorted household items owed by the aristocratic family of the late Princess Diana sold for a total of $32 million in London, Christie's auctioneers said Thursday.

The eclectic collection featured hundreds of items, including a masterpiece portrait by Peter Paul Rubens, horse carriages, dishes and jugs.

All the items offered at the three-day sale once belonged at Althorp House, the Spencer family's country estate in Northhamptonshire, and in Spencer House, their historic London home. Though none of the lots were owned by Diana, many have been in her family for centuries.

At the top of the price range was Rubens' "Commander Being Armed for Battle," which sold for $14 million. The Spencer family had owned it since 1802.

—associated press

Literary agent receives honor

Literary agent Amanda Urban, whose clients have included Toni Morrison and Cormac McCarthy, has been honored for her work encouraging writers of fiction in the United States.

The 2010 winner of

the Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction was announced Thursday by the Center for Fiction.

—Associated Press

Finally

Casting: Skeet Ulrich, a former star of "Jericho," has been cast as one of the lead detectives in "Law & Order: Los Angeles," scheduled to air this fall on NBC.

Calendar: The Betty White juggernaut rolls on. After winning a Screen Actors Guild lifetime achievement award, hosting "Saturday Night Live" and starring in a TV Land series, the 88-year-old actress will be featured on her own 2010 calendar, with her proceeds benefitting the Morris Animal Foundation.

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