Academy doubles best-picture nominees

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - The best-picture lineup at the Academy Awards is doubling from five films to 10, a move organizers said Wednesday will open the field to more worthy movies and possibly boost the ceremony's TV ratings.

The change, which was approved Tuesday night by the board of governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, takes effect at next year's Oscars on March 7.

The plan is a return to Oscar traditions of the 1930s and '40s, when a best-picture field of 10 or more films was common.

Academy President Sid Ganis said the board looked at last year's slate of films and decided there was room for more in the top category. 'We nominated five, but there were many other great films last year,' Ganis said.

Among last year's most acclaimed movies was the Batman blockbuster 'The Dark Knight,' which wound up snubbed. Another was 'WALL-E,' which won the Oscar for feature-length animation but was not among best-picture nominees.

Ganis said the broader field might make room for documentaries, foreign-language films, animated movies and even comedies, which typically do not fare well for best-picture nominations.

'Everybody says the academy will never nominate a comedy,' Ganis said. 'Well, maybe we will.'

The Oscars have separate categories for animated, foreign-language and documentary films. A best-picture nomination would not preclude films from competing in those categories, as well.

Billy Crystal takes show on the road

NEW YORK - Billy Crystal is taking his acclaimed stage autobiography, '700 Sundays,' on the road this fall.

'700 Sundays' was a Broadway success during the 2004-2005 season, playing to sold-out houses and winning a Tony Award for special theatrical experience.

The show will play six cities, starting with Washington on Sept. 8-17. The 61-year-old actor-comedian will then visit Philadelphia; Dallas; Palm Beach, Fla.; Miami; and Atlanta, where the tour will end Dec. 20.