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Oscars return to the Web

Oscar.com, the official Web site of the Academy Awards, will carry a live video stream of the Oscar nominations announcements.

For the third year running, Oscar will shine on the Web.

ABC Internet Group and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today launched Oscar.com, the official Web site of the Academy Awards, which carried a live video stream of the Oscar nominations announcements this morning.

Television networks and Hollywood increasingly are turning to the Web to promote their programming. The Academy has taken advantage of the Web's immediacy by releasing the nominations and other Oscar news over its Web site before traditional news outlets get a chance.

Today's nominations announcement was a battle between love and war for Hollywood's top honors as the romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love and Steven Spielberg's epic war drama Saving Private Ryan led the Oscar nominations today. Both Shakespeare in Love, which topped the overall roster of nominations with 13, and second-place Saving Private Ryan, with 11, landed on the list of Academy Award nominees for best film of 1998.

Rounding out the best picture nominations were Italian filmmaker Roberto Benigni's wartime drama Life Is Beautiful, Elizabeth, a story of the coming of age of the young English queen, and another World War II drama, The Thin Red Line, by legendary director Terrence Malick.

Each of those movies earned seven nominations for the film industry's most prestigious awards. Along with the list of nominees, the site features photos and a brief synopsis of each nominated film and actor.

The site also has a retrospective section containing photo galleries of past Oscar winners in a number of categories, including Best Picture, Leading Actor and Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress, Costume Design, and Makeup. Other photo galleries will focus on past red carpet arrivals and a look back at some of the glamorous attire worn to past Oscar ceremonies.

As the awards ceremony approaches, Oscar.com will add features to whet the appetites of the movie buff, such as trivia games, video clips on demand, a complete database of Academy Award winners and nominees, an Oscar producer's journal giving users a behind-the-scenes look at preparations, weekly fashion reports, a fashion preview, and an insider's look at rehearsal weekend.

On Oscar night, from the time the stars walk down the red carpet to the post-event parties, Netizens around the world will have access to live streaming video of the event, press show reports, an updated list of winners as they are announced, and transcripts of acceptance speeches.

Immediately following the telecast, Oscar.com will stream complete backstage interviews, an element not available on television.

"The World Wide Web provides a wonderful new way for movie lovers to find information about all aspects of motion pictures," Academy President Robert Rehme said in a statement. "It's only natural that the Oscars should have a place in cyberspace and Oscar.com is a site that is almost as unique and compelling as the Awards show itself."

Other sites that have traditionally tried to cash in on hits from the popular Oscars include: Siskel and Ebert's predictions from the Chicago Sun-Times, Mr. Showbiz goes to the Oscars, and E! Online.