Oscar rules for nominating songs
I cannot recall a year when there were fewer than five nominees for the Academy Award for Best Song. Why are there only three this year?
Until 1944, any number of songs could be nominated for Best Song. In 1944 (for the Oscar awarded in 1945), for example, 14 songs were nominated.
The rule was changed the next year to limit the nominations to five, with a minimum of three. Since then it's been five every year except 1985, 2005 and 2008; only three were chosen in each of those years.
This year, Jai Ho and O Saya are nominated from the movie Slumdog Millionaire, and Down to Earth from WALL-E.
Why only three? The Music Academy branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences votes on nominated songs. Voters assign songs a rating, which can be 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5 or 10. Only songs receiving an average score of 8.25 or more are eligible for nomination and this year, only three of the 49 eligible songs achieved that. Among those that didn't make the cut were Bruce Springsteen's highly acclaimed The Wrestler.
For more details about the rules, please see this Web site: www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/rules/rule16.html.
Air Force One has new pilot
Since the pilot of Air Force One retired at the end of President Bush's term, what are the qualifications of the new pilot?
Air Force Col. Mark Tillman retired from military service after flying former President Bush home to Texas. Tillman served as commander of the Presidential Airlift Group, part of the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
An Air Force One pilot must have more than 2,000 hours in the cockpit, worldwide flight experience and a spotless record.
Col. Scott Turner, the vice commander, is the new pilot and leader of the Airlift Group.
Gates, Jobs still friends
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were friends when they first introduced the world to the personal computer. Now they have competing computer empires. What is their relationship today?
In 2007, the billionaires appeared together on stage at a Dow Jones "D: All Things Digital" conference. They were not only gracious toward one another but appeared to genuinely respect each other. Apple founder Jobs jokingly said of himself and Microsoft founder Gates, "We've kept our marriage secret for over a decade."
Jobs, a pancreatic-cancer survivor, is taking a five-month leave of absence from Apple to deal with health problems.
In 2008, Gates announced he will transition out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft to spend more time on his global health and education work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.