Ready with the stopwatch

Bad news for directors, co-stars, moms, dads, wives, kids, inspirational teachers, agents, makeup artists, dogwalkers: Oscar nominees are being asked to write two speeches -- a 45-second one to be delivered onstage and a longer one for a backstage "thank-you cam" that would be posted online. Producers Adam Shankman and Bill Mechanic also say they are eliminating the best-song performances. And yet Shankman has Tweeted that 69 dancers are involved in the broadcast. We're a little frightened.

The final reel

Quentin Tarantino says he wants his next film to be "a western set in slavery times." ... Madonna is writing and directing "W.E.," a biography of Wallis Simpson, the woman who nearly brought down the British monarchy. Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air") is in talks for the title role. ... Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl will channel "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" in "Killers." ... "Smith" director Doug Liman's next project is "Attica," based on the 1971 prison riots. ... Judd Apatow reunites with his "Freaks and Geeks" co-conspirator Paul Feig to produce Kristen Wiig's untitled comedy about two women battling to plan their friend's wedding.