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The NY Times' David "The Carpetbagger" Carr explores the heart-stopping, bowel-loosening effect that yesterday's national day of mourning (and postal service interruption) to recognize former President Gerald Ford's passing had on studio publicists anxious to get their screeners into awards voters' hands on the first work day of the new year, who spent a jittery, mail-free Tuesday contemplating the cruel "purgatory" in which their precious DVDs languished because of the utterly inconvenient death of a former President:

Those studio folks with skin in the game were spending the day freaking out a bit, wondering what the rare three-day shutdown of the postal system would mean.

Even on weeks when the national holiday falls on Monday, the postal service is only out of action for two days. The fact that the president died when he did meant that a third day was tacked on. Studios who sent out screeners last Wednesday or Thursday - "Dreamgirls" was scheduled to land all over the Academy - in the hopes that it would be in the hands of voters the day after the new year began were instead confronted by three days of postal purgatory. [...]

And the screeners? One Oscar marketer said it was the talk of the office: "Every day counts right now and you want to have it in their hands as soon as you can. But most of the people around here were just hoping that they didn't have to work when they heard the news. No such luck."

Hopefully, those delayed Dreamgirls screeners will find their way into voters' mailboxes today, sparing Paramount's publicists another torturous day of concoting paranoid fantasies that rival Universal was somehow behind Ford's death, knowing that they could use the ensuing postal holiday to hand-deliver copies of United 93 to Academy members and gain a crucial edge in the cutthroat awards race.