Exclusive Oscars news: Meryl Streep drops to supporting, takes on Oprah


Get ready for the ultimate diva smackdown at the next Oscars: Meryl Streep (“August: Osage County”) vs. Oprah Winfrey

Two years after winning Best Actress for “The Iron Lady,” Streep has agreed to drop down to the supporting race for her role as Violet, the pill-popping, booze-swilling momma in “August: Osage County,” a Weinstein Company source tells Gold Derby. That means Streep will compete against Oprah as the hooch-guzzling wife of the title star of “The Butler.”

Streep’s move is a shockeroo considering that role won Best Actress at the 2008 Tony Awards when Deanna Dunagan performed it on Broadway. Dunagan beat her costar Amy Morton, who portrayed Violet’s frazzled daughter Barbara. Now Julia Roberts, in the role of Barbara on screen, seems to have a clearer shot at a Best Actress victory without risking a split of “August” votes in that category. Roberts won the Best Actress Oscar in 2000 for “Erin Brockovich.” Oprah has never won an Academy Award, but was nominated in the supporting slot for “The Color Purple” (1985).

Streep has three Oscars: one for supporting (“Kramer vs. Kramer,”1979 ) and two for lead (“Sophie’s Choice” in 1982, “Iron Lady” in 2011). If she pulls off one more victory, she will tie Katharine Hepburn for most wins (four). Streep already holds the record for most nominations (17).

Streep’s gracious move may be good news for Roberts, but it’s rotten luck for “August” costar Margo Martindale, who portrays the role of Violet’s sister Mattie, which won the Tony Award for Best Featured (or Supporting) Actress for Rondi Reed on stage. Now past Emmy champ Martindale (“Justified”) must not only face off against Oprah, but Streep, too.

Goldderby

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