I had much the same reaction, but no, this is very odd. Red Hat has no aversion to contributing to Free Software and possibly forking it to create a supported branch. Why would they push through with Ceylon rather than do this with Scala? I must be missing something that is arguably a clear advantage. I'll blame the QCon presentation refusing to load, but if someone could fill me in that would be appreciated.
One advantage it has over Scala is that it doesn't do erasure of type parameters. I wonder how this works when it comes to interop with existing Java code though.
The other broad advantage seems to be that it's designed with a bit more restraint than Scala when it comes to the feature-set. Although personally I find all the Haskell-like implicits and the advanced type system stuff in Scala very interesting, I can see how this may end up holding back adoption by Java shops.
So: I'm reservedly interested in it, although does seem a bit vapourware at this stage.