IT'S NOW OR NEVER
Producers of the 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards telecast -- scheduled for this Sunday in Los Angeles -- told reporters Tuesday that the telecast will not be called off again, as it was in September and October.
Ceremonies scheduled for Sept. 16 were postponed until Oct. 7 following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Oct. 7 event was canceled hours before it was to begin, when the United States and Britain announced that they had commenced air strikes against military and terrorist targets in Afghanistan.
"Our sense is this has gone on long enough," said Bryce Zabel, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
"There will be no more moving of the dates," he said. "It's the right thing to do -- to finish it up."
Producers said the Oct. 7 show would have been substantially changed from the Sept. 16 show they had planned, and this Sunday's show -- which will be telecast over CBS-TV -- has been further scaled down.
Veteran producer Gary Smith came on board to pick up where original Emmy producer Don Mischer left off when he had to leave the show to keep a commitment to produce opening and closing ceremonies at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
Smith said that "just about everybody" who had planned to attend the Oct. 7 ceremonies is expected to be there Sunday.
He said the telecast will still pay tribute to police, fire and other emergency workers, and will feature a series of clips of celebrities entertaining U.S. troops from World War II through the present.
Ellen DeGeneres is still on as host of the show, and legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite is expected to set the tone with opening remarks -- as he had been scheduled to do on Oct. 7. Presenters will include Sally Field, Dennis Franz, Kelsey Grammer, Patricia Heaton, Debra Messing, Ray Romano and Martin Sheen.
WE'LL NEVER KNOW WHO BOUGHT SPIKE'S TICKET
One of the great guessing games in recent weeks has centered on the identity of the high-bidder who paid $101,000 in an online auction for the courtside seat next to Spike Lee for Tuesday night's game between the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards.
The attraction, of course, was the return of Michael Jordan to the NBA and Madison Square Garden. The proceeds from the auction went to the Fire Department's Widows and Children's Fund.
The seat was occupied by 12-year-old Jessica DeRubbio -- a seventh-grader from Brooklyn who had never seen the Knicks in person before and could not possibly have afforded to spend $100,000 for the privilege.
It turns out that the winning bidder, who preferred to remain anonymous, donated the ticket to Jessica. Her father, David, was a New York firefighter who was killed on Sept. 11.
Lee told gossip columnist Mitchell Fink "the big winner" in all this "was the guy who wrote the check."
Jordan scored 19 points in the Wizards' 93-91 loss to the Knicks.
MORE OSCAR BUZZ
According to a report in Daily Variety, Sony Pictures is so impressed with audience feedback from early screenings of the upcoming Ridley Scott-directed "Black Hawk Down," it has decided to release the picture for a limited Oscar-qualifying run on Dec. 28.
Plans originally called for a 2002 release. Plans now call for expanding the release after Dec. 28 to a wide release on Jan. 18.
"Black Hawk Down" -- starring Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor and Eric Bana -- is billed as "the true story of the Battle of Mogadishu, in which an elite force of U.S. Delta units and Ranger infantry were dropped into Mogadishu in 1993 with instructions to abduct two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord.
Instead, two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and the mission resulted in the deaths of 18 Americans and hundreds of Somalis.
HONORS FOR ACADEMY PRESIDENT
Organizers of the Ojai Film Festival 2001 have announced that Oscar-winning screenwriter-director Frank Pierson -- who currently serves as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- will receive the festival's lifetime achievement award.
Pierson won the Oscar for best original screenplay in 1975 for "Dog Day Afternoon." He was nominated for screenplay Oscars for "Cat Ballou" (1965) and "Cool Hand Luke" (1967). He also wrote and directed the 1976 Barbra Streisand remake of "A Star Is Born."
More recently, Pierson has directed the TV movies, "Citizen Cohn," "Truman" and "Conspiracy." "Truman" won a Peabody Award and an Emmy for outstanding TV movie in 1996. "Conspiracy" is nominated for outstanding TV movie this year, and Pierson is up for an Emmy for directing for a miniseries, movie or a special.
In addition to his role as president of AMPAS, Pierson also serves as artistic director of the American Film Institute Conservatory, where he is a Distinguished Filmmaker-in-Residence. He also teaches at the Sundance Institute and is a past President of the Writers Guild of America.
The Ojai Film Festival will honor Pierson Nov. 9-11 with a series of events -- including a screening of "Dog Day Afternoon," a presentation by Pierson on filmmaking, and public question-and-answer session with Pierson and an awards dinner.
CELEBRITY 'FEAR,' 'WEAKEST'
NBC has signed up a roster of celebrities to appear on a special episode of "Fear Factor" on Nov. 27, the last Tuesday of the November sweeps.
"Fear Factor" involves subjecting contestants to stunts ranging from icky to scary, but NBC isn't saying just yet what the celebrities will have to go through to win the game.
However, programmers have decided to air the episode with a longer-than-usual running time, so that it will still be on the air for seven minutes past the top of the hour. The tactic is designed to keep viewers from tuning to other networks at the top of the hour, when the competition is likely to be rolling out its big guns for the night.
NBC has also announced that November episodes of "Weakest Link" will feature not just celebrity guests, but actual themed shows with well-known contestants. Plans call for shows featuring cast members of the "Star Trek" series franchise -- as well as "Scene Stealers," "Classic Child Stars" and "Comedians."
On Nov. 26, William Shatner (Captain Kirk on "Star Trek") joins Denise Crosby (Lt. Tasha Yar), John De Lancie ("Q"), Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) and LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge) from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." NBC said the line-up will also include Robert Picardo (Doc) and Roxann Dawson (B'Elanna Torres) from "Star Trek: Voyager," and Armin Shimerman (Quark) from "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
A "Scene Stealers" episode on Nov. 11 will feature actors who stood out -- although they did not have starring roles in -- various movies and TV shows. That line-up includes Alan Cumming ("Spy Kids"), Luis Guzman ("Traffic"), Ice-T (NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"), Kathy Najimy ("Veronica's Closet") and Larry Miller ("Dr. Dolittle").
The former child star episode brings back Keshia Knight Pulliam ("The Cosby Show"), Emmanuel Lewis ("Webster"), Danica McKellar ("The Wonder Years"), Tina Yothers ("Family Ties") -- and Jerry Mathers as The Beaver ("Leave It to Beaver").
STARS COME OUT FOR JERRY HERMAN TRIBUTE
Angela Lansbury, Ann Miller, Carol Channing and Bernadette Peters head a list of Hollywood and Broadway stars expected to turn out on Nov. 10 for a tribute to Jerry Herman -- the legendary composer of such Broadway and movie musical hits as "Mame," "Hello Dolly!" and "La Cage Aux Folles."
At a gala dinner at UCLA, Herman will receive the Nedda Harrigan Logan Award --the highest honor conferred by The Actors' Fund of America. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Actors' Fund.