PIONEERING PRODUCER JULIA PHILLIPS DIES
She "woke up Hollywood" in 1973 when she was the first woman to ever win a Best Picture Oscar for her production of "The Sting." Then she became -- in the words of the Los Angeles Times -- "the talk of the town almost 30 years later for her scandalous autobiography." The book, "You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again," shocked many with its frank accounts of behind-the-scenes Hollywood lives. Now comes word that Phillips has died in her West Hollywood home.
After winning the Oscar as co-producer of "The Sting," she went on to co-produce Martin Scorsese's critically acclaimed "Taxi Driver" (1976) and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" in 1977.
After years in publishing, in 1969 she joined Paramount as a story editor. The publication says she was known for having "no rules." It called her "short, bright, stylish and profane" ... a real "trailblazer."
She had been diagnosed with cancer five months ago. Julia Phillips was only 57.
'COPS' ANNOUNCES NEW SEASON
The popular live-action, reality TV show "Cops" says it will begin a new series of all-new broadcasts next month. Fox's online news site says that the show, the longest-running reality program on TV, will begin its new Saturday night run next month, with the initial "reports" coming from New Jersey.
The first show of the new season -- to air on Feb. 3 -- is called "Cops: Caught in the Act." It will feature the use of new high-tech equipment in tracking down criminals.
In subsequent broadcasts the producers will feature "stupid criminals" and encounters between police officers and out-of-control animals.
COMPUTER ANIMATION WAVE OF FUTURE
If you saw "Shrek" and looked closely at the character voiced by actor John Lithgow -- Lord Farquaad -- you can see how close digital animators have gotten to actually producing the human face. The glory of such early attempts, including "Toy Story," was that the primary actors were toys or inanimate objects; they didn't have human skin. Now the art form has progressed in such a short time span that computer animation could be, as some experts are saying, the wave of the future.
In a recent article the Hollywood Reporter notes that one reason why it's a safe bet to say that computer-generated imaging (CGI) is here to stay is the enormous economic success that films such as "Shrek," "Monsters, Inc." and others have met at the box office.
The publication says "Shrek" has helped the genre in a colossal way. The popularity of the movie -- complete with the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Lithgow and a host of others -- has been a boon at the box office. It has shown even the most skeptical audiences the impact that CGI will likely have as the process comes of age.
DENNEHY HIRED BY ESPN IN CASTING COUP
The tapping of award-winning actor Brian Dennehy to play controversial former Indiana University head basketball coach Bobby Knight in a major movie is, according to many -- including USA Today's Bill Keveney -- a "casting coup." The movie, based on the book "A Season on the Brink: A Year with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers," is due to hit screens on March 10.
Prior to the filming, the publication says that Dennehy worked on Knight's mannerisms and his colorful, "we better edit part of this out" speech patterns and choice of words.
Dennehy is quoted as saying that while he did not intend to do a "hatchet job" on the coach, he "didn't want to make him a national hero," either.
By the way, ESPN has a second movie in the works. It will be based on the terrorist attacks at the Olympic Village in Munich in 1972 during the Summer Games.
BLANCHETT BUSIER THAN EVER
Actress Cate Blanchett may someday be able to sit down and rest, but, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, for now she's among the busiest actresses around. The publication notes that recently she was involved in four productions while in the final months of pregnancy. In recent months her face has graced a variety of movie projects, from "The Shipping News" to "Charlotte Gray" to "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring." And, on Dec. 7, she gave birth to her first child -- with Andrew Upton -- son Dashiell John.
"Charlotte Gray" is her first starring role since her turn in "Elizabeth." She plays a young woman in London during World War II who goes to France to help with the resistance movement there.
She notes that she was able to do the film without any hard feelings from French production people because she's "neutral," Australian. The Melbourne-born actress, a graduate of the Australian National Institute of Dramatic Arts, will be 33 this year.