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By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Jan. 9, 2002 at 7:53 PM   |   Comments

, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- SEMI-FINALISTS NAMED FOR VISUAL EFFECTS OSCAR

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has released the list of eight movies being considered for an Oscar in visual effects.

They are: "A.I. Artificial Intelligence"; "Black Hawk Down"; "Cats and Dogs"; "The Fast and the Furious"; "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"; "Jurassic Park III"; "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and "Pearl Harbor"

The Oscar committee will look at 15-minute clip reels from each film, then choose three Oscar nominees. Oscar nominations are to be announced Feb. 12. The Academy Awards are to be given on March 24 in Hollywood.


PIXAR: THE EXHIBIT

Pixar -- the company that produced such animated Disney hits as "Monsters, Inc.", "A Bug's Life", "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2" will get a nod from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The museum will present a tribute to Pixar Thursday, featuring an overview of the studio's groundbreaking work. Pixar head John Lasseter received a special achievement Oscar for "Toy Story," but the studio's relationship with Academy Awards runs much deeper than that.

Of the last 30 pictures nominated for the visual effects Oscar, 26 were made using the studio's Oscar-winning RenderMan software. The list includes "Gladiator", "Jurassic Park", "The Matrix" and "Titanic", as well as 2000 hits "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and "Pearl Harbor."


TURNING SEPT. 11 INTO PROGRAMMING

TV programming executives seem to be getting over Hollywood's initial reluctance to exploit the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and have started TV projects based on that day's events.

CBS is moving ahead on a project by Lawrence Schiller -- the journalist turned producer who has produced shows on O.J. Simpson and JonBenet Ramsey murder.

The project reportedly will chronicle the first reactions of government and military officials after terrorists crashed the first of two passenger jets into the World Trade Center.

"It deals with the heroes on the ground and those people who broke the rules, invented new rules, and in some instances ... had to deal with something they'd never thought they would have to deal with," Schiller told Daily Variety.

Schiller's project could lead up to the crash of United Flight 93 in a Pennsylvania field after passengers -- aware that hijackers were planning to use the plane as a bomb -- took matters into their own hands and foiled the plan.

Schiller said he will not try to recreate the events on board the plane.

"That would be an invasion of privacy," he said, "and I'm not interested in doing that."

At least two other TV projects based on the Sept. 11 attacks are in the works, including one that would use the stories of those on Flight 93 and one that would focus on the Hamburg, Germany, terrorist cell suspected of carrying out the hijackings.


GAY CABLE CHANNEL ON HORIZON?

According to a report in TV Guide, MTV and Showtime are in "serious discussions" about setting up a TV channel catering to gay and lesbian interests.

Columnist J. Max Robins cites industry sources in his report and says that similar talks involved executives from HBO, USA Networks and Rainbow Media -- which runs Bravo and AMC for Cablevision. A senior media analyst at the investment firm Sanford C. Bernstein and Co. told Robins a gay cable channel would be a smart money move.

"It's about time somebody had gone after that audience with a network," said Tom Wolzien. "The money is certainly there to support it."


HONORS FOR MUHAMMAD ALI

Muhammad Ali is having a media heyday, with special tributes from Los Angeles, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which will present the three-time heavyweight boxing champ with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this Friday.

Later in the day, the film group will honor Ali with its Freedom Award.

At Los Angeles City Hall on Tuesday, Ali received honors from the city officials in a tribute to his accomplishments and his upcoming 60th birthday.

After hearing city officials dedicate the day to him, Ali joked: "All I get is a day?"

Mayor Jim Hahn answered: "I'll give you a whole century. I'll give you a whole millennium. You deserve it. The Ali millennium."

The timing of all the activities and tributes is particularly handy, what with the champ's life story, "Ali," currently playing in theaters.


MAC THE MOUTH GETS TV GIG

Tennis great John McEnroe has a new gig in broadcasting, as host of the new ABC-TV game show, "The Chair."

It's rather an ironic choice, given Big Mac's near-legendary outbursts on the tennis court, since the show requires contestants to control their emotions.

Contestants who answer a series of trivia questions correctly start to pile up sums of money. But if they get too excited by winning, they lose everything and don't get to go again until they've got their heart rates back down.


'STAR' BORN AGAIN?

According to a report in the New York Post, "Ali" star Will Smith and new music star Alicia Keys may co-star in a new remake of "A Star Is Born" -- which has already been made into three feature films.

The paper reported Wednesday that superproducer Quincy Jones wants to produce the project, the tried-and-true story of a show business love affair that fails to survive the career ups and downs of a Hollywood couple.

Janet Gaynor and Frederic March co-starred in the original movie version in 1937, both earning Oscar nominations for their performances. Judy Garland and James Mason also earned Oscar nominations for their work in the 1954 remake.

Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson did not manage Oscar nominations for their 1976 update, but Streisand and Paul Williams won the Oscar for best song, "Evergreen."

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