Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officials made the short trip from their headquarters to the post office in Beverly Hills on Wednesday to make sure that final ballots for the 74th Academy Awards were safely in the mail to the 4,263 academy members who live in California.
Actually, it was the second mailing of final ballots. The first batch went out last Friday to voting members living outside of California.
The ballots that have already been mailed only list 19 Oscar categories. Separate ballots for five categories -- foreign language film, short and feature-length documentaries and animated and live-action short films -- will be distributed after academy officials verify mandatory attendance at screenings by voting members.
Completed ballots must be returned to PricewaterhouseCoopers by 5 p.m. on March 19. The auditing firm will tabulate the votes and put the names of winners in sealed envelopes -- which will then be unsealed with great ceremony when the Oscars are handed out on March 24 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood.
CROWE REVIVES TOUGH GUY ACT
Russell Crowe reportedly lost his cool and assaulted the director of Sunday's BBC telecast of the British Academy Film Awards, after learning that part of his acceptance speech for best actor had been edited out when the awards ceremony was shown to British viewers.
Crowe -- who won the best actor BAFTA and is nominated for a best actor Oscar for his performance as the schizophrenic Nobel laureate John Forbes Nash Jr. in "A Beautiful Mind" -- read Irish writer Patrick Kavanagh's (1904-67) poem "Sanctity" during his acceptance speech Sunday.
The poem was cut from the version of the show seen on the BBC, but was left intact in the version provided for international TV viewing. Other speeches were also cut.
Witnesses said Crowe confronted director Malcolm Gerrie at a party after the awards show -- shoving him up against a wall, cursing him and threatening to punish Gerrie professionally.
"Who on Earth had the ... audacity to take out the best actor's poem?" witnesses quoted Crowe. "I'll make sure you never work in Hollywood."
DreamWorks, which produced "A Beautiful Mind," reportedly offered an apology to Gerrie.
Crowe developed a reputation for surliness during last year's awards season, when he won a best actor Oscar for "Gladiator," but he seemed to soften his image a bit during the current awards cycle, especially with his gracious behavior at the Golden Globe Awards.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts gave its best film award to "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." Dame Judi Dench won for best actress for her portrayal of the writer Iris Murdoch's battle with Alzheimer's disease in "Iris."
FAITH HILL WILL PERFORM ON OSCARS TELECAST
Producers of the upcoming Oscars telecast announced Wednesday that three-time Grammy winner Faith Hill will perform at the 74th Academy Awards.
Hill -- who won three Grammys last year -- will sing the Oscar-nominated song "There You'll Be" from "Pearl Harbor," written by Diane Warren. Hill is up for a Grammy for the song Wednesday night -- for female pop vocal performance.
This will be her second performance on the Oscars show. She first performed on an Oscars telecast two years ago, participating in a song medley with Burt Bacharach, Garth Brooks, Ray Charles, Isaac Hayes, Queen Latifah and Dionne Warwick.
SONGWRITERS FILE ROYALTIES SUIT
Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther and Jack Tempchin -- co-writers on some of The Eagles' greatest hits -- have filed suit in Los Angeles accusing Warner/Chappell Music Inc. of cheating them out of millions of dollars in royalties.
Browne co-wrote "Take It Easy" with Eagles founding member Glenn Frey. Souther co-wrote "Best of My Love" with Frey and Don Henley, also a founding member of the legendary country-rock band. Tempchin wrote "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and co-wrote "Already Gone."
They accused Warner/Chappell -- which controlled the publishing rights -- of giving one of its affiliates a self-serving deal to license songs for "Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1974," which went on to become the best-selling album in the history of the record business with more than 26 million units sold.
The suit claims that Browne, Souther and Tempchin were unaware for more than 20 years that the deal provided them with smaller songwriting royalties than those negotiated for Henley and Frey.
"It is with deep regret that we file this lawsuit, but we are left with no alternative," said Browne, Souther and Tempchin in a joint statement. "All of our efforts to amicably resolve the matter with Warner/Chappell have been ignored. We are still hopeful the matter can be resolved in good faith."
An attorney for the plaintiffs, Lawrence Y. Iser, told the Los Angeles Times that his clients have been paid 2 cents -- the going rate in 1975 -- each time one of their songs was used for commercial purposes. However, according to the suit, the songwriters should have been paid 2.4 cents per use under an agreement that the publisher struck with Elektra/Asylum/Nonesuch Records.
Iser said no one told his clients about the increase, or that their royalties were locked in at the lower rate. He also said his clients deserve to be paid the current going rate -- 7.5 cents per song.
The suit -- which claims that the songwriters have lost more than $10 million in royalties -- seeks an unspecified amount in damages for breach of contract, breach of good faith and breach of fiduciary duty.
Plans are under way in Hollywood to make another feature based on Patricia Highsmith's first novel, "Strangers on a Train."
Alfred Hitchcock adapted the novel for his 1951 movie of the same name, starring Farley Granger and Robert Walker as two men who meet on a train and cook up a scheme wherein each would kill someone the other wants out of his life. Walker goes through with his end of the plan, but Granger has a change of heart -- and has to answer to Walker for it.
Paul Burke and Carol Lynley starred in a loose remake in 1969, called "Once You Kiss a Stranger." In 1987, Danny DeVito directed himself and Billy Crystal in a dark comedy version of the story, "Throw Momma From the Train."
Highsmith is having something of a heyday in Hollywood, with the success of the 1999 movie adaptation of "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and the upcoming "Ripley's Game" -- starring Dougray Scott and John Malkovich in the story of a man who persuades another man to commit a murder for a large sum of money, and the trouble that develops when the situation gets out of hand.
SOAP STAR LEADS BREAST CANCER WALK
Andrea Evans -- one of the stars of the NBC daytime drama "Passions" -- has been named Celebrity Ambassador for City of Hope's 2002 Walk for Hope to Cure Breast Cancer, the second straight year she has served in that capacity.
Evans has actively supported the City of Hope for years, particularly because she has a personal connection to the problem. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor.
The Walk for Hope to Cure Breast Cancer is a national series of walks scheduled to take place in about 30 cities, to raise funds for breast cancer research at the City of Hope near Los Angeles -- one of 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the United States as designated by the National Cancer Institute.
City of Hope said it raised more than $2 million with last year's walks.
Evans was nominated for an Emmy for her portrayal of Rebecca Hotchkiss on "Passions." She has also starred in "One Life To Live," "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful."