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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   March 7, 2002 at 5:31 PM
MYERS TAKES ON A CLASSIC

Imagine Entertainment -- the company that brought you Jim Carrey as the Grinch -- has Mike Myers lined up to star in the upcoming movie version of another Dr. Seuss classic, "The Cat in the Hat."

The casting comes despite professional friction between Myers and Imagine last year. The "Austin Powers" star was supposed to star in a movie based on his "Saturday Night Live" character, Dieter, but pulled the plug on the project. He said the script was not good enough.

"It's great fun to be in a children's movie," said Myers, "and it's an honor to be asked to be part of the world of Dr. Seuss."

Imagine chairman Brian Grazer, who will produce "The Cat in the Hat," told Daily Variety that even after the lawsuit and the settlement over the collapsed deal, he is happy to make this movie with Myers.

"After we made 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas,' we were contemplating 'Cat in the Hat' at the time we were going through this whole 'Dieter' mess, and I remember saying to one of his CAA agents that Mike would be really good as the cat," said Grazer. "They said, 'But you're in this thing with him,' and I said, 'Sure, but he'd still be great, the best creative choice.'"

According to Grazer, he and Myers "were flattered with the idea of putting art before all that other stuff" and got together on a deal.

Which brings to mind these lines from the book: "I know it is wet And the sun is not sunny. But we can have Lots of good fun that is funny!"


GRAMMY EXPOSURE IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS

In the week following the Grammy Awards, albums featured on the CBS telecast rung up dramatically higher sales.

"O Brother, Where Art Thou?" -- which won the Grammy for album of the year and five awards overall -- nearly quadrupled its sales from the previous week. The Coen brothers movie soundtrack zoomed from 58,331 units sold to 209,227 -- and went from No. 15 on the album chart to No. 2.

The new Alanis Morissette CD, "Under Rug Swept," was No. 1 with more than 215,000 copies sold.

Alicia Keys -- a five-time winner for her debut album, "Songs in A Minor" -- sold more than 102,000 copies following her big night at the Grammys. That was up from just under 48,000 the previous week, and it moved her up 16 spots to No. 4.

Even India.Arie, who had seven Grammy nominations but was shut out at the awards ceremony, benefited from the exposure of her album, "Acoustic Soul," on the telecast. Her CD rose from No. 32 to No. 14, on sales of more than 67,000 -- up from 33,678 the previous week.


WATCHING 'ELLIE' IN SMALLER NUMBERS

The new Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy "Watching Ellie" lost more than a quarter of its premiere audience in its second week on NBC Tuesday.

The show attracted just over 12 million viewers, but still managed to win its 8:30 p.m. time slot among adults 18-49 and give NBC second place overall behind "JAG" on CBS.


AD MARKET LOOKING UP?

According to the research firm Competitive Media Reporting, total advertising expenditures for all media in 2001 dropped 9.8 percent compared to the same time period for 2000 -- amounting to just $94.3 billion, compared to $104.5 billion the previous year.

National newspapers and national spot radio had the worst year -- losing more than 20 percent each over the year. Network TV ad spending fell 8.1 percent, while cable TV spending was up 1 percent.

David Peeler, president and CEO of CMR, said the steep drop from 2000 to 2001 looked even steeper because spending in 2000 was so robust.

"Looking back, 2001 was an extraordinary year for the advertising industry -- the downward turn in the economy, budget cuts, agency consolidations and the tremendous cuts in television advertising in the days following September 11," said Peeler.

At that, he said if you compare 2001 numbers to 1999, ad spending would only be down 2.4 percent.

Now comes word -- and perhaps an indication that things are looking up for the ad business -- that ABC has sold out all the allotted advertising time for the March 24 telecast of the 74th Academy Awards.

Of course, as retailers know, price cuts are a great way to stimulate sales and ABC sold 30-second spots this year for about $1.25 million -- down from last year's rate of $1.4 million a year ago.


NATHAN LANE'S NEW ROLE

According to a report in the New York Post, Tony-winner Nathan Lane will play a gay member of Congress in a comedy pilot for CBS, a career choice that might make more sense than the woman-chasing opera singer Lane played in his 1998 NBC comedy "Encore! Encore!" -- since Lane is openly gay.

The new show, "Life of the Party," has Lane as a TV star who goes to Congress.

Scott Seomin, media director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, told the Post that GLAAD is glad to see the show being produced.

"Charlie's sexual orientation is presented matter-of-factly," said Seomin. "There's no dramatic 'coming-out' scene. Both Nathan and the script are extremely funny -- and I love the idea of a gay congressman."

Lane is scheduled to receive GLAAD's Vito Russo Award at the 2002 GLAAD Media Awards on April 1.


STARS LINE UP FOR OSCARS

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Thursday that Enya will perform for the first time at the 74th Academy Awards.

The Irish singer-songwriters will sing her Oscar-nominated song, "May It Be," from "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."

The academy also announced that Tobey Maguire will make his second Oscar show appearance as a presenter. Maguire ("Wonder Boys," "The Cider House Rules") was a presenter on the 72nd Academy Awards. His new movie, "Spider-Man," opens on May 3.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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