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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   March 20, 2002 at 7:47 PM   |   Comments

NOMINATION OR NOT, ALTMAN STILL SCRATCHES FOR CASH

Robert Altman -- who is nominated for a directing Oscar for "Gosford Park" -- is widely regarded as a master of his craft, but he told the Los Angeles Times he still has to hustle funding for his projects.

"Gosford Park" is the third-biggest moneymaker of his career -- after "M*A*S*H" (1970) and "Popeye" (1980) -- but Altman said he's still trying to line up financial backing for his next picture.

In appearances during the current awards season, Altman has talked up the project -- "Voltage" -- and appeared ready to start shooting pretty soon. But he told the Times he's had to put the project on the shelf until he can come up $20 million.

"I assumed with all the accolades coming in that I could make the film," he said. "But nobody is interested (at the budget I need) and I had to release all the actors and come back with my tail between my legs."


K.I.T.T. RIDES AGAIN!

Plans are under way in Hollywood for a big screen version of the action-fantasy "Knight Rider" (NBC, 1982-86) -- which made a star out of David Hasselhoff as Police Detective Michael Arthur Long, aka Michael Knight.

The show featured William Daniels ("St. Elsewhere," "Boy Meets World") as the voice of Knight's mechanical buddy -- a talking, artificially intelligent Trans Am called K.I.T.T.

E! Online reports that Hasselhoff will co-produce the movie with series creator Glen Larson, but there's no word on whether he will appear in the project. According to the report, Larson is working up a screenplay intended to appeal to the same market that made "The Fast and the Furious" one of the biggest box-office hits of 2001.


JUDGE CONGRATULATES DOWNEY

Robert Downey Jr. stood before a judge in California again this week -- not to be lectured, scolded or sentenced, but to be praised and encouraged for the job he's doing in drug rehab.

"Keep up the good work," said Superior Court Judge Randall White after hearing a progress report on Downey in Indio, Calif.

"Thank you," said Downey.

The 36-year-old actor was placed on three-year probation and ordered into drug rehab after pleading no contest last July to drug possession charges. By agreeing to the plea bargain, he managed to avoid being sent back to jail.

Downey -- who has been living at a round-the-clock rehab center in Malibu -- had been charged with one felony count of cocaine possession and one misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance when he was arrested at a Palm Springs report. A second felony count of possessing Valium was dropped.

Downey's acting career has had its ups and downs because of various criminal violations and accusations, but he is working once again. His lawyer said Downey is scheduled to begin shooting a movie with Mel Gibson -- his co-star in "Air America" (1990).


NO REAL SURPRISE HERE

"Celebrity Boxing" was such a ratings winner for Fox they decided to repeat it less than two weeks after its premiere -- so it's no surprise that the network is cooking up another batch of the same dish.

But who will get into the ring?

According to reports in Hollywood, celebrities are actually contacting Fox to see if they can appear on future editions of the show. No word if the contenders are greater -- or lesser -- celebrities than the ones who graced the first show.

Former child star Todd Bridges bested former rap star Vanilla Ice. Former "Partridge Family" star Danny Bonaduce pounded former "Brady Bunch" star Barry Williams. And fallen ice skating star Tonya Harding outclassed former White House scandal figure Paula Jones.


CASTING NOTES

William Baldwin ("Backdraft," "Sliver") will join the cast of the upcoming CBS police drama "R.U.S.H." and his brother Daniel will star in a drama for the WB called "Aces."

"R.U.S.H." -- based on the activities of a special LAPD unit -- also stars Colm Meaney ("Star Trek: The Next Generation") and Mary Stuart Masterson ("Benny & Joon," "Fried Green Tomatoes").

Helen Mirren -- up for a supporting actress Oscar for "Gosford Park" -- has joined the cast of the CBS drama "Georgetown," as a powerful media player.


STARS LINE UP FOR OSCARS

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that John Travolta and Maggie Smith will appears as presenters, and Paul McCartney will make his Oscar performance debut, at the 74th Academy Awards.

Travolta will be making his eighth appearance as a presenter on an Oscars telecast.

Smith -- a two-time Oscar winner who is nominated for best supporting actress for "Gosford Park" -- will be making her fourth appearance as a presenter. She won for best actress for "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (1969) and supporting actress for "California Suite" (1978).

McCartney will sing his Oscar-nominated song "Vanilla Sky," from the Tom Cruise movie of the same name. It's McCartney's second Oscar nomination. He was nominated for the title song from the 1973 James Bond movie "Live and Let Die."

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