Woody Allen will make his first visit to the Cannes film festival when his new movie "Hollywood Ending" opens this year's festival on May 15.
Allen stars in the movie as a washed-up director who hasn't had a hit since the '80s. He finally gets a picture, but loses his eyesight -- and is so anxious not to lose the gig that he tries to direct anyway.
Other Allen films shown at Cannes include "Hannah and Her Sisters," "Manhattan" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo."
Festival organizers issued a statement from Allen, in which he explained why he decided to appear at Cannes for the first time.
"The French were my first supporters and have always showed huge generosity toward me," Allen said in the statement. "Over the last few years, they have invited me so many times that I now want to offer them something in return -- I will therefore come personally to present my film 'Hollywood Ending.'"
Allen has made more frequent public appearances to promote his movies in recent years.
Last year, at a rare public appearance in London, he answered questions from the audience at the National Film Theatre. He also played jazz and sat for interviews with newspapers in a handful U.S. cities to promote "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion."
Last month, Allen appeared for the first time ever at the Academy Awards, where he introduced a film tribute to New York.
GUMBEL CALLING IT QUITS
Bryant Gumbel is leaving "The Early Show," his morning news and information program on CBS.
In a statement Thursday, Gumbel said he is also leaving the network.
"After more than 17 years of hosting a morning news program," said Gumbel, "I feel it's time for me to move on and do something else with my life."
Gumbel -- the former long-time host of the "Today" show on NBC -- signed on with CBS in 1997. His contract expires next month.
"The Early Show" has consistently finished third in the ratings behind "Today" and ABC's morning show, "Good Morning America," but has been a profit center for CBS just the same.
NEWHART NEXT FOR TWAIN AWARD
Kennedy Center officials have announced that Bob Newhart will receive the fifth annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, joining previous winners Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner and Whoopi Goldberg as winners of America's top prize for humorists -- given each year to honor the legacy of Mark Twain.
"Bob Newhart's self-effacing, yet clever and pointed humor, makes him a perfect choice," said Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser. "He is everyone's brother, dad and uncle, and he makes us laugh at ourselves with grace and great skill."
Newhart will receive the Twain award in ceremonies at the Kennedy Center on Oct. 29. He was told about it last month.
"I was quite floored by it," Newhart told the Washington Post. He said that when he reread Twain recently, he was humbled by the durability of Twain's humor.
"I'm still in shock that I won," he said.
Newhart's debut album, "The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart," was the first comedy album ever to hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. His follow-up, "The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back," won Grammys in 1960 for best album, best new artist and spoken-word comedy performance.
His first TV show, a comedy-variety show called "The Bob Newhart Show," won the Emmy in 1962 for outstanding achievement in the field of humor. His long-running half-hour comedy, also called "The Bob Newhart Show," was nominated for outstanding comedy series in 1977, and Newhart was nominated for lead actor in a comedy series from 1985-87 for his second long-running comedy, "Newhart."
BUSINESS LOOKING UP IN HOLLYWOOD
According to a report in Daily Variety, off-lot feature film production in Los Angeles has pulled out of a slump, with local officials reporting a 77 percent increase in March from February.
However, the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. said the recovery appears to be relatively mild. Last month's production activity was still 32 percent behind the March 2001 performance.
"The feature production has been coming back, but it's been a little less than what we had hoped for," said EIDC vice president Morrie Goldman. "We are seeing a lot of feature projects in pre-production right now, so we expect feature activity to continue rebounding in the coming months."
Steve Dayan, business representative for Teamsters Local 399, which represents location managers, told Variety things are looking up for the remainder of 2002.
"Activity has begun picking up in features," said Dayan, "so we think we are going to have a good if not great year."
IT'S A BOY!
A publicist for Elizabeth Hurley announced that the producer-actress-spokesmodel gave birth to a boy on Thursday.
Hurley named her son Damian Charles.
"Both mother and baby are happy and healthy," said the spokeswoman. "Damian was born at 12:22 p.m. (1122 GMT) on 4 April."
Hurley ("Bedazzled," "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery") has said the child's father was her former boyfriend, American film producer Stephen Bing -- but Bing has challenged the assertion.
JOAN RIVERS GET 'GRACIE' GIG
The organization presents the Gracies to recognize "exemplary programming created for women, by women and about women in all facets of broadcasting and electronic media, including cable and new media."
Gracies will be presented this year to "Today" show correspondent Jamie Gangel, "Entertainment Tonight" co-anchor Mary Hart, "60 Minutes II" correspondent Carol Marin, "Wit" writer and star Emma Thompson and CNN anchor Paula Zahn.
Catherine Crier of Court TV, talk show host Ricki Lake and cast members from "Sex in the City," "Six Feet Under" and "The West Wing" also are scheduled to receive awards.