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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   July 2, 2002 at 2:31 PM   |   Comments

FOR JOHN ENTWISTLE

As advertised, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and company rocked the Hollywood Bowl Monday night -- their first concert since the death last Thursday of bassist and The Who founding member John Entwistle of a heart attack at 57 in Las Vegas.

Backed by new bassist Pino Palladino, Townshend's brother Simon on guitar, Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey on drums and John Bundrick on keyboards, the band got a standing ovation before they even played a note. A big screen featured footage of a Who rehearsal from several weeks ago, and the audience cheered whenever Entwistle's image appeared.

After the band led off with "I Can't Explain" and "Substitute" -- hits from the early days -- Daltrey dedicated the concert to Entwistle.

"I just wanted to say that tonight we played for John Entwistle," said Daltrey. "He was the true spirit of rock 'n' roll and he lives on in the music we play."

At one point, Townshend told the audience he appreciated their support at such a difficult time.

"We're not just pretending as if nothing happened," Townshend said. "It is difficult."


HOLLYWOOD DIGESTS VIVENDI CHANGES

Hollywood is trying to figure out how it will be affected by the ouster of Jean-Marie Messier as Vivendi Universal's top man.

Executives at Universal Pictures expect they will be under new management -- probably either veteran movie executive Barry Diller or Edgar Bronfman Jr.

The studio has had a pair of moderate hits in theaters this summer -- "Undercover Brother" and "The Bourne Identity." Upcoming releases include "Red Dragon," with Anthony Hopkins taking another bite at the Hannibal Lecter apple, and "8 Mile," featuring rapper Eminem in his feature film debut.

Daily Variety reported that the development comes as a relief to top studio executives, who have made exhausting pilgrimages to France to try to explain their business to foreign board members.

"It can't get any worse here," one top executive told Variety. "It's been extraordinarily debilitating."


MOVE 'EM UP!

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is looking into the possibility of shortening the Oscar season. The academy board of governors voted last week to explore the idea of moving the Oscar ceremony up one month from its customary date, the last week of March.

"They did vote to move the show, if it is feasible, to February," said academy spokeswoman Leslie Unger.

Unger said the major motivation for the move has to do with holding the awards ceremony a bit closer to the release date of the contending pictures, "so that the films that are part of the awards themselves are fresher in the minds of people."

Asked whether the decision was motivated by recent nastiness in campaigns on behalf of Oscar nominees, Unger said it was not -- but acknowledged that moving the telecast up one month might help cut down on some of the negativity.

A February telecast could provide an extra benefit for ABC, the network that holds the broadcast rights to the Academy Awards, by allowing programmers to schedule the heavily watched program during February sweeps. However, Unger pointed out that the academy might not schedule the ceremony every year on a date that falls during the sweeps period.

Whatever the academy's eventual decision about moving the show, it will not affect plans for next year's 75th annual Academy Awards, which are scheduled for March 23.


BOX OFFICE RECORD HIGH FOR JUNE

The U.S. box office sizzled in June, taking in $856 million -- a 13 percent increase over June 2001, and the first $800 million June ever recorded.

The performance also staked the summer box office to its strongest start ever.

Box-office analysts said that, even allowing for a 3 percent increase in ticket prices from last year, grosses were up 10 percent from last June. And overall admissions of 146.5 million were up 9 percent from June 2001.


SAFETY FIRST

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has scheduled two news conferences for Wednesday to get the word out about its concern that a scene in the new Bow Wow movie "Like Mike" could prompt kids to take a potentially fatal risk.

PG&E issued a news release warning parents "that their children could be electrocuted if they act out a dangerous scene," in which the teen rapper snags a magical pair of sneakers from a power line.

In the movie, when the character grabs the cable he magically becomes good enough to play basketball in the NBA. In real life, PG&E said he would be electrocuted, or at least severely burned.

20th Century Fox said audiences should know that the scene is not meant to be imitated by kids, and that the movie -- due in theaters this weekend -- does not advocate taking dangerous risks.

"It is unfortunate the moviemakers chose to depict a very dangerous activity in such a lighthearted manner," said PG&E public safety program manager David Powell in a statement.

Powell said PG&E spends significant resources teaching children about power line safety, but "this ill-advised 30-second scene would undo much of that effort."


CASTING NOTES

Laurence Fishburne ("The Matrix," "What's Love Got to Do with It") is reportedly in final talks to join Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon in the cast of "Mystic River" -- based on Dennis Lehane's best-selling book about three boyhood friends torn apart by an incident that they never talk about until they become adults, reunited by a murder investigation.

Penn was reported set to go and Bacon was said to be in final talks for the project, directed by Clint Eastwood. Penn will play Jimmy, an ex-con who decides to take the law into his own hands after his daughter is killed, and Bacon reportedly would play Sean, who grows up to be a cop and answers the call when Jimmy's daughter is killed.

Fishburne would play the cop's partner.

Richard Dreyfuss ("The Education of Max Bickford") and Judy Davis ("Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows") will star in "Coast to Coast," an original movie for Showtime directed by Paul Mazursky ("Down and Out in Beverly Hills").

The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Frederic Raphael ("Eyes Wide Shut," "Darling"), about a couple whose marriage appears to disintegrate as they drive from New England to California for their son's wedding.

© 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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