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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Sept. 19, 2002 at 7:04 PM
CBS SENDS OUT 'WEDDING' INVITATIONS

CBS has picked up the comedy "My Big Fat Greek Family," based on the movie of the same name, which turned out to be the surprise movie hit of the year.

Plans call for launching the show at midseason.

Like the movie, the TV show will star Nia Vardalos as a woman who re-evaluates her Greek-American culture after she falls in love with a man (John Corbett) who is not Greek. There are reports that producers are trying to get Corbett for the TV series, but that might be difficult, since he is already starring in the upcoming F/X series "Lucky."


'MONSTER' HOME VIDEO SALES

"Monsters, Inc." hit record numbers Tuesday, selling at least $85 million worth of product on its first day in stores to record the biggest opening day ever for a home video release.

Analysts said the title sold 5 million VHS and DVD copies on Tuesday, with DVDs accounting for at least 60 percent of the total. The two-disc DVD package offers extensive behind-the-scenes footage and some features produced exclusively for the home video product, including an animated short called "Mike's New Car."

"Monsters, Inc." could threaten the record for first-week sales as well. DreamWorks reported selling 9 million VHS and DVD copies of "Shrek," and Warner Bros. said "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" sold 10 million units in May.


HOLLYWOOD FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES LINE-UP

Organizers have announced the line-up for the Sixth Annual Hollywood Film Festival's Discovery Awards competition, running from Oct. 2-6.

The festival will open with the world premiere of "The Ring," starring Naomi Watts ("Mulholland Drive") and directed by Gore Verbinski ("The Mexican"). The festival will also present director Jean-Marie Poiré's "My Wife Maurice," and the new drug thriller "Narc," starring Jason Patric and Ray Liotta.

Organizers, working with the European Union Commission, also plan a European Film Showcase -- with screenings of films from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Sweden and England, among other nations. The festival will present its Hollywood European Film Award at the Hollywood Movie Awards Gala Ceremony in Beverly Hills on Oct. 7.

The gala awards will also feature presentation of the Hollywood Leadership Award to Jack Valenti, President of the Motion Picture Association of America. Other awards will be presented to Jodie Foster, Martin Scorsese, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Naomi Watts and screenwriter Robert Towne.


SAG AWARDS GO CYBER

The Screen Actors Guild has announced that it will accept requests online (sagawards.org) for consideration for its 9th Annual SAG Awards, to be presented next March.

Submissions for the 2003 Actor nominations will be accepted beginning Monday, Sept. 23, and ending on Nov. 22.

Producers, studios, networks, agents, managers or publicists are permitted to submit performances for consideration -- but only with the actor's permission. Actors may also submit their own performances.

Nominations for the 9th Annual SAG Awards will be announced on Jan. 28, 2003. The awards will be presented next March 9.


'PHLEMMY' AWARDS ANNOUNCED

Two Emmy-nominated shows -- "Friends" and "24" -- have been honored by the American Lung Association of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails with the Pink Lung Award at the annual Phlemmy Awards, presented to TV shows based on how they present tobacco use.

About 50 teens and young adults from the Sacramento area reviewed prime time network shows to evaluate their handling of tobacco-related issues. Shows that portrayed smoking as bad, or didn't feature smoking at all, get the Pink Lung Award, while those that show smoking in a positive light get the Phlemmy Award.

"The Bernie Mac Show," in which star Bernie Mac is often seen with a cigar, got a Phlemmy this year. So did the Emmy-winning animated comedy "Futurama," which pictured Marlboro and Camel brand cigarettes.

The long-running Emmy-winning drama "ER" received a "Dishonorable Mention" for showing medical professionals smoking to relieve the stress of their jobs and personal lives.

Overall, the American Lung Association reported that tobacco use on TV was down significantly during the 2001-02 TV season compared to the previous season -- from an average of 4 incidents of smoking per hour to 2.6 incidents per hour.


REMEMBERING AN OLD PRO

James Gregory, the rough-hewn character actor best known as Inspector Luger on the long-running TV comedy "Barney Miller," died Monday of natural causes at his home in Sedona, Ariz. He was 90.

Gregory began his career in 1935, working in summer stock. He made his Broadway debut in 1939, appearing in "Key Largo."

His Broadway career included appearances in "The Desperate Hours" with Paul Newman and "All My Sons" with John Forsythe. He played Biff Loman in "Death of a Salesman," co-starring with five different Willy Lomans, including Lee J. Cobb, who originated the role.

Gregory served with the Navy and Marine Corps in the South Pacific in World War II. In the 1950's, he starred in numerous live TV dramas, on such shows as "The Alcoa Hour," "Philco Playhouse" and "Studio One." He also guest-starred on "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," "All in the Family," "Bonanza," "Gunsmoke," "Hogan's Heroes," "Rawhide" and "The Twilight Zone."

His movie resume included appearances as Angela Lansbury's husband in "Manchurian Candidate" and Elvis Presley's father in "Clambake."

© 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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