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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Feb. 25, 2003 at 3:53 PM   |   Comments

THE OSCAR BALLOTS ARE IN THE MAIL

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences put final ballots for the 75th Academy Awards in the mail to voting members Tuesday.

The mail drop was part of a special ceremony at the academy's headquarters in Beverly Hills, Calif., marking the first day of issue of the U.S. Postal Service's new "American Filmmaking: Behind the Scenes" postage stamps.

The new stamps are designed to honor behind-the-scenes artists and craftspeople who work on movies -- including art directors, cinematographers, costume designers, directors, film editors, writers and other filmmakers. Voting members who work in a craft represented by a stamp will receive their ballots in envelopes bearing that stamp.

For example, said the academy, directors such as Steven Spielberg, Penny Marshall and Ang Lee will receive ballots in envelopes with a stamp honoring directing. The stamp bears the image of the late director John Cassavetes -- whose widow, Gena Rowlands, attended the event in Beverly Hills Tuesday.

Completed ballots are due at the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers by 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 18. Auditors will tabulate the votes and the names of winners will be sealed in envelopes until they are opened at the Academy Awards on March 23.


MERYL STREEP'S PEACE STATEMENT

A publicist for Meryl Streep confirms that the actress will wear a specially designed "peace pin" to the Academy Awards show on March 23.

The pin -- designed by New York jewelry designer Henry Dunay -- was inspired by Pablo Picasso's "Dove of Peace."

The Los Angeles Times reported that the pin was the idea of Los Angeles-based designer-developer Xorin Balbes and journalist Cliff Rothman, who have put together an organization called Global Vision for Peace, intending to use the Oscars telecast as a forum to promote peace. The paper said Rothman insisted the gesture is not meant to be a protest against the threat of war or of President George W. Bush's policies.


ROB LOWE HEADING FOR 'SALEM'S LOT'

Turner Network Television announced Tuesday that Rob Lowe will star in a four-hour miniseries version of Stephen King's "Salem's Lot."

Mikael Salomon ("Band of Brothers") will direct from a script by Peter Filardi ("Flatliners," "The Craft").

Lowe will play Ben Mears, a journalist who returns to his hometown to look for clues about memories that have haunted him since his childhood. The small town's secrets turn to terror when a mysterious stranger shows up and reveals himself as a vampire looking to plant roots in the community.

"Salem's Lot" was made as a TV movie in 1979, starring David Soul and James Mason.


HOLLYWOOD'S SEASON OF THE WITCH

According to Daily Variety, Danny DeVito has agreed to direct "I Married a Witch," a remake of the 1942 Fredric March-Veronica Lake comedy.

Tom Cruise's company is producing the project, and Variety said Cruise is giving some thought to starring. The original told the story of a beautiful 17th-century woman who haunted a modern day man -- the descendant of a Puritan who sent her to her death.

The new project had at one time been envisioned as a vehicle for Cruise and Nicole Kidman, when they were still together. It still does not have a greenlight, but DeVito told Variety he hopes to begin production toward the end of the year.

There's also a report in Hollywood that Nora Ephron ("Sleepless in Seattle," "When Harry Met Sally") will write the screenplay for the upcoming movie version of the TV comedy "Bewitched" (1964-72), and may also direct the movie. Kidman is set to star as a witch who marries a mortal and finds it impossible to keep her promise not to use her magical powers to solve problems.

Meantime, there is word in The Hollywood Reporter that Kidman and Brad Pitt are in talks to star in "Mr. And Mrs. Smith," described as an action-adventure about a bored couple who are surprised to learn that they are enemy assassins -- each with a mission to whack the other.


DANIEL DAY-LEWIS' NEXT

Daniel Day-Lewis will keep it in the family for his next project, starring in "Rose and the Snake" for writer-director Rebecca Miller, who is also his wife.

Day-Lewis will play a man who tries to insulate his teenaged daughter from the modern world, largely by raising her on an island off the Pacific coast of Canada. Things get complicated when his lover and her two sons move in.

Miller-- whose father is Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller -- wrote and directed "Personal Velocity" last year. The movie is nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the upcoming IFP Independent Spirit Awards.

Day-Lewis is a nominee for the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as Bill the Butcher in "Gangs of New York."


MIKE NICHOLS' NEXT

Mike Nichols will direct the movie version of "Closer," Patrick Marber's award-winning play about the complicated personal politics of sex and marriage.

The play, which was named Best Comedy of 1997 by the Evening Standard and won the Time Out award for Best New Play, has been compared with Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" and Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."

Nichols received his first Oscar nomination for directing the 1966 screen version of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf." Marber wrote the screenplay for the movie version of "Closer."

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