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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   March 6, 2003 at 2:57 PM   |   Comments

WRITERS ADD VOICE TO 'BLACKLIST' WARNING

The Writers Guild of America, west, has joined actors and stagehands unions in warning of possible blacklisting of Hollywood figures for opposing war in Iraq.

"All Americans, whether we are actors, writers, doctors, accountants, farmers or members of our armed services, share fundamental liberties," said WGAw President Victoria Riskin. "One of those is the right to speak out in our town halls and communities on the issues of the day."

In separate statements Monday, the Screen Actors Guild and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees raised the specter of the Hollywood blacklist -- the term associated with the House Committee on Un-American Activities investigation of communism in the movie industry in the 1950s.

Riskin said Americans not only have a right to speak out, but also a duty to join the debate over going to war in Iraq.

"It would be a sad day if we forgot the lessons of the recent past in our country and punished those who choose to add their voice to the national discussion," she said. "Whether an individual chooses to support the current Administration's course, oppose it or advocate a different path -- we must allow and protect the free flow of ideas."


KELLEY PLANNING A JAB AT 'REALITY'

David E. Kelley is planning to use "The Practice" to lambaste reality TV and the networks' fascination with it.

According to Daily Variety, Kelley has written a story for his Emmy-winning legal drama in which CBS President Leslie Moonves is taken hostage by a deranged woman who then pitches the kidnapping to CBS as the basis for a reality show.

Variety said Moonves -- a former actor who has made cameo appearances on other shows -- has agreed to do the episode, titled "Les Is More." Variety said Fox executive Sandy Grushow will also be in the episode, which -- according to insiders -- calls for Fox to offer a way to get Moonves released, and for Fox to make a few bucks in the bargain.

NBC entertainment chief Jeff Zucker is also said to be considering appearing in the episode, which is reported to be equally critical of all the networks.


MORE PRESSURE ON CBS OVER 'HILLBILLIES'

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., has joined the campaign to talk CBS out of plans to move a family from Appalachia to Beverly Hills for reality TV entertainment.

In a letter to CBS President Les Moonves, Rogers objected to what he called the network's intention to get "cheap laughs and big bucks at the expense of rural Americans," if it goes ahead with plans for "The Real Beverly Hillbillies."

Rogers told Moonves the show would be an insult to millions of Americans living in Appalachia.

"Despite the progress we have made, many people, including you, continue to believe the long-since outdated and erroneous stereotype that Appalachians are lazy, uneducated, barefooted hicks," said Rogers.

U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga., and Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, have previously called on CBS to drop plans for the show. CBS has not formally committed to airing "The Real Beverly Hillbillies," but has reportedly been scouting in Appalachia for a family that might be sufficiently entertaining.


OSCAR BUSINESS IS GOOD FOR ABC

ABC has sold out its inventory of commercial time for the upcoming Oscars telecast, with 30-second spots going for an average of $1.35 million.

The network said Wednesday that it will collect a record $78.3 million in ad revenue for the March 23 telecast.


HOSTS LINE UP FOR PRE-OSCAR SHOW

Jann Carl, Chris Connelly, Jim Moret and Shaun Robinson will co-host "Oscar Countdown 2003" the red carpet lead-in to the Academy Awards on ABC on March 23.

It's the fourth arrivals show assignment for Connelly, the host of ESPN's "Unscripted with Chris Connelly" and correspondent for "20/20." It's the third Oscars pre-show for Moret, the former co-anchor on CNN's "Showbiz Today" who has gone on to host several ABC TV specials.

It's the first Oscar Night gig for Carl and Robinson. Carl is in her eighth season as a correspondent-anchor for "Entertainment Tonight." Robinson is weekend anchor and reporter for "Access Hollywood."

The pre-show -- originating from the red carpet outside the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood -- will begin at 8 p.m. EST and lead directly into the 75th Anniversary Academy Awards 8:30 p.m.


CASTING NOTES

Alan Bates and Charlotte Rampling will join Michael Caine in the cast of "The Statement," the upcoming political thriller being directed by Norman Jewison.

Producers also announced that John Neville ("The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," "The Fifth Element") and Matt Craven ("The Life of David Gale," "A Few Good Men") will also be in the picture, along with Jeremy Northam ("Martin and Lewis," "Gosford Park") and Tilda Swinton ("Adaptation," "The Deep End").

Jewison -- the Oscar-winning director of "Moonstruck" and "In the Heat of the Night" -- will direct from a screenplay by Ronald Harwood, based on the Brian Moore novel about a former Nazi executioner pursued by assassins and police investigators. Harwood is nominated for a screenwriting Oscar for his adaptation of "The Pianist."

© 2003 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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