OSCARS READY FOR WAR
The Academy Awards is set go on Sunday, but if the United States is at war the show will reflect the seriousness of the occasion.
At the same time, producers are leaving the door open to postponing the Oscars if that becomes necessary.
Months of speculation about the prospect of a U.S.-led war in Iraq came into sharp focus Monday when President George W. Bush ordered Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq by Wednesday -- or face an invasion at an unspecified time after that.
After Bush announced the ultimatum, Academy Awards telecast producer Gil Cates said in a prepared statement the show is "scheduled to proceed Sunday the 23rd at 5:30 p.m." But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and ABC -- which will televise the Oscars -- have reportedly been reviewing contingency plans in case executives conclude there is good reason to delay the ceremonies.
There is growing speculation if a war begins during the week, the telecast will go on as scheduled -- but if war begins on Sunday, the show will almost certainly be postponed.
The academy has postponed the Oscars three times -- in 1938 due to floods in Los Angeles; in 1968 due to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.; and in 1981 due to the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.
If a postponement becomes necessary this weekend, there is general agreement in Hollywood the make-up date would have to be either Monday or Tuesday -- since so many of the participants are only in Los Angeles for a limited time and would not be available for more than an extra day or two. Also, there is no guarantee that the Kodak Theatre -- the new home of the Academy Awards -- would be available on another night.
(Thanks to UPI's Pat Nason in Hollywood)
OTHER SHOWS FACE WAR CHALLENGES
The Oscars telecast is not the only challenge facing Hollywood this weekend as war seems to approach.
Studios have four major releases opening on Friday, and some executives are concerned Americans will be so preoccupied with TV coverage of the war movie attendance will be down.
New arrivals are "Boat Trip" starring Cuba Gooding Jr., "A View from the Top" starring Gwyneth Paltrow, "Dreamcatcher" starring Morgan Freeman, and "Piglet's Big Movie," the new animated feature from Disney.
CBS has a special challenge -- what to do if it has to pre-empt coverage of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament for coverage of the war. The network was said to be working on a deal with ESPN for the Disney-owned sports cable channel to carry the opening rounds of the tournament if necessary.
TNN -- like CBS, owned by Viacom -- would probably get some games too.
Then again, there might not be any games to televise. NCAA President Myles Brand said he is prepared to postpone games, out of respect for American men and women in uniform, if war breaks out this week.
HBO, GANDOLFINI SETTLE
Hollywood insiders say HBO and James Gandolfini have resolved their differences.
The settlement clears the way for production to begin on a fifth season of "The Sopranos."
Gandolfini, an Emmy-winner for his performance as mob boss Tony Soprano, has dropped his lawsuit against HBO and the parties appear ready to renegotiate his contract.
According to published reports, Gandolfini will get a new deal that will pay him more than twice what he is currently making -- variously reported at $300,000 to $400,000 per episode. Gandolfini will reportedly get more than HBO had been offering but less than he had demanded.
Gandolfini filed suit against HBO in Los Angeles March 6, claiming that the cable network did not notify him in a timely manner that work would begin on the show's fifth season. The suit claimed that Gandolfini was not obligated to work on the show.
Filming is now expected to begin around March 31.
(Thanks to UPI's Pat Nason in Hollywood)
SHARON OSBORNE TREATED FOR HEAT EXHAUSTION
Reality TV star Sharon Osborne was treated at a Los Vegas hospital for heat exhaustion.
The incident happened Friday night while she watched her rocker husband Ozzy perform at Vegas' Hard Rock Cafe.
The Osbornes' spokesperson confirmed cancer survivor Sharon went to the hospital because she "felt faint", but was released shortly after with a clean bill of health.
'HOURS' ROLE WAS 'EVOLUTION' ANTIDOTE
For Julianne Moore, the need to balance Hollywood blockbusters with more intellectual fare is something "I instinctively crave."
Explaining how she loves to follow a light roll in a frothy film like the alien comedy "Evolution" with a more dramatic turn, the 42-year-old actress describes acting in period roles in "The Hours" and "Far from Heaven" as
"I find I really need that," she told United Press International.
Moore earned Oscar nominations for her performances in both "The Hours" and "Far From Heaven".
OSCAR GIFT BAG WORTH $20,000
Nominees, winners and presenters at Sundays 75th Academy Award Ceremony will be given gift bags worth approximately $20,000.
Included in the goodie bags will be a camera phone, gift certificates for dinner parties for 10 at Mortons Steakhouse and bicoastal memberships to Sports Club LA, Sesna sunglasses, beauty products, a jewel-encrusted
compact, as well as the usual T-shirts and trips to Switzerland.
CAGE STILL WANTS TO SHOCK
Oscar-nominated actor Nicolas Cage says he still likes to shock his audiences after all these years.
"I like that, I want a response. I want a reaction," he admitted to UPI in a recent interview.
So, how does he go about finding material like the zany comedy "Adaptation," which does just that?
"It's just that I read stuff and I react to it in my own way and it starts a mechanism in me going and I go: 'Well, that's different. That's exciting. I haven't seen that before. I want to do that.' It's just the natural attraction to something," he explained.
BENICIO: I'D RATHER BE READING
Benicio Del Toro says he loves being an actor, but if truth be told he'd rather not work at all.
The Oscar-winning star of "Traffic" and "The Usual Suspects" told reporters in New York he enjoyed making his new thriller "The Hunted," but added, "I'd rather not be working to be honest with you... I read. I listen to music. Paint a little. I haven't painted in a while."
Asked if the movies producers had to drag him into the project, he added: "Not like that, but when you work there are all kinds of deadlines and pressures and 'hurry up...' I like working, but I'd rather do one thing and then take my time to do the other one."