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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   March 19, 2003 at 4:34 PM   |   Comments

TIGHT SECURITY FOR OSCARS

Security at the 75th Academy Awards in Hollywood this weekend will be the tightest in Oscar history, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

John Miller -- the head of the Los Angeles Police Department's new homeland security bureau -- told the paper that there will be no safer place for celebrities, or any else for that matter, than the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard Sunday evening.

"On that night, in that place, they are probably safer than any other place they can be," said Miller.

The Times reported that officials "familiar with the security plans for the Academy Awards" said more than 1,000 local, state, federal and private security personnel would be on the job. They'll get help for the first time from closed-circuit TV cameras that will enable police to keep an eye on all streets around the Kodak.

The 9th Civil Support Team from the National Guard -- which has worked the Super Bowl and World Series, and is trained to respond to chemical, biological and radiological attacks -- will also be assigned to the Academy Awards. Bomb-sniffing dogs will be on duty.

On top of all that, the Times reported, virtually anyone who has clearance to enter the awards area -- including limousine drivers and theater staff -- has cleared background checks conducted by the FBI.

The LAPD has issued a permit allowing up to 2,000 people to participate in an anti-war demonstration a few blocks away from the Kodak Theatre.


ELIZABETH TAYLOR DISCUSSES RETIREMENT

Elizabeth Taylor, who is scheduled to appear at the 75th Academy Awards on Sunday, has told "Access Hollywood" that it will be her "swan song on the stage."

Taylor said her appearance will come at the end of the telecast, as past Oscar winners walk across the stage. Taylor won the Best Actress Oscar twice -- for "Butterfield 8" (1960) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966).

She told "Access Hollywood" she plans to dedicate the rest of her life to activism on behalf of AIDS-related causes.

"I've retired from acting," she said. "It doesn't really interest me much anymore. It seems kind of superficial because now my life is AIDS, not acting."

Taylor also endorsed the decision by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to do away with the red carpet arrivals.

"I'm glad," she said. "I think it's frivolous. I've never done it. I've always avoided it because you get pushed around so."

On second thought Taylor said she may have done the red carpet thing once, with her husband Mike Todd, because he wanted to.


STARS LINE UP FOR OSCARS

Producers announced Wednesday that Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah will perform "I Move On" from "Chicago" on the 75th Academy Awards telecast Sunday.

Both women are nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the hit movie version of the Kander-Ebb musical.

Producers previously announced that Paul Simon would perform his Oscar-nominated song "Mother and Daughter" from "The Wild Thornberrys Movie"; U2 will perform "The Hands that Built America" from "Gangs of New York"; and Lila Downs and Caetano Veloso will perform "Burn It Blue" from "Frida." There have been published reports that Eminem had already decided not to perform his nominated song "Lose Yourself" from "8 Mile," but the academy has not announced yet who will perform the song.

Producers did announce Wednesday that Oscar-nominated actress Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth ") will be a presenter Sunday. It will be the second appearance as a presenter for the star of "Bandits" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."


QUEEN LATIFAH'S NEXT

Disney has reportedly bought a romantic comedy screenplay, with plans for Oscar-nominated actress Queen Latifah to produce and star in it.

According to Daily Variety, "Just Wright" is something of a Cinderella story. It would feature Latifah as a physical therapist assigned to help a basketball star recover from a career-threatening injury. The guy falls for her.

It was written by Michael Elliott -- best known for writing the 2002 features "Brown Sugar" and "Like Mike" and the MTV movie "Carmen: A Hip Hopera."

Elliott said he got the idea to write the story for Latifah as he watched her walk down the red carpet at the Golden Globes and heard a woman say: "Why doesn't someone put her in a romantic comedy?"

Elliott said Nia Vardalos proved in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" that actresses don't have to look like Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan or Halle Berry to appeal to women moviegoers.

"They don't usually give actresses like Latifah those films," he said, "but as I looked around the room, most of the women there didn't look like Halle Berry."


'BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE' DIRECTOR GETS NEW GIGS

On the heels of his commercial success with "Bringing Down the House," director Adam Shankman is said to be in talks to direct a movie version of "The Jetsons."

Shankman is getting pretty busy, after the Steve Martin-Queen Latifah comedy finished No. 1 in its first two weeks at the U.S. box office. He's also been brought on board for a remake of "Topper," the 1937 comedy starring Cary Grant and Constance Bennett as a fun-loving couple who discover that they have died -- and decide to haunt a friend of theirs.

"The Jetsons" will be based on the Hannah-Barbera '60s animated TV series -- which was previously adapted for the screen in a 1990 animated feature.


CASTING NOTES

Vince Vaughn ("Old School") and Michael C. Hall ("Six Feet Under") have some new gigs on their calendars.

The Hollywood Reporter said Wednesday that Vaughn will star in the comedy "No Place Like Home" as a young man with everything but a decent relationship with his parents. That turns out to be a problem when he breaks up with his girlfriend and his life falls apart -- and he has to move back in with the folks.

The Reporter said Hall is joining Ben Affleck in the cast of "Paycheck" for director John Woo. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, it's the story of a man (Affleck) who -- upon finishing a two-year job -- has his memory erased and is left with just a few clues to help him figure out where the time went.

Hall will play an FBI agent investigating the man.

© 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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