Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   March 20, 2003 at 3:00 AM   |   0 comments

NO RED CARPET ARRIVALS AT OSCARS

For the first time in 75 years, Oscar organizers have canceled the glitzy red-carpet arrivals of Hollywood's hottest stars.

Sunday's telecast will go on as scheduled, however, despite a possible war between the United States and Iraq, they promised.

Academy president Frank Pierson said he nixed the pre-ceremony event after much deliberation, explaining it seems "inappropriate" to invite film stars to saunter down the carpet in their finery while American troops might be fighting in Iraq.

"We are all at the mercy of the winds of war," Pierson stated.

Celebrities and organizers of Oscar after-parties also have also they plan to dress and celebrate less lavishly this year.


SALMA: 'FRIDA' NOT EASY TO GET MADE

Actress Salma Hayek says she dreamed for years about playing Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.

Unfortunately, she says, American studios were not interested in making a film about her until Madonna said what a huge fan she was of her work.

"I had them working on this project six years before," Hayek recalled, adding that their were several other Frida projects in the works at that time. "The truth is that Madonna was going to do it way before and then gave up on it. I'm really grateful to Madonna because she took interest in this Mexican artist very early on before people knew about Frida. And because everyone wants to know what Madonna is doing, it brought a lot of attention to this character that later on helped us get this movie made, so if anything, I am grateful for her appreciating her art and her culture."

"Frida," which earned Hayek an Oscar nomination and co-starred Antonio Banderas and Ashley Judd, was released in theaters in late 2002.


FREEMAN GETS STAR ON WALK OF FAME

Morgan Freeman was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The 65-year-old "Dreamcatcher" and "Driving Miss Daisy" star described the event as serendipity and declared the award a "gift."

Freeman has appeared in nearly 50 films, including "Nurse Betty," "Deep Impact," and "The Shawshank Redemption."


SIGOURNEY WEAVER ON 'HOLES' ROLE

The warden in the award-winning book "Holes" is hardly likable, but Sigorney Weaver refuses to see her as simply a villain.

"What touched me about her story," explains the star of "Gorillas in the Mist" and "Working Girl", "is that, like Stanley the boy this happens to, she never has a childhood.

"She has her own curse on her family where she has to find this wretched treasure that might be nothing, and she has sort of devoted her life to that and hasn't had (a childhood) either and it's turned her into this sort of a desert creature -- very hard and very soft at the same time. So, to me, it was a very interesting arc. At the end, I think she's quite childlike," Weaver says.

Based on Louis Sacher's popular 1999 children's book, "Holes" is the story of teenager Stanley Yelnats (Shia-La-Beous) who is wrongly accused of stealing a pair of sneakers and remanded to a Texas detention camp where an evil warden (Weaver) forces him and other inmates to dig holes as a "character-building experience." Chaos ensues when Stanley questions why the warden and her henchmen want to know if they find anything "special" in all those holes they are digging.

Weaver says she began work on "Holes" right after production wrapped on "The Guys," a film based on Anne Nelson's play about a writer (Weaver) helping a fire captain (Anthony LaPaglia) as he struggles to pen eulogies for eight of his men lost on Sept. 11, 2001.

After addressing such serious and dramatic issues, Weaver admits she was relieved to act in a lighter project -- even if it did require her to play a villain for the first time on screen.

"It's such a wonderful book and I'm such a big fan of it and Louis wrote the screenplay," she says. "It's very hard, I think, to combine all that sort of mythology and mystery with the work camp, but I think it's got a wonderful cast (who pull it off). Jon Voight and Tim Blake Nelson and I play the three bad guys and I'd never really played a bad guy before. It was hard actually... As a mother, I found it difficult to be that beastly to the boy and she's pretty beastly."

"Holes" comes to theaters in April.

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