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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   May 6, 2003 at 4:48 PM   |   Comments

MORE OPRAH

Oprah Winfrey has changed her mind about ending her syndicated TV show in 2006 and is closing a deal to run through 2008, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Citing sources, the paper said talks have been going on quietly for several weeks, involving Winfrey, the show's syndicator King World, and the seven ABC owned-and-operated TV stations that carry the show. According to the report, TV stations will pay "significantly higher license fees" to get two more years of the highest-rated TV talk show in syndication.

Winfrey said last year she would stop doing the show at the end of the 2005-06 season.


WHO'S THE GREATEST?

British film fans have declared that Al Pacino is the greatest movie star of all time.

Pacino, who won the Best Actor Oscar for "Scent of a Woman," came in just ahead of Robert De Niro, who won two Best Actor Oscars -- for "The Godfather" and "Raging Bull."

A pair of two-time Oscar winners -- Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia," "Forrest Gump") and Kevin Spacey ("The Usual Suspects," "American Beauty") -- finished third and fourth, respectively. Harrison Ford -- who does not have an Oscar, but does own box-office bragging rights for three "Star Wars" movies and the Indiana Jones trilogy -- finished at No. 5.

The rest of the Top 10 are: Jack Nicholson, Anthony Hopkins, Sean Connery, Ewan McGregor and the late Cary Grant.

The highest-ranking actress in the poll, conducted by Britain's Channel 4, was Audrey Hepburn at No. 13.


HONORS FOR ANTHONY HOPKINS

Organizers have announced that the 2003 Maui Film Festival will present Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins with the Silversword Award Tribute next month.

The festival will be held at Wailea from June 11-15. Hopkins will receive the award on June 13.

The prize is named after a rare local plant said to have unique strength and spiritual power. It is presented to honor film artists "for their contributions to the art of filmmaking and their personal commitment to affect positive change in the world."

The Maui festival presented the Silversword Award to Oscar-winning director-producer-actor Clint Eastwood last year.

Hopkins won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991). His other film credits include "Howard's End," "Legends of the Fall," "Nixon" and "Red Dragon."


WHAT HE REALLY WANTS TO DO ...

Eric McCormack will make his feature directing debut "What You Wish For," which he will also write and star in, according to a report in Daily Variety.

The Emmy-winning star of "Will & Grace" struck a deal with Disney to make the movie, after showing executives there a 23-minute film that he wrote and directed. The executives liked the short film so much that they asked McCormack if he had something in mind for a feature.

He did.

McCormack pitched an idea that originated with his wife, assistant director Janet Holden ("Mr. Magoo," "The Edge").

"It's about a normal married Midwestern couple whose marriage is turned upside down because of a celebrity sex fantasy," McCormack said. "The idea is, no matter how happy a person is with his partner, there's that one hot actress or athlete you'd allow them to sleep with, knowing it would never happen. Here, it happens."


RONALD REAGAN'S MCCARTHY-ERA FOOTNOTE

Newly disclosed details about the McCarthy era include an interesting moment in the career of former President Ronald Reagan.

Donald A. Ritchie, a U.S. Senate associate historian, told the Washington Post that when Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., was looking for communists on the payrolls of defense contractors, he called so many witnesses from General Electric Co. that the company began to worry about its public image.

"GE became so worried they started a television program -- 'General Electric Theater' -- to polish the company's public image," Ritchie said. "To host the program, they hired a movie actor known for rooting communists out of the Screen Actors Guild. 'GE Theater' gave him weekly exposure before the public, where he often talked about the communist menace. His name was Ronald Reagan."


NELL CARTER DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES

Emmy- and Tony-winning singer-actress Nell Carter died of natural causes, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said Tuesday.

Carter died on Jan. 23 at 54, after collapsing at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. Lt. Cheryl MacWillie of the coroner's office said an autopsy had determined that Carter probably died of arteriosclerotic heart disease and complications from diabetes.

Best known as the wisecracking but warm housekeeper on the hit TV comedy "Gimme a Break," Carter won a Tony in 1978 for "Ain't Misbehavin'" for featured role in a musical. She went on to win an Emmy for the show's 1982 TV revival.

Carter -- who was instantly recognizable by her short stature (4-ft., 11-inches) and her "plus-size" figure -- was nominated for the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series in 1982 and 1983 for "Gimme a Break."

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