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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   May 28, 2003 at 1:33 PM   |   Comments

AND THEY'RE OFF!

It seems like they just gave out the Oscars, but the 76th Annual Academy Awards competition is already under way.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences mailed application forms on Tuesday for the 2003 Scientific and Technical Awards. To be considered, achievements must show "exceptional merit and evidence of having provided significant advances" in filmmaking.

"We want to begin compiling a list of achievements that can be considered by the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee for recognition at the 76th Academy Awards," said Academy Visual Effects Branch Governor Richard Edlund, who chairs the awards committee.

Edlund won a Scientific and Engineering Award in 1986 and won visual effects Oscars in 1983 ("Return of the Jedi"), 1981 ("Raiders of the Lost Ark") and 1977 ("Star Wars"). He is known for his visual effects work on such hit movies as "Air Force One" (1997), "Die Hard" (1988) and "Poltergeist (1982).

Entry applications must be submitted to the Academy no later than Friday, Aug. 1. The awards are presented as plaques and certificates -- not the world-famous Oscar statuette.


BILL MURRAY SHARPENS HIS CLAWS

Bill Murray has signed to do the voice of Garfield the Cat in the upcoming live action movie based on the popular comic strip.

Daily Variety reported Wednesday that Murray will join Breckin Meyer ("Road Trip") and Jennifer Love Hewitt ("Party of Five") in the story of the droll cat who is smarter than his owner and way smarter than the dog he shares the house with.

It's being directed by Peter Hewitt ("Tom and Huck," "The Borrowers") from a screenplay by Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow -- two of the credited writers on "Toy Story" (1995).


NEW BARBRA STREISAND ALBUM?

Gossip columnist Liz Smith reported Wednesday that Barbra Streisand is recording a new album, featuring her favorite movie songs.

One song included in the set is the bitter-sweet "Smile," composed by Charlie Chaplin for "Modern Times."

Smith said the song is especially meaningful for Streisand, because she recorded it two days after her dog Sammy -- a white Bichon Frisé -- died of cancer. Streisand picked up the dog at a Los Angeles pet shop in 1994, two days before the shop was destroyed in the Northridge earthquake.


AVRIL LAVIGNE GOES HOLLYWOOD

Pop star Avril Lavigne's hit song "Sk8er Boi" is getting the big screen treatment, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The song tells the story of a young girl who likes a skater boy but brushes him off because her friends don't like him. She lives to regret her choice when he becomes a rock star.

Paramount Pictures has hired David Zabel ("Dark Angel," "ER") to turn the song into a feature film. The movie will be co-produced by MTV Films, which -- like Paramount -- is owned by Viacom, Inc.


CELEBRITY JUDGES ANNOUNCED FOR 'FAME'

NBC has announced that Carnie Wilson, JoJo and Johnny Wright will be celebrity judges for "Fame," the new talent search show that premieres Wednesday night.

'NSync's Joey Fatone will host, and Emmy-winning singer-dancer-choreographer Debbie Allen will head up the search for the best undiscovered multi-talented performers from across the country. Allen recruited performers age 16 and up, then put them through a "boot camp" to get them ready for the prime time competition.

The show is scheduled to run for four weeks, with celebrity judges narrowing down the choices to a group of finalists -- and TV viewers choosing the winner in the end.

Carnie Wilson and her sister Wendy and friend Chynna Phillips formed the '90s pop group Wilson Phillips -- which sold 10 million copies of their self-titled debut album. Carnie Wilson also hosted a TV talk show, but her greatest fame probably came as a result of her well-publicized bout with weight -- as she went from 300 pounds to 145 pounds with the help of surgery.

JoJo is a Los Angeles deejay who has also appeared on TV specials on MTV, NBC and the WB. Wright is a manager who has worked with Backstreet Boys, 'NSync, Britney Spears and Sean "Puffy" Combs.


CYNDY GARVEY BACK ON THE TUBE

Veteran TV host Cyndy Garvey returns to national TV in June with a new weekly syndicated show, "Totally Pets."

Garvey is best known as one of the co-hosts of "AM Los Angeles," the local morning show that featured Regis Philbin before he went on to star in "Live with Regis & Kathie Lee." Garvey also co-hosted "The Morning Show" with Philbin in New York.

Producers said "Totally Pets" will focus on domestic pets, with guest appearances by celebrity animals and celebrities and their pets.

Garvey -- formerly married to retired major league baseball player Steve Garvey -- said in a press release announcing the new show that she has always been "a big animal person."

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