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Oscar ceremony postponed by shooting

By
VERNON SCOTT

HOLLYWOOD -- A shocked Hollywood Monday postponed for 24 hours its biggest party, the annual Academy Awards, because of the shooting of President Reagan, who had been scheduled to help open the show.

It was only the third postponement in Academy history, but the second time in 13 years that political violence had canceled the Oscar ceremony.

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Setting aside the tradition of 'the show must go on,' the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the postponement of the 53rd annual show because of the attempted assassination of Reagan, an actor turned president and one of its own.

'In deference to the tragedy in Washington,' the ceremony was rescheduled from Monday night to 7 p.m. PST (10 p.m. EST) Tuesday night, said the show's producer, Norman Jewison.

The ceremony had been postponed a week in 1938 due to disastrous flooding and for two days in 1968 because of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

'I am terribly shaken up by this,' reacted Gregory Peck, who as president of the academy ordered the postponement in 1968.

'I have a lump in my throat the size of a grapefruit. It brings to mind the horrors of the Kennedys, John Lennon and Martin Luther King.'

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The ceremony was to begin with a speech by Reagan videotaped in the White House more than three weeks ago, noting the worldwide impact of the Oscars.

Jewison said there was still a possibility Reagan's remarks would be part of the postponed ceremony.

'The decision whether to use the videotape will be made tomorrow by the White House,' Jewison said.

'It's absolutely the right thing to postpone our show,' said Jack Lemmon, a nominee for the best actor award.

'It's supposed to be a gala occasion. Our thoughts should not be on such an affair. When I heard the news I found myself crying and wondering what the hell is going on in what seems to be a crazy world.

'It's bloody awful.'

Best actress nominee Goldie Hawn called on 'all people regardless of their political persuasions to pray for the man and also mankind.'

'I wasn't shocked, which is shocking in itself,' said Shirley MacLaine, a liberal activist devoted to causes opposed to Reagan's conservative philosophy.

'I feel the way Walter Cronkite did a few minutes ago when he said from Moscow on TV that he does not know how to answer questions about what kind of a democracy this society is that allows this to happen.'

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A spokesman for Frank Sinatra, a personal and political friend of Reagan's, said Sinatra 'is too overcome by the shocking situation to talk about it.'

'I am profoundly shocked,' said Peter O'Toole, another best actor nominee.

Reagan had been invited to take part in the ceremony 'as a former member of the industry,' the first participation by a U.S. president in the Oscar awards since Franklin D. Roosevelt joined in by radio in 1941. Reagan's address was to set the theme of the show, 'Film is Forever.'

Although he was never nominated, it would have been Reagan's fifth appearance at the Academy Awards.

He first took part in 1947 when he appeared as president of the Screen Actor's Guild. He was a commentator when the ceremony was first televised in 1953, and last appeared when he presented the technical awards in 1958.

A highlight of the show was to be presentation of a special Oscar to Henry Fonda, honoring a half century of 'brilliant accomplishments and enduring contribution to the art of motion pictures.'

There was an indication that Robert De Niro -- a front runner for the best actor award who was expected to ignore the Oscar ceremony -- would attend after all.

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De Niro, expected to win the best actor award for his portrayal of boxer Jake LaMotta in 'Raging Bull,' was expected to be a no-show in the tradition of George C. Scott and Marlon Brando. He did not attend the three previous Academy Award ceremonies at which he was a nominee.

An academy spokesman said De Niro's tickets were picked up, and the academy was told De Niro, a New Yorker, was in Los Angeles and planned to remain for the rescheduled Oscar ceremony.

The big winner for the night was expected to be 'Ordinary People,' a moving story of family tensions that was favored to take the best picture award in a showdown with 'Raging Bull.'

'Ordinary People' was also expected to win an Oscar for Robert Redford in his directorial debut, and perhaps take the best actress award for Mary Tyler Moore.

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