A NEW RECORD
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Monday that 51 countries have submitted films for consideration as best foreign film.
That's a new record for entries in the category, beating the old record of 46, which was set last year. Only one film is accepted from each country.
The Academy's Foreign Language Film Award Committee will screen the entries beginning Nov. 28, before deciding on the five nominees that will be announced on Feb. 12, 2002 -- along with all the other nominees for the 74th Annual Academy Awards.
The committee is chaired by Oscar-winning producer, Mark Johnson ("Rain Man," "What Lies Beneath," "Galaxy Quest").
Films submitted for best foreign language film may also qualify for Oscars in most other categories. Six have won for foreign film and for other categories as well.
Last year's winner, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," also won for art direction, cinematography and original score. "Life Is Beautiful" -- which won for best foreign language film in 1998 -- also received the best actor award for its star and director, Roberto Benigni, and the award for best original dramatic score.
In 1963, "8 1/2" won for best foreign film, and also for best costume design. "A Man and a Woman" (1966) won for best foreign film and for best original screenplay.
In 1969, "Z" won for best foreign film and for film editing. The 1983 winner for best foreign film, "Fanny and Alexander," also won for costume design, cinematography and art direction.
WHO WILL HOST THE OSCARS?
So who will host the upcoming 74th Annual Academy Awards? Will it be Steve Martin, who got high marks for the job he did hosting the 73rd Oscars? Don't ask Martin.
"They just announced a new producer," said Martin in an interview with USA Today, "so I don't know."
Laura Ziskin was recently named to produce the telecast.
Martin suggested that part of the reason he succeeded on the show last March was that he didn't try to copy Billy Crystal -- who in recent years as established himself as one of the most popular Oscars emcees ever.
"I used Johnny Carson as my role model," said Martin. "I knew I couldn't do what Billy did. I did it exactly the way I wanted to. An eight-minute monologue, get off and get the show going."
The 74th Annual Academy Awards will be presented March 24, 2002 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland, in ceremonies to be televised live by ABC-TV.
'DHARMA' STAR WANTS NETWORK TO PUSH HARDER
Jenna Elfman wants ABC-TV to work a little harder on behalf of her half-hour comedy, "Dharma and Greg."
She told the New York Daily News she's already doing what she can to make the show work, but she thinks the network needs to do more to promote it.
Ratings have declined substantially for the show, now in its fifth year.
Some media analysts suggest that a major reason for the decline is that the network moved the show up from Tuesday at 9 p.m. to Tuesday at 8 p.m. Elfman thinks there's more to it than that -- in fact, she thinks ABC isn't doing enough to promote any of its top comedies.
"I think that our show, Drew Carey's show and 'Spin City' are the anchors of the comedy mantle of ABC," she said. "We have the responsibility of making a great show. The studio has to support us in helping us make the show, and it's the network's responsibility to promote us. If everybody does their job, you have success."
The paper reported that ABC executives said the network would use the upcoming Academy Awards telecast to promote the launch of new comedies.
TV SERIES COME AND GO
TV viewers will not be able to see "The Invisible Man" on the Sci Fi Channel after February, now that the cable channel has canceled the show after two seasons because it costs more to produce than it brings in through ad revenues.
When the series premiered in June 2000, it drew the highest rating ever for a premiere on Sci Fi. It performed well for its first few months on the air, but ratings fell off when Sci Fi moved it from Friday night to Monday night on the primetime schedule -- and it never recovered.
Showtime, on the other hand, has ordered 20 more episodes of the new action-drama series, "Street Time," starring Rob Morrow. Showtime has also decided to renew its original series, "Soul Food" and "Resurrection Blvd.," but has canceled two other original series, "Leap Years" and "Going to California."
Both canceled shows lasted only one season on Showtime.
HONORS FOR DUDLEY MOORE
The Oscar-nominated star of "Arthur" and "10" was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).
Although Moore suffers from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) -- a degenerative brain illness that has left him virtually speechless -- he still managed to celebrate the occasion, arriving at the palace in a 1954 Silver Wraith Rolls-Royce. That's the same make and model he rode in as "Arthur" in the 1981 comedy about an alcoholic playboy who must choose between love and money.
The 66-year-old London native established the Dudley Moore Research Fund for PSP, dedicated to the search for a cure for PSP.
Earlier this year, Moore released a CD -- "Dudley Moore: Live From An Aircraft Hangar" -- featuring himself on piano with the Dudley Moore Trio and the BBC Concert Orchestra in concert at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1992. Proceeds from the sale of the CD benefited Moore's research fund, as well as Music For All Seasons, Inc., a non-profit organization that takes live professional music into hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and children's institutions.
HOFFMAN'S DISNEY DEAL
According to a report in Daily Variety, Walt Disney Studios has signed a deal with Dustin Hoffman's production company -- Punch Prods. -- giving Disney first crack at distributing the company's projects.
Hoffman's company has such movies as "Tootsie," "Hook," "Wag the Dog" and "Hook" among its credits. Its latest project is "Goodbye Hello" -- described as a black comedy, starring Hoffman and Susan Sarandon in the story of a young man who lingers in the family home of his fiancée after her accidental death, and falls in love with another woman while the family is still grieving.
SCREEN ACTORS GUILD ELECTION CONTROVERSY
Supporters of Valerie Harper's campaign for president of the Screen Actors Guild scheduled a rally for Monday outside the union's Los Angeles headquarters, to press their demand for a full investigation into the election in which Melissa Gilbert beat Harper.
SAG is to begin this week looking into several challenges of the election's results. Some members allege the election was marked by corruption.
Harper told Daily Variety there was "a flagrant disregard of our regulations" in the process.
"This challenge is about running the election according to the rules," said the former star of "Rhoda," who lost by 1,588 votes to the former star of "Little House on the Prairie."
Gilbert and other winners of the Nov. 2 election were scheduled to take office Monday night.
The guild's elections committee plans to look into allegations that hundreds more ballots were counted in New York than were actually deposited at the guild's official post office box, that almost 25,000 New York ballots were improperly designed, and that there was an unannounced two-day extension for New York members to return their ballots.