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Hollywood Digest

By
DENNIS DAILY, United Press International

QUEEN ELIZABETH HONORS CHRISTOPHER LEE

He's now officially a CBE -- Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Movie star Christopher Lee, best known to many film-goers as Count Dracula, has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

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Published reports indicate that the 79-year-old character actor was honored for his contributions to British drama and his 55 years in the movie business and theater.

Lee is best known for his long association with Hammer Productions. He was with the company from its inception when it produced "The Curse of Frankenstein" in 1957.

He's played everything in the meanwhile from Henry Baskerville to Fu Manchu.


'HANNIBAL' STAR MOORE JOINS REVLON

The Revlon cosmetics people could not have picked a prettier actress to be its new spokeswoman. The company says that Julianne Moore, an overnight star from her role as FBI agent Clarice Starling in "Hannibal," has been tapped to hawk its products.

Revlon's CEO tells USA Today that Moore is "the perfect example of today's modern woman ... a beautiful, respected actress and dedicated mother."

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Moore is a native of the Carolinas and turns 40 next month. She was nominated for an Oscar for her roles in "The End of the Affair" and "Boogie Nights." Her next film, "The Shipping News," is due out in a few weeks.


JENNIFER LOPEZ'S FIRST CONCERT AIRED

Actress-singer -- or is it singer-actress? -- Jennifer Lopez wanted to do her first major staged-for-TV concert in the November warmth of Puerto Rico. NBC said "yes." Tuesday night millions watched as Lopez sang and danced her way through two hours of performances and several genres of music.

The special came from editing two nights of concerts held recently at the Jose Clemente Coliseum in San Juan.

Her new husband, choreographer-dancer Cris Judd, served as artistic director for the project, a high-energy affair replete with soul and Latin rhythms. USA Today says the show included 11 dancers, five backup singers and six full costume changes.


RE-INVENTING THE PSYCHE OF STEVE MARTIN

In the minds of many, Steve Martin is a predictable comic. That's not necessarily a criticism. Look at the popularity of even "one trick ponies" such as the Three Stooges. But, according to many critics -- including Barry Koltnow, writing in the Orange County (Calif.) Register -- a new, more-mature Steve Martin is emerging.

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In his latest movie effort, "Novocaine," Martin plays a dentist "caught up in a web of murder and intrigue." But even as his style has changed, he makes no apologies for his past performances. He tells Koltnow that "stupid comedy is never out (of style)."

But he says he's never really acted stupid in his roles, only playing off stupid situations to the best effect.


HOLLYWOOD APPEALING TO LOWEST COMMINALITY?

The magic of Hollywood may be in its power to draw from our depths the things we find the most familiar and replay them again and again and again and again. Patrick Goldstein, writing in the Los Angeles Times, says that today's moviemakers are doing more than appealing to the lowest common denominator in American society. They are not only tugging at our heartstrings but are strumming those strings with a recurring litany of familiar tunes. And the "music" is the fabric of our very culture.

Goldstein says that Hollywood loves to play on "franchises," whether it be in the remakes of Batman -- realizing that the gimickery of the franchise is more important than the star du jour playing the lead -- or the use of hit songs of the past to get our adolescent juices flowing anew.

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It many not be that every new movie takes up where the last one left off, but Tinseltown's ability to instantly "bring us up to speed" is an old art. Eric Blore enters a scene in an RKO flick and we now immediately evrything we need to know about his character, saving lots of plot exposition time; Jimmy Stewart always played himself; Jack Benny could tell if somone had borrowed a quarter from his pocket because his pants felt too light. It's why Hollywood loves to produce sequels. But, often it takes the audience two or three of them to wonder why they didn't leave well enough alone.


U.K. BOARD: SCARY 'LORD OF RINGS' OK FOR KIDS

Much to the delight of the producers of the first "Lord of the Rings" movie, the film has been given a much softer rating than some think it deserves. Many parents will be troubled to learn that the movie -- according to the BBC, peppered with "sometimes frightening content" -- has been given a PG, not the expected 12 rating in the U.K. by Britain's film reviewers.

What that essentially means is that backers of the movie can be assured that it can compete on a level playing field with the new Harry Potter movie, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

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"The Fellowship of the Rings," the first movie in a new series based on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkein, is due to open on Dec. 19. Incidentally, the pre-release hype has pushed "The Lord of the Rings" back onto many book best-seller lists.

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