EILEEN HECKART DIES OF CANCER
Oscar winner Eileen Heckart has died in Connecticut after a three-year battle with cancer. A spokesman for the family confirmed the death. Heckart was nominated for an Oscar (for best supporting actress) early in her movie career for her role in "The Bad Seed," opposite Nancy Kelly, Henry Jones and Patty McCormick. Heckart had brought her original Broadway portrayal of Hortense Daigle to Hollywood and instantly won national acclaim as well as the nomination. The movie, directed by the legendary Mervyn LeRoy, is a must-see film on many movie lists.
In 1972 Heckart would win an Oscar for her role as Mrs. Baker in "Butterflies are Free," with Goldie Hawn and Edward Albert. She also was awarded two Emmys and a special lifetime Tony award. Other movie successes included "Miracle in the Rain," opposite Jane Wyman and Van Johnson; "Somebody Up There Likes Me" with Paul Newman; "Bus Stop" with Marilyn Monroe. Her voice and demeanor were perfect for playing character roles.
The Internet database imdb.com notes that she began her TV career in 1948 with early appearances in live dramas. She made more than 40 major guest appearances in that medium and was in more than 40 memorable movies. By the way, Heckart -- like many actresses -- had her ups and downs in Hollywood. After winning her first Academy Award she had to sign up for welfare benefits for a while. Eileen Heckart would have been 83 in March.
MEADOWS JOINS CAST OF NEW SITCOM
NBC confirms that an alumnus of "Saturday Night Live," Tim Meadows, will be joining the cast of a new comedy to be added to the Peacock Network's mid-season lineup. The new project is from the same writer as the highly acclaimed "Sex and the City," Jenny Bicks.
The network says that Meadows will be the boss of the title character in the sitcom. He will work at an ad agency. He is being tapped to appear in the majority of the episodes commissioned for the run, seven. Meadows has an option to stay on if the project and his character pan out.
'RINGS' MOVIE TOPS AT BOX OFFICE
The sensational new movie "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring" continues to keep its grip on the American box office. The Hollywood Reporter, in its latest on-line edition, says that "New Line Cinema found a perfect way to ring in the new year" with the movie. "Rings" is No. 1 at cinemas for the second week in a row, taking in nearly $60 million over the holiday weekend.
The movie has a comfortable lead over the highly hyped, big star action movie "Ocean's Eleven."
Rounding out the top four grossers were Paramount's "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" and "Ali," the biopic about former boxing champ Muhammad Ali. The movie, starring Will Smith, has not been the box office success many promoters had hoped and it's playing to mixed reviews, but it has taken in an estimated $20 million. Additionally, the portrayal of Howard Cosell by actor Jon Voight is said to be Oscar material.
2001 BOX OFFICE RECEIPTS SET RECORD
Balance the reluctance of many to congregate in theaters after the events of Sept. 11 with the late-in-the-year release of several blockbuster movies -- including "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" and "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring" -- and 2001 has set box office records.
According to industry trackers, the combined gross in America's theaters in the year just completed crosses the $8 billion mark for the first time.
It's been more than 40 years since so many people bought tickets in a single year. In spite of the nervousness of moviegoers after Sept. 11, it was the fourth quarter of 2001 that turned the tide for Hollywood producers, fearing that the year would be a flop -- as many movies were.
Meanwhile, many theaters continued to close their doors, due to financial problems caused, in many cities, by just too many screens. There are 600 fewer theaters open today as were open one year ago on this date.
AFI MAKES FIRST-EVER NOMINATIONS
The venerable American Film Institute has announced the nominations for its first-ever awards ceremonies to be held in a few days. The AFI says that its new awards show will honor the year's achievements in both film and television.
Among those up for kudos: "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring," "A Beautiful Mind," "Mulholland Drive" and "Moulin Rouge."
The majority of the accolades, according to movies.com, went to "Monster's Ball" and "In the Bedroom."