THE OSCAR NOMINATIONS
The annual ritual of guessing which movies and filmmakers will snag Oscar nominations is about to come to a close -- just in time for the beginning of the ritual of guessing which pictures and artists will win the Oscars.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will unveil the nominations for the 74th Academy Awards on Tuesday morning (8:30 EST), in an announcement timed for maximum coverage by the morning TV news shows.
It wasn't very many weeks ago that no movie stood out as a clear favorite, and that this year's Oscar glory seemed bound to go to whichever studio, filmmaker or publicist -- take your pick -- had the ambition and energy to reach out and take it.
As wide open as the race seemed then, that's how much it now seems that some pictures -- "A Beautiful Mind," "The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring," "Moulin Rouge" and maybe "Gosford Park" -- have established themselves as front-runners around the final turn and into the home stretch. Other possible best picture nominees include "Black Hawk Down," "Iris," "The Man Who Wasn't There," "Memento," "Mulholland Drive" and "Shrek" -- which is also one of the strongest contenders for the new Oscar category of best animated picture.
Oscar nominations are worth considerably more than bragging rights in Hollywood. A picture can get a tremendous amount of marketing mileage out of a significant number of nominations, with best picture nominees routinely adding tens of millions of dollars to their box-office numbers. Best actor and actress nominations also help sell a movie.
Monday's announcement of the nominees for the 22nd Annual Razzie Awards shows that the competition in Hollywood's race to the bottom is as wide open this year as the race for Oscar gold.
But MTV personality Tom Green's "Freddy Got Fingered" stands out as the worst of a bad lot. The movie -- one of the most notoriously unfunny comedies ever made -- was nominated for eight Razzies by the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation, which began its annual exercise in "dishonoring the worst achievements in film" in 1980.
In addition to worst picture, the box-office bomb garnered nominations for worst director, actor and screenplay for Green, worst supporting actress for Drew Barrymore and Julie Haggerty, and worst supporting actor for Rip Torn. The picture's repeated and aggravated reliance on scenes of animal abuse also earned a nomination for worst screen couple for "Green & any animal he abuses."
Sylvester Stallone's latest commercial comeback movie, "Driven," had seven nominations -- including worst picture, worst supporting actor for Stallone and Burt Reynolds, and worst supporting actress for super model Estella Warren, who was also nominated for her performance in "Planet of the Apes."
Misery continued to gather around "Glitter" -- pop diva Maria Carey's debut in a starring role. After tanking at the box office in the aftermath of Carey's highly publicized nervous breakdown, "Glitter" is up for six Razzies -- including worst picture, actress (Carey), supporting actor (Max Beesley), screen couple (Carey's cleavage), director (Vondie Curtis Hall) and screenplay.
"Pearl Harbor" also garnered six nominations, including worst picture, actor (Ben Affleck), director (Michael Bay) and screenplay (Randall Wallace). The World War II epic is also up for worst remake or sequel and worst screen couple -- Affleck and either Kate Beckinsale or Josh Hartnett.
The Elvis impersonator-heist picture "3000 Miles to Graceland" received five Razzie nominations, while "Planet of the Apes" and "Sweet November" were nominated for three Razzies each.
Green and Stallone tied the record with four nominations each, while Stallone extended his own record for most Razzie nominations overall to 29. Stallone has snagged nine Razzies and was named the worst actor of the century in 2000.
The award -- a parody of the Academy Award -- is a plastic golf-ball sized raspberry mounted on a mangled Super-8 film reel on a base made from the lid of a Lipton Raspberry Iced Tea jar. It's spray-painted gold and has an estimated street value of about $4.29, according to the foundation.
The 22nd Razzies will be handed out March 23 in ceremonies in Santa Monica, Calif.
Worst picture: "Driven"; "Freddy Got Fingered"; "Glitter"; "Pearl Harbor"; "3000 Miles to Graceland"
Actor: Ben Affleck ("Pearl Harbor"); Kevin Costner ("3000 Miles to Graceland"); Tom Green ("Freddy Got Fingered"); Keanu Reeves ("Hardball," "Sweet November"); John Travolta ("Domestic Disturbance," "Swordfish")
Actress: Mariah Carey ("Glitter"); Penelope Cruz ("Blow," "Captain Corelli's Mandolin," "Vanilla Sky"); Angelina Jolie ("Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," "Original Sin"); Jennifer Lopez ("Angel Eyes," "The Wedding Planner"); Charlize Theron ("Sweet November")
Screen couple: Ben Affleck & either Kate Beckinsale or Josh Hartnett ("Pearl Harbor"); Mariah Carey's cleavage ("Glitter"); Tom Green & any animal he abuses ("Freddy Got Fingered"); Burt Reynolds & Sylvester Stallone ("Driven"); Kurt Russell & either Kevin Costner or Courteney Cox ("3000 Miles to Graceland")
Supporting actor: Max Beesley ("Glitter"); Charlton Heston ("Cats and Dogs, "Planet of the Apes" and "Town & Country"); Burt Reynolds ("Driven"); Sylvester Stallone ("Driven); Rip Torn ("Freddy Got Fingered")
Supporting actress: Drew Barrymore ("Freddy Got Fingered"); Courteney Cox ("3000 Miles to Graceland"); Julie Haggerty ("Freddy Got Fingered"); Goldie Hawn ("Town & Country"); Estella Warren ("Driven," "Planet of the Apes")
Remake or sequel: "Crocodile Dundee in L.A."; "Jurassic Park III"; "Pearl Harbor"; "Planet of the Apes"; "Sweet November"
Director: Michael Bay ("Pearl Harbor"); Peter Chelsom, with Warren Beatty ("Town & Country"); Tom Green ("Freddy Got Fingered"); Vondie Curtis Hall ("Glitter"); Renny Harlin ("Driven")
Screenplay: "Driven," Sylvester Stallone, story by Jan Skrentny & Neal Tabachnick; "Freddy Got Fingered," Tom Green & Derek Harvie; "Glitter," Kate Lanier, story by Cheryl L. West; "Pearl Harbor," Randall Wallace; "3000 Miles to Graceland," Richard Recco and Demian Lichtenstein.
'WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE'
"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" used to be a big shot, but not anymore. ABC has pulled the big money show from its Monday primetime lineup and replaced it with a couple of half-hour comedies.
"Millionaire," which used to be so popular that the network ran it several nights a week -- every night, some weeks -- will stay on the Thursday schedule. But ABC clearly doesn't expect much from it, since CBS and NBC already have the night locked up.
When it premiered just 25 months ago, "Millionaire" looked like the goose that laid golden eggs -- juicing up ABC's bottom line with a show that delivered spectacular ratings and cost next-to-nothing to produce.
Beginning March 4, ABC will fill the Monday 8 p.m. hour with "My Wife and Kids" and a return engagement of "The Wayne Brady Show," a variety-comedy deal starring one of the featured performers on ABC's comedy improv show, "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
(The above three items thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
Actor Ed Asner is in the midst of filming a movie about the late Roman Catholic Pope John XXIII. He was pontiff from 1958 until 1963. The movie is being filmed in the Eternal City. In some photos released by the project, Asner seems to have taken on the persona of the peasant-born Angelo Roncalli, who rose through the ranks to become the head of his huge flock.
The personable Asner must enjoy doing the part, for John XXIII was a funny, energetic, lovable priest. The son of a farmer, Roncalli was suddenly thrust into the papacy. He soon became an international celebrity by convening the Second Vatican Council. He invited observers from all major religions. He told the world that he wanted to "open new doors and open new windows to let some fresh air into the Catholic Church." He used the Italian word "aggiornamento" in describing a process in which he wanted to sort out the present and be open to new ideas.
Many can remember a made-for-TV movie about John XXIII that starred Raymond Burr. It focused on an episode in which Roncalli, then only a bishop, went onto a freighter carrying Jewish boys to the concentration camps and baptized all of them in one overnight period. He then successfully challenged German officers not to take away the "Christian" boys.
No word on when the Asner project will be released.
(Thanks to UPI's Dennis Daily)
'CATCH ME IF YOU CAN'
Shooting has begun on Steven Spielberg's latest movie. "Catch Me If You Can" stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks in the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., the youngest man ever to be listed on the FBI's Most Wanted list.
The film also stars Christopher Walken. It will be released by DreamWorks Pictures.