LIZA'S ALL-STAR WEDDING
Elizabeth Taylor and Marisa Berenson ("Cabaret," "Barry Lyndon") are the maids of honor. The list of bridesmaids includes Mia Farrow, Claudia Cardinale, Janet Leigh, Esther Williams, Gina Lollobrigida, ABC News reporter Cynthia McFadden, singers Mya, Freda Payne, Chaka Khan and Petula Clark -- and even a New York gossip columnist, Cindy Adams. The list also includes socialites and businesswomen Rosemarie Lieberman, Nabila Khashoggi and Arlene Lazare, and British musical star Martine McCutcheon.
Gest will have two best men to go with Minnelli's two maids of honor -- Michael and Tito Jackson. His roster of groomsmen is also star-studded -- including Jackie, Randy and Marlon Jackson, James Ingram, Tony Franciosa, Robert Wagner, Nasdaq's David Weild, Plax inventor Allan Lazare, Frankie Blue, Grammy winner Michael McDonald, sports agent Dennis Gilbert, American Airlines' Tom Gleason, actor Tristan Rogers and vineyard/entertainment manager Bruce Cohn.
For balance, Gest also has a journalist among his attendants -- Hollywood reporter Robert Osborne.
Smith said the list of performers for the celebration following the March 16 wedding at New York's Regent Hotel is so lengthy that if every act does only one number, the show will go on for days. The lineup includes Whitney Houston, Tony Bennett, Robert Goulet, Little Anthony & the Imperials and the Doobie Brothers.
ALTMAN'S CLOSE CALL
According to a report in Daily Variety, "Gosford Park" only made it to the screen because producers worked a deal with insurers to allow Robert Altman to direct the picture -- which has been nominated for seven Oscars, including best director.
Altman is 76-years-old, and producers were having trouble getting an acceptable rate for production insurance -- a standard feature on movie projects that covers the production against calamity if a major player should die or otherwise be unable to complete filming.
Variety reported that "Gosford Park" producers arranged for a credible backup to take over the picture in case Altman pooped out. It turns out that Altman's backup was Stephen Frears, the director of "High Fidelity" (2000), "The Grifters" (1990), "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988) and "My Beautiful Laundrette" (1985).
HEALTHY OPENING NUMBERS FOR 'JOHN Q'
Denzel Washington's assault on the U.S. health care system, "John Q," attracted large numbers of subscribers over the four-day Presidents Day holiday weekend, opening with $23.6 million.
Britney Spears' first starring role in a feature, "Crossroads," pulled in $17 million to finish at No. 2 for the weekend. Disney's Peter Pan sequel, "Return to Never Land," was third with $15.6 million, and the youth comedy "Big Fat Liar" scored $11.4 million in its second weekend to finish fourth.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's revenge-thriller "Collateral Damage" -- featuring the big guy as a man who travels to South America to kick terrorist butt after his family is wiped out in an explosion -- fell from No. 1 to No. 5 with $9.6 million in its second weekend.
Eight Oscar nominations may give "A Beautiful Mind" a lift at the box-office as the Russell Crowe drama added $9.4 million to its running total, now at $125.6 million after nine weeks. Bruce Willis' World War II POW drama "Hart's War" managed just $8.9 million, for a seventh-place finish in its debut weekend.
Director Ridley Scott's military misadventure "Black Hawk Down" added $7.2 million to its eight-week total, now at $96.4 million and likely heading past the $100 million mark this weekend. "Super Troopers" a goofball comedy about an inept gang of law enforcement officers, opened with $7.1 million. "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" grossed $5.7 million, to run its nine-week total to $278.6 million.
PROBATION FOR 'PHILLY' STAR
Kim Delaney, the star of the freshman ABC drama "Philly," was placed on two years' probation, fined $300 and ordered to complete a driving safety course Tuesday after she pleaded no contest to reckless driving.
The Emmy-winning actress was arrested at her home on Jan. 26 for investigation of drunk driving, after a motorist called 911 to report a vehicle weaving on the highway. The driver followed Delaney to her home in Malibu and waited there to identify her as the driver of the weaving car when police arrived.
Investigators said Delaney refused to take a blood-alcohol test, and prosecutors said in court Tuesday that there was "insufficient evidence" to prove a drunk-driving case.
Delaney, who won a supporting actress Emmy in 1997 for her portrayal of police Det. Diane Russell on ABC's "NYPD Blue," did not appear in court Tuesday. Her lawyer entered the plea on her behalf before Judge Lawrence Mira, the judge who sentenced actor Robert Downey Jr. to prison for violating probation in a drug and weapons possession case.
SIGOURNEY WEAVER'S NEXT
Sigourney Weaver -- best known as Lt. Ellen Ripley in the "Alien" movies -- will play a different kind of authority figure in "Holes," the movie version of Louis Sachar's 1999 Newberry Award-winning book.
Weaver has signed to play the warden at a juvenile detention facility, in the story of Stanley Yelnats, a boy who is mistakenly identified as a thief and is sent up for a 1 1/2-year stretch at Camp Green Lake.
The warden paints her nails with rattlesnake venom and says things like: "If you take a bad boy and make him dig a hole every day in the hot sun, it will turn him into a good boy." Stanley dutifully goes through the "Cool Hand Luke" routine, until he discovers the real reason for making the boys dig so many holes.
Sachar wrote the screenplay. Andrew Davis ("The Fugitive," "Collateral Damage") will direct.
WOLFGANG PUCK AGAIN
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday that celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck will create the cuisine for the Governors Ball following the 74th Academy Awards on March 24 -- the eighth time that Puck has put on the feed for the ball where Oscar nominees, winners, presenters and performers gather after the show.
"Wolfgang has become almost synonymous with the Governors Ball," said Alan Bergman, chairman of the ball, "and I can't imagine doing this without him."
It's a big job. Puck and his crew will prepare a multi-course, sit-down meal for 1,650.
One of the most anticipated -- and coveted -- items from Puck's annual spread is the gold-dusted chocolate Oscar he creates each year as a table favor.