Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter


Oscar-winning cinematographer Conrad L. Hall died Saturday at a Santa Monica, Calif., hospital of complications from bladder cancer. He was 76.


Hall won the Oscar for "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "American Beauty" -- and was considered a leading contender this year for his most recent work on "Road to Perdition."

Hall was nominated for nine Oscars in a career dating to the late 1950s, during which he shot such classic movies as "In Cold Blood" and "Cool Hand Luke." His credits also included "Searching for Bobby Fischer," "Marathon Man" and "Divorce American Style."

Hall's TV credits included episodes of "The Outer Limits" and "Stoney Burke."

Sam Mendes, who won the directing Oscar for "American Beauty" and worked with Hall on "Road to Perdition," told Daily Variety he was "devastated" by the news of Hall's death.

"Conrad was not only one of the greatest cinematographers who ever lived but was also a wonderful man who touched everyone he worked with," said Mendes. "I will miss him more than I can say, both as a collaborator and as a friend."



The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that 279 feature-length films have qualified for the upcoming Academy Awards.

The academy will mail nomination ballots and a list of eligible films to its members next week.

Nominees for the 75th Academy Awards will be announced on Feb. 11. The Oscars will be presented on March 23, in ceremonies at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, to be televised by ABC-TV.


Organizers of the 30th annual American Music Awards announced Monday that Aimee Osbourne, B2K, Ja Rule and Nickelback will appear on the Jan. 13 telecast.

Osbourne will serve as a presenter with Justin Timberlake. B2K, Ja Rule and Nickelback will join a list of performers on the show that already included Christina Aguilera, Kenny Chesney, matchbox twenty, Shania Twain and Kelly Osbourne.

The show will also feature duets by Elton John and Tim McGraw, and Toby Keith and Willie Nelson. The list of presenters also includes Erykah Badu, Tisha Campbell-Martin ("My Wife & Kids"), Dru Hill, Melissa Joan Hart ("Sabrina the Teenage Witch"), supermodel Heidi Klum, Frankie Muniz ("Malcolm in the Middle"), Paula Abdul, Pat Boone, Sheryl Crow, Carmen Electra, Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), Martina McBride, Jo Dee Messina, and Nelly.


Reba McEntire will present this year's Award of Merit to the veteran country band Alabama.


Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney and Travis Tritt -- among others -- are putting together a tribute album for the late country star Waylon Jennings.

RCA Records said the lineup for "I've Always Been Crazy: A Tribute to Waylon Jennings" will also include Andy Griggs, Ben Harper, Alison Krauss, John Mellencamp and Dwight Yoakam. The CD is due in stores in April.

Jennings' widow, Jessi Colter, authorized the 16-song collection, and will contribute a new version of "Storms Never Last," a song she wrote and recorded with Jennings.

Brooks & Dunn will perform "I Ain't Living Long Like This." Chesney will contribute a duet with Kid Rock on "Luckenbach, Texas." Sara Evans and Deana Carter will team up for "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," and Griggs does "This Time."

The set will also include Metallica lead singer James Hetfield doing "Don't You Think This Outlaw Bit's Done Got Out of Hand" and a Pinmonkey cover of "Are You Ready for the Country." Krauss will do "You Asked Me To" and Mellencamp covers "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way."


The lineup also includes Hank Williams Jr. on "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line" and Stargunn, featuring Jennings' and Coulter's son Shooter Jennings. The album will also feature one of Jennings' last recordings, "The Dream."


NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon will host "Saturday Night Live" this Saturday, with hot pop star Avril Lavigne as musical guest.

Gordon will be the first motor sports driver to host the long-running sketch comedy series, but not the first athlete. All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter, hockey great Wayne Gretzky, basketball superstar Michael Jordan and Super Bowl winner Joe Montana have done the honors in the past.

Gordon is the youngest driver in Winston Cup history to achieve 50 career wins. In 2001, he became the third driver to win four championships in a year.

Lavigne was named best new artist at the most recent MTV Video Music Awards and the 2002 Billboard Music Awards.


Jack Nicholson, notorious for rarely granting interviews, has opened up for the Los Angeles Times on one of his favorite subjects -- the Lakers.


Speaking with sportscaster Jim Gray, the three-time Oscar winner gave the three-time defending NBA champions credit for good acting and talked about the team's sub-par performance so far in the 2002-03 season.

"I think one of the things I like about basketball is that the 'game face' has so much to do with acting," said Nicholson. "I think they all act, and some are good and some are bad. But I think it's an ensemble."

The star of "Terms of Endearment," "As Good as It Gets" and the new dark comedy "About Schmidt" said the Lakers are at their best -- acting-wise -- when they're "pretending they're not angry at the calls, particularly Shaq (O'Neal)."

Gray wondered if Nicholson would have wanted to be a professional athlete if he were not an actor.

"Well, when I was a kid, I liked playing sports.... I never felt I had so-called big-league abilities, so that illusion kind of disappeared fairly young for me," said Nicholson. "But certainly I liked playing sports, so if I had the possibility of being a professional athlete, I certainly would have thought it would be a great career, although looking at it from where I am now, you know ... things turned pretty good."


With the Lakers playing poorly (14-20), Nicholson said he isn't sure yet whether the Lakers will manage a fourth straight NBA title.

"I'm like everybody else right now," he said. "One game I think, 'OK, it's all right now.' And then, the next one we'll go out and play real bad and end up with a loss. Then it worries me."

Still, Nicholson said the Lakers are not to be taken lightly.

"I don't think anybody would want to play the Lakers in a series for the championship right now, as unorganized as they may seem at the moment," he said.

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