INDIES STRUT THEIR STUFF
The trade association that represents independent film distributors and producers is celebrating a spectacular showing at this year's Oscar nominations.
AFMA -- formerly known as the American Film Marketing Association -- proudly notes that all five nominees for the Best Picture Oscar are members of the organization.
Miramax has three nominees -- "Chicago," "Gangs of New York" and "The Hours," which is also a co-production with Paramount Studios. New Line Cinema has "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," and Focus Features has "The Pianist."
AFMA President and Chief Executive Officer Jean Prewitt said that, in one sense, the Oscar race is over.
"An independent will win the Best Picture Academy Award this year," said Prewitt.
Independents accounted for eight of the 10 Oscar nominations for best actor and best actress, and half of the nominations for supporting actor and actress.
Independent film companies belonging to AFMA swept the Golden Globes last month, with "The Hours" winning for best drama movie and "Chicago" winning for best musical or comedy movie.
THE FILMS THAT OSCAR FORGOT
Look at some of the films that were overlooked at the Oscar nominations and you get an idea that 2002 must have been a pretty good year for movies.
"Antwone Fisher" -- Denzel Washington's feature film directorial debut -- caused a lot of excitement when it was released and even prompted the Producers Guild of America to bestow the Stanley Kramer Award on Washington and his co-producer Todd Black. The award honors producers "whose work illuminates provocative social issues in an accessible and elevating fashion."
The movie received no Oscar nominations.
While "Chicago," "Gangs of New York," "The Hours" and "The Pianist" were scooping up the major share of the top Oscar nominations, pictures such as "About Schmidt," "Minority Report" and "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" settled for a nomination or two.
High-profile projects including "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," "Insomnia," "Signs" and "25th Hour" were left off the Oscars list altogether. Well-regarded performances by Toni Collette ("The Hours"), Richard Gere ("Chicago"), Tom Hanks ("Road to Perdition") and Dennis Quaid ("Far from Heaven") went unrecognized by academy voters.
Three movies that were nominated for the Producers Guild of America's Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year award -- "Adaptation," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "Road to Perdition" -- were left off the academy's Top 5 list.
In recent years, around awards season time, it was commonplace to hear movie fans, critics and others gripe and moan about a lack of quality movies. The abundance of high-quality movies that settled for meager Oscar recognition -- or were shut out of the Oscar nominations altogether -- may help explain why so few people this year are asking why the film industry doesn't make good movies anymore.
FROM BOMB TO OSCAR CONTENDER
The Walt Disney Co. has some decisions to make, after the box-office failure "Treasure Planet" snagged a nomination Tuesday for best animated feature film.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the animated take on Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" was the "biggest flop in Walt Disney Co.'s storied moviemaking history" -- such a failure, one Disney insider told the paper, that company executives had not even contemplated a strategy for exploiting an Oscar nomination.
"It was a shock," said the insider.
Disney had three of the five nominees in the category, counting its own production of "Lilo & Stitch" and the Japanese import "Spirited Away." The other nominees are "Ice Age" and "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron."
The Times said Disney executives would not comment on whether the studio would develop a new marketing campaign for "Treasure Planet," which is still playing in 312 U.S. theaters. The movie is scheduled for home video release on April 29.
ROBERT REDFORD'S NEXT
Lopez plays a single mother forced by economic necessity to live with her former father-in-law (Redford). In the bargain, they re-evaluate their relationship and resolve longstanding conflicts.
Lasse Hallström ("The Cider House Rules") will direct.
STARS COME OUT FOR OSCARS
It will be Smith's fourth appearance as a presenter. Smith, who stars with Martin Lawrence in the upcoming action-comedy "Bad Boys II," was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar last year for "Ali."
His other screen credits include "Men in Black II," "Enemy of the State" and "Independence Day."
The 75th Anniversary Academy Awards will be presented March 23 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
A SPECIAL 'EVE'-NING
An all-star cast will gather in Los Angeles March 30 for a staged reading of the movie classic "All About Eve," to raise money for the Actors' Fund of America.
The fund -- a nonprofit organization that provides for "the social welfare of all entertainment professionals" -- announced that current plans call for Tim Curry, Blythe Danner, Victor Garber, Angela Lansbury, Melissa Manchester and Carl Reiner to appear. The cast is subject to change, according to the fund's announcement.
Celeste Holm, one of the stars of the Oscar-winning classic from 1950, will serve as benefit chair. Tom Mankiewicz, the son of the movie's Oscar-winning writer-director Joseph Mankiewicz, will serve as honorary chair.
The Actors' Fund is offering "Max Fabian Producers Circle" seats for $25,000 -- named for the fictional producer in "All About Eve." For $1,000, you can sit in the "Margo Channing 'I'm so happy you're happy' Circle." The rest of the tickets range in price from $500 (for the "Eve Harrington 'Princess Fire and Music' Circle") to $40 for the balcony.