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Jackson to Direct ‘King Kong’ Remake
Tuesday April 1 5:00 PM ET

“Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson is going from tiny hobbits to a giant ape for his next film, a remake of “King Kong.”

Jackson plans to use a field on the outskirts of the New Zealand capital, Wellington, as a stand-in for New York City. Work is scheduled to begin late this year, Universal Studios announced.

“I’m making movies today because I saw this film when I was 9 years old,” Jackson said. “It has been my sustained dream to reinterpret this classic story for a new age.”

Jackson said the film has a budget of about $110 million and would be shot in Wellington and various locations around the country and make extensive use of computer animation techniques.

In an interview for Tuesday’s edition of Wellington’s Dominion Post newspaper, the director said the project was the “realization of a boyhood dream.”

Shooting would begin in mid-2004 with the aim of releasing the film in 2005. The third film in the “Rings” trilogy, “The Return of the King” comes out in December.

The original “King Kong” from 1933 starred Fay Wray as a beautiful actress who becomes the object of a gigantic ape’s affections.

Writer Seeks Credit for Latifah Movie

Writer Seeks Credit for Latifah Movie
Saturday March 29 5:01 PM ET

A New York lawyer who claims she had the original idea for the box-office hit “Bringing Down the House” filed a $15 million copyright lawsuit Friday against star Queen Latifah and the movie’s other producers.

Marie Flaherty claims the movie is a rip-off of “Amoral Dilemma,” a screenplay she wrote several years ago about a lawyer who meets a prisoner online, only to have the prisoner wreak havoc in his life.

“Bringing Down the House,” a comedy starring Latifah and Steve Martin, is about a prisoner who meets a lawyer in a chat room, then weasels her way into his life in hopes he can exonerate her.

The movie has been atop the box-office charts since it was released earlier this month, raking in $83.3 million through last weekend.

Flaherty claims Boston attorney George N. Tobia Jr. agreed to represent her in 1999 as she tried to sell “Amoral Dilemma.”

Just a few months later, she says, Tobia called her to say he and a family friend, screenwriter Jason Filardi, had sold a script “,” the screenplay that eventually became “Bringing Down the House.”

Flaherty confronted Tobia about the similarities, and he told her repeatedly that Filardi’s script was a comedy, while hers was a drama, she argues in the lawsuit.

Tobia did not immediately return a call for comment.

The copyright-infringement lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, seeks a minimum of $15 million but Flaherty points out the court could award her more considering the movie’s hefty gross.

The lawsuit names as defendants Tobia, Filardi and the movie’s producers including Latifah, whose real name is Dana Owens. Latifah spokeswoman Amanda Silverman did not immediately have a comment.

Hyde Park Entertainment, which produced the film, and Walt Disney Co., which distributed it, also are listed as co-defendants.

Flaherty, an attorney who plans to represent herself, did not immediately return a call for comment

Oscar Ratings Hurt by War

Oscar Ratings Hurt by War
Monday March 24 4:00 PM ET

Bombs dropped, but not over Baghdad.

Instead, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore caused more of a ruckus with his antiwar acceptance speech than either of the two ABC newsbreaks aired during last night’s bizarro Oscar telecast.

And Moore wasn’t the only one to leave Hollywood’s beautiful people picking their jaws up off the floor as odd-on favorites were replaced at the winners’ podium by The Pianist’s Adrien Brody and Roman Polanski (in spirit not body), presenter Halle Berry got more than she bargained for, and Eminem proved that–love him or hate him–he’s here to stay, winning the Best Original Song Oscar for his 8 Mile track “Lose Yourself.”

Even Steve Martin wasn’t immune to the unpredictable, as a stray walkie-talkie crashed to the stage in front of him: The quick-thinking comic pretended it was all a part of the act.

Unfortunately, those wacky moments, which could have made for colorful watercooler chitchat, passed largely unwatched by a nation concerned with the safety of its troops overseas. An estimated 33.1 million tuned in to ABC to watch Chicago dance away with Best Picture last night–the lowest ratings since Nielsen started counting in 1974. In contrast, 41.8 million ogled Best Picture winner A Beautiful Mind last year, while a whopping 55.2 million watched Titanic sail to first place in 1998. The previous viewership low was registered in 1987, when 37.2 million tuned in to see Platoon win.

ABC spinmeisters tried to put a happy face on the record-low ratings, estimating that 62 million viewers “watched some portion” of the show.

Viewers weren’t the only ones sitting out the raucous broadcast, also missing in action last night were conscientious Oscar objectors Will Smith and Jim Carrey, geographically stranded Peter Jackson and Cate Blanchett and last-minute cancellation Elizabeth Taylor, who just last week announced the event would be her “swan song on the stage.” Calls to her reps were not returned.

Whatever impact the war had on ratings or presenter pull-outs it seemed to have little effect on the diamond jubilee awards show itself. Sure, the red carpet had shrunk to the size of a welcome mat, but instead of the subdued ceremony promised by organizers, those of us who tuned in were treated to a glitzy shindig that largely ignored external events.

Today, the critics concurred, a good time was had by all: “It was one of the best, and certainly most stimulating, Oscar shows in years,” wrote the Washington Post’s Tom Shales. New York Times critic A.O. Scott welcomed the star-studded time-out: “There was some relief in watching the show unfold in the usual way, as a tribute to and an exercise in solemn, self-loving escapism.” The Los Angeles Times’ Howard Rosenberg also gave a thumbs-up, writing, “Producer Gil Cates delivered a nice, crisp, economical telecast in tune with the times, highlighted by an Oscar family portrait, with past winners side by side on stage.”

Who could flip away when The Pianist snatched the honors for Best Actor, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, something not even the most seasoned Industry watchers could have predicted. Jack Nicholson almost fell out of his front row seat when Brody went up to accept top honors. Halle Berry’s hubby, R&B artist Eric Benét, almost jumped out of his seat when the actor placed a big wet one on the wife.

Of course, one moment that may never make the best-of montage is Moore’s diatribe against President Bush. The Bowling for Columbine helmer railed against the Commander-in-Chief in an impassioned speech (“Shame on you, Mr. Bush!”) until he was drowned off the stage by a chorus of boos and the sounds of the Academy orchestra.

Martin saved the moment from turning ugly, quipping: “It was so sweet backstage. The Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo.” The comedian’s deft sense of humor in dealing with the difficult times inside and outside the auditorium got good feedback: “The first and perhaps prime task of an Oscar host is to give a funny monologue, and Martin delivered the goods,” wrote critic Robert Bianco in USA Today. Organizers may not have asked Martin to host last year (as he sardonically pointed out), but it’s unlikely they’ll make that mistake again.

Otherwise, antiwar sentiments were restrained as actors celebrated 75 years of back-patting. “In light of all the troubles in this world, I wish us all peace,” uttered Best Supporting Actor Chris Cooper to a loud ovation. Even noted activist Susan Sarandon kept her protest simple, flashing a peace sign on her way to the podium to honor Academy members who passed away last year.

Instead, most of the actors chose to check their politics at the door, leaving the uproar outside, where antiwar protesters and pro-war demonstrators clashed with the National Guard and police in riot gear. By the end of the night 10 people had been arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly and assault on police officers.


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1. Causes you to send same e-mail twice.

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3. Causes you to send to wrong person.

4. Causes you to send back to person who sent it to you.

17. Causes you to mis-number paragraphs

5. Causes you to forget to attach the attachment.

6. Causes you to hit “SEND” before you’ve finished the

Oscars Likely to Go on Despite War, Officials Say

Oscars Likely to Go on Despite War, Officials Say
Tuesday March 18 8:31 PM ET

Academy Awards organizers said on Tuesday that they expect the Oscars show to go on as planned this weekend — despite a looming war with Iraq — but with a scaled-back version of its glitzy red carpet festivities at the request of the stars.

“If you are a betting man, the show will go on, really and truly,” Gil Cates, the show’s producer, told a press conference one day after President Bush gave Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave his country or face war.

“We all want to do the show,” he said. “The public wants it, the stars want it. But we’re all good Americans, so we’ll try to (make it) a show that we can be proud of.”

Cates said the decision to “truncate” the red carpet entrance was made to spare celebrities who might feel uncomfortable discussing films and fashion while American soldiers were putting their lives on the line.

But Cates and Frank Pierson, president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, conceded that the outbreak of war in the coming days could scupper Hollywood’s biggest night entirely — or at least the televised version.

Pierson said ABC, the network scheduled to carry the show, has informed them that it would cover war news “as it happens” — which apparently means that it could cut away from the Oscars as events dictate.

“We are not going to address that question now,” Pierson said of the possibility that the Academy Awards could be canceled or postponed. “We are all at the mercy of the winds of war; we just don’t know. We don’t have enough information.”


Pierson and Cates said Oscar officials intended to meet with reporters again on Friday and might have made a decision by then, but said that in any case the ceremony would likely be more somber than usual.

Earlier, Cates said that Oscar officials were “glued to the set” for President Bush’s nationwide television address on Monday that gave the 48-hour ultimatum.

The Oscar ceremony has never been canceled in its 75 year history but has three times been postponed — by the 1938 Los Angeles floods, the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, and the 1981 shooting of President Ronald Reagan .

Postponement, even for a few days, would mean a logistics nightmare. Some 3,500 VIP guests have cleared their schedules months in advance to attend. Travel arrangements, security plans for the show and television schedules would all have to be cast aside.

The live Oscar telecast by ABC is one of the biggest advertising nights on U.S. television, drawing an audience last year of around 42 million people.

Cates has said that if the country is at war on Sunday, the tone of the show would “reflect the tone of the times.”

ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., declined to discuss its talks with the Academy, saying only, “If there are world events that warrant coverage on the night of the Academy Awards, ABC News will bring them to the American audience with the full support of the Academy.”

Party planners are also caught in limbo. A spokeswoman for Vanity Fair magazine, which traditionally hosts one of the biggest for about 1,000 A-list guests on Oscar night, said, “We are taking it one day at a time. It will be clearer as the week goes on.”


It was unclear whether Hollywood stars — many of whom have campaigned fervently against any war — still planned to attend Sunday’s ceremony if military action was underway.

Daniel Day-Lewis — considered a front-runner for the best actor Oscar for his role in “Gangs of New York” — told reporters last week it would “seem obscene if we’re seen bouncing up the red carpet grinning when people are dying. It’s going to be very difficult to find a way to do this.”

Nicole Kidman — a hot favorite for the best actress Oscar for her role in “The Hours” — said last week she was of two minds about attending in the event of war.

“There are two arguments … where they say you need to continue on with things and not be stopped; and then there’s the other thing where you just say, of course, it would feel very strange to show up,” Kidman told reporters.

Other stars may be dissuaded by security fears from flying to Los Angeles to attend, present, or perform on the night, although there have been no reported cancellations so far.

Tight security is planned at the Kodak Theater in busy, downtown Hollywood. Several streets have already been closed off; the stars and their guests will have to go through metal detectors before entering the venue; vehicles will be checked for bombs; and authorities have requested that airspace over Hollywood be closed for the afternoon.

“We will have a larger presence outside the venue than last year,” said a Los Angeles police spokesman, who declined to give numbers but said officers would be boosted by FBI officials and private security officers.

Curses! Superman Movie Foiled Again?

Curses! Superman Movie Foiled Again?
Tuesday March 18 6:05 PM ET

Another man who won’t be Superman: Brendan Fraser.

The Mummy star, once in talks to be the big-screen’s next Man of Steel, has “parted amicably” with Warner Bros. over the star-crossed superhero flick, Tuesday’s Hollywood Reporter says.

Also now out of contention, according to the trade paper: Matthew Bomer, a soap star who garnered buzz when he screen-tested earlier this month for director Brett Ratner.

Speaking of Ratner…

The Rush Hour helmer could be off the project as soon as Tuesday, the trade paper says.

Ratner, hired last fall to revive the Supes franchise, was working under an option with Warner Bros. that expired on Saturday.

On Monday, Ratner’s publicist was not prepared to comment on the director’s status. At Warners, the studio issued a blanket “no comment.” A rep would say only that the movie is “still casting.”

It sure is.

Since the revived and retooled Superman project, called Superman, was announced last September, the CIA has located dozens of al Qaeda operatives, and Warners has found exactly zero Supermen.

The studio’s lack of success is not for lack of effort. Its net has encompassed both known (Brendan Fraser) and the unknown (soap actor Matthew Bomer), both now out.

Other never-was Supermen: Josh Hartnett and Paul Walker. Hartnett, Ratner’s first choice, dropped out of the sweepstakes in February; Walker, just last week.

According to Variety, Walker, like Hartnett before him, balked at committing to the movie on account of it’s not one movie–it’s the first of a planned trilogy.

Warners has been trying to make a Superman movie for about a decade now. At one time, Tim Burton was on board to direct Nicolas Cage. Then Wolfgang Petersen was on board to direct a couple of famous somebodies in a team-up flick, Superman vs. Batman. Neither project made it before cameras.

The studio’s fitful attempt to get the Superman franchise flying again has talk of the so-called “Superman curse” soaring again.

Last week, Ashton Kutcher, another caped-crusader candidate, said, according to the World Entertainment News Network, that he, too, was going to pass–in part because of the “curse.”

True, Kutcher’s main objection was purely practical. The That ’70s Show star said he worried he’d have to commit another year to the Fox sitcom in order to be given the time off to make the movies, the news agency reported. But then there was the matter of the you-know-what.

Said Kutcher: “I think there’s a bit of a curse behind that role, the things that have happened to people.”

Per Superman lore, the “things” are:

Christopher Reeve, star of four Superman features, from 1978-1987, suffering a paralyzing horse-riding accident in 1995, at age 43;
George Reeves, high-flying hero of the 1950s Superman TV show, being found dead of a gunshot in 1959, at age 45. The shooting was ruled a suicide, although speculation says it was murder;
Bud Collyer, Supes’ voice in cartoons of the 1940s, and, later, the 1960s, dying of a circulatory ailment in 1969, at age 61.

Curse believers also point to the bad breaks suffered by members of the Superman family, chiefly Margot Kidder. Kidder, who played intrepid reporter Lois Lane opposite Reeve, made headlines in 1996 when she was found “frightened and paranoid,” in the words of police, in a backyard in Glendale, California, following a three-day odyssey on the streets.

Curse non-believers, including Kidder’s own daughter, say nonsense.

“It was not some kind of ‘curse of Superman,’ ” Maggie Kim told Canada’s Sun Media after Kidder broke her pelvis in a single-car crash in Maine last August.

Rather, said Kim, “It was a classic SUV rollover.”

Writer and comic historian Mark Evanier calls the Superman curse an “over-hyped observation.”

If actors such as Hartnett, Walker and Kutcher aren’t jumping to leap tall buildings in a single bound, it’s not because they fear for their lives, Evanier says.

“I think they’re afraid of the fact that dressing up as a copyrighted character who flies around is not necessarily a great career move, simply because the costume tends to overshadow the actor,” Evanier says.

Another apparent “curse” non-believer: Henry Cavill.

The movie Website Coming Attractions reported Monday that the 19-year-old British actor (The Count of Monte Cristo) was flown into Los Angeles to meet with Ratner 10 days ago.

No word on the outcome of the confab, but we believe all his body parts are accounted for.

Academy Awards Watch: A Chronological History of Notable Information

Academy Awards Watch: A Chronological History of Notable Information
Friday March 21 3:49 PM ET

To whet your appetite for Sunday’s telecast (assuming the show does indeed go on), what follows is an update of notable facts, observations and Oscar moments since its inception in 1928. Keep in mind that each bullet point pertains to the year the movies aired in.

Wings and The Last Command tie for top honors in a category referred to as Best Production while Sunrise is cited for Artistic Quality of Production. Notable loser: Charlie Chaplin ( news) for The Circus.

America’s Sweetheart, Mary Pickford ( news), is awarded for Best Actress in Coquette. Broadway Melody is the Best Production.


And the Oscar goes to All Quiet on the Western Front for Best Production and Director, George Arliss (Disraeli) for Best Actor and Norma Shearer ( news) (The Divorcee) for Best Actress. Interesting observation: Arliss and Shearer were each nominated twice in both categories.

Best Production is changed to Best Picture, with Cimmaron grabbing top honors. Lionel Barrymore ( news) (A Free Soul) and Marie Dressler (Min and Bill) take home the trophies in the acting categories.

Those pesky little Oscar contest killers, Best Short Subject, are added, with Laurel and Hardy’s The Music Box the first winner. Best Picture: Grand Hotel.

Katherine Hepburn wins her first Academy Award for Best Actress in Morning Glory. Cavalcade is the Best Picture.

The number one box office champ at the time, Shirley Temple ( news), wins an Honorary Oscar, and comedy It Happened One Night, one of 12 nominated films, is named Best Picture.

Bette Davis ( news) (Dangerous) wins her first of two Best Actress Oscars ( news – web sites). Mutiny on the Bounty is the Best Picture.

Supporting acting categories are now included and The Great Ziegfeld wins Best Picture. Frank Capra ( news) is cited in the directing category for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.

The honorary Irving Thalberg award is added, and The Life of Emile Zola is awarded Best Picture. Spencer Tracy ( news) is Best Actor for Captains Courageous.

Spencer Tracy (Boys Town) and Bette Davis (Jezebel) win their second Oscars.

Gone with the Wind sweeps the awards as 10 movies are nominated for Best Picture. Notable loser: the Wizard of Oz.

Although Rebecca is nominated for 11 Oscars, its only win is for Best Picture. Jimmy Stewart (Philadelphia) and Ginger Rogers ( news) (Kitty Foyle) take the top acting categories.

Citizen Kane loses to How Green Was My Valley as Best Picture. Gary Cooper ( news) (Sergeant York) and Joan Fontaine ( news) (Suspicion) win in the lead acting categories.

Although legend has it Greer Garson ( news)’s acceptance speech for Mrs. Miniver was over one hour long, it was actually only seven minutes. Best Actor: James Cagney ( news) for Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Casablanca takes home the statuette for Best Picture.

Leo McCarey (Going My Way) is the first person to win in both the directing and writing categories. Bing Crosby ( news) (Going My Way) and Ingrid Berman (Gaslight) are named in the lead acting categories.

“Mommy Dearest,” Joan Crawford ( news), wins for Best Actress in Mildred Pierce. Best Picture: The Lost Weekend.

The Best Years of Our Lives sweeps most categories.

Gentleman’s Agreement wins over perennial holiday favorite Miracle on 34th Street. Loretta Young ( news) (The Farmer’s Daughter) wins the Best Actress statuette.

Although remembered for her role as evil matriarch Angela Channing on Falcon Crest, Jane Wyman ( news) wins an Oscar for Johnny Belinda. Hamlet is Best Picture.

All the King’s Men is named Best Picture in this highly forgettable year of films.

Classic All About Eve wins Best Picture over favorite Sunset Boulevard.

Three acting awards for a Streetcar Named Desire (to Vivien Leigh ( news), Karl Malden and Kim Hunter ( news)) does not translate into a Picture win. And the Oscar goes to: An American in Paris.

The Best Picture is The Greatest Show on Earth with Shirley Booth, pre-Hazel, winner for Best Actress in Come Back, Little Sheba.

25-year old Audrey Hepburn ( news) is cited for her first film, Roman Holiday. Best Picture: From Here To Eternity.

Marlon Brando ( news) wins his first Oscar for On the Waterfront, which also wins Best Picture. Notable loser: Alfred Hitchcock ( news) for his directing efforts in Rear Window.

Despite minimal on-screen time, Jo Van Fleet snags Best Supporting Actress in East of Eden. Marty is named Best Picture, and eventual McHale’s Navy star Ernest Borgnine ( news) as Best Actor for Marty.

Around the World in 80 Days beats favorites The King and I and The Ten Commandments. Yul Brynner ( news) is named Best Actor.

The Bridge on the River Kwai snags the Best Picture Oscar and Miyoshi Umeki, pre-Courtship of Eddie’s Father, is named Best Supporting Actress for Sayonara.

With the exception of the acting categories, musical Gigi dominates.

Oscar champ Ben-Hur takes home 11 statuettes and Buster Keaton ( news) wins an honorary Oscar.

Elizabeth Taylor ( news) snags her first of two Academy Awards ( news – web sites) for her leading role as a prostitute on Butterfield 8. We’ll call that a sympathy win, given her then-almost fatal illness. Best Picture: The Apartment.

Musical West Side Story rules with 10 trophies.

Gregory Peck ( news) is cited for his lead role To Kill a Mockingbird. Lawrence of Arabia is Best Picture.

Sidney Poitier ( news) (Lillies of the Field) becomes the first African-American to win as Best Actor.

Julie Andrews ( news) is named Best Actress in the now-classic Mary Poppins. My Fair Lady is Best Picture.

The hills are alive with the sound of Oscar with a Best Picture win for The Sound of Music. Roseanne’s TV grandmother, Shelley Winters, wins in the Supporting Actress category.

The late, and great, Walter Matthau ( news) wins as Best Supporting Actor in The Fortune Cookie. Elizabeth Taylor wins her second statuette for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The ceremony is delayed two days due to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Eventually, In the Heat of the Night wins.

Barbra Streisand ( news) (Funny Girl) and Katherine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter) share the Oscar. Oliver! is Best Picture — the last musical to ever win in this category. Will Chicago put musicals back on the forefront on Sunday?

Midnight Cowboy becomes the first, and only, X-rated film to win as Best Picture. John Wayne ( news) is honored for True Grit.

George C. Scott ( news) refuses to accept his Academy Award for Patton while Glenda Jackson (Women in Love) is named Best Actress. Despite minimal acting skills (remember her as the wooden Lady Ashley in Dynasty?) Ali MacGraw ( news) manages to snag a nomination for Love Story.

Gene Hackman ( news) (The French Connection) and Jane Fonda ( news) (Klute) win their first Oscars. Best Picture: The French Connection.

Marlon Brando (The Godfather) sends Sacheen Littlefeather to the podium to accept his acting award while Liza Minelli is visibly present to accept her Oscar for Cabaret. Best Picture: The Godfather.

Remembered as the year of the streak, unknown Robert Opal runs onstage au natural past presenter David Niven ( news). The Sting is named Best Picture. Tatum O’Neal ( news) (Supporting Actress — Paper Moon) becomes the youngest person to ever win an Academy Award.

The Godfather II becomes the first sequel to win as Best Picture. Ellen Burstyn ( news) wins for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest reigns with Louise Fletcher ( news)’s memorable speech given in sign language to her hearing impaired parents. Jack Nicholson ( news) (also for Cuckoo’s Nest) wins his first of three Oscars. Will trophy number four come calling for Nicholson on Sunday?

Although Rocky wins Best Picture, Sylvester Stallone ( news) loses to the recently deceased Peter Finch (Network). Also giving an acceptance speech: Faye Dunaway as Best Actress in Network.

Screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky scolds Supporting Actress winner Vanessa Redgrave ( news) (Julia) for using the Oscars to express her political views. Best Picture: Annie Hall.

Jane Fonda and Jon Voight ( news) win the top acting honors for their lead roles in Coming Home. Twenty-two years later Angelina Jolie ( news), Voight’s daughter, takes home her own Oscar.

Dustin Hoffman ( news) (Best Actor) and Meryl Streep ( news) (Best Supporting Actress) win their first Academy Awards in Kramer vs. Kramer. Sally Field ( news) is named Best Actress for Norma Rae.

Loretta Lynn ( news) and Jake LaMotta ( news) are present as the actors playing them — Sissy Spacek ( news) (Coal Miner’s Daughter) and Robert De Niro ( news) (Raging Bull) — take home the Oscar gold. Best Picture: Ordinary People.

Jane Fonda accepts the Oscar for her bed-ridden father Henry for his leading role in On Golden Pond. Katherine Hepburn is also honored for On Golden Pond while Jane Fonda loses in the Supporting Actress category to Maureen Stapleton for Reds.

Ghandi sweeps in most categories and a then-very pregnant Meryl Streep wins her second Academy Award (this time for Best Actress) in Sophie’s Choice. Double nominee Jessica Lange ( news) wins as Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie. Will Streep win Oscar number three this Sunday for her supporting role in Adaptation?

Terms of Endearment gets Best Picture with co-stars Shirley MacLaine ( news) (Best Actress) and Jack Nicholson (Best Supporting Actor) also honored. Pity poor Burt Reynolds ( news) — he passed on the role that went to Nicholson.

Yes Sally Field, Oscar really did like you in Places in the Heart – her second Academy Award. Best Picture: Amadeus.

Despite 11 nominations, Steven Spielberg ( news)’s The Color Purple fails to wins a single award. Epic Out of Africa is named Best Picture. Geraldine Page makes her first, and only, trip to the Oscar podium as Best Actress in The Trip To Bountiful.

After receiving an honorary Academy Award two years earlier, Paul Newman ( news) takes home the real thing in The Color of Money. Marlee Matlin ( news) (Children of a Lesser God) is named Best Actress. Best movie: Platoon.

I got you Oscar – Cher wins for Best Actress in Moonstruck. And the male winners are Michael Douglas ( news) (Best Actor for Wall Street) and Sean Connery ( news) (Best Supporting Actor for The Untouchables).

Dustin Hoffman and Rain Man are victorious with Jodie Foster ( news) winning her first Oscar for The Accused. Sigourney Weaver ( news) is a two-time loser for Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl.

Jessica Tandy ( news) (Driving Miss Daisy) and Daniel Day-Lewis ( news) (My Left Foot) take top acting prizes. Best Picture: Driving Miss Daisy. Best Supporting Actor: Denzel Washington ( news) for Glory. Odds are in favor of Day-Lewis winning his second Academy Award on Sunday.

Kevin Costner ( news) rides a wave of victory in Dances with Wolves with Kathy Bates ( news) (Misery) beating the more deserving Angelica Huston (The Grifters) for Best Actress. Will Bates win her second Oscar this Sunday for her supporting turn in About Schmidt?

Silence of the Lambs wins all major honors, including acting statuettes for Anthony Hopkins ( news) and Jodie Foster. Host Billy Crystal ( news) saturates the audience with Jack Palance ( news) jokes after the actor takes home the Supporting Actor Oscar for City Slickers.

After six failed attempts, Al Pacino ( news) steps up to the podium for his role in Scent of a Woman. Gene Hackman (Unforgiven) wins his second trophy, this time in the Supporting Actor category.

It’s Steven Spielberg’s year — finally — for Holocaust drama Schindler’s List. Best Actress: Holly Hunter ( news) in The Piano.

Tom Hanks ( news) (Forrest Gump) takes home his second consecutive trophy following his prior win for Philadelphia one year earlier. Best Picture: Forrest Gump.

Oscar finally shines on Susan Sarandon ( news) with a Best Actress win for Dead Man Walking. Mel Gibson ( news), meanwhile, makes two trips to the podium for Braveheart (Best Picture and Director).

Cuba Gooding ( news), Jr. tears the house down with his energetic acceptance speech after being named Best Supporting Actor for Jerry Maguire. Best Picture: The English Patient.

Self-proclaimed King of the World James Cameron ( news) wins for Titanic. Jack Nicholson snagged his third Academy Award, this time for As Good As it Gets. Most undeserving win: Helen Hunt ( news) for Best Actress in the same movie.

Shakespeare in Love surprises the masses by winning as Best Picture over favorite Saving Private Ryan. Most obnoxious winner: Roberto Benigni ( news) for Life Is Beautiful.

American Beauty wins Best Picture and Kevin Spacey ( news) snags his second Oscar following his Supporting Actor win for The Usual Suspects in 1995.

Gladiator, Russell Crowe ( news) and Julia Roberts ( news) (Erin Brockovich) — come on down!

Halle Berry ( news) (Monster’s Ball) becomes the first African American woman to win as Best Actress; Denzel Washington takes home Oscar number two — this time for Best Actor in Training Day.

Here are our picks for Sunday’s telecast:
-Picture: Chicago
-Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York)
-Actress: Nicole Kidman ( news) (The Hours)
-Director: Rob Marshall ( news) (Chicago)
-Supporting Actor: Chris Cooper ( news) (Adaptation)
-Supporting Actress: Catherine Zeta-Jones ( news) (Chicago)

Today in Entertainment History

Today in Entertainment History
Wednesday March 19 6:22 AM ET

On March 19, 1953, the Academy Awards were televised for the first time. “The Greatest Show On Earth” was named best picture. Gary Cooper won the best actor award for “High Noon.” Shirley Booth won best actress for her role in “Come Back, Little Sheba.”

_ In 1957, Elvis Presley bought Graceland.

_ In 1958, Cadence Records release the instrumental song “Rumble” by Link Wray, which later was credited with being the first heavy-metal song.

_In 1974, Jefferson Airplane began its first tour as Jefferson Starship.

_ In 1976, blues rock guitarist Paul Kossoff, formerly of Free, died aboard a plane en route from London to New York. He was 26. He died of unknown causes, but he had been plagued by heart problems.

_ In 1982, guitarist Randy Rhoads of Ozzy Osbourne’s band was killed in a freak plane crash in Leesburg, Fla. He was 25. The plane was buzzing Osbourne’s tour bus and crashed into a house.

_ In 1996, the second installment of the Beatles’ “Anthology” album was released, featuring the song “Real Love.”

_ In 2000, a batch of Oscars was found in a trash can in Los Angeles, a week after being stolen from a loading dock.

Today’s Birthdays:

_ Actor Patrick McGoohan is 75.

_ Actress Renee Taylor (“The Nanny”) is 70.

_ Actress Phyllis Newman is 68.

_ Actress Ursula Andress is 67.

_ Singer Clarence “Frogman” Henry is 66.

_ Guitarist Paul Atkinson of The Zombies is 57.

_ Singer Ruth Pointer of the Pointer Sisters is 57.

_ Actress Glenn Close is 56.

_ Actor Bruce Willis is 48.

_ Guitarist-keyboardist Gert Bettens of K’s Choice is 33.

_ Drummer Zach Lind of Jimmy Eat World is 27.

_ Actor Craig Lamar Traylor (“Malcolm in the Middle”) is 14.

Tobey Backing Out of Spidey Sequel?

Tobey Backing Out of Spidey Sequel?
Tuesday March 18 1:20 PM ET

Doing whatever a spider can has apparently taken its toll on Tobey Maguire.

The Spider-Man star might be forced to hang up those red and blue tights and sit out Columbia Pictures’ hotly anticipated sequel because of a bad back.

According to the actor’s camp, Maguire is still recovering from “mild discomfort in his back,” which he aggravated while shooting two physically demanding roles: Spider-Man, followed 18 months later by the four-month shoot for Universal’s horse-racing drama, Seabiscuit, in which he played jockey Red Pollard.

“With an April 12 start date around the corner, everyone involved wants to be certain he is able to do the intense stunts,” Maguire’s rep, Kelly Bush, said in a statement, noting that he’s in “the final stages of healing.”

Maguire snagged a whopping $17 million payday–more than four times what he made for Spider-Man–to reprise his role as the friendly neighborhood arachnid superhero in director Sam Raimi’s The Amazing Spider-Man.

But if Maguire’s still in sick bay come early April and not deemed not well enough to battle the criminally demented likes of Dr. Octopus (played by Alfred Molina), studio sources tell Daily Variety that producers are considering replacing Maguire with Jake Gyllenhaal.

Gyllenhaal has become something of a hot commodity in Hollywood after his star turns in Donnie Darko, The Good Girl and Moonlight Mile.

Besides his geeky teenage looks and passable resemblance to Maguire, Gyllenhaal also has something else going for him–chemistry. He happens to be the offscreen boyfriend of Maguire’s Spider-Man costar Kirsten Dunst, who plays Peter Parker’s love interest, Mary Jane Watson.

With the sequel start date less than a month away, Gyllenhaal probably needs to make sure to renew that Bally’s membership. In order to swing from skyscrapers, Gyllenhaal would need to bulk up, like Maguire did for the first film.

In The Amazing Spider-Man, our fearless webslinger must save the world from the clutches of his arch-nemesis, the freaky four-tentacled evil scientist Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Dr. Octopus, or, as Marvel Comic devotees lovingly call him, Doc Ock.

Production on the sequel has already been a bit sticky. Shooting was supposed to commence in January but was delayed to accommodate Maguire, who didn’t wrap Seabiscuit until last month. Further complicating the calendar is Dunst’s commitment to start filming the tennis flick, Wimbledon, this summer, as well as Columbia’s insistence on meeting the Spidey sequel’s release date on May 7, 2004.

The studio has a good reason to stay on schedule. Last year, on May 3, the first Spider-Man opened and went on to become the biggest-grossing film of 2002, with $800 million in worldwide ticket sales at the box office.

Meanwhile, in other Spidey news, a B-movie filmmaker has spun a lawsuit against Columbia, accusing the company of stealing the plot of his 17-year-old screenplay for Spider-Man.

Writer-director Ted Newsom, the force behind such low-budget epics as Monsters & Maniacs and Wolfman Chronicles, claims that a Spider-Man script he penned with partner John Brancato for Cannon Films back in 1985 was used as the basis for David Koepp’s Spidey screenplay.

Koepp was awarded sole screenplay credit by the Writers Guild of America. But, according to his suit, Newsom claims Columbia failed to include his work in documents filed with the WGA, meaning he never had a shot at getting a credit.

Newsom seeks more than $31 million in damages.

A spokesman for Columbia declined to comment on the Maguire report or the lawsuit, pending litigation.