And the ballots go out

Final ballots in all 23 Oscar categories went out Thursday to the 4,755 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

AMPAS prexy Arthur Hiller said these ballots must be received in the offices of Oscar auditors Price Waterhouse by 5 p.m., March 15.

Votes will then be tabulated and the winners’ names will be placed in sealed envelopes, which will be opened during the March 21 ABC telecast of the 66th annual Academy Awards presentation.

The Academy also announced a March 8 date for its nominee luncheon at the Intl. Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton.

The luncheon, which allows nominees to gather without the tension of awards night, has confirmations from Steven Spielberg, Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson, Tom Hanks, Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, Ralph Fiennes, Holly Hunter, Stockard Channing, Peter Weller, Elmer Bernstein, James Newton Howard, Carole Bayer Sager, James Ingram, John Calley, Arnold Kopelson, Branko Lustig, Rosie Perez, Winona Ryder, Jim Sheridan and Janet Jackson.

Hiller will present each nominee with an AMPAS certificate in recognition of their Oscar nod.

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