GOOD MORNING and good luck, Oscar nominees: Sunday’s 5.3 aftershock (!) caused no panic during rehearsals for the Oscars at the Music Center but everyone showed some apprehension about the strength of the quake. And the giant chandeliers in the Dorothy Chandler started to tingle, as did the audience, which thought it was the beginning of the opening of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Young Elijah Wood was on the podium at the time — he was a last-minute replacement for Macaulay Culkin. The cause of his bowing out — of course, his father wanted to write their own script. … Ironically, Wood is presenting the award for — special effects. How realistic can you get? The envelope will be presented by one of the “Jurassic Park” dinosaurs, and had Macaulay made the presentation, Whoopi Goldberg would have quipped to him and the dino, “Your dad is looking good these days”… Another presenter fall-out was Andie MacDowell, who was flu-felled. She was replaced by Shirley MacLaine and Nicolas Cage, currently sharing the big screen in “Guarding Tess”… Presenter Jeff Bridges was discussing his script with Gil Cates in the producer’s office backstage when the quake struck. He was definitely concerned since he lost two houses in the Jan. 17 quake. There were no immediate signs of any damage backstage or in the theater and rehearsal continued apace but there was quite a bit of obvious conversation beyond Oscar for the first time. Academy officials were socked in another way to learn that Bob Werden, for 14 years the very able publicity chief for Oscar, turned in his resignation on Thursday. He will be sorely missed … Whoopi Goldberg SOS’d Ray Aghayan, Oscar’s costume chief, to quick whip up a spectacular gown for her to open the show. So, over the weekend, she was fitting a long, cognac-colored, chiffon-velvet gown with a train, empire bustline, sweetheart neckline and long sleeves. I couldn’t make this up — Aghayan himself described it for me. Whoopi will wear the gown at the show’s opening, then slips into her Armani modified tails for the remainder of the show … Even Steven Spielberg will be in an Armani tux. He’ll be accompanied by wife Kate Capshaw, his mom and two of his sisters — and he doesn’t plan on any party-hopping — at this point. This, too, is subject to change without notice. Other nominees who’ll be Armani’d include: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson and husband Kenneth Branagh, Winona Ryder, Rosie Perez and Leonardo Di Caprio (he paid off his former agent Darryl Marshak $ 100 — Marshak bet Leonardo he’d get nominated for this role. P.S., the young thesp is now repped by CAA) … Nancy Kerrigan, who appears in one of the Revlon commercials airing on the Oscar show, will be accompanied by Jerry Levin, Revlon’s prez/CEO, and George Fellows, chairman of Revlon North America. Nancy will be in a full-length black gown by Vera Wang. And Revlon spokeswoman Claudia Schiffer will be on hand with fiance David Copperfield. Schiffer will be in a Gianni Versace fuchsia silk and lace gown … En route here tonight to accept his Jean Hersholt award, Paul Newman stopped in D.C. last Friday to attend a White House screening of “The Hudsucker Proxy.” Wonder if he brought along some Newman’s Own (great!) popcorn. On hand for the screening, Ethan and Joel Coen, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Bill Cobbs … Ireland’s Jim Sheridan holds his Oscar party — where else — at Jimmy Murphy’s BevHills eatery.
WHO SEZ A NOMINATION isn’t meaningful? Stockard Channing’s dance card is really full following her “Six Degrees of Separation” nod. And she admits it. After 3 1/2 years with the legit and pic version of “Separation,” she sez, “It’s nice to know there’s life after it.” And how. And her roles are totally varied: In June she starts “Smoke” as a “one-eyed babe from Pittsburgh” with Harvey Keitel, William Hurt and Forrest Whitaker in Brooklyn. In August, she heads South to play a “rural, battered wife” in “To Wong Fu” with the trio of transvestites led by Wesley Snipes. She completed playing an eccentric 1908 minister’s wife in “The Road to Avonlea” for Disney and will be in competition with herself on the air some time in April with “David’s Mother” for CBS. “These are a long way from Park Avenue,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier. I’m grateful for the nomination.” Channing also hosted the GLAAD Media Awards Saturday at the Century Plaza, where Aaron Spelling got a special award for his positive portrayals of gay and lesbian characters in his many shows … Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. is wearing several hats these days and adding to his LoGo Entertainment company’s plate as well. He’s now filming “Ray Alexander: Murder in Mind,” a two-hour NBC-Viacom vidpic, one of several for this private investigator, freed from a wrongful prison sentence — who also owns Ray’s Backyard Cafe. An entertainer will guest in each show; the first is Ray Charles and Gossett says he’s planning Tony Bennett for the next … Co-starring are James Coburn, Ossie Davis, Tracy Nelson, Danny Nucci and Robert Gossett in the SanFran-set show, directed by Gary Nelson.