No props for Wild and Crazy Guy, Julia loves the world

GOOD MORNING and congrats Oscar winners. The Shrine shook with joy along with Julia Roberts, who finally topped Sally Field’s “You like me, you really like me!” with her joy-filled “I love the world!” Three hours into the show, she gave it new life. At that late stage, Arthur C. Clarke’s live presentation from Sri Lanka was another enlivening moment for this Oscar show, which was certainly one of the best in years. The new winners like Cameron Crowe, who gave a loving nod to Billy Wilder, pleased this Oscar audience, as it had earlier given standing ovations to veterans Dino De Laurentiis and Ernest Lehman. Host Steve Martin kept it from being saccharine when he followed Lehman’s acceptance speech by saying, “At the beginning of this evening, Mr. Lehman was 24 years old.” The standing ovation to Jack Cardiff also was heartfelt. The aud was ready and waiting for that moment, and they responded to his body of work. Another spectacular segment was the Bob Dylan acceptance live via satellite from Australia. The audience at the Shrine got to watch Dylan at length on the bigscreen onstage while home viewers watched cutaways to and from the segment. The Shrine aud got an extra treat in the super-closeups to Dylan. Another segment that received prolonged applause from the folks at the Shrine was the classy classical duet by Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman playing the nominated scores. Roy Christopher’s magnificent set was a tribute to the final (maybe) show on the giant Shrine stage, and he used it to its best. Another seg appreciated by the live Shrine audience was Coco Lee’s singing and the dance number to “A Love Before Time.” Martin, in his calm, collected delivery, was modest when he said, “Hosting the Oscars is like making love to a beautiful woman. I only get to do it when Billy Crystal is out of town.” Judging by this Shrine aud last night, he can come back any time he wants.

STEVE MARTIN WANTED HIS INITIAL OUTING as Oscar’s ringmaster to be “classical.” Maybe next year he’ll do some wild and crazy things. But this time, he told me he wanted to do it this way — his way. The writers suggested he use several different props, but he nixed ’em. He was even asked to play banjo — in a trio with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman. No! But he did OK. The show’s creative opening, where his likeness was dropped from the orbiting space station Alpha, was producer Gil Cates’ idea. He was at NASA HQ at the shuttle launching and met with agency boss Dan Goldin to work out the stunt, which involved the Martin likeness going aboard, rehearsal of the dialogue that followed and the “jettisoning of Martin” into space — and onto the Shrine stage. Cates had made contact with the space men seven years ago for the “Oscars in Space” seg honoring George Lucas. Fortunately, the astronaut seg was pre-taped. It had been planned to be live, but the time of the Oscars would have interrupted their sleep cycle. Cates said the MPA’s Jack Valenti was very helpful in securing NASA’s cooperation. The footage leading up to the space station was created by Mike Shapiro, who for the past eight years has also created the memorable “In Memoriam” seg of the show. It has become an indispensable part of the awards. … As for next year’s Oscar show, Acad prexy Bob Rehme told me he’s given the Shrine “a deposit” — just in case the new Kodak Theater — home of future Oscarcasts — is not ready. Meanwhile, all are hopeful that the theater in the development at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue will be usable well in advance of Oscar 2002. Its first program is anticipated to be a musical revue of classic movie numbers and would be staged/aired the last week of November or the first week in December. … Miramax took on the tab of “Chocolat” producer David Brown “from Friday on” over the past weekend, Brown laughed. The previous two days were on Paramount’s tab as Brown met with international press for the Morgan Freeman starrer “Along Came a Spider.” Brown, who had been a staunch supporter of “Chocolat” throughout the campaign, was good to the last drop: He and wife Helen Gurley Brown even participated in Miramax’s annual nominees party Saturday night at the BevWilshire.

THE PARTY WAS MORE CROWDED THAN EVER — even Barbra Streisand and husband Jim Brolin dropped by. I asked Harvey howcum Barbra made the scene. His answer: “She’s my friend and I just asked her.” Can a project be percolating between Barwood and Miramax? It was inevitable that I ask Harvey what’s happening with Martin Scorsese’s “The Gangs of New York,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, in Rome. He happily said principal photography ends in a week, followed by a week of “action” scenes. … The most lavish pre-Oscar party was again Ed Limato’s — in his magnificent home, where 400 guests segued from cocktails in the main house to dinner in a giant tent over the swimming pool. Limato has added a state-of-the-art screening room, where a touch of the finger produces any form of bigscreen movie or TV entertainment. Among the guests: Limato client Steve Martin, totally cool and relaxed on the eve of the big night. Also there: Jay Leno, who has nixed Oscar emceeing in the past and played a one-niter in Vegas before watching the Oscar show in Hollywood. Roseanne, seated with the Lenos, said she’d like to go out again and do standup. Jay said everyone’s back doing it — Seinfeld, Arsenio, etc. Roseanne said she’d also like to have another turn at a talkshow — her way. Among the guests, Norman Jewison, who produced the Oscars once, called it “an experience in terror” and added, “But Gil Cates enjoys it.” And he does! Other guests here included “Traffic’s” Ed Zwick and Laura Bickford, the Alan Ladds Jr., the Dick Donners and Martin Short, who’s readying his new series. Also the Irwin Winklers; he just wound “Life as a House” and started “Enough” immediately. Bernie Brillstein was getting congrats — he gets his star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame April 18. Visitors from outta town included Bobby Zarem and Lynn Wyatt. Also there, Elizabeth Hurley, Wendy Stark, Freddie Fields, Bob Evans, Steve Tisch, Leonard Goldberg, the Joe Roths (they just wound “America’s Sweethearts”), Renny Harlin, Jonathan Dolgen and Wolfgang Puck on a busman’s holiday — Mary Micucci catered. Wolfie worked Saturday at Spago for DreamWorks, Sunday for Oscar’s Governors’ Ball. Also at Limato’s was Jeffrey Katzenberg. Although DreamWorks had its pre-Oscar party at Spago, it also put a hold on a small party — should it win — at Dominick’s. Howcum no big post-party planned? They remembered when “Saving Private Ryan” was expected to win — but “Shakespeare in Love” dark-horsed in. Also here, Jack Valenti, Oliver Stone (writing his next pic and planning to avoid going the studio system to get it made). And Ellen DeGeneres, Ellen Burstyn, members of the Marvin Davis family. Also Elton John, who celebrated his birthday Sunday but said he was already toasted last week in London. You can be sure he got a cake at his AIDS foundation Oscar party Sunday at Moomba. While in town, Elton also posed at a hot dog stand for the cover of his all-L.A. CD. Others here, the newly wed Barry Dillers (Diane Von Furstenberg). They also gave a party (Oriental rugs on the lawn) Saturday afternoon at his home. The Limato guests also included Sandy Gallin, Mace Neufeld, Ed Gross and wife Marcie, Larry Gordon, Scott Berg, working hard on his second 10-year project, the Woodrow Wilson bio (following his Lindbergh), Dino Conte, Jerry Vale, Anjelica Huston and, as always, Limato’s parents.

THE ACADEMY DOESN’T FORGET: Last year, Acad members Renee Taylor and husband Joe Bologna turned back their Oscar seats as they were appearing onstage in “If You Ever Leave Me, I’m Going With You.” This year they were available — and the Acad remembered their honesty — so the Bolognas were sitting in prime Shrine seats. And yes, they will be reprising the show on B’way with Marty Melzer producing — “as soon as a theater becomes available.” Meanwhile, Renee bows April 17 in “An Evening With Golda Meir” at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale. … Of course the talk all weekend was not only Oscar, but also “the strikes.” Among projects that wound in time for cast members to move to another pic pre-deadline: “Vanilla Sky,” starring Tom Cruise. Cameron Crowe, who directed, will now take pen in hand again — he won the original screenplay Oscar for “Almost Famous” Sunday. While Julia Roberts rushed from “America’s Sweethearts” to “Ocean’s Eleven,” Benjamin Bratt will be apart from her as he starts “Abandon” in Montreal for Oscar-winning “Traffic” scripter Stephen Gaghan, who will also direct. Bratt told me he’ll play an alcoholic detective. And now on to a new week and non-Oscar news in Hollywood. Except for the ratings!!

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