Hanks says ‘nothing like’ Oscar nom process

GOOD MORNING: A nice way to start my week — chatting with two Oscar nominees, Tom Hanks (“Cast Away”) and Albert Finney (“Erin Brockovich”). Coincidentally, Tom told me he had been sitting behind Albert last week at the BAFTA awards, when Finney received the Academy Fellowship Award. Hanks rose with the audience to give Finney a standing ovation. Hanks was in L.A. over the weekend from Chicago, where this week he’s starting “The Road to Perdition” with another movie giant, Paul Newman, who plays Hanks’ gangland boss. Of course, Hanks will wing back to L.A. for the Oscars. Hanks sums up that between the morning of the nomination announcements and when “you find you have a shot at it, and people come up to you and talk about it, until the time you walk down that red carpet — there’s nothing like it!” He knows from (happy) experience: This is his fifth nomination, with two wins. Hanks is again taking on a challenging role in “Perdition”; he’s on the other side of the law. “It’s a story of betrayal and retribution,” he says. Will the audience be pulling for his character as in his Oscar-noted roles (“Big,” “Philadelphia,” “Forrest Gump,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Cast Away”)? “I think so.” As for his character in “Cast Away”: “In that one,” he believes, “the audience was rooting for the idea” — that someone could survive all adversities. He said he’d work again with Robert Zemeckis “any time, any place. He gets the most amazing work out of me, and makes it seem like it’s not work.” In “Perdition,” the gangster era will be represented by Al Capone (played by Alfred Molina) and Frank Nitti (as played by Stanley Tucci) … Hanks, who has been leading the campaign for a WWII Memorial in D.C., modestly told me it is going “according to schedule,” with dedication anticipated for Veterans’ Day 2002. He also directed segment five of the 10-part, $120 million HBO series, that will air in mid-September “Band of Brothers.” We agreed that “Private Ryan “re-introduced focus on a story (too) long dormant. It reminded everyone of the compelling, important focus for our history. The modern world was born in the follow-up to WWII. It entered the national consciousness.”

ALBERT FINNEY SAYS HE’S TEMPTED to rejoin Steven Soderbergh (who directed him for his fifth Oscar nom in “Erin Brockovich”) in Soderbergh’s current “Ocean’s Eleven,” which stars Julia Roberts (whom he loved working with in “Brockovich”). But which remaining role would Finney play? ” I thought I’d do an imitation of Cesar Romero,” the versatile Finney laughed. He’d returned to London after a trip to New Zealand, and at the airport baggage carousel someone also awaiting his luggage noted to Finney, “You were great in ‘Traffic.’ ” Finney responded, “I should be good, I’ve had a driving license for 40 years!” The fan was talking of course, not about traffic but about “Traffic.” Albert said, “For a moment I forgot I was in that film (a one-day cameo for Soderbergh), Finney said he did the part “as a surprise for Michael (Douglas). Steven called me for the one-day role and didn’t tell him (Douglas). On the call sheet my name was ‘Miles Archer,’ the partner of Sam Spade in ‘The Maltese Falcon.’ And when I went on the set in Pasadena, I walked behind an a.d. so no one could see me, with my shorn head, and I was introduced to Michael as ‘Archer’.” He, of course, enjoyed the prank and the part, since it was another film of relevance with Soderbergh. “I’m hoping he regards me as a totem, to be in all of his films.” Meanwhile, Finney has completed the “My Uncle Silas,” a 6-1/2-hour series for Yorkshire TV. His role: “an old rogue who drinks his homemade wine and likes the ladies. It’s a bit of a stretch for me,” Finney laughed heartily. Although nominated four times previously, Finney was never able to get here in time for the awards. “Should I come this time?” he modestly asked me. You know I told him “Yes!”
NOT SO FAST! The cast and crew of NBC’s “Diagnosis Murder” toasted the end of the series last week, its eighth season being its last one. Not so fast. The show has been diagnosed with a recovery via two, two-hour movies to air next season, which will start filming March 26 … Jerry Seinfeld is ready to make his formal return to the biz with his act March 20 at the Par in Oakland. He’s also been filmed for a feature docu as he readies his return. Gary Streiner and Christian Charles, who did his American Express commercials (one is still unreleased after two years — but he wound another recently), have filmed Seinfeld at his workout clubs and backstage with fellow comics for the docu which will start with — his walk on stage at the Par. It segues back to Garry Shandling burying his jokes in a coffin on the HBO’er. … Truth in advertising? Friday’s L.A.Times full page, color ad for WB’s “See Spot Run” boasted this teaser: “Attention All Muggles! See the ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ trailer on the big screen with ‘See Spot Run.'” Among the parents who were dragged to the theaters (this one the AMC, Rolling Hills) was Discovery Channel producer Paul Buller whose son (9) and daughter (11) are “Potter Muggles.” P.S. no trailer was shown and they had to sit through “See Spot Run” which Daily Variety‘s reviewer Robert Koehler calls “a thoroughly forgettable late-winter release that only adds to this season’s abysmal comedy roster.”

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