GOOD MORNING and congrats Oscar nominees: Now the Oscar show can be written — not only the obvious intros of the nominees by presenters but also how/who to present the nominated songs, and how to present the musical scores and whether they lend themselves to a production (dance) number. If there is to be one, Debbie Allen (who choreographed five Oscar shows for producer Gil Cates) will do it, Cates confirmed Monday even before the nominees were announced this ayem. Following the monster launch of “Hannibal,” is Oscar host Steve Martin being fitted for a Hannibal Lecter mask, a la Billy Crystal’s? … Meanwhile, as the Oscars are off and running, here’s the current lineup of the Feb. 21 Grammys: Madonna opens the awards show with her production. Performers following include ‘N Sync, Destiny’s Child, Paul Simon, Faith Hill, U2, Blue Man Group, Christina Aguilera, Macy Gray, Marc-Andre Hamelin and Eminem & Elton John in duet on “Stan.” As for the host, it’s down to a choice from among a final trio of names … Talking music and awards, Oscar-winning composer Elmer Bernstein is celebrating his 50th anniversary of tuning pix. The 1951 “Saturday’s Hero” was his first. On Sunday, he conducts a special Fred Astaire tribute at London’s Palladium to benefit the Montserrat earthquake victims. Among the songs in the medley is “The Continental.” Bernstein conducted the Oscars the last time Astaire danced in those awards in 1968. They remained friends for many years — and fellow race track aficionados as well. The London Palladium event is being produced by Astaire’s daughter Ava McKenzie and, says Elmer, “It will be an affectionate look at things he did.” After London, Bernstein wings to Rome to confab with Martin Scorsese as Elmer will score “The Gangs of New York.” It will be the sixth time they have teamed on a film. While Bernstein conducts for pix, concert halls and symphonies, he also takes time (as he did Thursday) to conduct the Walnut High School orch; they played his themes from “The Magnificent Seven,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Great Escape,” etc. “Kids are great,” he noted, but lamented, “you don’t get much of a chance to write melodic themes any more. John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and I still write music the old way. We’re not synthesizer people.”
I DECIDED TO DO IT in my home town,” says Debbie Allen of her Dance Academy, which she bowed last week in Culver City; already she has 200 students from 4-17 enrolled. She had launched her school at the Kennedy Center but decided to now have it here. “I take only serious students,” she affirmed. The students are all colors, black, white, Latino, Asian, and the teachers come from as far away as Russia and Africa. The classes include jazz, classical, ballet, hip hop, modern — and, on Monday nights, a “hot salsa session.” Meanwhile she is also directing PBS Hollywood Presents’ production of “The Old Settler,” in which she also costars and co-exec produces with her sister Phylicia Rashad. It’s the first drama produced on the KCET Hollywood lot since “An Enemy of the People” in 1990; it starred John Glover. They are filming the 90-minute, Harlem-set feature in 12 days with one camera, high definition, four-walled sets. Debbie edits as they shoot; the show airs April 25 on PBS. If she’s to do the Oscars March 25, Allen will not be getting much sleep in the next month. She’s also developing a series for the Fox Family Channel, “which has a lot to do with dance.” Jennifer Wharton is scripting. Rashad heads back to the theater on completion here, with “Blue” now making its way to B’way after its D.C. bow last year.
“SHANE, COME BACK SHANE!” The 1953 George Stevens classic starring Alan Ladd, one of the films chose by the National Archives Preservation program, is being shown at U.S. Embassy programs around the world. Coincidentally tonight in Prague where MGM’s “Hart’s War” is shooting, producer David Ladd (who was 17 when his father died) addresses the invited audience. David Foster and Arnold Rifkin also produce. Ladd told me he is “thrilled” about the opportunity to speak at the embassy. “Hart’s War” is shooting interiors at Prague’s busy Barrandov Studios; exteriors including a WWII p.o.w. camp. “The script calls for 10,000, but with the wonders of technology,” says Ladd, “we can do it with 3,000.(!?)” The pic stars Bruce Willis; his salary is $20 million of the film’s $70 million budget. It is directed by Gregory Hoblit, who almost ran down Willis in a crosswalk in their hometown of Sun Valley! The dramatic film is based on the novel by John Katzenbach whose father, Nicholas was himself a p.o.w. and later became attorney general of the U.S. Young Colin Farrell, who costars, is getting a rave from the producers, who must spring him in time to start “Minority Report” for Steven Spielberg. “War’s” over the first week in May … Back home in BevHills, Rodeo Drive got a glamorous shot in the arm — excuse it, foot — with the bow of Stuart Weitzman’s boutique. The world-famous designer of the large line of ladies’ shoes admitted, “If it’s not comfortable I don’t make it.” How do you know they’re comfortable? I asked. “I have a wife and two daughters,” he said, smiling at wife (and partner) Jane W. and daughters Rachel Sage and Elizabeth W. Mary Hart and Patricia Heaton hosted the party created by Randy Fuhrman.