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A look ahead

Here’s a preview of the stories we’re working on for Daily Variety tomorrow. These stories will be available on the Variety Web site after midnight Pacific Time. Sign up now to have the top stories emailed to you each day.

PARTY: If there’s one clear trend for this year’s Academy Award parties, it’s this: the awards might be handed out on Sunday, but most of the celebrating will be on Saturday. This year’s fundamental change is that four studios with nominated best picture films — Universal, DreamWorks, USA Films and Miramax — won’t be having after-parties on Oscar night. However, all will be celebrating the night before within walking distance of each other.

HERZOG: USA Network has hired Doug Herzog for the new title of president, Herzog’s first post since the Fox Network fired him as president of entertainment in March 2000. Herzog is president only of USA Network, not its sister Sci Fi Channel, and his power to greenlight projects is subject to the whims of Stephen Chao, who’ll be Herzog’s boss. One of Chao’s top lieutenants exits.

MARKET: So what’s behind last year’s 11% spike in film marketing costs? Moderator Charles C. Koones and his panel of top marketing execs from New Line, Miramax, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Disney may be able to tell us.

KLEIN: Screenwriter Marc Klein (“Serendipity”) has been hired to pen the feature adaptation of Melissa Banks’ bestselling short story collection, “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing” for Catch 23 Entertainment.

MARMUR: Ori Marmur has been promoted to executive VP of production for Paramount-based Mandalay Pictures

YAHOO: Trading in shares of Yahoo Inc. was halted shortly after Wall Street opened Wednesday in advance of a “significant announcement” from the leading Internet portal. For months, rumors have circulated that Yahoo would merge with another company, most likely an entertainment titan, and Wednesday’s move renewed that speculation.

EMUSIC: Internet music firm EMusic.com Wednesday became the latest company to sue song-swap service Napster Inc. for copyright infringement. The company also sued Napster for unfair competition.

24HOURS: Stuart Townsend (“Queen of the Damned”) gets the lead in the Col pic “24 Hours.”

SONGS: RIAA and NEA release top 365 songs from the previous century at a Library of Congress ceremony. Many of the “songs” on the list are actually albums. Songs selected in collaboration with Scholastic Inc. and AOL@School. Project designed to promote musical heritage in schools.

RATES: NBC comedy “The Fighting Fitzgeralds,” sandwiched between two episodes of “Frasier,” has a strong premiere on Tuesday.

QUEER: Showtime has renewed “Queer as Folk” for another season.

MGMT: Managers Mikkel Bondesen and Jeff Graup join forces to form Graup/Bondeson, which specializes in scribes.

FINELINE: Fine Line is promoting several people in publicity, including Lina Plath, from manager to director of East Coast publicity, and Michelle Panzer, who’s now a publicity director.

SAGWA: CineGroupe and Sesame workshop have greenlit production of 40 episodes of half-hour, animated daily skein, “Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat,” based on Amy Tan’s children’s book of the same name. Series will begin airing on PBS Kids in the fall.

TRIBUTE: TNT will present “An All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson” with Radio City Music Hall on March 29, to feature perfs by Wilson in addition to Paul Simon, Elton John, Heart, Aimee Mann and Michael Penn.

MORE SHOWEST

DIGITAL: Technicolor and its partner Qualcomm announced a plan to fund the conversion of movie theaters to digital by diverting a few pennies on each B.O. dollar.

INSIDE MOVES

TURNER: CNN founder Ted Turner, in town last week for a retirement party for anchor Bernard Shaw, left the staff stunned after a meeting at the net’s Washington bureau. It was Ash Wednesday and a number of those present had a smudge on their foreheads. “What are you,” asked Turner, “a bunch of Jesus freaks? You ought to be working for Fox.” Fox News dutifully reported the story Tuesday night on “Special Report With Brit Hume.”

BUSINESS

TWE: In light of court throwing out national cable cap, FCC chairman Michael Powell says reg agency is reviewing its order that AT&T divest its stake in Time Warner Entertainment. AT&T’s merger with MediaOne pushed it over the 30% ownership cap. FCC had thus ordered the telco to dump TWE.

MESSIER: Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier joining board of New York Stock Exchange. A select appointment, very few non-U.S. members.

SAG: Strikebreaker rolls continue to grow with the Screen Actors Guild receiving evidence within the past month of several hundred additional Hollywood-based actors having crossed picket lines during last year’s commercials strike.

WORLD

TAX: The U.K. government has given a big boost to the British film industry by extending the tax break on production for another three years.

MOVIE: Two of Blighty’s minority webs have joined forces to share TV rights to the Oscar-nominated pic, “Gladiator,” as part of a package acquired from Universal believed to be worth in excess of $10 million.

EMTV: Things were looking grimmer for beleaguered German kidvidder EM.TV on Wednesday as another group of investors demanded compensation of around DM 25 million ($11.9 million) from the company.

ROGERS: Canada’s largest cabler, Rogers Communication, has been accused of threatening producers after it lobbied them to back a move to allow cablers to own analog channels.

STAR: Warner Bros. Intl. Television Distribution has signed a multi-year free television deal with Greece’s Star Channel, it was announced Wednesday.

REVIEWS

FILM: Blow Dry

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