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Advancing Oz cause

Down Under's stars feted in H'wood

Hugh Jackman, Olivia Newton-John and rockers INXS will be honored at the Penfolds Icon Black Tie Gala celebrating Australia’s Hollywood high achievers Saturday at the Hollywood Palladium.

The gala, in its third year, will launch G’Day LA: Australia Week 2006. Annual tradeshow spotlights Aussie film, arts, fashion, business, tourism, food, wine and sports.

The public can experience Australian culture first hand at the Wolf Blass Aussie Festival on Sunday at UCLA, where “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin will host a one-hour stage show featuring aboriginal dance group Tjapukai and some of the world’s most endangered animals.

Ausfilm, Australia’s one-stop production agency, is hosting an information breakfast Jan. 17 at which prexy Ian Robertson will tubthump the government’s 12.5% tax rebate, which now can be applied to TV skeins. Incentive had applied only to films since it was introduced in September 2001.

Industry efforts to persuade the government to allow producers to claim for a bundle of telepics have so far gone unheeded, as have calls for incentives for the post-production and digital effects sectors.

With no large-scale shoots yet announced for 2006, the production sector wants to maximize exposure in the G’Day LA: Australia Week event and champion its work on a raft of upcoming releases.

Pics already shooting in Oz includes Paramount’s “Charlotte’s Web,” Fox Searchlight’s “Aquamarine,” Sony’s Nicolas Cage vehicle “Ghost Rider,” Warner’s “Superman Returns” and toon “Happy Feet” from Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow.

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