Cates thinks diverse noms make for good TV

GOOD MORNING: One of those happiest about the Oscar nominations is Gil Cates, who says their “broadest possible spectrum” will help make for a good show. Of course, the song nominations will require some ingenuity to stage, since three of ’em, by Elton John and Tim Rice, are from “The Lion King.” But they can get some big yuks from the lyrics of “Hakuna Matata.” Of the other two song nominees , Carole Bayer Sager (who co-wrote “Look What Love Has Done” from “Junior”) was elated to have a nomination, second year in a row. It convinced her, “Maybe I can really do this without Burt (Bacharach).” She’s now writing with Neil Diamond — a song for Steven Spielberg’s animated “Balto.” And they continue their songwriting relationship with an upcoming animated feature, “Cyrano,” for WB. And Sager continues her personal relationship with Bob Daly. He and Nancy are now divorced … Thomas Newman (39) continues the family tradition with his first two nominations, for the scores of “The Lion King” and “The Shawshank Redemption,” but admits he’ll never equal his dad Alfred’s record of 45 nominations and nine Oscars. He’s now scoring the Diane Keaton-directed Disney feature “Unstrung Heroes,” and next the Winona Ryder starrer “How to Make an American Quilt”… Nominees Tom Hanks, John Travolta and Paul Newman, to whom I spoke, were all understandably elated, but all had hoped that some of their co-workers would also receive nominations. Newman hoped for Jessica Tandy to get a nod; Hanks, for Sally Field and Robin Wright. And Travolta, for Bruce Willis. But, Hanks admitted, “We are all very lucky to be working in showbiz!” He credited Bob Zemeckis as being “the hardest-working man in the business”… Travolta, savoring the moment, noted, “How can things get much better?” He, too, was deluged with TV and print interviews starting on the early morning shoot of “Get Shorty.” “What happens if I don’t get it?” he wondered as the TV cameras were trained on him as the nominations were announced! And as the scribes converged on the nonplussed Travolta, he told me, “It was like a Joan Crawford movie!” His plate continues to spill over with pix: He starts “Broken Arrow” in May, has an early ’96 date on “The Lady Takes an Ace” and is now being talked for a summer start in yet another pic, “Donnie Brasco,” co-starring Al Pacino.

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BOB ZEMECKIS, while understandably thrilled with “Forrest Gump’s” 13 nominations, joined Hanks in feeling disappointed that Field and Wright didn’t get nods — also Joanna Johnston for her costume design. As for the possibility of a sequel, Zemeckis said, “It would really have to be inspired — and it would have to have Tom Hanks.” He reminds that the problem with sequels is, “Everyone has an opinion of what it should be!” He’s putting his directing hat away for a while but produces “The Frighteners,” with Peter Jackson, nominated for co-writing “Heavenly Creatures,” as director of the Michael J. Fox starrer to film in New Zealand doubling for New England — at a better production cost … Up in Vancouver on the “Man With a Gun” location, nominee Jennifer Tilly admitted she, too, was enjoying the sudden surge of press interest. As the alphabetically arranged nominations were announced, she didn’t think she got one, as Uma Thurman preceded her! Recalling working with director Woody Allen on the nominated “Bullets Over Broadway,” she said, “With Woody, you feel the approval emanating from him — he never says, ‘You were great.’ “… In addition to the obvious conversations about “Gump’s” plethora of praises, talk around town centered on the many (22) Miramax nominations and the three nominations for “Red,” although it was nixed in the foreign-language film category.

ROSEANNE AND GROOM Ben Thomas are honeymooning in a Lake Tahoe house, loaned ’em by Rip Taylor as a wedding present, he says. He’s in the house rental biz up there with Bob Lindner, and says the place usually goes for $ 2,000 a day. Rip, also a “heavy investor” in Debbie Reynolds’ Las Vegas hotel (and a performer there weekends), next heads out on a one-man show, “Let ‘Er Rip”… The “Little Death” Island Pictures troupe shut down temporarily and all members of the company took to safety when a gunman was reported on the loose in the Elysian Park area near Dodger Stadium (and Parker Center) where they were locationing Tuesday. They were to shoot a car crash sequence with Brent Fraser and Dwight Yoakam. Late in the day, police caught a suspect and the film’ers got their first shot at 3:30 p.m. … Sally Kirkland had agreed to appear on “Geraldo” while undergoing plastic surgery (on eyelids) by Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, but the doctor discovered Kirkland’s blood clotting problem — and the surgery is delayed. Sally told me she’d returned from South America (Chile) and en route home had taken Motrin, Advil and Pepto Bismol! In appreciation of the plastic surgeon’s warning, she’s appearing on “Geraldo” to caution others — and undergoes the actual surgery on TV later.

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