Oscar goes postal: 4,000 ballots MIA

The Golden Globes never had this problem.

A search for missing Academy Awards ballots went into high gear on Monday as Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences toppers concluded that 4,000 Oscar ballots — or four-fifths of the voting total — hadn’t been received by voters, five days after they were delivered to the post office.

As of late Monday, Academy P.R. director John Pavlik said the Postal Service had not yet found the ballots even though the Academy had “lit a fire” under them. If the ballots are not found today, new ones go out Wednesday.

The mysterious disappearance was first noted Saturday night at the Acad’s Sci-Tech awards at the BevWilshire, when some members asked howcum they hadn’t received their ballots.

Sunday, Pavlik was busy at his office on Wilshire Boulevard trying to find out what happened. On Monday, the Academy started getting calls from members asking the whereabouts of their ballots.

Academy workers had brought the ballots to the Beverly Hills Post Office Wednesday to be mailed to California members. The org earlier had mailed ballots to N.Y. and foreign voters, and those groups, it is believed, have received them.

Pavlik confirmed that about 4,000 ballots —10 bags’ worth — had been taken to the BevHills post office. Pavlik reminded that this was not the first case of mail disorder. He said back in 1982 a similar “loss occurred,” but it was with the nomination ballots. Pavlik said he understands how this could happen — because he once worked at the post office. If mail accidentally gets put in “bulk mail” section, it doesn’t go out until after all the first class has been handled. And how long could that be? What happened in that postal error 20 years ago? “When it was discovered,” Pavlik said, “the Post Office agreed to send out all the ballots by special delivery.” (With only 80 members, the Globes never faced headacheds like this.) If the Oscar ballots are not found today, new ones go out Wednesday. Let’s hope these ones don’t get lost as well.

RIGHT TO LIFE YESTERDAY, right to choose today: George W. Bush (right to life) guested at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance Monday; tonight, same location, director Lasse Hallstrom screens “The Cider House Rules” (right to choose), his pic with seven Oscar nominations, and follows with a Q&A. Both men were invited by the center’s Rabbi Marvin Hier, who had also invited the other presidential candidates to visit. Also on hand Monday were Jerry Weintraub and Jerry Parsky. Hier reminded that “12 years ago during that presidential campaign, then Vice President George Bush and his wife Barbara came to the center “to show solidarity with the victims of the Holocaust and to speak out against bigotry and hatred.” On Monday, George W. Bush showed that same support for the Center, “people committed to the spread of justice and tolerance and people dedicated to a safe and secure Israel.” After a 40-minute tour, Laura (Mrs. George W.) was so impressed, she said she wanted to return with their daughters Tonight is the first visit by Hallstrom to the museum. “Cider House Rules” has not been attackedby the right-to-lifers, but Hallstrom reminds that “Cider House Rules” supports the right to choose: “It’s not militant but it doesn’t back away,” he said. Hallstrom is proud of yet another award given the film — one from the Planned Parenthood Assn. He and author-scripter John Irving had such a healthy relationship on “Cider House,” they last weekend discussed doing another film together. “John said he has an idea, and we’ll work together on this one — from scratch.” This week, Hallstrom is in L.A. to cast the remainder of his next pic, “Chocolat” for Miramax. Already set are Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, Alfred Molina and Judi Dench. The pic will shoot three weeks on location in France and the remainder interiors at Shepperton.

AND TALKING POLITICS: Bill Clinton and Al Gore will be in L.A. April 15 for an evening to “celebrate” the past seven years, to “thank the supporters” of those past seven years, and a “let’s go in Nov.” dinner — ducats from $ 25,000 to $ 100,000 a couple. A special site is being chosen If you’re looking for Peter Guber, Arnold Rifkin, Tony Robbins, Gerry Schwartz and Al Giddings, check the bike paths in Ho Chi Minh, Danang, Hoi Am, Beijing and Kunming. The quintet is on a 12-day bike tour of those sites We were saddened to learn that filmmaker (producer, assistant director, costume designer, makeup artist) Tommy Thompson died of a heart attack Friday on the desert location (outta Baker) of Robert Altman’s “Dr. T & the Women.” David Levy, who co-produced with Thompson and Altman, said the company was devastated. The cast includes Richard Gere (as a gynecologist), Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett, Shelley Long, Liv Tyler, Laura Dern, Kate Hudson, Tara Reid and Janine Turner. Tommy was looking great, feeling great and a joy to the entire company — as he had been to moviemakers for 30 years, going back to “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” and with Altman on a half dozen pix. “He was the sweetest guy in the world,” said Levy. Services will be 3 p.m. Saturday at the Church of the Hills, Forest Lawn, Hollywood. Thompson was next to be assistant director to helmer-producer Harry Thomason on “Crossing the Bar,” to be distributed by Sony. The pic stars Billy Bob Thornton, Burt Reynolds and Chad Morgan and will film in Little Rock. Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, who put together the film to open Hillary Clinton’s campaign for senator from N.Y. is now writing the teleplay for “Plain Song.”

IT PUT ME BACK ON THE MAP,” says Bob Wagner of his role as “Number 2” in the Austin Powers pix. And now he’s playing a “gentleman’s gentleman” in “Becoming Dick,” a feature for E! R.J. Wagner says he’s basing his English accent for the role on Peter Sellers, with whom he played several “Pink Panthers.” Wagner gave me a sample serving — and he’s very funny. “Dick” is directed by Bob Saget, whose talents range from “America’s Funniest Home Videos” to directing the very sensitive “For Hope.” The pic costars Harlan Williams and Elizabeth Berkley. Following this film, Wagner and wife Jill St. John head across the country on their “Love Letters” tour. He’s been doing “Letters” since 1989.