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Well Hello Oscar

Jon Stewart says he’ll be in Hollywood for a week before the Oscars, March 5. In the meanwhile, he and his staff of  five writers in New York will be at work on material suitable for the nominees. He will also add “a few more” writers in L.A.” The Acad’s Gil Cates has already set ace Academy Award show writers Buz Kohan and Bruce Vilanch to pen  Oscar material. And they tell me Cates (who talks to Stewart every day) is setting in motion some “very creative ideas.” “Creativity” will have to be the by-word since the list of this year’s favorites differs radically  from past Oscar front-runners. After talking with  Stewart, I felt he would be a kinder, gentler m.c., “After all,” he reasoned,  “they (the nominees) are nervous enough without my having to show it.”  Meanwhile he allows the upcoming job  does give him “bouts of insomnia  at 3 or 4 in the morning!”  He laughingly noted,”There is, of course,  some similarity between ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and ‘Capote’.” And Stewart has other reason to currently be nervous– his wife Tracy is expecting their second child (a girl) in a week. (They have a 19-month-old son, Nathan). I asked Stewart to categorize the type of m.c. approach he’d take — a la Billy Crystal, Johnny Carson, Bob Hope? “Not as good,” he admitted. However, he added, “It’s not exactly like I’m worried about MY next movie.”

The Academy’s President Sid Ganis, who also attended the SAG awards, Sunday night, agreed that this year’s award-nominated and kudos’d movies  are off the beaten pash. But, he happily said, “I’m happy that  these movies which  have been visible are all doing business.” And while the movie star quality of the recipients may be missing this year, the stars will certainly be visible as the list of presenters unfolds.  And none is more visible than Clint Eastwood, who has brightened each of the previous award programs — either as presenter or honoree — at the Globes, Directors and Producers Guild awards and next, the Oscars where it’s customary last year’s winner presents to the new. Ganis,who makes his first appearance as the Acadmey’s president, initially  attended  Oscars in 1968  when nominee Estelle Parsons asked him to escort her And she won, as supporting actress in “Bonnie and Clyde.” Ganis and wife Nancy are producers of Lionsgate’s “Akeelah and the Bee,”  starring Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett and Keke Palmer, directed and scripted by  Doug Atchison. Coincidentally, Ganis first encountered the property at the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship Awards five years ago.

The morning after receiving her LIife Achievement Award from the SAG, Shirley Temple Black returned to her home in Woodside, Calif., via “a rock band  bus,” as she described it. It had a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and shower. She, son Charlie, and daughter Susan had also arrived in L.A. in the “rock band bus.” They returned home in time to celebrate Susan’s birthday.  Shirley, who had been battling the flu, but still attended the SAG ceremony, said she will not be back in L.A. for the Oscars. “However I’m always invited. I am a member of the Academy,” she reminded me.  And its youngest Oscar winner.   

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