ACCENT-UATE THE POSITIVE

James Cromwell, Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a farmer in Babe, had to redub all his lines after the movie was shot. Cromwell, an American, tells me that he started the film using a rural English accent, switched halfway through at the director's request to an Irish accent and then, after completing the movie, redid his lines using what he called a more universal accent. Translation? A more American sound, giving the film, which was shot in Australia, more potential at the U.S. box office....

When the nominations came out, the biggest surprise, aside from Babe's Best Picture nomination, was John Travolta's failure to receive a Best Actor nod for his role as mobster Chili Palmer in Get Shorty. Why was Travolta, considered a shoo-in, slighted? I checked with my savviest industry sources, and here are some of their responses: "His performance didn't warrant the hype to begin with"; "Comedy is typically ignored at the Oscars"; "Travolta's reward is that he's back in the business in a big way. It's not an accident that Broken Arrow is the No. 1 box office film"; and "His problem was, Chili Palmer was a variation on his character in Pulp Fiction."...

When Nicole Kidman visited her native Australia recently for her sister's wedding, she and hubby Tom Cruise watched the TV debate between the two major candidates for prime minister—incumbent Paul Keating of the Labor Party and John Howard of the Liberal and National Parties. Afterward, Kidman announced she was backing Keating "because my father is a staunch Labor supporter and so am I." As for Cruise, his rep Pat Kingsley says he won't be endorsing anyone—Aussie or American. "Never to my knowledge has Tom publicly backed any candidate," says Kingsley. "He tends to get more involved in issues" such as the environment....

Quincy Jones, producer of this year's Oscars telecast, is trying to persuade Princess Diana to appear on the March 25 show. I hear that if she agrees, the Academy will give her a special humanitarian award....

Tennis ace Monica Seles has been signed to play herself in an upcoming episode of The Nanny, starring Fran Drescher. The episode tapes in L.A. next week....

Finally, birthday greetings to Chelsea Clinton, who turns sweet 16 this Tuesday (Feb. 27). I hear she has been taking driving lessons with Dad at Camp David and wants to get her license soon. A source says Chelsea's folks hope "to work it out with the Secret Service so that Chelsea will be able to drive."

  • Contributors:
  • Hugh McCarten.