If Oscar were a gambler, he'd place his bets on Hollywood's vets
Academy Award nominations won't be announced until Feb. 11, but the race for gold has begun. The first major awards of the season are in: This month the National Board of Review named The Hours, starring Nicole Kidman, as the year's best film. Although most major critics organizations won't announce their picks for days, even weeks, Oscar handicappers are already sizing up the likely scenarios. "It will be a year of veterans," says Lenny Del Genio, a Vegas oddsmaker. "Tom Hanks is a shoo-in. Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore and Al Pacino" are all in the running for best actor or actress, he bets.
Film critics are also putting their chips on the old guard. The Chicago Sun-Times's Richard Roeper predicts Kidman will get her second nod this year as Virginia Woolf in The Hours, and Michael Caine will be cited for The Quiet American, while Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York) "is a leading contender," says Leonard Maltin. Outside bets? Jennifer Aniston (The Good Girl), says Maltin.
Yet competition is stiff, particularly with some stars going against themselves. Hanks could well be recognized for both Road to Perdition and Catch Me If You Can; Moore for Far From Heaven and The Hours. What's with all the big guns? Says Bally's Vegas oddsmaker Johnny Avello, touting Gangs of New York as Best Picture: "The best jockeys get the best horses."
Gentle Letdown of the Week
After Linda Tomassone shot scenes for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, they ended up on the cutting-room floor. That, alas, is showbiz. What she didn't expect was an apologetic note from director George Clooney. Says the actress, 22: "He has nice handwriting—for a guy."
Dear Mister President
On Dec. 10 about 100 stars made like '70s R&B singer Edwin Starr and declared that war (huh!) is good for absolutely nothing. Or at least a war against Iraq. Celebs including Matt Damon, Helen Hunt, Samuel L. Jackson and Noah Wyle signed a letter asking President Bush to avoid an armed conflict. Said actor Mike Farrell, an organizer: "Such a war will increase human suffering...damage the economy and undermine our moral standing in the world."
Gavin Rossdale—Gwen Stefani's guy—performs a gut check Dec. 5 in Calif.
Danny Moder—Julia Robert's guy—owns phenomenal abdominals.
David Duchovny—Téa Leoni's guy—competed in a 2001 triathlon.
Roses Wilt, Get Snipped
The much-hyped Guns N' Roses tour, the band's first since 1993, started off with an unwelcome bang and ended with a whimper, Frontman Axl Rose failed to show for the first gig, on Nov. 7 in Vancouver, causing fans to riot. In smaller towns sales were slow—only 3,000 tickets were sold for a Dec. 8 concert at the 8,000-plus-seat First Union Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., leading to another cancellation. "And we're a very strong hard-rock market," noted arena general manager Andy Long. Concert promoters also canceled a Dec. 11 show in South Carolina, leaving the tour's remaining dates in doubt.
Oprah's Class Act
An Oprah school? Given what she did for book clubs, it's not such a wild idea. In fact, on Dec. 6 the talk show host, accompanied by former South African President Nelson Mandela, broke ground at the future site of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls South Africa in Henley-on-Klip, a town about 25 miles south of Johannesburg. Encouraged by Mandela, 84, Winfrey, 48, donated $10 million two years ago to build and run the boarding school for grades 7 through 12. Set to open in 2005, the school should eventually have 450 students. Girls from disadvantaged communities will be selected for their academic talent and leadership potential. "We are looking for strong, brave girls with heart," Winfrey said at the ceremony. "I believe girls are going to take over the world. Men have been in control long enough. But don't worry," she added, "we're prepared to share power."
with Clint Eastwood
In his first official act since being appointed a California parks commissioner, Clint Eastwood, 72, joined a unanimous vote Dec. 6 approving the creation of Eastshore State Park, an 8.5-mile stretch of shoreline along San Francisco Bay, once partially used as a dump site. Scoop toured the area with the actor, director and former mayor of Carmel, Calif.
How're things going, Commissioner?
At this point I'm still the new kid on the block. I hope that I can participate and add a voice to the commission.
How familiar are you with Eastshore?
I was raised in this area. We used to use the Bayshore highway as a drag strip. The land was a dump, and it was always on fire, and it smelled awful. The fact that they're restoring this great. I would have never thought, back in the '40s, this was possible.
I still wonder what happened to all the tires and batteries that were stashed out here. They just plowed this stuff into the bay for many, many years.
It's nice to see that this is going to a use other than dumping trash. It was an ecological nightmare.
Local artists currently display their work in this area, but park developers now want to keep it clear of unauthorized art. Where do you stand?
It's a balancing act. Parks should something everyone enjoys.
Well, then, what do you think of the sculptures still standing here?
Nothing I'd want to buy. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
This might be a nice place to take your dog for a walk.
I don't have a dog. But I could bring my potbellied pig down here.
ON THE BLOCK
Although Rosie O'Donnell's brood is growing—she and partner Kelli Carpenter welcomed daughter Vivienne Rose on Nov. 29—the comedian is looking to simplify her life. So O'Donnell, 40, who owns a house in a New York City suburb, is putting her Miami Beach mansion on the market for $16.7 million. She purchased the 10,000-sq.-ft. Mediterranean-style estate, complete with a private dock and two guest cottages, for $6.75 million in 1999. With the sale, says her rep, Rosie's kids can keep all their toys in one place.