THE WEEK AHEAD: Oscar-Mania Takes Over
THANK YOUR AGENT: Hollywood's biggest stars are getting primped, buffed, nipped and tucked for their stroll down the red carpet Sunday at the 76th Annual Academy Awards, airing live on ABC. Once they face the paparazzi (not to mention Joan Rivers), Sean Penn, Bill Murray and Johnny Depp will duke it out for Best Actor honors, SAG winner Charlize Theron will aim for a "Monster" Best Actress Oscar and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" -- 11 nominations strong -- may just get its precious Best Picture win. And if Tim Robbins decides to pull a Michael Moore, he'll have his say: Producer Joe Roth is allowing the winners to freely express themselves (albeit with a five-second delay). Topping it all off: Eight-time host Billy Crystal is back for the first time in three years.
ROAD WARRIOR: Why did Britney Spears decide give her concert tour a silly moniker like the "Onyx Hotel Tour"? Well, according to her Web site, it's "a unique, mysterious hotel powered by an onyx stone." (Oh, that clears things up.) Either way, the "In the Zone" pop tart is already selling out venues for her road trip, which begins Tuesday, March 2 at the San Diego Sports Arena and will continue through July in the U.S. and Europe. Now that her controversial video "Toxic" is back on round-the-clock rotation on MTV, she's getting more exposure than ever -- some of which you'll see on tour with her revealing costumes. Tommy Ginoza, her director of tour marketing, tells Reuters: "We're not looking at the Mickey Mouse Club fans anymore."
DI UNCENSORED: NBC scored a coup when it won the rights to broadcast the two-hour documentary "Princess Diana: The Secret Tapes," which will air Tuesday, March 4 and Tuesday, March 11. In the two-part film, which features never-before-seen (or heard) footage of the beloved royal from 1991 to 1993, audiences will experience the private side of Diana talking about subjects including her troubled marriage with Prince Charles and her suicide attempts. The material for the movie was culled from a series of audiotaped interviews with writer Andrew Morton (who penned the 1992 bestseller "Diana: Her True Story") as well as videotaped chats with a "professional associate," an NBC spokeswoman confirmed. Friends of the Princess are also interviewed in the doc, which will show "the lighter side of a woman who maintained a very reserved public persona."
ALL ABOUT IMAGE: Grammy queen Beyonce Knowles may just be a winner again, this time at the NAACP's 35th Annual Image Awards, taped at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 6 and airing on FOX Wednesday, March 11. The R&B diva is up for several awards, including outstanding female artist alongside Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige. Other nominees: OutKast, up for six awards, comedian Bernie Mac (for outstanding actor in a comedy series) and Denzel Washington (nominated for outstanding actor in a motion picture). The Dave Matthews Band also will receive the Chairman's Award, "bestowed for distinguished service and dignified representation of people of color."
AND FINALLY... Bada bing, they're back. Tony, Carmela and the rest of the "Sopranos" crew will be returning to HBO for their fifth season on Sunday, March 7. Expect plenty of drama from the separated couple and some new faces -- including quirky Steve Buscemi, who'll appear as a cousin of Tony (James Gandolfini) named (what else?) Tony.