NAMED: Last year’s Best Actress winner (for “The Hours”) Nicole Kidman, 35, is the first star to be lined up as a presenter at this year’s 76th annual Academy Awards, reports Variety. The ceremony will take place Feb. 29 at Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre. Kidman also is a likely candidate for an Oscar again this year, for her performance in “Cold Mountain.” Other big-name presenters for this year’s ceremony will be announced in the coming weeks.
NOMINATED: The Producers Guild of America announced its best picture nominees, which are usually a harbinger of which way the Academy will go. The films given the nods are: “Cold Mountain” “The Last Samurai,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” “Seabiscuit,” “Mystic River,” and “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.” The awards will be handed out Jan. 17. TV drama series contenders were “Alias,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Six Feet Under,” “24” and “The West Wing.” TV comedy series nominees were “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “Scrubs,” “Sex and the City” and “Will & Grace.”
QUOTED: “She has a 10-minute video of the wedding that she’s been showing to friends. She thinks it’s a big joke.” — MTV correspondent Su Chin Pak on Britney Spears, to The New York Times
DIED: Tug McGraw, 59, the relief pitcher who coined the phrase “You Gotta Believe” with the New York Mets and later closed out the Philadelphia Phillies’ only World Series championship, died Monday of brain cancer at the home of his son, country music star Tim McGraw, outside of Nashville, according to Laurie Hawkins, a family spokesperson. He had been battling the disease since March, when he underwent surgery for a malignant tumor. “He epitomized what Philadelphia is all about. He was hardworking, dedicated and never gave up,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa told the Associated Press. “He was a great person and will be missed.”
REVEALED: After 14 years of denials, baseball’s Pete Rose is admitting that he bet on the game while he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds. In an interview about his soon-be-released autobiography, “My Prison Without Bars,” Rose told ABC News that he bet on games but never against his team. “Yes, I did and that was my mistake for not coming clean earlier,” Rose answered when asked directly if he bet on baseball. Rose also told Sports Illustrated magazine that he was a big-time gambler who started betting regularly on baseball in 1987. He agreed to a lifetime ban from baseball in August 1989 and applied for reinstatement in 1997. His request was never granted.
BLAMED: Righteous Brothers singer Bobby Hatfield‘s death in November was caused by cocaine and not just heart failure, according to the official autopsy report, reports Michigan’s Kalamazoo Gazette. Hatfield, 63, died Nov. 5 just hours before a Righteous Brothers concert. He and his partner, Bill Medley, had hits that included “Unchained Melody,” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”
PLANNED: The hit Broadway musical, “The Producers,” which is again starring its original leads, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, is to become a screen musical starring the duo that will begin filming for Universal Pictures in early 2005, reports Variety. Broderick and Lane returned to “The Producers” on Dec. 30 for a 14-week stint that that had a decided effect on the box office. Ticket sales for their first week back are reported to have pulled in a record $1.6 million, including tickets for a New Year’s Eve show costing $600.
CANCELED: After three low-rated seasons, “Crossing Over with John Edward” has been yanked by Universal Domestic TV, which produced the syndicated show starring the Long Island psychic, say trade reports. Obviously, he must have seen it coming.