January 08, 2001 12:00 PM

Oscar Lite?

With few great films in 2000, will we hear, “And the Oscar for Pretty Good Picture goes to…”?


And you thought it was over: One of the most closely watched contests in America still has no clear front-runner, and voters are markedly dispassionate about the nominees. Just two months before the Academy Awards, there is no consensus about who’ll win the Best Picture prize, and critics say there aren’t enough worthy candidates.

The dearth of inspiring Best Picture possibilities parallels some aspects of the presidential race, but “It’s not like the Florida recount-type situation between Shakespeare in Love and Saving Private Ryan [in 1998], which was won by a hair,” observes film guru Harry Knowles of the Ain’t It Cool News Web site. “This year is more akin to a city council race where all the candidates are from third parties.”

For once the pundits agree. The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt calls this year’s selection “mediocre”; critic Leonard Maltin has been stumped in naming his annual Ten Best list. The upshot, Maltin says, is that “good movies are being touted as great ones.”

Perhaps, but don’t look for the experts to agree about which flicks deserve tike upgrade. New York’s critics voted the drug drama Traffic their best film; in Los Angeles, director Ang Lee’s spectacular martial arts romance Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon took the prize. Boston went for Almost Famous. The National Board of Review chose Kate Winslet‘s little seen Marquis de Sade tale, Quills. Other names being tossed around include Golden Globe nominees Gladiator and Erin Brockovich. Adding to the uncertainty, says Richard Roeper of Ebert & Roeper at the Movies, is that “most of the year’s really big hits”—including, possibly, The Grinch and Meet the Parents—”wouldn’t get a nod if they widened the nomination field to 100.”

Barrymore 101

Giving new meaning to liberal arts, students at Ohio’s Oberlin College have completed a course on “The Life and Times of Drew Barrymore“—writing term papers on Drew’s autobiography, Little Girl Lost; assessing her career moves; and taking a field trip to see Charlie’s Angels at the local multiplex. Offered by the school’s Experimental College (a student-run organization), the class explored “how [Barrymore’s] films reflect different phases of her life and the messages she wants to convey,” says Sarah Crain, 20, who, with Sarah Trick, 21, was inspired to teach after viewing Drew’s 1998 classic, Ever After. Among the scholarly findings, which earned up to one credit for those who participated: Drew likes dark humor but prefers to do movies that make people feel good. Barrymore, a high school dropout, declined comment on becoming college material.

Wail to the Chief

George W, Bush has yet to take the oath of office, and already he’s catching flak from Hollywood’s vocal Democrats. “I’m very, very concerned about the Bush presidency,” Sarah Jessica Parker told The Washington Post. “I’m worried about the kind of cuts he might make in domestic programs that mean something to a lot of people, including people in my family who depend on certain things from the government.” She did not say what those certain things are. Joining the chorus: Mikhail Baryshnikov (“For the second time in my life, I feel like I may need political asylum”) and the Eagles’ Don Henley (“Look, I live in East Texas and I’m concerned”), speaking at a recent White House dinner. Bush does have his celebrity defenders though. Says talk radio host Rush Limbaugh of Parker’s comments: “This is political ignorance.”


with Tony Bennett

It’s a fact, Jack. The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts will open in Queens this September, offering high school students music, drama, dance and arts courses. Credit Tony Bennett with the idea and the ability to convince officials of its merits. Bennett, 74, swung Scoop’s way to explain the project.

Frank Sinatra and formal education?

Sinatra was my best friend. His dream was to teach young performers the art of having fun while entertaining, to someday help students and young people learn the right way to perform.

Do you think that the kids today know who Frank is?

We’re going to have a complete library on everything that Sinatra has ever done, so they could always look it up and see what he was all about.

You knew Sinatra well.

When I was a young pup, he was the first to come out and support me. I was never part of the Rat Pack, but we had a deep respect for one another.

Did he give you advice?

He said, “Don’t worry about being nervous. The people like that.” He also told me to stay away from goofy songs.

Why teach showbiz?

When you study academically, and you study the arts also, you become a well-rounded person. You drop bigotry and you learn about respecting other people.

Was it tough getting approval?

We went through a whole civics [lesson]. Then we got to see the whole bureaucracy.

What would Frank say?

He’d be over the moon.

Bullock: Near-Miss Congeniality

“We prayed the plane wouldn’t explode,” Sandra Bullock told Variety, hours after the private jet carrying her to Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Airport on Dec. 20 missed the runway while landing. Christmas gifts and personal belongings careened through the cabin as the aircraft plowed into three feet of snow, snapping its left wing and damaging its nose cone. Bullock, boyfriend Bob Schneider and two crew members were not injured.



The celebrity-strewn beaches of New York’s East Hampton might just be the only place Chevy Chase failed to visit in those National Lampoon Vacation movies. In real life, however, Chase, his wife, Jayni, and their three daughters have long made the Long Island town their summer home. In 1987 the actor purchased a traditional three-story shingled “cottage” for $2.4 million. The 2.14-acre property, now on the market for $15 million, features 10 bedrooms, 7 fireplaces, a billiard room-library, a children’s playhouse, a heated pool—in case the new owner isn’t interested in taking the very short walk to the ocean—and neighbors such as Steven Spielberg and Martha Stewart.

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