August 09, 2002 01:50 AM

It’s all but official that the 2004 Oscar-cast will be held in February rather than March, as has been the Academy’s pattern in the past. “I think you could consider this a done deal,” Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences executive director Bruce Davis told Variety last week. The trade paper also reports that the Kodak Theatre will be available for the Academy on Feb. 29, 2004, and that ABC has signed on — which really makes things official. (Next year’s Oscars, the 75th anniversary show, was already locked in for March 23, 2003.) The decision to push up the date reportedly has to do with the Academy’s desire to shorten the extensive Oscar campaigning time, as well as to take the wind out of the sails of some competing awards programs, particularly the Golden Globes. The Los Angeles Times reports that this decision is already sending shock waves through Hollywood as far as other awards shows are concerned. “What we’ve done thus far is we’ve booked two dates for 2004,” Andrew Levy, special assignments executive at the Directors Guild of America, told the paper. Even across the Atlantic, the switch is being felt. The Times says that the BAFTA awards in England (the British Academy Awards) have altered its 2004 show to Sunday, Feb. 8, ahead of the Oscars, while the Producers Guild has locked in Sunday, Jan. 25, 2004, for its ceremony. However, Kathy Connell, who produces the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which are televised on TNT (which, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner), told the Times that SAG has not yet decided on what to do for 2004.

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