Kevin Bacon | Disney | Jimmy Kimmel | Cy Coleman

Will Kevin Bacon Bring Home the Oscar?

Add the underrated Kevin Bacon to this year's list of potential Best Actor Oscar nominees.

His understated, brilliantly realized performance as a just-released ex-con child molester in "The Woodsman" is his best work ever.

Bacon's name is now thrown into the heavy competition with the likes of Jamie Foxx, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Javier Bardem, Don Cheadle, Gael García Bernal and maybe even Al Pacino.

Two other actors who did fine work — Mario Van Peebles ("Baadasssss") and Tom Hanks ("The Terminal") — should also be in there, although I don't think they're having campaigns mounted on their behalfs.

While the pedophilia theme might make "The Woodsman" sound like a movie you don't want to see, this indie film was a Sundance favorite and is very subtly realized.

If it makes you feel better, there is no actual molestation shown or even suggested. Rather, "The Woodsman" is about redemption.

Bacon has slaved away for over 20 years making good movies and some very bad ones. But here he shines like never before, and Academy voters may really appreciate a long career finally paying off.

There are other terrific little performances in "The Woodsman," including those of Bacon's real-life wife Kyra Sedgwick, Mos Def and Benjamin Bratt. Director Nancy Kassell affects a laid-back atmosphere for this character study and gets all of it right.

Disney War Affects Eisner's Memory

War can be hell.

In movies, soldiers come home with fuzzy memories of their experiences. Maybe that's what happened to Michael Eisner — so much fighting that the facts have been knocked right out of him.

Eisner testified about his conversations with Michael Ovitz just before the latter was fired from Disney at the end of 1996 with a huge severance package. The court case pertains to a lawsuit brought by the company's shareholders against its board of directors.

"It was unimaginable to me. If somebody said to me they didn't want me around, I would be out of there halfway through the first sentence," Eisner said.

Eisner, say his critics, has obviously blocked out the Disney shareholders' meeting of March 3, 2004.

At that meeting, 45 percent of the voters withheld their support for him in a vote. Not only did somebody not want him around, but almost half the voters in the meeting expressed that feeling. Because of that vote, former Sen. George Mitchell was brought in and Eisner's job title was cut in half.

Critics have compared the Disney board meeting to a similar one the previous year at AOL Time Warner, in which AOL chairman Steve Case was forced out after receiving a no-confidence vote of 24 percent — nearly half what Eisner received.

Eisner also got caught in his testimony this past week in a number of contradictions. He was asked about a 1996 appearance on a TV talk show with Ovitz, in which the two men swore they were happy as clams and that Ovitz wasn't going anywhere.

Months later Ovitz, once the most powerful talent agent in Hollywood and a close friend of Eisner, was out.

On the stand Eisner said he regretted that TV appearance. But it could have ramifications.

Charles Elson, a professor of corporate governance at the University of Delaware, told the Los Angeles Times on Friday that Eisner may be running dangerously close to a corporate scandal.

"If what he said was untrue at the time he said it, and it was material and some shareholders relied on that to buy or sell shares, that's problematic under securities law," he said.

Like many U.S. companies, Disney is officially based in Delaware to take advantage of that state's corporate-friendly regulations.

Also forgotten: how Ovitz persuaded "Home Improvement" star Tim Allen to remain with the show instead of bolting for a burgeoning movie career.

Ovitz in his testimony recalled buying gifts and dining with Allen, who was worth "$250 million" to Disney in syndication of his show. Long memories recall that Allen did want to leave the show, which had outlived its time, but that Ovitz convinced him to stay on.

Considering Eisner's reputation for poor human-resources abilities (see Katzenberg, Jeffrey; Weinstein, Harvey; Jobs, Steve) and his inability to play well with others, it's amazing that he forgot this watershed moment.

The shareholders' meeting this past March, by the way, began with clips of upcoming Disney features for which Eisner had high hopes. It turned out the studio's only homegrown hit was "The Village," a thrill-less thriller that was a bigger success in foreign languages than in English.

The rest were grand failures: "The Alamo," "Ladder 49," "Hidalgo," "Around the World in 80 Days" and "King Arthur" among them.

Only "The Incredibles," "Kill Bill Vol. 2" and "Shall We Dance?" — all produced either by Disney affiliate Pixar, run by Jobs, or Disney subsidiary Miramax, run by Weinstein — turned out to be hits.

Eisner is busy severing the company's relationships with Jobs and Weinstein, however, as the trial proceeds.

Left out of the clip reel: "Fahrenheit 9/11," which would have been Disney's most cost-effective movie of the year — had it not backed out of releasing it for fear of political controversy.

Jimmy Kimmel Says the Beatles Are Boring

There was a lot of hubbub on Friday after a report that ABC was slowly trying to pull the plug on Ted Koppel's "Nightline."

Readers of this column know that I told you some time ago that Conan O'Brien and his "Late Night" team had been approached by ABC to take over the time slot as soon as Conan's contract at NBC was up.

That was the reason for the hastily made deal for Conan to succeed Jay Leno in five years.

ABC, I think, would pull "Nightline" down or move it to 3 a.m. if they could find someone to host a talk show.

But please: no Jimmy Kimmel. His comment after the Beatles clip last Sunday night on the embarrassing American Music Awards was, "That was boring."

The decidedly not-boring Beatles were shown playing a rare medley of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" from 1964.

The performance was electrifying. There was no lip-synching or faking of anything.

Kimmel would have done well to keep his mouth shut. Was he suggesting that the marathon of pre-recorded music heard on that show — with the exception of Alicia Keys — was more exciting than The Beatles? With that smart remark Kimmel goes to the back of the line.

By the way, the Beatles' new box set, "The Capitol Years, Vol. 1," is at No. 10 on Amazon.com. It retails for $49.99. Someone obviously doesn't think they're so boring!

Cy Coleman Joins 'Angels'; 'O.C.' Star Likes Initials

Another Broadway great is gone: Cy Coleman, the brilliant song man behind so many hit shows including "Sweet Charity," "The Will Rogers Follies," "The Life," "Barnum" and my favorite of favorites, "City of Angels," passed away on Friday at age 75.

Cy, with Carolyn Leigh, also wrote two of Frank Sinatra's immortal hits: "Witchcraft" and "The Best Is Yet to Come." A great, towering, irreplaceable talent has been silenced. Will he be sorely missed? Let's put it this way: Can you hum a song by Frank Wildhorn?

Peter Gallagher is in town for a Thanksgiving break from playing good guy Sandy Cohen on Fox's hit show "The O.C." He took his wife, Paula, to a romantic dinner at Ed "Jean-Luc" Kleefield's hot JLX Café last night on the Upper West Side. A crown of spun sugar rounded off the meal.

Have you heard of the Irish rock band Snow Patrol? I hadn't either until Saturday, when the radio station Z-100 played their single, "Run." Bingo! It's gorgeous, and I can't get it out of my head. A&M Records' Ron Fair obviously had something to do with this. Add them to your list if you're already a fan of Travis, XTC, Coldplay, Keane or Radiohead.