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Angelina Jolie's Oscar Bid Brings Her to New York

Angelina Jolie's Oscar Bid Brings Her to New York | Cat Stevens May Tour U.S. | Harvey Gives 'Nine' Beauties Night Off

Angelina Jolie's Oscar Bid Brings Her to New York

Angelina Jolie is in New York. She’ll walk the red carpet Saturday night with Clint Eastwood to promote their new movie, “Changeling,” at the New York Film Festival.

“Changeling” premiered back in May at the Cannes Film Festival, when Angie was quite pregnant. You may recall that she then gave a due date of Aug. 11 for the birth of her twins. The babies -- who weren’t premature -- were born on July 13 after Jolie’s two-week stay in the hospital.

This column noted in Cannes that Jolie had purposely given an incorrect date to throw off the press and paparazzi. According to sources who worked on “Changeling,” Jolie was already pregnant when she finished that film in December 2007. In January 2008, she let stories of the pregnancy leak into the press. At the end of February, she and Brad Pitt attended the Independent Spirit Awards, where Jolie showed off a substantial baby bump.

Maybe someone will ask her what the heck all that subterfuge was about.

Anyway, in “Changeling,” Jolie gives a terrific performance, and one that might bring her to the Oscar arena this winter. Her competition is stiff, though, with Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Kristin Scott Thomas and Kate Winslet already tying up four of the five spots.

And unless something‘s been done to “Changeling” since Cannes, its basic premise still suffers from a big plot hole. In the story, set in Los Angeles in 1929, single mom Jolie’s kid disappears. When the police find him, he’s a different boy. Jolie’s character protests and winds up in a mental institution. The road to finding her real son is impeded again and again.

The problem: she never produces a photograph to show that the police are forcing a strange substitute on her. Didn’t they have cameras in 1929, you wonder? And then, at a critical moment toward the end, a picture of the missing kid is used. Huh?

Jolie has an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for “Girl, Interrupted,” but a statue for the lead role would be icing on her cake. While its unclear about the Oscars, I guarantee you the goofy Golden Globes and National Board of Review will be tripping over themselves to nominate her for “Changeling.” Brangelina on a red carpet is solid gold for ratings and prestige. And that’s all those latter two awards groups care about.

Cat Stevens May Tour U.S.

Are we ready for this? Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, is thinking about touring the U.S.

According to his Web site, Islam is in the studio now putting the finishing touches on a new album at his Jamal Records in Dubai. It would be his second album since attempting to repair his reputation and return to some kind of music career in the West.

In 2006, Stevens released his much-praised "An Other Cup" album. He even got his toe wet in the world of performance by doing a one-night only show at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

All of this was an antidote to bad press he’d previously received years ago, when he denounced author Salman Rushdie and appeared to back the fatwa, or death sentence, leveled at him by Ayatollah Khomeini. Radio stations destroyed his records and had bonfires.

Nevertheless, the singer told me after the Lincoln Center show: “I never said it.” He used his two index fingers to show polar opposites. “We were just poles apart,” he said of Rushdie. “We disagreed. But I never said such a thing.”

As much as that Lincoln Center show was a success, Stevens/Islam has still had to deal with a lot of misunderstanding about who he is since becoming a Muslim in 1978 after being born Greek Orthodox. (His brother, by the way, converted to Judaism around the same time.)

Just this past July, Islam won libel damages from often inaccurate World Entertainment News Network after they reported that he wouldn’t talk to women without veils at an awards ceremony.

There have been other such situations, including a 2004 episode in which he was denied entry to the U.S. His plane from London to Washington was rerouted to Bangor, Maine, and Stevens and his daughter were removed and sent home.

A Cat Stevens tour would be a great idea musically, although perhaps a logistical nightmare for security purposes. Still, I think at this point, all is forgiven, especially if the singer of “Peace Train” and “Moonshadow” sticks to the music and keeps away from politics.

Harvey Gives 'Nine' Beauties Night Off

Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s been getting a lot of heat lately and getting in trouble, as usual. More on that in a minute. (Isn’t that what movie moguls are supposed to do?)

But on Wednesday night in London, Harvey got some nice positive attention. He gave some of the ladies from the about-to-be-shot musical "Nine" a night off, and took them to dinner.

It’s hard to get heads spinning anywhere in London. But Cipriani was abuzz when Harvey arrived with dame Judi Dench, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson and legendary Sophia Loren.

The only "Nine" ladies missing were Penelope Cruz, who was laying down tracks at Abbey Road studios with director Rob Marshall, and Nicole Kidman, who was in Los Angeles spending time with her kids Conor and Isabella.

Only Daniel Day-Lewis was unaccounted for. But if he’s true to form and living his role, we can only imagine where DDL might have been. His character, Guido Contini, a film director, is quite the ladies’ man.

I’m told Harvey was taking in stride a recent contretemps concerning his coming Oscar-buzzed film, "The Reader," and a bet he made about a memo. It’s a long story, but Harvey denied knowing about an e-mail concerning release of "The Reader" being moved up in time to make the end of this year. He said it didn’t exist.

Now that it does, Weinstein — who’s sworn to pals he didn’t think it did when he made the bet — will now send $1 million to the Robin Hood Foundation.

The gist of this e-mail was that someone — still unknown — contended that Weinstein had pestered producer Sydney Pollack on his death bed and Pollack’s late partner’s wife – the widow of director/producer Anthony Minghella — to get his way.

This would be a great story, and cinema legend, if true. But Weinstein spoke at Minghella’s funeral and was a welcome guest at Pollack’s. Minghella’s sudden, tragic death last spring actually knocked the gregarious movie titan for a loop. The two had made several films together including the now classic "English Patient."

Whatever really happened doesn’t much matter anymore. Weinstein and producer Scott Rudin have agreed to release "The Reader," directed by Stephen Daldry, on Dec. 12. The advance word is over the moon. Both Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes are on their way to a rash of awards and nominations.

Meantime, the Weinstein Company will distribute "The Reader," as well as Viggo Mortensen in "The Road," and Kevin Smith’s hilarious "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" themselves. Their deal with MGM was severed three months early, but TWC is ready to go. Left behind in the deal, though, are Bob Weinstein’s "Hurricane Season" and the disappointing "Soul Men." MGM, busy with the new James Bond movie, will deal with those separately.