Is there any way to sway Academy members in Oscar voting? What could be left to say or to do for that matter?
Well, on Sunday, with two days left to go, Mike Wallace may finally get a chance to grill Nobel Prize winner John Nash, the real-life maybe, kinda subject of A Beautiful Mind.
This is still just a rumor, but it seems to be true. If so, Nash will finally get to tell us what he thinks of the movie, and if it's accurate or a "semi-fictional biography," as the film's screenwriter Akiva Goldsman has called it.
We can presume that Nash will talk not only about game theory — which he will no doubt employ against Wallace — but also his marital history, sexual preferences, children born during marriage and outside of it and his struggle with schizophrenia.
I don't know if there are any Academy members whose vote would be influenced by Nash's statements — most have already sent in their ballots, one would think — but certainly this tactical move is an excellent one on the part of Universal Pictures.
Nash has so far remained silent about A Beautiful Mind while everyone else — his former lover, his biographer, etc — has had their say.
Meanwhile, nominees are being deployed everywhere for last-minute whistle stops. Sir Ian McKellen, now the SAG winner for Lord of the Rings, will host Saturday Night Live this weekend after 20 years of virtual anonymity. Halle Berry is becoming a fixture in the media and Russell Crowe — who could be picking up his second Oscar in a row — is starting to act like a teddy bear.
One actor I guarantee from whom you will hear nary a word this week is Best Actor nominee Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom). He and Sissy Spacek could wind up big winners on March 24. In his book, they already are.
Even though he gave a phenomenal performance — understated, powerful, precise, and perfect — he doesn't put much stock in being a star with a capital "S." Wilkinson is married to British stage actress Diana Hardcastle, but he says neither of his school-age children is particularly interested in what his or her parents do.
"We don't bring it home," he said. "We don't have posters up or anything. When I told my daughter I could get her the autograph of a star of The Full Monty, she rolled her eyes and said, 'Oh, Dad, it's just you!'"
In 1996 Wilkinson made The Full Monty after having appeared in nearly a dozen films and countless British TV series. It changed his life, but he's never seen the musical.
"I haven't had time!" he said. "I'd like to see it." There will never be a sequel to the film, though. "Where do you go from there?" he asked.
He's worked with Val Kilmer ("a bit of a handful") and Michael Douglas ("a bigger handful, but he was the producer also") in The Ghost and the Darkness. He's co-starred with both Jackie Chan and Martin Lawrence ("It's hard being Martin Lawrence, isn't it?" he asks rhetorically), and he thought Shakespeare in Love would never get an audience. "I thought it would just appeal to British actors."
His favorite director so far? "Todd Field," he says of the novice who made In the Bedroom. "I don't know how I would have felt if the film hadn't worked out. But the musical quality of it... The depth, the sheer artistry of what he's done."
The soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou? will be No.1 next week on the Billboard/SoundScan chart. Fresh from its Grammy win, O, Brother pushed ahead of Alanis Morissette and took the top spot.
Elsewhere on the new chart, Alicia Keys continues to sell albums — about 80,000 copies just last week. But India.Arie — whose song "Video" I happen to love — has still not found a solid footing since the Grammys.
In the record business, though, things are looking dire: Now rock group Garbage has apparently filed suit against Universal Music Group to get out of its contract. Essentially, Garbage is following Courtney Love's lead, invoking the seven-year law that bound them to Universal.
During Grammy week, agent and former record-label head Irving Azoff, whom Love sought for assistance in her jihad against the record companies, told me something funny. "Courtney beats to the sound of her own drum — only it's a jungle drum."
But listen because the beat is getting louder and more insistent. There's about to be a big, big change. I hope the recording industry is ready.
Finally: a shout-out (as we young people say) to award-winning cookbook author Martha Rose Shulman, who celebrates a birthday tomorrow. Martha Rose — daughter of the late great writer Max Shulman (who created Dobie Gillis the novel and TV show) — has a new book coming out in August.
Every Woman's Guide to Eating During Pregnancy will be published by Houghton Mifflin and can be pre-ordered online. Martha Rose's other books — there are 10 at least — all about healthy, tasty eating and entertaining, are all in print after 10 years or more. Check out her Web site at www.martha-rose-shulman.com.