Don’t expect the bombing of Baghdad to change how long the Academy Awards will run tomorrow night.
I am told that, as usual, the Oscar presentation will go the usual distance between three-and-a-half to four hours.
But the show will be funereal and respectful if it goes according to the latest plans, with producer Gil Cates eschewing as much fun as possible in order to seem reverent.
Host Steve Martin and writer Bruce Vilanch have already been instructed to "tone it down." An opening joke that tied the "queens" of Chicago to the Gangs of New York has been dropped because it seemed too irreverent, according to my rehearsal sources.
Also, upbeat music — outside of the actual nominated scores and songs — has been excised. "They took out 'Hooray for Hollywood' and replaced it with the theme from Schindler’s List," my source said.
In the song category, Cates is apparently holding out hope, though, that Eminem will show up and rap his otherwise unperformable number from 8 Mile. A stand-in has lip-synched the piece during rehearsals.
"Gil just keeps saying, 'We’ll worry about that when we get there,'" said one observer.
Eminem previously said he was on vacation, although on vacation from what I’m not sure.
However, Bono and The Edge will be present to perform the theme from Gangs of New York, a very pregnant Catherine Zeta-Jones will do her number from Chicago and Paul Simon is expected to play as well.
What of the idea that the Academy should have canceled, or at least postponed, the show? Not possible, said my source.
"ABC was adamant about them doing it and there were a lot of phone calls back and forth," the source said. "There’s too much advertising money tied up in the show. Even a war couldn’t have stopped it."
As for Cates’ assertion that the Kodak Theatre will be the safest place on Earth come Sunday night: "There’s so much dog sniffing and scanning, he’s right," said someone who’s been to rehearsals. "It goes on and on."
Add Elton John and InStyle Magazine as the latest hosts to ban press from their Sunday night party.
The excuse? "The war," said an InStyle editor, with a straight face.
What exactly the war has to do with the press seeing celebrities drink and dance in a tent on a parking lot on Robertson Boulevard is beyond me.
This doesn’t seem like the best plan for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, a group that depends on the good will of the press so it can take in and disburse funds as needed.
I am also surprised that InStyle went along with this idea — after all, they’re considered by some to be "press" also.
Of course, last year the actual editor of InStyle wasn’t allowed in the Elton John private room with the hot celebrities, while others from the press did manage to make it inside. This apparently infuriated the magazine’s staff, who vowed such a thing would never happen again.
If only the broadcast entertainment shows would get a little integrity and boycott all these Hollywood parties, then maybe the publicists would lose their power. But I did hear one producer for TV entertainment begging a publicist for "B-roll" from the Elton John party since the show itself was banned from being there. It’s sad, really.