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Early Oscar picks!

Jan 13, 2004 3:12 AM

The Oscar presentation is a month earlier this year so the snooty Motion Picture Academy can distance itself from the Golden Globes presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press. In past years, the nominations were still open after the Globes telecast; this year the nominations close eight days before so the studios can’t tout the Globe-winning films to Academy members. Oscar nominations must be at the Academy’s Beverly Hills office by 5 p.m. on Saturday. The nominations will be revealed on Tuesday, Jan. 27 while the Golden Globes are held Jan. 25.

Though I’m not a betting person, here are my predictions:

Best Picture: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," "Finding Nemo," "American Splendor," "Lost In Translation," and "In America." Best Actress: Naomi Watts ("21 Grams"), Diane Keaton ("Something’s Gotta Give"), Nicole Kidman ("Cold Mountain"), Cate Blanchett ("Veronica Guerin") and Helen Mirren ("Calendar Girls"). Best Actor: Sean Penn ("21 Grams"), Ben Kingsley ("House of Sand and Fog"), Jack Nicholson ("Something’s Gotta Give"), Bill Murray ("Lost in Translation"), and Billy Bob Thornton ("Bad Santa").

There’s still hope for me to become a Las Vegas idol when a Norwegian gap-toothed former plumber, who looks like Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neumann, wins the first "World Idol Music Competition.

Mirage headliner Danny Gans is scheduled to return to work tonight after a month-long battle with a virus infection.

Will Farrell’s new DVD release of his hit film, "Old School," includes Harrah’s star ”” and my buddy ”” Clint Holmes singing his number one hit, "My Name is Michael."

I was a smash on "Vegas Live! last week that I know they’ll want me back. Sheena Easton was welcomed back the same day after her "Colors of Christmas" tour. The local diva didn’t miss a beat berating Irene Cara’s behavior on the tour and questioning my raves about Celine Dion’s act.

Speaking of my love Celine ”” I do hope it’s not one sided ”” she received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Jay Leno, who introduced her to America more than a dozen years ago when he was guest-hosting "The Tonight Show," did the same honors at the ceremony. By the way, there is a very legitimate nomination and voting process to receive a star, though someone has to pay a $15,000 fee to cover costs.

I was also brilliant when I was on KNEWS radio that marked the debut of PR man extraordinaire Frank H. Lieberman guest hosting the four hour afternoon session. Frank and producer Denise Mara Meyer put together a rapid-fire show that ended much too quickly. Nothing was sugar-coated. It would be smart for the KNEWS honchos to make it a regular happening.

Congratulations to Mac King on setting the Guinness record for the telephone game.

When Paris locks into the contract for the Queen musical, "We Will Rock You," or another major production on a four-wall basis, I’m told that their rotating weekend headliners will join the Las Vegas Hilton or Orleans/Suncoast rosters. Speaking of the Suncoast, what’s with all the jazz performers on the schedule? I’ve been to a number of openings at the hotel, which I love, and I know there has got to be name performers who will fit its older skewed patrons. When I attend a show, sometimes I feel like I’m the youngest one in the audience. Kind of like an antique among fossils.

The photo world lost a genius, and I lost a dear friend, when famed photographer Francesco Scavullo died at age 82 last week. Francesco discovered me at the tender age of 19, photographing my hair and makeup creations for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle.

Michael Jackson is still house hunting here, but I think he’s going to have trouble finding a community willing to accept his antics. In the meantime he’s rented a Beverly Hills mansion.

It’s truly a shame when the whim of Britney Spears, a 22-year-old sexpot wannabe, (she’ll never match Marilyn Monroe) makes world headlines by disgracing the sacred vows of marriage and tarnishing our city. What’s even more ridiculous is the fact pictures of the fiasco are rumored selling for more than $100,000 each. And the Palms is obviously thrilled with the publicity as its marquee last week asked "Who Was That Bellman" followed by "Palms team members are number one."

Just remember, Ms. Spears is the same person who attended a Siegfried & Roy performance and then ripped off some of their show for her own television special.