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February 06, 1999|JUDITH MICHAELSON


Oscars on the Web: On Oscar nominations morning Tuesday, ABC Internet Group and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will launch, the official Web site of the Academy Awards. Beginning at 5:38 a.m., the site will offer a live video stream of the announcements and the full list of nominees, plus Academy Awards history, photos and a synopsis of each nominated film. The 1999 site will last until the awards ceremony March 21, and features will be added as the date approaches. "The World Wide Web provides a wonderful new way for movie lovers to find information about all aspects of motion pictures," academy President Robert Rehme said. "It's only natural that the Oscars should have a place in cyberspace." This is the third year of an official awards Web site.

Grant for Jewish Documentaries: The Righteous Persons Foundation, established by Steven Spielberg, has awarded a $1-million matching grant to the National Foundation for Jewish Culture's Fund for Jewish Documentary Filmmaking. Since the fund's establishment in 1996 with a $650,00 grant from Spielberg's foundation, it has provided more support to the making of documentaries on Jewish culture, history and experience than any other organization. "The Righteous Persons Foundation has already made an extraordinary contribution to Jewish culture and documentary filmmaking in this country," said Richard Siegel, executive director of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, "and we expect the $1-million grant will help many more filmmakers demonstrate the vitality and variety of American Jewish culture."


'Singin' in the Bathtub': Actor John Lithgow, who's made his mark on film, stage and television, has decided to explore new territory. The star of NBC's "3rd Rock From the Sun" is releasing his first album March 9, "Singin' in the Bathtub." The collection of swing style tunes will be aimed at children. Singing to kids is a natural for him, Lithgow said. "Back in the early '70s when my first son was born, I taught myself to play guitar because I loved the idea of playing and singing for my own baby. Ever since then I've always sung for kids in classrooms, at benefits and at music festivals." Lithgow wrote one of the songs for the album. It's called "Big Kids," and "recollects when I was a very little kid and big kids terrified me."

Posthumously: A posthumous solo album by INXS singer Michael Hutchence, who hanged himself in a Sydney hotel room in 1997, will be released by midyear. Hutchence was working on the material, which is to be released worldwide by V2 Records, before his death. The Australian singer's father, Kel Hutchence, said the record will "be fulfilling Michael's greatest wish," adding that the singer had been working on it for three or four years.

Hank Williams Centerpiece: The baby-blue Cadillac convertible in which Hank Williams died will be the centerpiece of the new Hank Williams Museum, located just blocks from the country music star's grave in Montgomery, Ala. The museum is scheduled to open Monday. Williams died from heart failure on Jan. 1, 1953, in the back seat of the Cadillac while being taken to a concert in Canton, Ohio. The car, valued at $3 million, is now owned by Hank Williams Jr.


Unwanted V-Chips?: The V-chip, deemed salvation for parents fed up with trash TV, is languishing on store shelves during its first year of sales. Despite generous media attention and heart-tugging advertisements--"They're only kids once; protect them for all it's worth"--few parents are buying the gadget that shields children from sex, violence and profanity on TV. "The interest was high, but it just never seemed to translate into sales," said an executive with Toronto's Tri-Vision International, which produced 60,000 V-chip decoder boxes under the trade name "V-gis." Manufacturers won't divulge exactly how many of the decoder boxes have gone unsold, so early sales measures are not necessarily indicative of public sentiment. The real test, however, will be the actual use of the chips in television sets. By law, half of the new models available must have V-chips by July 1, with the remaining sets required to begin carrying the technology a year later.


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