GRAMMY ALERT Paul Simon and young rapper Lil Bow Wow have been added to the list of performers at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards. Simon’s ”You’re the One” is nominated for Album of the Year, a category Simon has won three times. Lil Bow Wow, 13, is best known for his hit single ”Bounce With Me.” The two join a roster that features Madonna, U2, Destiny’s Child, and the much anticipated Eminem and Elton John duet. The Grammy telecast starts at 8 p.m. this Wednesday on CBS.
MERCH MERGER Apparently Muggles and magicians alike enjoy the taste of Coca-Cola. Warner Bros. has chosen Coke as its sole promotional partner for the film ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which comes out Nov. 16. The world’s most recognized soda company announced Tuesday that they will spend $150 million marketing the film in the States and internationally. The ad campaign will focus on placing Harry and his pals on Coca-Cola, Minute Maid, and Hi-C packaging. But don’t expect product placement in the movie or a commercial of Harry drinking Coke. The soda giant will stress literacy instead of attempting a cross promotion with the film or pushing toys and giveaways. In the film, based on the first of J.K. Rowling’s best selling series, 11 year old Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry, and Richard Harris (”Gladiator”) plays his learned wizard mentor, Professor Dumbledore.
BOX OFFICE Oscar nominations helped several Best Picture contenders score at the box office this past holiday weekend. Sony Classics’ ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” opened in 450 more theaters, bringing the total up to 1,651 and helping the subtitled epic earn a fifth place spot with $11 million. Ang Lee’s Mandarin language flick grew 104 percent from its previous weekend’s gross. Miramax’s eighth ranked ”Chocolat” also expanded, adding 333 new screens where it can be seen. The heavily promoted Lasse Hallström film grossed $6.1 million, a 99 percent jump from its Feb. 9 to 11 showings. USA Films’ ”Traffic” added only two more theaters, yet the Steven Soderbergh drama managed to increase its weekend to weekend gross by 70 percent, making $7.5 million for a sixth place finish. Just goes to show how studios can spin box office green from Oscar gold.
CASTING Oscar winner Hilary Swank will star in director John Hughes‘ comeback project, ”Chambermaid,” a romantic comedy for Revolution Studios. Like most of Hughes’ pics, ”Chambermaid” is set in Chicago. The ’80s teen king (”Sixteen Candles,” ”The Breakfast Club”) last directed the 1991 family comedy ”Curly Sue.” Samantha Morton (”Sweet and Lowdown”) has signed on to play the female lead opposite Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell in ”Minority Report” for Steven Spielberg. The futuristic drama starts shooting this spring.
GUTTED The home of Drew Barrymore and Tom Green was gutted by a fire that started early Sunday morning. The couple escaped injury thanks to their pooch Flossie, who woke them up at 3:30 a.m. by banging on their bedroom door. According to the Associated Press, it took the fire department one hour to put out the flames, which caused approximately $700,000 in damages to the two story home. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. Hey, wasn’t Drew the lead in ”Firestarter”? Just wondering.
RECUPERATING Johnny Cash, hospitalized with pneumonia Feb. 11, has been upgraded from serious to satisfactory condition. According to the Associated Press, Cash, 68, was admitted to Nashville’s Baptist Hospital after returning to Tennessee from his home in Jamaica. ”He is improving,” hospital spokeswoman Debby Koch announced Monday. The country singer is particularly susceptible to pneumonia, because he has autonomic neuropathy, a disease of the nervous system akin to Parkinson’s. The Man in Black has a history with battling pneumonia: He was hospitalized for it once in 1999 and twice in 1998.
TUBE NEWS Since ”Temptation Island” has scored Fox’s highest Wednesday night ratings in nearly eight years, the network is ready to air another reality series in the newly successful time slot. ”Boot Camp,” which follows civilian contestants competing to survive military training, debuts at 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 28. ”Island,” alas, broadcasts its final temptfest Feb. 28. Fox has further solidified its Wednesday night by ordering six more episodes of ”Grounded for Life,” the sitcom starring Donal Logue (”The Patriot”) and Megyn Price as the young parents of a teenager and two young sons.
OBIT Veteran producer – director Stanley Kramer died Monday in the Motion Picture Retirement Home, after a short struggle with pneumonia. He was 87. Kramer directed 16 movies, including some of Hollywood’s most socially conscious films, like ”Inherit the Wind” (1960), ”Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961), and ”Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (1967). In addition to his three decade career as a director, Kramer also produced 35 films, including ”Cyrano de Bergerac” (1950), ”Death of a Saleman” (1951), and ”High Noon” (1952). Despite nine nominations, New York born Kramer never won an Academy Award.
Producer Howard W. Koch, the former chief of production at Paramount Pictures, died Feb. 16 of natural causes in his Beverly Hills home. He was 84. Koch’s first producer’s credit was for the 1953 Western ”War Paint,” starring Robert Stack; his last was for the 1986 miniseries ”Crossings,” with Cheryl Ladd, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer. His best known features are ”The Manchurian Candidate” (1962) and ”The Odd Couple” (1968). While at Paramount, Koch was responsible for funding ”Becket,” ”Alfie,” and ”Barefoot in the Park.”