While Academy Awards organizers insist that the number of stars canceling their Oscar appearances is no greater this year than in past years, a number of big names are dropping out specifically because of the war. The latest to do so, according to USA Today, is ''Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers'' director Peter Jackson. The Kiwi filmmaker planned to attend the ceremony to support his Best Picture nominee, but he's decided to stay home, citing the possibility that the ceremony will be delayed, making travel between New Zealand and Hollywood difficult to rearrange.
Variety reports that Angelina Jolie has also bowed out. The ''Girl, Interrupted'' Oscar winner made headlines Wednesday when designer Scott Henshall said that frocks intended for Jolie and others to wear to the Academy Awards had been stolen out of his car, parked in an upscale London neighborhood, but Variety reports that Jolie had already decided last week, when war was still looming, not to come.
Even Best Actress nominee Nicole Kidman may not show. ''At the moment she's still planning to come out here," her Los Angeles-based publicist, Catherine Olim, told The New York Post on Thursday. ''But as you can imagine, everyone's in a state of flux and still trying to decide what's the appropriate thing to do.''
The appropriate thing to do is stay home, previous Best Actor nominee Will Smith decided earlier this week. Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki, whose ''The Man Without a Past'' is a Best Foreign Language Film nominee, is also staying home, out of protest against U.S. policy. And scheduled presenter and ''LOTR'' star Cate Blanchett, who might have provided moral support for Jackson in the likely event of a slow night for the longshot ''Two Towers,'' has said she may not make it either, though she's blaming the filming schedule of her current project, the Ron Howard Western ''The Missing.''