OSCAR NEWS The pregnant Annette Bening has bowed out of presenting duties at Sunday's ceremonies. Because it's her official due date, she has chosen to stay seated. (Having her water break on the podium, however, would make her a lock for an Emmy next year.) The actress WILL attend the event, however, considering that she's up for a Best Actress Oscar and her husband, Warren Beatty, is getting the Thalberg Award....
Willie Fulgear -- the salvage worker who discovered 52 of the 55 missing Oscar statuettes -- is not only getting the $50,000 reward from Roadway Express, the shipping company responsible for the statues, but he has also been invited to the Oscar ceremony. Watch for Hollywood's finest to give him a rousing round of applause when he's introduced -- minutes after having elbowed him aside in the aisle, thinking he was a seat-filler.... Meanwhile, Lawrence Ledent, the Roadway employee charged with stealing the Oscars, has pleaded innocent. The 38-year-old employee is being held in lieu of $20,000 bail, according to the Associated Press. The other arrestee in the crime, Anthony Hart, was released for lack of evidence....
The Wall Street Journal has released the results of its controversial Oscar poll. After surveying six percent of Academy voters, the paper has predicted that the big winners in the major categories will be: ''American Beauty,'' its director Sam Mendes, Denzel Washington (in a very slim victory over Kevin Spacey), Hilary Swank, Michael Caine, and Angelina Jolie. The Academy had tried to stop its members from cooperating with the poll, saying it would ruin the surprise, and some voters reportedly gave misleading answers to the paper to try to throw it off the track. But a Journal spokesperson defended the paper's experiment, saying its results weren't scientific enough to be foolproof, and that the story just ''adds to the fun.'' Perhaps this year the Academy should start trying to predict stock prices. That'll learn 'em!
JAIL TIME All the signs of springtime are here: blooming leaves, warm weather, and Ol' Dirty Bastard in legal trouble! (Actually, that last sign exists in every season.) ODB has been sentenced to 90 days in a California prison after admitting that he had violated his probation, according to MTV News. During his three-month stint in the poky, he will be evaluated psychologically and his criminal record will be analyzed. In June a judge will decide whether he goes back on probation or gets a longer prison sentence.
CONCERT TROUBLE Wyclef Jean canceled Friday's concert at the College of Charleston as part of the NAACP's boycott against the state of South Carolina for flying the Confederate flag. ''As much as I hate to cancel a show,'' Wyclef said in a statement, ''I cannot in good conscience perform in a state that has an emblem of racism and division flying over its capitol''.... Add Enrique Iglesias to the list of singers whose pipes have recently betrayed them. Thanks to a throat infection, Iglesias had to cancel Friday night's free concert in Orlando, according to MTV News. Iglesias' ailment is the same one that has recently quieted D'Angelo, Blink-182, and Marc Anthony. Some think this is a conspiracy, claiming the whole ''coincidental sore throat'' theory is hard to swallow. Ahhh, strep throat puns, do they ever get old?
HEMP MARTYR The Kentucky Supreme Court decided Thursday that as much as Woody Harrelson would like to believe that hemp is not the same as marijuana, he's still guilty of pot possession for growing it. The actor has long been fighting to prove that since hemp only contains small amounts of THC (the part of pot that makes you high), and that it is a valuable crop that can be used to make clothing and paper, it shouldn't be illegal. In 1996 he planted four hemp seeds in Kentucky so he would be arrested and could challenge the law in court; he has argued it in three different courts, all of which have found him guilty. Now that he's lost his final appeal with the Supreme Court, he may have to pay a fine for the misdemeanor, but he won't serve jail time. Maybe now Harrelson can move on to his next legal battle: proving that ''baked'' is not the same as ''stoned.''
CASTING LL Cool J will join Chris Klein in the remake of ''Rollerball,'' making him the rappin'-est roller skater ever!... Patrick Dempsey (''Scream 3'') will play the lead in the Martin Scorsese-produced Little Italy-set cop show ''Elizabeth Street,'' which should air on ABC next season.... Tiffani-Amber Thiessen has joined the NBC sitcom pilot ''The Peter Principle,'' about life in a bank. Oh, boy: deposit slips, CD accounts, rolls of pennies -- imagine the comic possibilities!
GAME SHOW UPDATE ''Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'' crowned its youngest millionaire Thursday night: 25-year-old Joe Trela got the top prize when he answered a question about computer bugs. Since Trela works for a computer company, it wasn't the most suspenseful finale ever, but that doesn't mean he didn't deserve every shred of that confetti.... Fox is getting greedy with ''Greed''. The network has extended its run this season by 20 more episodes, giving audiences all-new thrills and Chuck Woolery-style suspense through Aug. 18.
RECUPERATING Rodney Dangerfield had double bypass heart surgery on Tuesday, and is now doing well, according to the Associated Press. Although he did not have a heart attack, the 78-year-old comic checked into the hospital last week when he suffered chest pains after a six-night stint in Las Vegas.
HONORED Charles M. Schulz's name will live on -- and not just on Peanuts royalty checks. The Sonoma County Airport, where the late cartoonist kept an airplane, has announced that it is changing its name to Charles M. Schulz - Sonoma County Airport. The Red Baron would be proud to land there.