Madonna failed to get an Oscar nomination for her role in the film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical, Evita, but the film itself was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Original Song for "You Must Love Me" -- though not Best Picture.
Oscars, given for excellence in film production, will be handed out March 24 in a ceremony that will be televised 9 PM (EST), 8 PM (CT) and 6 PM (PT).
The Feb. 11 Oscar nomination must come as a welcome bright spot for Webber, whose Whistle Down the Wind announced Feb. 10 that it was cancelling its Broadway opening just a week after his Sunset Boulevard posted its closing notice and his Really Useful Co. laid off more than a dozen workers. Webber was nominated for an Oscar in 1973 for Jesus Christ Superstar in the category "Scoring: Original Song Score and/or Adaptation." He lost to Marvin Hamlisch for The Sting. Weirdly enough, he's up against Hamlisch again in 1997. Hamlisch is credited as co-composer of the song ''I Finally Found Someone'' from The Mirror Has Two Faces, with Barbra Streisand, Bryan Adams and Robert "Mutt" Lange.
Aside from the Best Original Song nomination, Evita was nominated in four technical categories: Best Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound and Film Editing.
For his part, Hamlisch has said he will not attend the Oscars, having spent recent weeks rewriting The Goodbye Girl for its London revival in April, and having agreed to play a concert that night in Fort Smith, Ark.
In the annual "Egregiously Overlooked" category: Nathan Lane was not nominated for his performance in The Bird Cage; Branagh was not nominated for his performance in Hamlet.
Among other theatre folk and projects who WERE nominated:
* Hamlet was nominated in four categories: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Dramatic Score (Patrick Doyle), Best Costumes and Best Art Direction.
* Also nominated for Best Dramatic Score (for Michael Collins) was composer Elliot Goldenthal, whose Juan Darien was produced on Broadway in fall 1996.
* The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story, a documentary about the theatrical caricaturist, was nominated for Best Documentary Feature.
* They will compete in that category with a budding stage composer, Randy Newman, who was nominated for his score to James and the Giant Peach. Randy Newman's Faust has been produced in San Diego and Chicago, and reportedly is being prepared for Broadway.
* Two Shakespeare projects will compete in the category Best Art Direction: William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet. Also in that category is Evita, the Bird Cage and The English Patient.
As announced previously, choreographer Michael Kidd will receive a special Oscar this year for lifetime achievement.
-- By Robert Viagas