FILM / Rushes

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This year's Oscars could have been subtitled Tales of the Totally Expected, save for one element: the mass no-show of invited A-list stars.

Whatever happened to Mel, Jodie, Warren and Annette, Julia, Arnold, Michelle, Denzel et al? A disgruntled town wanted to know, so agents have been busy conveying their clients' excuses.

Barbra Streisand was preparing her tour. Meryl Streep was on vacation (in Hawaii - lucky for some). Eddie Murphy was celebrating his first wedding anniversary. Julia Roberts was filming Robert Altman's Pret-a-Porter in Paris.

Demi Moore and Bruce Willis were recovering from the birth of their third daughter, while Arnold Schwarzenegger was rehearsing being pregnant for the Ivan Rietman comedy Junior. Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson were on (separate) locations; and Denzel Washington did the show last year, as did Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, his wife.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Richard Gere, on the other hand, just didn't care to be seen: if you're not presenting or you're not even a nominee, why let people think you need the exposure?

As one top agent declared: 'I tell my clients they don't have to go. What are they supposed to do, anyway? Just stand around?'

When the titles of American films are translated for foreign markets, the results can be startling.

In Spain, for instance, White Men Can't Jump became White Men Don't Know How to Stick It In, making the comedy hit's subtext a tad too explicit. Other examples: Sister Act was Stormy Nun in Italy, A Heavenly Career in Germany and The Rebel Sister in Sweden.

Hong Kong transformed Diamonds Are Forever into Man as Tough as Iron and Gold and Steel Uncovers the Gang Dealing with Diamonds in Hong Kong, while The Poseidon Adventure was The Story of a Ship Called God of the Sea Meeting Danger.

Thailand transformed The Cutting Edge into Even Earthquake Could Not Stop This Love. (It also, incidentally, thought that The Rambunctious and Clever Boys was more catchy than Wayne's World.)

Meanwhile, Malaysia preferred Vipers in Heat to Dangerous Liaisons while Venezuela substituted Vaselina for Grease.

For the last word in literal translation, however, look no further than France: Look Who's Talking played as Hello Mummy, This Is Baby, and Look Who's Talking Too was, of course, Hello Mummy, This Is Still Baby.