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Oscar notes


Best actor nominee Will Smith's night was cut short because his 1{-year-old daughter was ill. Smith, nominated for Ali, left the Kodak Theatre with his actor-wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, after security officials told them Willow had an ear infection and 103-degree fever, said a family publicist, who declined to be identified. When the nominees were announced, Smith's picture was shown. Willow was okay Monday. . . . Sunday's telecast on ABC drew the lowest Oscar rating in history, Nielsen Media Research says. Its 25.4 was worse than last year's 26.2, the previous low. ABC estimated the telecast drew 41.8-million viewers, the lowest since 1997, when just over 40-million watched. The rating was the smallest though the viewership wasn't because more homes have TVs now than in 1997. . . . Democratic gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno, dressed in black velvet, appeared at the InStyle- Elton John afterparty-AIDS fundraiser. She was in Los Angeles for a campaign fundraiser, she told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Bono vouches for Buck

U2's Bono appeared as a character witness at the air rage trial of Peter Buck, telling a London court the R.E.M. guitarist is a quiet family man not known for drinking or taking drugs.

Buck is accused of going on a drunken rampage aboard a trans-Atlantic British Airways flight last April after consuming 15 glasses of wine.

Bono said Monday that prosecutors' description of a man who grappled with crew members to the point he poured yogurt on them did not sound like the Buck he has known for 17 years.

"I have never ever seen him drunk. I have absolutely never seen him taking drugs," Bono said.

Buck, 45, denies charges of being drunk on an aircraft, assault and damaging crockery. Last week he testified that he took a powerful sleeping pill at the start of the flight and cannot remember anything until he woke up in a Heathrow Airport.

The trial continues today.