Gold Derby nuggets: Josh Harnett ('Rain Man') and Haley Joel Osment ('American Buffalo') make stage debuts | 'The Dark Knight' leads Oscars Web poll
• Playbill reports that the legit version of 1988 Oscars best picture winner, "Rain Man," begins previews Thursday night in London. Making his West End stage debut in the role of the slick younger brother played on-screen by Tom Cruise is Josh Hartnett. A British actor who was nominated twice for the Olivier Award, Adam Godley ("Mouth to Mouth," "Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle, and Dick"), tackles the part of the autistic older brother that won Dustin Hoffman his second Academy Award. Dan Gordon adapted the Oscar-winning script, much as he did last year with "Terms of Endearment."
• Also making his stage debut this fall is one-time Oscar nominee Haley Joel Osment ("The Sixth Sense"). As per Michael Riedel of the New York Post, the former child star, now 20, will be seen in the second Broadway revival of David Mamet's "American Buffalo" as a con man in training under the guidance of John Leguziamo and Cedric the Entertainer. Osment will be taking a term off from New York University, where he's double-majoring in fine arts and Middle Eastern studies. The original 1977 run starred Robert Duvall in the Leguziamo role while the Tony-nominated 1983 revival was headlined by Al Pacino.
• "The Dark Knight" leads the Oscar race for best picture, according to a poll at AwardsDaily.com, where the gourmet popcorn flick scored 15%. Runners-up for the other four positions to be nominated: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (14%), "Revolutionary Road" (13%), "Australia" (11%) and "Milk" (6%). SEE MORE
• The New York Times reports 16 obscure documentaries (including "Blessed Is the March," left) are playing to empty theaters — in some cases deliberately — just to debut prior to the Oscar eligibility cutoff date. "The Aug. 31 deadline has made filmmakers scramble, leaving little time (or desire) for an all-out publicity campaign," says the article. "This has left moviegoers with a bonanza of choices but not even a poster to lure them. "
• "'Funk It Up About Nothin',' the hip-hop adaptation of Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing' that premiered at Chicago Shakespeare in June, received the Dress Circle Award for musical production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival," reports Variety.
• Dodging a potential 007 bullet from "Quantum of Solace," Baz Luhrmann's "Australia" just switched its release date from Nov. 14 to Nov. 26. Now it will compete against the opening of Oscar rival "Milk." Trotting out in between: other derby ponies "The Road" and "The Soloist."
(Photos: MGM/UA, Katahdin Productions)