OSCAR POTSHOTS: THE SOUND AND FURY

Lotsa response to critics zeroing in last week on Oscar nomination oversights and unworthy (in their view) nominees. Like Siskel and Ebert wanting to throw in their 2-cents worth (and plug their annual Oscar show, which is airing on KABC this weekend, including today at 5 p.m.). And KTLA's Tom Hatten calling to remind that his CBS Radio Network series of one-minute Oscar segments continues to air through Monday.

But maybe most notable was director Randa Haines rebutting Rex Reed, who said that Marlee Matlin's best-actress nomination for "Children of a Lesser God" was "a waste," because "How many roles can you find for a deaf mute actress?"

Haines told us: "He's reflected an unfortunate attitude that's kept a lot of very talented people from working. And he's reduced the whole nomination process to getting your next job or a better price. I thought the nominations were about recognition of the best work.

"I think (Matlin) had one of the most challenging roles of the year. It was my decision to cast her. I know how hard she worked and what went into her performance. In her very first (film) performance, she showed great range and subtlety and expressiveness. It happened to be in another language--but deafness does not define the part. That's not her up there. It's a gifted actress playing a part.

"It was shocking that he seemed to wish that she never works again. As a matter of fact, she already has another role, though that's irrelevant.

"I don't want to wage a personal attack on him. But I feel that his attitude is disrespectful to all actors."

Matlin plays the hearing-impaired fiancee in "Walker," which Alex Cox is now shooting in Nicaragua. Walker, portrayed by Ed Harris, was an American mercenary in the late 1800s who declared himself president of Nicaragua.

Matlin, by the way, will present the Oscar for best sound.

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