News Flash: Singer Elliott Smith Blindsided By Academy Award Nomination

Perhaps no one was more shocked to receive an Academy Award nomination than songwriter Elliott Smith.

The punk-rooted singer spoke with quiet surprise on Friday when asked how he took the news that his song "Miss Misery" (RealAudio excerpt) was nominated this week for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

"I didn't think there was much of a possibility I was going to be nominated," Smith said by phone from L.A.'s Sunset Sound studio, where he's

wrapping up recording for his fourth album, tentatively titled Grand

-Mal.

"Miss Misery" is featured in the season's surprise-hit film, "Good Will Hunting," which was nominated for Best Picture as well. Smith said it was his friend and "Good Will Hunting" director, Gus Van Sant ("Drugstore Cowboy," "My Own Private Idaho"), who brought him onboard for the film that stars Robin Williams as a psychiatrist who comes to the aid of a brilliant but misdirected young man.

Smith is set to perform "Miss Misery" at the Academy Awards ceremony on March 23.

"I knew Gus from Portland, Ore., because I used to live there," the

hushed-voiced Smith said. "He had put some of my [previously released]

songs in an earlier version of the movie, the shooting was done and the

editing was pretty far along. And I really liked the movie a lot. He

wanted me to write a song for it, so I did it. "

Smith said he was particularly relieved when he was told that he didn't have to try to make it fit the movie. "[Van Sant] was like, 'You don't have to write a narrative or a recap of the movie.' And I was like, 'Good, because I don't think I can.' " -- Chris Nelson [Fri., Feb. 13, 1998, 4:30 p.m. PST]