Usually, the Academy Awards ceremony doesn't offer too many surprises.
But with teen heartthrobs 'N Sync, quirky pop singer Aimee Mann and comedian Robin Williams who'll sing a version of a song from the "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" soundtrack this year could be different.
"It's fun and exciting to be nominated. I have no chance to win," said Mann, whose Best Song nominee, "Save Me" (RealAudio excerpt), is one of eight she wrote that appear on the soundtrack to the film "Magnolia."
The awards show will be telecast Sunday on ABC-TV beginning at 8 p.m. EST. It also will feature performances by Sarah McLachlan and Phil Collins, and R&B singer Erykah Badu will present an award.
This is Mann's first nomination. She's up against "South Park" co-creator Trey Parker and composer Marc Shaiman's "Blame Canada"; 13-time nominee Randy Newman's "When She Loved Me" from "Toy Story 2"; three-time nominee Collins' "You'll Be in My Heart" from "Tarzan"; and Diane Warren's "Music of My Heart," which was sung by 'N Sync and Gloria Estefan on the "Music of My Heart" soundtrack.
Mann, who will sing "Save Me" on the telecast, first appeared on the music scene with the group 'Til Tuesday, best known for their 1985 hit, "Voices Carry" (RealAudio excerpt). She has released three solo albums in addition to the "Magnolia" soundtrack, which is composed primarily of her songs.
She said she's doing her best not to worry about performing in front of such a large television audience.
"I'll play, but if [I] think about it too much, [I'll] be nervous, [and] being nervous isn't fun."
Mystery Surrounds 'South Park' Performance
It probably also hasn't been fun for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to figure out how to deal with the performance of the obscenity-laden "Blame Canada." Parker and Shaiman originally balked at any attempts to change the song's lyrics.
"It would be ironic to change the words in a song in a movie about censorship," Shaiman told the Hollywood Reporter.
The academy won't say whether Williams' performance of the tune will be censored with key words edited out by show producers, or with alternate lyrics. "The version Robin sings will be a surprise," an academy spokesperson said.
Chart-Toppers In Ample Supply
'N Sync, who released their third album, No Strings Attached, on Tuesday, and who have a #5 Billboard Hot 100 hit with "Bye Bye Bye" (RealAudio excerpt), will perform "Music of My Heart" with Estefan. The latter singer scored such hits with the Miami Sound Machine as "Conga" (1986) and "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You" (1988). On her own, Estefan has had hits with "Don't Wanna Lose You" (1989) and a cover of Vicki Sue Robinson's 1976 disco classic, "Turn the Beat Around" (1994).
Sarah McLachlan will perform "When She Loved Me," which she also sang on the "Toy Story 2" soundtrack. McLachlan's most recent album, Mirrorball, included the hits "Building a Mystery" and "I Will Remember You." She also founded the popular Lilith Fair women's-music tour in 1997.
Collins, who previously was nominated in the Best Original Song category for "Two Hearts" (1988, from the film "Buster") and "Against All Odds" (1984, from the film of the same name), will perform his own song. A member of the rock group Genesis from 197095, Collins also had solo success with 1981's "In the Air Tonight" and "Sussudio" (1985).
Newman's 12 previous nominations included a nod for Best Original Song for 1996's "Toy Story" track "You've Got a Friend in Me." He also has been nominated for Dramatic Score and Musical or Comedy Score, most recently in 1998 for "A Bug's Life." He released his latest solo album, Bad Love, in 1999.
Nod To The Past
The awards show also will feature a medley of previously nominated songs, the academy spokesperson said. Pop diva Whitney Houston, rapper Queen Latifah, country singer Garth Brooks, R&B legend Ray Charles, pop singer Dionne Warwick and soul singer Isaac Hayes, who plays Chef in the "South Park" film, will perform the medley, which will be directed by songwriter Burt Bacharach and bassist/producer Don Was.
The academy has not released the list of songs to be included, but Variety reported that one of them is "Alfie," which Warwick and Bacharach performed on the awards show in 1967.
Although she'll present a still-to-be-determined award, Badu, who released her first album, Baduizm, in 1997, won't perform. She recently won a Grammy with the Roots for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for "You Got Me."