News for 1/30/2007

SAG Awards soaking in the 'Sunshine'

AP Movie Critic

Another week, another awards show, and the Oscar situation looks as up in the air as ever. "Little Miss Sunshine," took the Screen Actors Guild's ensemble prize Sunday night, the group's equivalent of a best picture award. Top acting honors, however, went to obvious front-runners Forest Whitaker, Helen Mirren, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson.

"Sunshine," the low-budget, road-trip charmer, came out of the Sundance Film Festival and bested bigger studio competition in "The Departed," "The Queen," "Babel" (which took the best-drama statue two weeks ago at the Golden Globes) and "Dreamgirls" (which won the Globe for best musical or comedy).

The SAG win for "Little Miss Sunshine," coupled with its unexpected victory at the Producers Guild Awards, would seem to improve the film's prospects at the Oscars, where it's in the best-picture category with "Babel," "The Departed," "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "The Queen."

Three out of the past four years, the SAG ensemble winner has won at the Academy Awards — "Crash," "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and "Chicago." They don't usually line up, though, and they differed two years ago when SAG honored "Sideways" and the Academy Award went to "Million Dollar Baby."

"I think we feel good. Does anybody not feel good? Raise your hand," said Greg Kinnear, who played the harried dad in "Sunshine," as he turned to co-stars Alan Arkin, Steve Carell and Abigail Breslin.

Asked what an Oscar would mean, Kinnear said, "It would mean a great deal to all of us. Making a movie isn't always a great experience, that's the facts. This really was a remarkable experience."

Whitaker won best actor for his thunderous turn as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland," with Mirren taking the best actress statue for her searing portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen."

Mirren seemed visibly stirred by her best-actress win (her second award of the night), beginning her acceptance speech at the Shrine Auditorium with a shaky, "Be still my beating heart, be still.

"When I did my costume fitting for 'The Queen," I walked in and saw all those sensible shoes and those tweed skirts, laid out in a row, and I cried. I thought, `I can't play anyone who chooses to wear those clothes, I just can't do it.' I learned to love the person who chooses to wear those clothes."

Earlier in the evening, Mirren won for best actress in a TV movie or miniseries for her portrayal of another queen in "Elizabeth 1."

She was demure backstage about whether she wants the Oscar, and about the universal acclaim she's received for her performance. She pointed out that the last time she won a SAG award was for playing a housekeeper in "Gosford Park," which won the ensemble prize in 2002.

"So I do downstairs as well as upstairs," she quipped.

Whitaker, meanwhile, was soft-spoken and humble: "It's been an amazing ride, not a ride I'm used to. I've never had it."

Murphy won the supporting-actor award for his work as a tormented, drug-addicted soul singer in "Dreamgirls." His co-star, Hudson, received the supporting-actress award as the splashy musical's rejected diva, who steals scenes with her show-stopping numbers.

"I just want to thank you for noticing little ol' me, and for accepting me," said Hudson, a former "American Idol" contestant who looks more destined than ever for Oscar greatness.

Although this was an unusual dramatic role for Murphy, he couldn't help but joke onstage, accepting the award in a fake British accent.

"I've been acting for some 25 years now and this is a tremendous honor to me. No, I'm sorry," he said, cracking up. "It's just when the British people come up and get the awards, it's so smooth with their stuff. And I feel goofy up here 'cause I don't be winning stuff."

Backstage, Murphy said he and his "Dreamgirls" castmates were as surprised as everyone else that the film received a leading eight Oscar nominations but not one for best picture.

"We got eight nominations, that was a great thing. We were happy about that," he said. "I was so happy to be nominated, I wasn't feeling disappointment about anything. I was caught off guard that we didn't get nominated for best picture but I've just been happy, nonstop happy."

On the television side of the awards, "Grey's Anatomy" won best dramatic series on the heels of its Golden Globe victory and in the midst of its off-screen troubles involving homophobic slurs uttered by actor Isaiah Washington, who has since entered counseling.

"Grey's" co-star Chandra Wilson, in accepting the award for best actress in a drama, addressed the matter with humor: "It's about those 10 cast members sitting over there, and the other one in rehab."

America Ferrera, two weeks after her surprise Golden Globe win, took the prize for best actress in a comedy series for her starring role as a sweetly awkward fashion magazine worker in "Ugly Betty."

Discussing the unprecedented success for the show, which has a largely Hispanic cast, Ferrera said: "What's great is that Latinos are a huge part of the audience. It's wonderful for them to begin to see representation of themselves on screen, which is something I pined for when I was younger."

Click here to see the entire list of Screen Actors Guild Award winners. (Adobe Reader required)

Braugher, Holden on list for King's "Mist"

By Borys Kit
The Hollywood Reporter

Andre Braugher and Laurie Holden will join Thomas Jane in "The Mist," director Frank Darabont's adaptation of the Stephen King story.

The script for the Dimension Films project, written by Darabont, is set after a strange storm blows through a Maine town and its citizens are attacked by deadly creatures. A group of townsfolk barricades themselves in a supermarket and struggle for survival.

"(Holden) was my leading lady in 'The Majestic,' and she is stupendous, talented and gorgeous," Darabont said. "She plays a very key role as one the people trapped in this existential Stephen King nightmare. On the good side of the aisle, she is the female lead of the movie."

"(Braugher) is Thomas Jane's neighbor, a high-powered attorney who has a weekend house in Maine. They have more of an adversarial relationship," Darabont said. "I've been a fan of Andre's since 'Glory.' I've never met him, and I'm so looking forward to it."

Shooting is slated to begin in mid- to late February in Shreveport, La.

Braugher recently won an Emmy for his work on FX's "Thief," which also garnered him a Golden Globe nomination. He next will appear in "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer." Holden was last seen in "Silent Hill" and "Fantastic Four."

Weekend Boxoffice

`Epic' No. 1 movie with $18.6 million

"Epic Movie," a spoof of big Hollywood productions such as "The Da Vinci Code" and "Pirates of the Caribbean," debuted as the No. 1 weekend flick with $18.6 million.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Media By Numbers LLC are:

1. "Epic Movie," Fox, $18,612,544, 2,801 locations, $6,645 average, $18,612,544, one week.

2. "Smokin' Aces," Universal, $14,638,755, 2,218 locations, $6,600 average, $14,638,755, one week.

3. "Night at the Museum," Fox, $9,557,664, 3,241 locations, $2,949 average, $216,845,623, six weeks.

4. "Stomp the Yard," Sony Screen Gems, $7,685,565, 2,115 locations, $3,634 average, $50,538,842, three weeks.

5. "Catch and Release," Sony, $7,658,898, 1,622 locations, $4,722 average, $7,658,898, one week.

6. "Dreamgirls," Paramount, $6,741,985, 2,785 locations, $2,421 average, $86,775,468, seven weeks.

7. "The Pursuit of Happyness," Sony, $4,983,325, 2,688 locations, $1,854 average, $152,929,867, seven weeks.

8. "Pan's Labyrinth," Picturehouse, $4,774,578, 823 locations, $5,801 average, $16,523,021, five weeks.

9. "The Queen," Miramax, $4,013,052, 1,830 locations, $2,193 average, $41,254,080, 18 weeks.

10. "The Hitcher," Focus, $3,632,975, 2,836 locations, $1,281 average, $13,433,020, two weeks.

11. "Freedom Writers," Paramount, $3,514,548, 2,273 locations, $1,546 average, $31,312,123, four weeks.

12. "The Departed," Warner Bros., $3,365,481, 1,453 locations, $2,316 average, $125,237,852, 17 weeks.

13. "Notes On a Scandal," Fox Searchlight, $2,603,703, 641 locations, $4,062 average, $9,087,135, six weeks.

14. "Babel," Paramount Vantage, $2,561,053, 1,090 locations, $2,350 average, $27,226,241, 14 weeks.

15. "Children of Men," Universal, $2,183,195, 1,273 locations, $1,715 average, $30,909,838, six weeks.

16. "Blood and Chocolate," MGM, $2,074,300, 1,200 locations, $1,729 average, $2,074,300, one week.

17. "Letters From Iwo Jima," Warner Bros., $1,867,326, 415 locations, $4,500 average, $5,072,065, six weeks.

18. "Arthur and the Invisibles," MGM, $1,704,515, 1,718 locations, $992 average, $11,501,180, three weeks.

19. "The Last King of Scotland," Fox Searchlight, $1,674,900, 501 locations, $3,343 average, $7,739,235, 18 weeks.

20. "Charlotte's Web," Paramount, $1,496,105, 1,345 locations, $1,112 average, $78,862,500, seven weeks.

'Grey's Anatomy' Star Enters Counseling

Washington seeks help 'understanding' gay slur

Isaiah Washington of "Grey's Anatomy" has entered therapy to help "understand" what caused him to utter a gay slur about castmate T.R. Knight.

The show's creator has also issued a statement saying she was shocked by Washington's use of the word "faggot" backstage at the Golden Globes last week and hopes that counseling will help Washington.

"With the support of my family and friends, I have begun counseling," Washington says in a statement. "I regard this as a necessary step toward understanding why I did what I did and making sure it never happens again. I appreciate the fact that I have been given this opportunity and I remain committed to transforming my negative actions into positive results, personally and professionally."

The 43-year-old actor has been at the center of a controversy since the Golden Globe Awards -- at which "Grey's Anatomy" won the award for best TV drama -- on Jan. 15. A reporter asked about an on-set incident in the fall in which Washington reportedly directed a slur at Knight, who is gay.

A reporter at the Globes asked about the incident -- which Washington had subsequently apologized for -- and Washington denied having used the epithet. That set off the current swirl of stories, with Knight and co-star Katherine Heigl taking Washington to task and gay organizations demanding an apology from Washington.

He did apologize last week, and met with leaders of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network earlier this week.

Rhimes remained silent on the matter until Wednesday, when she issued a statement saying that "I speak for all the executive producers here at 'Grey's Anatomy' when I say that Isaiah Washington's use of such a disturbing word was a shocking and dismaying event that insulted not only gays and lesbians everywhere, but anyone who has ever struggled for respect in a world that is not always accepting of difference."

She adds that ABC and Touchstone TV, which produces the show, are working with her to handle the matter "in a way that underscores the gravity of the situation while giving us all a foundation for healing."

"We applaud and encourage Isaiah's realization that he needs help and his subsequent choice to seek immediate treatment for his behavioral issues," Rhimes says.

It's unclear whether Washington's counseling will affect the production of the series.

Murphy's Career Is Going 'Nowhere'

High concept comedy comes from the 'Bill & Ted' writers

Eddie Murphy, nominated for his first Oscar earlier this week, is set to take a trip to "NowhereLand."

The comedy, scripted by Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, could be Murphy's next project after Fox's "Starship Dave," according to Variety.

Murphy would play a financial executive who loses his mojo, but regains his confidence after taking a trip to the supposedly imaginary world created by his daughter.

Solomon and Matheson previously wrote together on "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey."

Murphy has already won a Golden Globe for his supporting performance in "Dreamgirls." His next film, "Norbit," opens in early February. Variety also reported in November that Murphy and Paramount are eager to mount a "Beverly Hills Cop 4," though that unnecessary sequel will probably have to wait for tiny details like a script and director.

Luke Locks Onto 'Lambs'

Cruise and Streep will star for Redford

Derek Luke is set to co-star with Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in the United Artists drama "Lions for Lambs."

Redford is also directing the film, which will begin shooting later this month.

The Matthew Michael Carnahan-scripted film focuses on the intersecting events that follow two soldiers getting separated from their platoon in Afghanistan. According to Variety, Luke will play one of the soldiers.

Redford is in place as a college professor, with Cruise playing a senator and Streep as a reporter. Michael Pena ("World Trade Center") will also co-star.

Luke earned strong reviews for his performance in this fall's drama "Catch a Fire." Since being discovered and cast in the lead of "Antwone Fisher," his credits have included "Glory Road" and "Friday Night Lights."

French "Voyeur" piques Will Smith

By Tatiana Siegel
The Hollywood Reporter

Columbia Pictures has picked up the thriller "Le Voyeur" for Will Smith's production company.

The film centers on a man who returns to the Caribbean island of his youth and becomes a suspect in the murder of a teenage girl two days after his arrival.

The story is based on a 1955 French novel by Alain Robbe-Grillet. Smith and production partner James Lassiter will produce through their Overbrook Entertainment shingle.

The long-gestating project originally was set up in 2002 at Universal Pictures.

Smith earlier this week received an Oscar nomination for his starring role in "The Pursuit of Happyness," his fifth $100 million-plus movie with Columbia.

Spike Lee directing NBC drama pilot

By Nellie Andreeva
The Hollywood Reporter

NBC has hired Spike Lee to direct its drama pilot "M.O.N.Y.," about an unlikely everyman who becomes the mayor of New York.

Also at NBC, Gary Winick ("Charlotte's Web") will direct another one-hour pilot, "Lipstick Jungle," a comedy-drama about a trio of power-hungry New York women.

Meanwhile, ABC has signed Peyton Reed to direct "Cashmere Mafia," and Fox has recruited P.J. Hogan for "Philadelphia General."

Reed, who is coming off the hit summer romantic comedy "The Break-Up," will take on the similarly themed "Cashmere," a light drama about four successful female executives.

Another director of a hit romantic comedy feature, Hogan ("My Best Friend's Wedding") will shoot the comedic drama "Philadelphia," about the lives and loves of a team of nurses.

News for 1/24/2007

‘Dreamgirls’ Leads in Oscar Nominations but Is Snubbed for Best Picture


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Jan. 23 — Everything went as planned for “Dreamgirls,” a perfectly confected Oscar machine. Great cast, showstoppers that stopped the show, and a wonderful back story in Jennifer Hudson, the washed-out “American Idol” turned movie star. And it was all propelled by hype-filled rollout, plenty of strong reviews and, finally, widespread belief that it was the favorite in the best-picture throwdown.

Everything continued to go as planned during the news conference at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences here on Tuesday morning, with this crowd-pleasing costume musical racking up eight nominations. And then the best-picture category was announced: “Babel,” “The Departed,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “The Queen” and “Letters From Iwo Jima.”

Wait. Are they nominating six this year? The hundreds of reporters in the auditorium were leaning heads together, making sure that they did not hear the name “Dreamgirls.”

They did not.

“Dreamgirls” had the most nominations for the day, eight, including a pair for its supporting players, Eddie Murphy and Ms. Hudson, but it will not be around for the war. It is the first film in many decades to have the most nominations and not be in the best-picture category.

The seven nominations for “Babel” prove that the academy is a sucker for a weave of ambitious filmmaking (multiple languages and stories are represented) and big stars in small roles. (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were in just one segment of the movie’s triptych.)

“Pan’s Labyrinth,” a Spanish-language film, received a half-dozen nominations, as did “The Queen,” in an array that was announced by Sid Ganis, president of the academy, and the actress Salma Hayek at 5:38 a.m Pacific time; it was planned to land in the middle of morning shows in the East.

Much of what happened was expected — Forest Whitaker and Helen Mirren, who played monarchs to very different effect — continued their stately walk to the podium, with nominations for best actor and best actress. (“I’m not going to win in a million years, and that’s absolutely fine,” said Kate Winslet, a fellow nominee in the actress category.)

Ms. Mirren said of her nomination: “It’s the mother lode. It’s the big mama of the whole thing. There’s nothing in the whole world like the Oscars.”

Mr. Whitaker described his excitement: “I’m stoked. I have to find the right word, and ‘stoked’ is O.K.,” he said, joining the ritual outpouring of gratitude and expectation.

Mr. Murphy, a seasoned veteran, and Ms. Hudson, an absolute beginner, were joined in the supporting categories by 10-year-old Abigail Breslin and Alan Arkin, 72, for their roles in “Little Miss Sunshine.” (It’s been 38 years since Mr. Arkin’s last nomination, for “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.” )

The supporting-actor category was notable for its eclecticism, with Jackie Earle Haley’s portrayal of a pedophile in “Little Children” being recognized, as was Rinko Kikuchi’s role in “Babel” as a deaf-mute Japanese girl with a lot on her mind. In total, out of 20 slots for acting awards, 5 black actors were nominated, 2 Latinas and a Japanese woman.

And in a year when the precursor awards have been all over the road, the movies came from all over the world. “Cinema is an international art form, and you can do it in any language the artist dreams about,” Mr. Ganis said after coming offstage. He pointed to Clint Eastwood’s vivid example in making two movies in two languages about the same war.

The academy, frequently criticized for being a prisoner of convention, ventured far and wide in search of films that represented the year’s most spectacular achievements. Tidy little movies like “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Queen” were selected for best-picture nods, and two movies in which English is a second language — “Babel” and “Letters From Iwo Jima” — also made the cut, while “The Departed,” a big popcorn movie with a bloody, relentless end, was recognized as well.

Even “United 93,” a movie that made the unthinkable watchable, was given a significant nod when Paul Greengrass was nominated for best director. None of these movies had a built-in Oscar-winning apparatus — far from it, actually, but perhaps that was precisely the point.

Los Angeles is a place that worships success, but can be very punishing when it comes to striving for it. Paramount/DreamWorks learned as much, as it sought to position “Dreamgirls” as a favorite and succeeded; but something went wrong on the way to the podium. It most likely did not help that the movie, with its gorgeous songs and amazing costumes, was a tough sell to begin with among white males, a demographic that describes the majority of the academy’s 5,800 voting members.

The marketing of the film didn’t help, either. Regardless of what you have heard, “Dreamgirls” was a story that was about something, a particularly American story of success and redemption. Instead it was sold as a parade float, majestic and unstoppable. Behind that miscalculation, the basic blocking and tackling of an Oscar campaign fell short. The decision to send out screeners of the movie late was built on hubris — the same reason that Parmount/DreamWorks chose to charge $25 for early peeks at the movie — which suggested that it was an Important Film that must be seen on a big screen.

But the death of President Gerald Ford, combined with a national holiday, meant that most academy members did not get the film until Jan. 3, 10 days after they had received “Letters From Iwo Jima,” a movie that wasn’t even supposed to come out in 2006. That means that academy members saw the hype long before they saw “Dreamgirls” and had just 10 days to see it before they voted. (“Flags of Our Fathers,” another Paramount/Dreamworks project, this one from Mr. Eastwood and Steven Spielberg, came basted in Oscar juice and went nowhere.)

It made for a bad day at Paramount, although the studio’s chief, Brad Grey, was traveling and not taking calls, so no one can say for sure. The studio can find solace in “Babel,” a movie from its specialty division, Paramount Vantage, that did extremely well on Tuesday.

At Warner Brothers, things did not go as planned, either. It was thought early on that “Blood Diamond,” with its serious themes and star wattage from Leonardo DiCaprio, would be a durable contender. Mr. DiCaprio scored a best-actor nomination. But it was Warner’s “Departed” that landed in the thick of the best-picture race, and its director, a hardy unrequited perennial named Martin Scorsese, was also chosen. And the studio’s decision to release Mr. Eastwood’s “Letters From Iwo Jima” is looking pretty smart just about now.

Alan F. Horn, chief executive of Warner Brothers, said best-laid plans or not, he was thrilled for both directors, Mr. Scorsese and Mr. Eastwood — the face-off will reprise 2005, when “Million Dollar Baby” edged out “The Aviator” — and with the five nominations “Blood Diamond” received. (In one indication of “The Departed’s” underlying strength going forward, Mark Wahlberg was nominated in the supporting category for his profane, explosive depiction of a police official.)

“We ended up in a good place,” Mr. Horn said.

Now that the nominations have been settled, the battle for credits will begin. The academy handout listed the best-picture nominations of both “The Departed” and “Little Miss Sunshine” with “nominees to be determined.” The academy will have to decide which of the five producers of “Little Miss Sunshine” deserve a statue, and although Graham King is currently listed, for the purposes of the best-picture nomination, as the sole producer of Warner Brothers’ “Departed,” Mr. Grey, who packaged the movie as an agent before he came to Paramount, may yet have something to say about that. As murky as that seems, it can be said with certainty that it won’t be pretty.

And, going forward, the best-picture race was left without a clear favorite, which is great news for the academy. The voters love a contest, and ABC does, too, because television of all kinds thrives on suspense. With a new host, Ellen DeGeneres, and a collection of films that millions of people actually paid money to see, ABC is hoping on reversing a drop-off in viewership and certainly improving on last year’s 39 million viewers when the show comes up on Feb. 25.

Click here to see the entire list of nominees.

Weekend Boxoffice

`Stomp the Yard' tops weekend box office

The urban dance film "Stomp the Yard" retained its box-office title for a second week, selling $12.3 million worth of tickets.

A number of films had their weekend sales boosted by last week's Golden Globes awards and buzz over Oscar potential.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Tuesday by Media By Numbers LLC are:

1. "Stomp the Yard," Sony/Screen Gems, $12,287,352, 2,051 locations, $5,991 average, $40,550,946, 2 weeks.

2. "Night at the Museum," Fox, $12,012,724, 3,483 locations, $3,449 average, $204,852,656, 5 weeks.

3. "Dreamgirls," Paramount, $8,008,749, 2,214 locations, $3,617 average, $77,415,704, 6 weeks.

4. "The Hitcher," Focus/Rogue, $7,818,239, 2,835 locations, $2,758 average, $7,818,239, 1 week.

5. "The Pursuit of Happyness," Sony, $6,310,133, 3,066 locations, $2,058 average, $146,121,200, 6 weeks.

6. "Freedom Writers," Paramount, $5,207,062, 2,286 locations, $2,278 average, $26,524,683, 3 weeks.

7. "Pan's Labyrinth," Picturehouse, $4,502,243, 609 locations, $7,393 average, $9,932,414, 4 weeks.

8. "Children of Men," Universal, $3,710,945, 1,524 locations, $2,435 average, $27,491,508, 5 weeks.

9. "The Queen," Miramax, $3,400,061, 1,586 locations, $2,144 average, $35,557,521, 17 weeks.

10. "Arthur and the Invisibles," MGM, $3,080,698, 2,248 locations, $1,370 average, $9,272,106, 2 weeks.

11. "Alpha Dog," Universal, $2,990,995, 1,292 locations, $2,315 average, $11,787,810, 2 weeks.

12. "Charlotte's Web," Paramount, $2,335,120, 1,915 locations, $1,219 average, $76,773,487, 6 weeks.

13. "Babel," Paramount Vantage, $2,072,412, 889 locations, $2,331 average, $23,658,420, 13 weeks.

14. "The Good Shepherd," Universal, $2,050,155, 1,571 locations, $1,305 average, $57,602,410, 5 weeks.

15. "Primeval," Disney, $1,878,287, 2,444 locations, $769 average, $9,594,760, 2 weeks.

16. "Blood Diamond," Warner Bros., $1,744,497, 955 locations, $1,827 average, $50,627,655, 7 weeks.

17. "The Last King of Scotland," Fox Searchlight, $1,609,920, 495 locations, $3,252 average, $5,326,979, 17 weeks.

18. "Rocky Balboa," MGM, $1,578,171, 1,450 locations, $1,088 average, $67,725,170, 5 weeks.

19. "Happily N'ever After," Lionsgate, $1,562,814, 1,758 locations, $889 average, $13,918,191, 3 weeks.

20. "We Are Marshall," Warner Bros., $1,472,349, 1,440 locations, $1,022 average, $41,078,532, 5 weeks.

CW picks up "Chris" for fall

By Nellie Andreeva
The Hollywood Reporter

The CW has made its first series pickup for fall, giving an early full-season order to the sophomore comedy "Everybody Hates Chris."

The announcement is set to be made Friday at CW's portion of the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour in Pasadena.

Created by Chris Rock and Ali LeRoi and narrated by Rock, "Chris" is inspired by the comedian's childhood experiences growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., during the early 1980s. Tyler James Williams stars as Rock.

"Chris" launched on UPN as one of the most buzzworthy new series of the 2005-06 season. The critically praised show now airs as part of the Monday comedy block on the CW, which launched last year with the best bits of the now-defunct UPN and WB networks.

Fishburne betting on "21" thriller

By Tatiana Siegel
The Hollywood Reporter

Laurence Fishburne is in final negotiations to board the Vegas-set thriller "21," which is set to begin shooting next month in Boston and Las Vegas.

Columbia Pictures' blackjack tale is based on Ben Mezrich's best-seller, "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions." Fishburne will play a Vegas security chief who hunts down the group.

Robert Luketic ("Legally Blonde") will direct. Fishburne's recent film credits include "Bobby" and "Akeelah and the Bee."

The "21" cast also includes Liza Lapira, Josh Gad, Jim Sturgess and Masi Oka. Kevin Spacey, who is serving as a producer, will also appear.

Serena to make movie of tennis great Gibson's life

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Serena Williams, a budding actress, is planning to make a movie about the life of trailblazing black tennis player Althea Gibson.

Williams doesn't plan to star or direct in the film but is working on a script and will likely be a producer.

"I think Althea Gibson has a great story ... we're working on a script right now," she said in Melbourne where she is competing at the Australian Open.

"I think she had a great life, and I just think she's a little bit overlooked.

"You've got this US Open, you've got the Arthur Ashe court, and Arthur Ashe is a great guy, and it was my lifelong dream when I met him.

"Then you have the Louis Armstrong Center and the center being named after Billie Jean King who, again, I always admired Billy and she's someone that I love.

"But I just feel sometimes that Althea Gibson, who did so much for people like me to play this sport, and she was the first, before even Arthur Ashe, and I just think it will be a great story to tell.

"Yeah, it's a good script.

"I definitely won't be directing it. Hopefully I can produce it."

Gibson overcame the odds to achieve international acclaim and success, clawing her way from the violent streets of Harlem to the grass courts of Wimbledon.

She won 56 singles and doubles titles during her amateur career in the 1950s before gaining international acclaim on the professional circuit.

Gibson won 11 major titles in the late 1950s, including singles titles at the French Open (1956), Wimbledon (1957, 1958) and the US Open (1957, 1958).

She died in 2003.

Williams, who has won seven Grand Slam titles, is making a comeback from injury in Melbourne.

As well as playing tennis, she has dabbled in fashion design and acting, with small roles in several American television shows while doing voiceovers for programs like The Simpsons and kids favourite Higgleytown Heroes.

News for 1/18/2007

Dream night for "Dreamgirls," "Babel" at Globes

By Arthur Spiegelman

The Oscars got their front-runners on Monday: "Dreamgirls" and "Babel" are likely to duke it out for best film while Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker take the lead in the fight for best actress and best actor.

All won Golden Globes and with that the vital momentum needed to move toward the big prize, the February 25 Oscars.

The Globes, produced by the minuscule Hollywood Foreign Press Association, may not always predict the final Oscar winners but they help set the debate in the hectic weeks leading up to the film industry's highest honors.

The list of Globe winners this year pretty well complied with conventional wisdom, although some Oscars voters may find the selection of "Babel" as 2006's best drama a bit too gut-wrenching. A story about the globalization of pain and suffering, "Babel" was filmed in five languages in four countries and is far from traditional Hollywood fare.

It is expected to go up against "Dreamgirls," director Martin Scorsese's gangster drama "The Departed," quirky family film "Little Miss Sunshine and "The Queen," which stars Mirren, when Oscar nominations are announced on January 23.

Scorsese left the Globes a happy man, too -- he was named best director for "The Departed," giving his film a chance for wider glory.

Although he has created classic films like "Raging Bull" and "Taxi Driver," Scorsese has never won an Oscar for best film or best director, and the Hollywood that denied him those prizes may be ready to show its sentimental side.

Mirren stopped a reporter when he tried to ask a question about her Oscar chances. She won the best actress in a drama award for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen."


"No stop," she told the reporter. "It's the big O. I never had a big O. They say the Earth moves. I can't wait."

When Whitaker's name was announced as winner of best drama for his portrayal of the brutal Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, he jumped up. "(Winning) was like a jolt of lightning," he said.

"Dreamgirls" won three awards, more than any other film, including best supporting actor and actress for Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, respectively.

"Babel" earned only one award but it was a big one -- best film drama. It entered the Golden Globes as the most nominated movie, with seven nominations.

The movie's director, Mexico's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, noted the long and trying journey to get his movie made across across three continents -- Africa, North America and Asia.

He said "Babel" transcended borders with its gut-wrenching performances.

"I think the power of cinema is universal and at the end, emotion doesn't need translation and that's the beauty of it."

British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who plays a dimwitted reporter in "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan," was given the award for best actor in a film musical or comedy.

In his characteristically dry manner, Cohen thanked his co-star, Ken Davitian, who sat on his face in a naked wrestling match in the film.

"I was faced with a choice -- death, or to breathe in the air that had been trapped in a small pocket between his buttocks for 30 years," Cohen joked. "Kenneth, if it was not for that rancid bubble, I would not be here, today."

In the other top film honor, Meryl Streep won the award for best actress in a comedy for her portrayal of a wicked fashion editor in "The Devil Wears Prada." It was sixth Golden Globe of Streep's career.

Click here for the complete list of nominees and winners.

Rice, Smith Dance to CBS Comedies

NFL legends hit 'HIMYM,' 'Class' following Super Bowl

A pair of NFL greats -- and former "Dancing with the Stars" contestants -- will pop up on two of CBS' Monday-night comedies following the network's Super Bowl broadcast next month.

Emmitt Smith, who's the NFL's all-time leading rusher and the reigning "Dancing" champion, will appear as himself on the Monday, Feb. 5 episode of "How I Met Your Mother." A half-hour later, the league's most prolific receiver and touchdown scorer, Jerry Rice, will make a cameo on "The Class."

(Rice finished second in season two of "Dancing with the Stars.")

CBS will broadcast the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 4 and is sprinkling some recognizable NFL faces across its shows as a promotional gimmick. The network is doing something similar with the Grammy Awards, which air the following Sunday.

On "HIMYM," Smith meets a starstruck Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) on the street in New York. Rice's "Class" guest spot will find him visiting former football player Yonk Allen (David Keith) and his wife, Nicole (Andrea Anders), much to Duncan's (Jon Bernthal) surprise.

Washington Usurps Hanks' Spot As Favorite

Hanks drops to second place

Move over, Tom Hanks. America has a new favorite movie star.

Even though Denzel Washington didn't even appear among the Top 10 in 2005, he ranks as the No. 1 movie star for 2006, according to the annual Harris Poll, which surveys adults nationwide online.

Washington last starred in the moderately received thriller "Deja Vu," which didn't even touch the global success of Hanks' "The Da Vinci Code." In the past five years, Hanks topped the list three times. The late John Wayne maintained his third-place position from the previous year, while another movie cowboy, Clint Eastwood, rose two spots to No. 4.

Will Smith makes his debut on the list in fifth place, no doubt in response to his well received film "The Pursuit of Happyness," tying Julia Roberts for the honor. "Pirates of the Caribbean" star Johnny Depp and "Apocalypto" director Mel Gibson followed with another tie for seventh place, while the dapper George Clooney took ninth place. Harrison Ford wrapped it up at No. 10 after holding the third spot just last year.

Men seemed to lean toward Eastwood, who also tied with Wayne for the conservatives' favorites. The liberal and moderate votes favored Washington, however, and women preferred Roberts. The "Pretty Woman" was also a hit with the mature viewers (ages 61 and up), while the Baby Boomers liked The Duke, and Gen X-ers preferred Hanks. It comes to no surprise that the Echo Boomers (aged 18-29) liked Depp the best.

Poor Sean Connery and Sandra Bullock were dropped altogether from the Top 10 this year.

Mary J. Blige to Guest on Ghost Whisperer

Source: CBS

Current eight-time Grammy Award nominee Mary J. Blige will guest star in "Ghost Whisperer," Friday, Feb. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network during "Grammy week." The 49th Annual Grammy Awards will be broadcast live from Staples Center in Los Angeles, Sunday, Feb. 11 (8:00-11:30 PM, live ET/delayed PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Mary J. Blige is currently nominated in many of the top categories of The 49th Annual Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Blige, whose music will be featured in the episode, plays Jackie Boyd, the coach of a high-ranked high school cheerleading team whose members are being disabled, one by one, by seemingly freak accidents in the days preceding their big cheerleading competition. Melinda (Jennifer Love Hewitt) soon discovers that the vengeful spirit of a former cheerleader is behind the calamities and that a life-altering happening in Jackie's past is hindering her sincere efforts to put a stop to her team's adversities.

"Ghost Whisperer" airs Fridays (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. The series stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, David Conrad and Camryn Manheim.

Will Smith and Sony Have Mercy

Source: Variety

Will Smith's Overbrook production company and Sony have purchased Steve Bloom's spec script Sisters of Mercy, reports Variety. Smith and James Lassiter are producing for Overbrook along with Alex Siskin.

The story follows a widower father who is rescued after his wife's death by members of her book club, who soon begin running his life with their advice on parenting and dating.

Bloom's previous credits include James and the Giant Peach and Tall Tale: The Unbelievable Adventures of Pecos Bill, both for Disney.

Weekend Boxoffice

`Stomp the Yard' opens at $25.9 million

The dance flick "Stomp the Yard" debuted as the top weekend movie, taking in $25.9 million over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Monday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Tuesday by Media By Numbers LLC are:

1. "Stomp the Yard," Sony Screen Gems, $25,876,318, 2,051 locations, $12,616 average, $25,876,318, one week.

2. "Night at the Museum," Fox, $21,847,867, 3,612 locations, $6,049 average, $190,503,618, four weeks.

3. "The Pursuit of Happyness," Sony, $10,703,352, 3,169 locations, $3,378 average, $138,082,302, five weeks.

4. "Dreamgirls," Paramount, $10,259,911, 1,907 locations, $5,380 average, $67,101,078, five weeks.

5. "Freedom Writers," Paramount, $8,849,005, 2,179 locations, $4,061 average, $20,172,832, two weeks.

6. "Children of Men," Universal, $7,449,555, 1,508 locations, $4,940 average, $22,415,823, four weeks.

7. "Alpha Dog," Universal, $7,411,750, 1,289 locations, $5,750 average, $7,411,750, one week.

8. "Primeval," Disney, $6,792,318, 2,444 locations, $2,779 average, $6,792,318, one week.

9. "Arthur and the Invisibles," MGM, $5,702,789, 2,247 locations, $2,538 average, $5,702,789, one week.

10. "Charlotte's Web," Paramount, $5,348,867, 2,513 locations, $2,128 average, $73,731,304, five weeks.

11. "The Good Shepherd," Universal, $4,346,080, 1,994 locations, $2,180 average, $54,704,190, four weeks.

12. "Happily N'Ever After," Lionsgate, $4,277,793, 2,381 locations, $1,797 average, $11,865,637, two weeks.

13. "Rocky Balboa," MGM, $3,336,025, 1,835 locations, $1,818 average, $65,600,017, four weeks.

14. "Blood Diamond," Warner Bros., $2,874,933, 1,116 locations, $2,576 average, $48,199,168, six weeks.

15. "Happy Feet," Warner Bros., $2,866,252, 1,451 locations, $1,975 average, $189,052,102, nine weeks.

16. "We Are Marshall," Warner Bros., $2,858,355, 1,804 locations, $1,584 average, $39,188,707, four weeks.

17. "Eragon," Fox, $2,644,106, 1,614 locations, $1,638 average, $70,811,997, five weeks.

18. "Pan's Labyrinth," Picturehouse, $2,611,968, 194 locations, $13,464 average, $4,834,269, three weeks.

19. "Curse of the Golden Flower," Sony Pictures Classics, $2,190,075, 1,234 locations, $1,775 average, $4,538,871, four weeks.

20. "Casino Royale," Sony, $2,010,237, 819 locations, $2,455 average, $162,760,504, nine weeks.

News for 1/13/2007

Forest Whitaker in Talks for Afterwards

Source: Production Weekly

Forest Whitaker is negotiating to make his next film Afterwards, with French filmmaker Gilles Bourdos, reports Production Weekly.

Based on Guillaume Musso's novel "Et après…," Whitaker will play Nathan Del Amico, a brilliant New York lawyer who leads a life of professional success, but his private life is pretty dismal since he divorced Mallory, his only love. Until he meets Garrett Goodrich, a mysterious doctor who introduces himself as a "messenger." He claims that he can sense when certain people are about to die, and that he is sent to help them put their life in order before it's too late. Nathan doesn't believe a word of this, but soon afterwards he witnesses some disconcerting scenes which seem to confirm the doctor's claims.

The film will be shot in New York and Arizona later this year.

"Lackawanna Blues" on track for HBO series

By Nellie Andreeva
The Hollywood Reporter

After leaping from the stage to the small screen as an HBO Films movie, Ruben Santiago-Hudson's autobiographical one-man play "Lackawanna Blues" is ready for another transition.

HBO is developing a drama series based on the play and film, sources said. Santiago-Hudson is writing the pilot script.

The 2005 film, which Santiago-Hudson also wrote, recounted his experience growing up in the early 1960s amid a thriving black community in the titular Great Lakes city under the care of a large, maternal woman everyone called Nanny.

S. Epatha Merkerson has not been approached to reprise her role as Nanny, which garnered her Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG awards, given that she already has a regular gig on NBC's long-running crime drama "Law & Order."

Directed by George C. Wolfe, the movie also starred Terrence Howard, Mos Def, Macy Gray, Jimmy Smits and Liev Schreiber.

'Survivor: Fiji'

Mark Burnett gives 'Survivor' international flavor

It turns out that the racial diversity of "Survivor: Cook Islands" wasn't just a one-time fluke.

On Friday (Jan. 12), CBS announced the cast members for the 14th installment of Mark Burnett's hit reality franchise, the appropriately titled "Survivor: Fiji." And, true to Burnett's recent promises, the show's cast is every bit as the stars of the race-baiting Cook Islands season.

The contestants range in age from 23 to 54 and the group includes players born in Hong Kong, Colombia, Venezuela and South Korea. Expect plenty of Hurricane Katrina subplots, as at least three players have direct ties to Louisiana.

As always, there will be twists. The players won't be divided into tribes until the third day, prior to an Immunity challenge. The tribe that wins that challenge will return to camp with "copious resources," while the losing tribe will receive only a pot, machete and water source. In addition, there will be a hidden Immunity idol at each camp, but the only clues to find the important trinket are located on Exile Island.

Here's a little info on the 19 new castaways viewers will meet formally when "Survivor: Fiji" premieres on Thursday, Feb. 8:

Name: Alex Angarita
Age: 28
Hometown: Los Angeles
Occupation: Attorney

Name: Kenward "Boo" Bernis
Age: 34
Hometown: Lafayette, LA
Occupation: Construction Worker

Name: Yau-Man Chan
Age: 54
Hometown: Martinez, CA
Occupation: Computer Engineer

Name: Earl Cole
Age: 35
Hometown: Santa Monica, CA
Occupation: Advertising Executive

Name: Jessica deBern
Age: 27
Hometown: Los Angeles
Occupation: Fashion Stylist

Name: Erica Durousseau
Age: 27
Hometown: Lake Charles, LA
Occupation: Non-Profit Fundraiser

Name: Cassandra Franklin
Hometown: Los Angeles
Occupation: Civil Engineer

Name:Liliana Gomez
Age: 25
Hometown: Oxnard, CA
Occupation: Loan Officer

Name: Andria "Dre" Herd
Age: 25
Hometown: Wilmington, NC
Occupation: Cheerleading Coach

Name: Stacy Kimball
Age: 27
Hometown: Boulder, CO
Occupation: Interactive Internet Producer

Name: Sylvia Kwan
Age: 52
Hometown: Ross, CA
Occupation: Architect

Name: Mookie Lee
Age: 25
Hometown: Wheeling, IL
Occupation: Loan Manager

Name: Lisette "Lisi" Linares
Age: 36
Hometown: Los Angeles
Occupation: Customer Service Representative

Name: James Reid
Age: 28
Hometown: Los Angeles
Occupation: Bartender

Name: Edgardo Rivera
Age: 28
Hometown: Miami Beach
Occupation: Advertising Executive

Name: Anthony Robinson
Age: 32
Hometown: Straight out of Compton
Occupation: Expert Witness Locator

Name: Gary Stritesky
Age: 55
Hometown: Ramsey, MN
Occupation: School Bus Driver

Name: Rita Verreos
Age: 38
Hometown: San Antonio
Occupation: Single Mom

Name: Michelle Yi
Age: 23
Hometown: Cincinnati
Occupation: Student

Check out the official Survivor: Fiji on CBS website.

'Sunshine' wins big at Critics' Awards

"Little Miss Sunshine," the heartwarming story about family dysfunction, and the musical "Dreamgirls," led winners at the 12th annual Critics' Choice Awards on Friday night.

Both films earned four awards, though "The Departed" took home top prizes for best picture and best director.

"Little Miss Sunshine" won for best acting ensemble, best young actress for Abigail Breslin, best young actor for Paul Dano and best writer for Michael Arndt.

Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson of "Dreamgirls" earned honors in the best supporting actor/actress categories. The film also earned an award for best soundtrack, while Beyonce won for best song for "Listen."

Helen Mirren earned the best actress nod for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen." Forest Whitaker won best actor for "The Last King of Scotland."

The awards were presented by the Broadcast Film Critics Association at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Presenters included Penelope Cruz, Toni Collette, Steven Spielberg and Spike Lee.

The complete list of winners:

Picture: "The Departed"
Actor: Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland"
Actress: Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy, "Dreamgirls"
Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
Acting Ensemble: "Little Miss Sunshine"
Director: Martin Scorsese, "The Departed"
Writer: Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Animated Feature: "Cars"
Young Actor: Paul Dano, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Young Actress: Abigail Breslin, "Little Miss Sunshine"
Comedy: "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"
Family Film (live action): "Charlotte's Web"
Picture Made for Television: "Elizabeth I"
Foreign Language Film: "Letters from Iwo Jima"
Song: "Listen," Beyonce, from the film "Dreamgirls"
Soundtrack: "Dreamgirls"
Composer: Philip Glass, "The Illusionist"
Documentary Feature: "An Inconvenient Truth"

Scorsese among nominees for DGA awards

Eastwood snubbed; Condon, Frears and Inarritu also in contention

LOS ANGELES - The Oscar race sharpened considerably Tuesday as the Directors Guild of America named six nominees for its top award, including filmmakers Martin Scorsese for his crime thriller “The Departed” and Bill Condon for the musical “Dreamgirls.”

The quirky family comedy “Little Miss Sunshine” also emerged as a serious contender for the Oscars — the film industry’s highest honors — with its two newcomer directors, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, sharing a DGA nomination for a film once seen as a longshot.

“The fact that it has shown up here, where it was not expected, demonstrates enormous industry support for a film that we must now consider as a best-picture contender,” said awards pundit Tom O’Neil, columnist for the Web site

Rounding out the roster of this year’s DGA nominees were British filmmaker Stephen Frears, for his royal family portrait “The Queen” and Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, for his globe-spanning drama “Babel.”

Noticeably absent from the list of DGA contenders was Clint Eastwood, whose Japanese-language World War II drama “Letters from Iwo Jima” has been a late-season critical favorite.

Dayton and Faris, two music-video auteurs whose first feature film centers on a dysfunctional family rushing across the country in a broken-down Volkswagen van to get their young, plucky daughter to a beauty contest, said they were in a “state of shock” over their nomination.

“We always told our cast that ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ was about not looking at life as a contest, but seeing it more as a dance. So I can say that we are really enjoying this dance,” Dayton told Reuters.

The winner of the 59th annual DGA Awards, considered a strong bellwether for the Oscars, will be announced on Feb. 3.

Thanks largely to overlapping voting membership between the DGA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the winner of the DGA feature film award has gone on to win the best-director Oscar 52 out of the past 58 years.

Best director, best film

And Oscar has a long history of giving its top award, the prize for best picture, to the film made by the winner of the Academy Award for best director.

Moreover, for each of the past four years all five filmmakers nominated for the DGA’s feature film prize went on to have their work land Oscar nominations for best picture, O’Neil said.

A DGA win would be especially gratifying for Scorsese, the iconic director of such films as “Taxi Driver” and “Goodfellas.”

“The Departed” earned him his seventh DGA nomination, and he has been twice honored for his overall body of work, but Scorsese has never won the organization’s prize for a particular film. Nor has he managed to win an Academy Award, despite earning five Oscar nominations as best director.

“It’s a great honor to receive this recognition from my fellow filmmakers,” Scorsese said in a statement. He last lost out in both the DGA and Oscar race in 2005, when “The Aviator” was defeated by Eastwood’s boxing film “Million Dollar Baby.”

Eastwood’s absence from the PGA pack this year cements Scorsese’s status as a favorite to finally win this year, though he faces stiff competition from Condon for his work on “Dreamgirls,” a lavish musical loosely based on the story of Diana Ross and the Supremes.

“The one thing that the DGA members love is a big, splashy production, and they appreciate, as directors, all the hard work that goes into a musical,” O’Neil said.

Still, Scorsese has gained strong momentum with best director honors from the influential New York Critics Circle and the National Board of Review and six Golden Globe nominations for “The Departed.”

“Babel,” a searing film about cultural gaps dividing people around the world, leads the Golden Globe race with seven nominations.

The Globes, another key precursor to the Oscars, will be presented Jan. 15. The Oscar nominations will be unveiled on Jan. 23, with the Academy Awards presented on Feb. 25.

Costume Designers Love 'Prada,' 'Pirates'

Contemporary and period designs compete separately

As the editor in chief of Runway magazine, Miranda Priestly has to look good; apparently, she succeeded.

The Costume Designers Guild has nominated Meryl Streep's designer ensembles from "The Devil Wears Prada" for their ninth annual awards, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Prada's" designer Patricia Field will contend in the contemporary category against Lindy Hemming for "Casino Royale," Consolata Boyle for "The Queen," Nancy Steiner for "Little Miss Sunshine" and Michael Wilkinson for "Babel."

In the period film category, Penny Rose's skills on "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" will take on the work from Milena Canonero for "Marie Antoinette," Sharen Davis for "Dreamgirls," Chung Man Yee for "Curse of the Golden Flower" and Ngila Dickson for "The Illusionist."

Jane Kaczmarek will host the awards ceremony on Feb. 17 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel where the winners will be announced and Sandra Bullock and Helen Mirren will receive special honors.

"Dreamgirls' `Chris' lead Image nominees

The musical "Dreamgirls" and the TV comedy "Everybody Hates Chris" each collected a leading eight NAACP Image Award nominations Tuesday. "Dreamgirls" star Beyonce Knowles led the individual nominees with five nods.

The awards honor "projects and individuals that promote diversity in the arts."

"Dreamgirls" was nominated for best picture and soundtrack, and six members of its ensemble cast — Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose and Knowles — earned acting nods.

Other best-picture nominees were "Akeelah and the Bee," "Blood Diamond," "Catch a Fire" and "The Pursuit of Happyness."

The stars of "Akeelah and the Bee" — Keke Palmer, Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett — also earned acting nominations, as did Djimon Honsou of "Blood Diamond" and "Pursuit of Happyness" stars Thandie Newton, Will Smith and his son, Jaden Christopher Syre Smith.

Other big-screen acting nominees were Forest Whitaker ("The Last King of Scotland"), Denzel Washington ("Inside Man"), Harry Belafonte ("Bobby") and Kerry Washington ("The Last King of Scotland").

Besides its best-comedy nomination, "Everybody Hates Chris" earned two directing and five acting nods. Other best-comedy nominees were "All of Us," "The Bernie Mac Show," "Everybody Hates Chris," "Girlfriends" and "Ugly Betty. Best-drama nominations went to "24," "Grey's Anatomy," "Heroes," "The Unit" and "The Wire."

Best-album nominees included "B'Day" by Knowles, Corinne Bailey Rae's self-titled debut, John Legend's "Once Again," Mary J. Blige's "Reflections: A Retrospective" and the "Dreamgirls" soundtrack.

Knowles, Blige and Rae were also nominated for best female artist, as was Fantasia and India.Arie. Competing for best male artist are Legend, Chris Brown, Jay-Z, Lionel Richie and Prince.

The 38th NAACP Image Awards ceremony will be held March 2 in Los Angeles and broadcast live on Fox.

NAACP Image Awards
List of NAACP Image Award nominees- (Adobe Reader required)

Theater fears violence, drops black film

The CEO of a theater chain said he won't show a film about black college fraternities at any of his Springfield theaters this week out of fear it could trigger the kind of gang violence that erupted during another movie last month.

The decision drew criticism from the president of the Springfield branch of the NAACP, who said it hurts black audiences, particularly black families that would be attracted to what he says is an uplifting film.

The movie, "Stomp the Yard," is about a dance competition between black college fraternities.

Tony Kerasotes of Kerasotes Theatres, a Midwest chain, said he did not make his decision based on race but out of concern that the film would attract gang members.

He said he feared a repeat of a fight and shooting that occurred during a Christmas Day screening of "Black Christmas" at Parkway Pointe theater in Springfield. "Black Christmas" is a horror film and did not depict the black community.

Police said two groups of youths began fighting inside the theater and at least two fired shots in the theater's lobby. One teen was shot during the melee that police say stemmed from a long-standing feud between two gangs. One man has been arrested, but authorities say they don't believe he shot the injured teen and the investigation was continuing.

"I was fearful ("Stomp the Yard") could become the occasion for more gang violence, because I felt certain it would draw that audience," Kerasotes said. He added that he made the decision, in part, because "virtually all" of the people involved with the shooting are still at large.

"We don't think this is going to attract young black males who are part of a gang," said Ken Page, head of Springfield's NAACP. "It would be good if it did, this is a positive movie, the message is you can go to school."

Page said not showing the film is the wrong thing to do.

"Kerasotes should have sat down with the mayor or the police chief and said `We want you to make it safe to show all movies.' They're paid to do that."

"Stomp the Yard" will be shown in more than 2,000 locations nationwide starting Friday, including more than 40 other Kerasotes-owned locations.

Kerasotes said he would consider showing the movie in Springfield at a later date, perhaps on Jan. 19.

"Usually after a week or two, the edge and interest is off quite a bit on these kinds of films, and they just don't seem to draw as rough a crowd (as) on the first weekend," he said.

2 actors receive Directors Guild nods

Actors Edward James Olmos and Charles S. Dutton are among five nominees for a Directors Guild of America Award in the movies for television category.

Olmos, an Oscar nominee for his role in 1988's "Stand and Deliver," was nominated for directing Time Warner Inc.'s HBO movie "Walkout."

Dutton, an Emmy-winning actor, was nominated for directing an episode of the CBS Corp.-owned Showtime cable channel's "Sleeper Cell."

Other nominees are Randa Haines for TNT's "The Ron Clark Story," Walter Hill for the AMC miniseries "Broken Trail" and Peter Markle for A&E's "Flight 93."

"The work of these five directors underscores the power and impact of an art form that, for more than four decades, has been a cultural touchstone connecting viewing audiences across the nation," DGA President Michael Apted said in a statement.

The award will be presented Feb. 3.

Directors Guild of America