The Simpsons' creator, Matt Groening, is denying a report that appeared Monday in British newspaper The Financial Times that implied he was winding up the series because it was getting harder and harder to surprise the audience. "I was misquoted and misunderstood," Groening said in a telephone interview with Reuters. "I don't want anyone to think I am predicting the demise of the Simpsons. They will live on with new adventures for years to come." The cartoonist added that his comments were ones he often made before but were taken out of context and misunderstood. "After 300 episodes, it is more difficult to remain true to the characters. We are trying to top ourselves after all those great shows, and the shows are as good now as they have ever been," he said.
Eccentric Icelandic singer Bjork and her American filmmaker boyfriend, Matthew Barney, are expecting a child in September, Reuters reports. Bjork, 36, joined the band Sugarcubes in 1987 but later quit the band to go solo. She has a teenage son from her marriage to fellow Sugarcubes band member, Thor Eldon.
Aussie darling Nicole Kidman won a spot on the cover of People magazine's "The 50 Most Beautiful People" special issue, which hits newsstands Friday. Also included in this year's list are celebs Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Cindy Crawford, Denzel Washington, Britney Spears, Mandy Moore and Sharon Osbourne.
In the Biz
Seinfeld writer/producer Larry Charles is making his directorial debut in Masked & Anonymous, which is scheduled to go into production in Los Angeles this July, according to Variety. The film's cast so far includes Penelope Cruz, Jessica Lange, Luke Wilson and Bob Dylan, with Jeff Bridges in negotiations to join.
Brett Ratner, who helmed the hugely successful Rush Hour 2 starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, is in early negotiations to direct Paycheck for Paramount Pictures, Variety reports. The film, a futuristic tale about a man who has part of his memory erased, is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.
Meanwhile, Jerry Bruckheimer and the Walt Disney Co. are in final negotiations with director Gore Verbinski to helm Pirates of the Caribbean. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film focuses on a daring attempt to rescue someone from dangerous pirates trying to reverse an ancient curse.
Steven Spielberg will be wrapping up the shoot on his thriller Catch Me if You Can in Canadian cities Montreal and Quebec City over the next few days, Reuters reports. The big-budget film stars Tom Hanks as an FBI agent who tracks down the young con artist Frank Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie is slated for a late fall release.
Fans of MTV's phenomenal reality series The Osbournes will finally be able to find out what exactly Ozzy Osbourne is mumbling between bleeps. The show is being closed-captioned for the hearing "non-impaired," Knight Ridder Newspapers reports.
Following the success of its drama Queer As Folk, the Showtime network is teaming up with MTV to launch a new gay-oriented premium service, the AP reports. The two Viacom outlets will be racing against Canada's existing Pridevision TV to reach the gay market first in the United States.
In a bid to save the recently canceled ABC series Once and Again, fans have purchased a billboard ad in West Hollywood, Calif., that reads: "Dear ABC, Bring back the magic 'Once and Again.'" The ad, which cost fans more than $12,500, will stay up for a month, according to the AP. The series, which stars Sela Ward and Billy Campbell, was canceled because of low ratings.
MTV has scheduled a free concert for 7-10 p.m. May 10 in New York's Battery Park in lower Manhattan as part of the Tribeca Film Festival, the AP reports. Performances at MTV's Rock and Comedy Concert include those by Sheryl Crow, the Counting Crows, Robin Williams and Jimmy Fallon. The festival, which is organized by Robert De Niro, runs from May 8-12.
"American Beauty," the dark existential comedy set in Anywhere, Suburbia, led the pack as nominations were announced today for the 6th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, honoring performances in both film and TV acting.
The film picked up four nominations, including a best actor nod for Kevin Spacey, a best actress one for Annette Bening and a best supporting actor one for Chris Cooper. The "Beauty" cast also was singled out for an ensemble acting nomination.
Trailing "American Beauty" in the movie division with a total of three nods is Spike Jonze's head-scratching absurdist offering "Being John Malkovich". That flick also earned a best ensemble acting nomination, as well as best supporting actress nods for Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener.
Along with "American Beauty" and "Being John Malkovich," Paul Thomas Anderson's sprawling melodrama "Magnolia," "The Cider House Rules" and the Tom Hanks-driven death row flick "The Green Mile" are also in contention for best ensemble film.
Other nominees in the best actor category are: odds-on-Oscar favorite Russell Crowe, for his turn as a tobacco industry whistle-blower in "The Insider"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, for donning drag in "Flawless"; Denzel Washington, for his Golden Globe-winning turn as a wrongly imprisoned boxer in "The Hurricane"; and Jim Carrey, for his equally Golden Globe-winning turn as comic eccentric Andy Kaufman in "Man on the Moon."
Along with Bening, the best film actress nominees are: Julianne Moore ("The End of the Affair"), Meryl Streep ("Music of the Heart"), Janet McTeer ("Tumbleweeds") and Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry).
In the domain of television, HBO's reigning mob hit "The Sopranos" continued its domination of the awards scene, pulling down a field-best five SAG nominations, including one for best ensemble.
Winners will be announced March 12.
Here's the complete nominee list for the 6th Annual SAG Awards:
Best Actor Jim Carrey ("Man on the Moon") Russell Crowe ("The Insider") Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Flawless") Kevin Spacey ("American Beauty") Denzel Washington ("The Hurricane")
Best Actress Annette Bening ("American Beauty") Janet McTeer ("Tumbleweeds") Julianne Moore ("The End of the Affair") Meryl Streep ("Music of the Heart") Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry")
Best Supporting Actor Michael Caine ("The Cider House Rules") Chris Cooper ("American Beauty") Tom Cruise ("Magnolia") Michael Clarke Duncan ("The Green Mile") Haley Joel Osment ("The Sixth Sense")
Best Supporting Actress Cameron Diaz ("Being John Malkovich") Angelina Jolie ("Girl, Interrupted) Catherine Keener ("Being John Malkovich") Julianne Moore ("Magnolia") Chloe Sevigny ("Boys Don't Cry")
Best Ensemble Film "American Beauty" "Being John Malkovich" "The Cider House Rules" "The Green Mile" "Magnolia"
Best Actor for Telefilms and Miniseries Hank Azaria ("Tuesdays With Morrie," ABC) Peter Fonda ("The Passion of Ayn Rand," Showtime) Jack Lemmon ("Tuesdays With Morrie," ABC) George C. Scott ("Inherit the Wind," Showtime) Patrick Stewart ("A Christmas Carol," TNT)
Best Actress for Telefilms and Miniseries Kathy Bates ("Annie," ABC) Halle Berry ("Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," HBO) Judy Davis ("A Cooler Climate," Showtime) Sally Field ("A Cooler Climate," Showtime) Helen Mirren ("The Passion of Ayn Rand," Showtime)
Best Actor for TV Drama Series David Duchovny ("The X-Files," Fox) Dennis Franz ("NYPD Blue," ABC) James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos," HBO) Rick Schroder ("NYPD Blue," ABC) Martin Sheen ("The West Wing," NBC)
Best Actress for TV Drama Series Gillian Anderson ("The X-Files," Fox) Lorraine Bracco ("The Sopranos," HBO) Edie Falco ("The Sopranos," HBO) Nancy Marchand ("The Sopranos," HBO) Annie Potts ("One Fine Day," Lifetime)
Best Actor for TV Comedy Series Michael J. Fox ("Spin City," ABC) Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier," NBC) Peter MacNicol ("Ally McBeal," Fox) David Hyde Pierce ("Frasier," NBC) Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS)
Best Actress for TV Comedy Series Calista Flockhart ("Ally McBeal," Fox) Lisa Kudrow ("Friends," NBC) Lucy Liu ("Ally McBeal," Fox) Sarah Jessica Parker ("Sex in the City," HBO) Tracey Ullman ("Tracey Takes On," HBO)
Best Ensemble TV Drama "ER," NBC "Law & Order," NBC "NYPD Blue," ABC "The Practice," ABC "The Sopranos," HBO
Best Ensemble TV Comedy "Ally McBeal," Fox "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS "Frasier," NBC "Friends," NBC "Sports Night," ABC