Top Story: Quirky Comedies Win Top WGA Honors
The quirky comedies Lost in Translation and American Splendor took top honors Saturday at the 56th annual Writers Guild of America Awards, which were doled out in simultaneous ceremonies at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles and the Pierre Hotel in New York. The awards, handed out by Hollywood's screenwriters, honor outstanding achievement in writing for the screen, television and radio during the 2003 season. Lost in Translation, written and directed by Sofia Coppola, won original screenplay, while American Splendor, penned by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman, took best-adapted screenplay--a prize that was an expected shoo-in for the third and final installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But The Return of the King scribes Frances Walsh and Philippa Boyens and director Peter Jackson will get their chance again at the Academy Awards on Feb. 29, where they are nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay along with Pulcini and Berman for American Splendor, Anthony Minghella for Cold Mountain, Brian Helgeland for Mystic River and writer/director Gary Ross for Seabiscuit. The odds, however, are tipped in American Splendor's favor: In the past 12 years, eight Writers Guild of America adapted screenplay winners have gone on to win an Oscar.
Bobby Brown in the Hoosegow
Bobby Brown is back in the Big House. The 35-year-old singer, whose hits include "My Prerogative" and "Every Little Step," was being held Saturday without bond at the DeKalb County Jail in Georgia, The Associated Press reports, after being taken into custody for violating his probation on a previous drunken driving conviction. He is expected to remain in custody until a court hearing Friday. According to the AP, the ruling may be related to Brown's charge of misdemeanor battery in December following an argument with his wife, singer Whitney Houston. Brown has been on probation since January 2003, when he was convicted of a 1996 drunken driving incident. He had been ordered to remain on probation until Feb. 17, 2005.
Jackson's Exposure Not a Federal Case
While most American believe Janet Jackson acted in poor taste when she revealed her right breast during the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 1, only a few think it warrants a federal investigation. An Ipsos Group research poll conducted for the AP found that only 18 percent of those surveyed thought Jackson's exposure was an illegal act, while 54 percent said it was in bad taste. Meanwhile, a fourth of those in the poll said the act was neither in bad taste nor illegal, according to the AP. The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,000 adults was taken Feb. 16-18. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
American Idol Reject's Popularity Surges
Despite being unceremoniously booted off the Fox American Idol audition stage a few weeks ago, 21-year-old William Hung has become an instant celebrity. Hung has taken his gotta-see-it-to-believe-it version of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" and turned it into a bizarre quasi-career. Hung, a Southern California native studying at the University of California, Berkeley, tried out for American Idol in San Francisco last September but promptly got the brush-off from judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. But he has since become a hot commodity. After being invited to sing at a Cal volleyball game last week, he received offers from music cabler Fuse and New York-based record company Koch Entertainment for a record contract and music video production deal. Hung also made a recent appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show where he performed four songs. Three Web sites devoted to Hung have also gone up on the Internet in the past week, including one that generated 4 million hits in four days.
Ozzy Osbourne Ready To Rock
Though he's recently questioned his ability to perform onstage again, a neck brace-sporting Ozzy Osbourne says he will indeed headline the ninth annual Ozzfest touring festival this summer and denies reports that a team of paramedics and a mobile surgery would be standing by at the side of the stage should anything happen. "Number one, I'm not gonna die; I'm gonna make the tour," Osbourne, 55, said at a news conference Friday. "I'm not dead. I'm ready to rock, man." Osbourne crashed his four-wheel all-terrain vehicle on Dec. 8 at his estate in Buckinghamshire in southern England, leaving him with fractures in eight ribs and a vertebra. He expressed fears earlier this week that he might never perform again. The Ozzfest tour, which will play 26 locations across the United States, begins in Hartford, Conn., July 10 and wraps in West Palm Beach, Fla., Sept. 10.
Shaun Cassidy in Fender Bender
Former teen idol Shaun Cassidy was involved in a Thursday morning car crash that left a Warner Bros. studio security guard with minor leg injury. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Cassidy was driving into the studio when his car struck a vehicle that was stopped at the security gate. That car was then pushed into a third vehicle, trapping guard Conrad Perez between them. Perez was treated at a hospital and released. Cassidy was not cited. Cassidy, who costarred in the TV series The Hardy Boys Mysteries, went on to stage acting and then became a writer and producer for TV shows including American Gothic, The Agency and the current CBS series Cold Case.
Kristin Davis Keeping Charlotte's Wardrobe
Talk about a job with fringe benefits.
When gambler Conor O'Neill (Reeves) hits rock bottom after he fails to cover the spread on a Chicago Bulls game he's the prey of every bookie in town. To dig himself out of a seemingly bottomless fiscal hole he tries to squeeze a loan out of his friend Jimmy (Mike McGlone) a broker at a downtown Chicago firm who instead offers him $500 a week to coach his company-sponsored inner city Little League team. In no position to bargain O'Neill reluctantly agrees to do the deed. At first he sits hung over on the bench chain smoking while the Kekambas toss the ball around a dingy field swear and pick fights with one another. Eventually O'Neill grows attached to the kids providing them with leadership defending them from fanatic rival coaches and teaching them how to win. In the meantime he's getting friendly with the kids' teacher played by Diane Lane. In Hardball's predictable if workable story line O'Neill ultimately has to choose between redemption or a life of booze and crime.
Reeves' surprisingly impressive turn as the gritty O'Neill almost makes up for the schmaltzy and romantic Sweet November. As a boozy gambler Reeves holds his cigarette like an old pro with just the right amount of tremble and is convincingly nervous sweaty and awkward. Equally impressive is John Hawkes' performance in a small but fantastic part as O'Neill's friend and partner in crime Ticky. He's hilarious without being cartoonish and the same can be said for the cast of kids that makes up the Kekambas ball team. Sure the potty-mouthed gang will tug at your heartstrings at every opportunity but they are sharp not pitiful. DeWayne Warren Julian Griffith and A. Delon Ellis Jr. stand out as G-Baby Michael Perkins and Jefferson Tibbs. Above all it's a relief not to have to witness a gushy romance between Reeves and Lane whose dedicated grade school teacher is appropriately low-key.
Hardball is based on Daniel Coyle's novel Hardball: A Season in the Projects which was inspired by a true story a genre that can sometimes lead to too-cute too-sappy films. But director Brian Robbins doesn't go down that road. Instead he's created a poignant film about a group of kids and one grown man all in need of a positive distraction from a harsh world. O'Neill is not the great white hope for black inner city youths; he's a lost cause. The kids talk trash listen to gansta' rap and fight. While some have called the language in the film vulgar it is no worse than the song lyrics kids listen to every day. That being said Hardball is not really a kids' movie. The subject matter is slightly unsettling and the language coarse for those under 13 years of age (the film was originally rated R before Paramount toned it down).