Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
Since becoming teen heartthrobs and overnight A-listers with The Twilight Saga, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner have had the same problem: a lack of success with their film projects outside of Summit Entertainment’s blockbuster vampire franchise. It’s not for a lack of trying; each has been busy asserting themselves to find the best path to take their careers in. The results range from middling to disastrous (I’m looking at you, The Runaways, Abduction and Remember Me).
Now, as the first part of the final chapter in the storybook film series hits theaters, the question must be asked: where do they go from here? It’s pretty obvious that the roles they’ve chosen to take in between Twilight installments haven’t worked to their advantage, so I’ve got a few professional suggestions for each.
From the moment he first exposed his abs to the masses in New Moon, Lautner sealed his fate as a token action star of his generation. With an agreeable personality, a winning smile and muscles to spare, he’s got all the tools needed to carry a big-budget blockbuster or a franchise of his own. And if you’ve been following his activity in Tinsel Town like I have, you know that’s just what he intends to do.
Where he’s headed: Summer movie madness. Lautner’s biceps seem to have a magnetic quality, one that attracts the kind of script that calls for lots of CGI, stunts and special effects. He’s taken his star power and physical prowess to the bank since 2009, signing on for a series of action flicks that haven’t yet gotten a green light including Universal’s Hasbro adaptation Stretch Armstrong, Fox’s young-adult fantasy film Incarceron and an untitled actioner to be produced by Michael Bay. The only movie he’s actually released outside of The Twilight Saga was Lionsgate’s fall offering Abduction, which fizzled out at around $28 million.
What he should do: Comedy, because the above statement is only half true: Lautner had a small role in Garry Marshall’s sleeper hit Valentine’s Day early in 2010, and I think that he should expand on that minor appearance and take up the lucrative business of rom-coms. He’s already got a rabid fan-base of young females (the most reliable consumers of the genre) and the good looks to share the screen with some of Hollywood’s leading ladies. While he waits for a start date on one of those expensive tent poles, he might as well squeeze in a harmless chick flick to mix things up a bit.
In spite of the naysayers, I strongly believe that Kristen Stewart is the brightest star of the three Twilight kids. She’s easily the most accomplished, and sports the most extensive resume, which includes work with top-tier talent like Jodie Foster, David Fincher, Jon Favreau, Barry Levinson, James Gandolfini and others. But being the most sought after actress under 25 comes with a lot of pressure, and she’ll need to walk a fine line to between movie star and prestigious performer if she wants to achieve the level of notoriety that I think she’s seeking.
Where she’s headed: The Academy Awards, because she already is walking that fine line. Even though she’s secured box office dominance next year with two surefire blockbusters (Breaking Dawn Part 2, Snow White and the Huntsman), she’s also making sure to keep award-worthy films on her plate. 2012 will see Walter Salles long-gestating On the Road adaptation, in which she plays the iconic Marylou, finally hit theaters, and that role fits nicely into her indie catalog that already includes Undertow and The Yellow Handkerchief. And apart from Snow White, what’s on the horizon looks more and more like prize-winning material, including a film with oft-Oscar nominated Julianne Moore and a G.I. Jane-like role in a film to be directed by James Woods.
What she should do: Exactly what she already is doing. Balance is key in Hollywood; just look at Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not a particularly talented guy, but he bounced back and forth between comedy and action and had one of the most profitable careers in film history for 20 years. If Stewart can switch from high-caliber roles in movies like On the Road to all-out blockbusters like Snow White and Akira (which she’s rumored to be joining), there’s no stopping her.
Call me crazy, but I equate Pattinson’s role in the Twilight series to that of Leonardo DiCaprio’s in Titanic. Both are severely romantic parts with little to no appeal to males and neither allow(ed) their actors to fully display their range. However, Leo went on to better, if not always bigger, things and I expect the same from RPattz.
Where he’s headed: Art-house aristocracy, because when he’s not glimmering as Edward Cullen he’s flexing his thespian muscles under the tutelage of filmmakers like Emmy-nominated Allen Coulter and the legendary David Cronenberg, while honing his craft alongside Oscar winners Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz. It seems as though the bigger the Twilight Saga gets, the smaller the side-project the 25-year old actor takes on, but that may not be the wisest choice.
What he should do: An action movie or two, and why not? All the kids are doing it, and nothing gets you more exposure these days than a $200 million tent pole. I’m not saying he should take notes from Lautner; as previously stated, balance is the key. But as of now it’s been all heavy drama for Pattinson, and those kinds of movies are being made less and less in this day and age. From what I understand he’s been offered leads in a few action flicks over the last year or so, and it’d be in his best interest to take one in the near future.
As much as I hate to admit it, Robert Pattinson is a smart guy. He's effectively leveraging his status as the object of millions of young girls' affections to grab better roles in projects with better filmmakers. After getting to work with accomplished TV director Allen Coulter on Remember Me, he segued into period drama with the forthcoming Water For Elephants, opposite Oscar winner's Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz. He's now on tap to star in director David Cronenberg's new film Cosmopolis, another interesting turn for Hollywood's young heartthrob.
Even more interesting is the fact that he's replacing Colin Farrell, an actor with much more credibility and known ability, in the lead role. The fact that he was even considered to fill Farrell's shoes is a vote of confidence from Cronenberg and a possible sign of things to come. In Cosmopolis, Pattinson will play Eric Packer, a wealthy financial wunderkind who risks his entire fortune as he runs the gauntlet in a futuristic Manhattan. His deeds make him the target of an assassination plot in a drama that is said to be a study of capitalism.
Cronenberg adapted Don DeLillo's novel and will produce and direct the film, which is also attracting top-tier talent for its supporting roles. Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard and nominee Paul Giamatti are said to be circling roles; the former could play Pattinson's wife. There's no word on when production would start, as Pattinson still has work to be done on the final Twilight films and Cronenberg is editing A Dangerous Method. My only hope is that the filmmaker finds a role for his current muse Viggo Mortensen; he could only add good things to this promising project.
So last night, the most anticipated new show of the year, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, had its big debut. The premiere was probably viewed by a gajillion people around the globe…and for good reason. A collaboration of the likes of Martin Scorsese, Terrence Winter, Mark Wahlberg and Steve Buscemi doesn’t just happen everyday, so when those popular names (along with a host of others) grace the small screen in succession, audiences pay attention. Just how good was it? Read on to find out.
The first thing that you should know is that, to the dismay of many fans, Mr. Wahlberg and Mr. Scorsese will not be contributing to each and every episode of the Prohibition-era crime drama. Wahlberg’s credit is limited to just the pilot while Scorsese, who directed the lovely inaugural entry, will serve as executive producer – which means he gets to sit back, review the dailies and reflect on his significant influence on the gangster genre while offering occasional creative pointers. No matter: with many of the producers of The Sopranos on board full time, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about the continuity of quality in this soon-to-be-classic television experience.
Now, onto the show. Boardwalk Empire begins on a gloomy night in Atlantic City in 1920, on the eve of Prohibition being mandated by the United States government. We meet Nucky Thompson, the sly city treasurer who moonlights as a bootlegger, at a women’s group rally where he is approached by a desperate housewife, as well as Jimmy Darmody, one of presumably many henchmen on his payroll. Jimmy is a WWI veteran with academic promise and little-to-no patience for the criminal hierarchy that has governed organized crime for decades. He’s got a bum leg, a family to feed and no time to waste, so when he meets the eager-to-earn Al Capone, in town with his employer on business, a profitable plan formulates.
Meanwhile, we follow Nucky as he navigates the town and conducts business. Part politician/peace-keeper, Thompson helps maintain order in the City By The Sea with the help of local enforcement (led by his brother Eli), but that’s just his public persona. When the sun goes down and the Boardwalk lights up each night, Nucky assumes the role of overlord of the underworld: Pimp, playboy, and prohibition-profiteer. But pressures from rival gangsters begin to mount and he’s forced to entertain New York mobsters like Lucky Luciano and Arnold Rothstein, who take Thompson for a financial ride. Nucky recovers from the blow, but knows that these New Yawkas are going to be a problem. He also continues to feel the effects of his charity, as Kelly MacDonald’s abused housewife has a recurring presence throughout the pilot. She brings out the “best” in Nucky, who is sympathetic to her situation; so sympathetic that he makes it his personal mission to ensure that she will not suffer another blackeye at the hands of her alcoholic husband.
All of this character definition is taking place while a sizable heist is going down. Nucky’s big-money shipment of alcohol is stolen at gun-point by Jimmy and Al, who proceed to execute all of the carriers after a deer scares the bejeezus out of Capone. This leads to Nucky’s justifiable panic attack and temporary moment of relief/astonishment when he learns that Jimmy is responsible for the stick-up. Though he’s compensated, he learns that there’s ultimately no one that he can trust in Atlantic City and, as it’s unofficial ruler, he’ll have to be smarter, faster and more ruthless than ever if he wants to stay on top.
When I first heard about Boardwalk Empire, I was enamored with excitement. The creative talent is a virtual dream team of filmmakers and the pilot did not disappoint. Martin Scorsese’s masterful direction buoyed a relatively formulaic opening episode. The production design was perhaps my favorite element in the program; the massive Boardwalk set, erected on the shores of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, NY are some of the most period accurate that I’ve ever seen on television and many of Marty’s cinematic trademarks made it onto the screen, making the pilot especially nostalgic for film buffs like myself.
Of course, the technical components of the show won’t likely overshadow the phenomenal acting that has become a hallmark of HBO’s original programming. Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Michael Stuhlbarg and (especially) Stephen Graham bring gritty authenticity to the series; we haven’t seen visceral performances like these since the heydays of Tony Soprano & Co. My only concern regarding the future of Boardwalk Empire lies in the creative fatigue department. Can Scorsese and Winter, along with series directors/contributors Tim Van Patten, Allen Coulter and others keep up with the high level of quality that HBO and fans have set? Further, with a reported budget of $30 million on the pilot, will Boardwalk Empire suffer the same financial fate as HBO’s Rome, a show with a large audience but not enough money to maintain it’s cost? Time will tell. Check back on Monday for next week’s recap of Boardwalk Empire.
With every non-Twilight role he chooses Robert Pattinson seems determined to wipe from our minds the popular image of him as Edward Cullen the sensitive chivalrous teen vampire in the blockbuster adaptations of Mormon author Stephenie Meyers’ young-adult novels. Last year he played a decadent bisexual Salvador Dali in Little Ashes Paul Morrison’s drama about the artist’s formative years in Madrid; in his latest film the romantic drama Remember Me he smokes drinks has premarital sex and engages in a variety of other unwholesome activities that would surely appall the saintly Edward.
And he isn’t half bad truth be told. Pattinson’s turn as 21-year-old Tyler a rebellious resentful child of privilege who falls for Ally (Emilie de Ravin) the bright pugnacious daughter of a cop (Chris Cooper) — the same cop who just days prior busted his face up — is easily the best part of Remember Me’s otherwise mediocre ensemble piece. The film works perfectly well when director Allen Coulter concentrates on the romantic bond forged by its two troubled leads but he has much higher aspirations — American Beauty-level aspirations — and he's ultimately sabotaged by his vaulting ambition overloading the action with hair-trigger melodrama that leaves the film's cast in a permanent state of hackneyed hysterics.
How ambitious is Coulter you ask? How about using the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks as a plot device? Remember Me is set in New York during the summer of 2001 a detail we quickly forget as we’re immersed in Tyler and Ally’s romance their relationship — and the story for that matter — constantly threatened by the familial dysfunction that surrounds them. But as the films speeds to its conclusion the summer of 2001 yields to the fall of 2001 and the realization slowly dawns on us that yes the movie is going there and there’s nothing we can do to stop the plot's overwrought locomotive its narrative brakes having long ago failed from reaching its fatally ill-chosen — and dramatically unnecessary — destination.
Robert Pattinson will star in a new Summit production, the romantic drama Remember Me, ScreenDaily.com reports.
Allen Coulter will direct the film that Summit chief Patrick Wachsberger described as this generation's Love Story. A female lead is being cast. Rachel Getting Married writer Jenny Lumet has finished the latest draft of the screenplay.
Pattinson will shoot the film this summer in New York in between Twilight sequels New Moon and Eclipse. Nick Osborne and Trevor Engelson of Underground Films are producing.
Further, Screen reports that Gary Winick is directing Letters to Juliet, with Amanda Seyfried.
The actress will play an American girl in Italy who discovers the legend of the love letters visitors leave in the wall of Juliet's (Capulet of Romeo and Juliet) courtyard in Verona and which are individually answered by a group of women called the Secretaries of Juliet.
While at the wall, she discovers a letter written in 1958 which has never been picked up and goes on a quest to find the lovers in question.
Tim Sullivan wrote the screenplay from an original draft by Jose Rivera. Ellen Barkin, whose Applehead Productions originally brought the concept to Summit's attention, is producing alongside Mark Canton, says Screen.
The rest of the casting is underway while Wachsberger told Screen the tone was in the vein of Four Weddings and a Funeral, but with "a lot of emotion."
Summit will handle domestic distribution on both films and is selling them at Cannes.
Full story: http://www.hollywoodwiretap.com/?module=news&action=story&id=35543?3e3ea140
MORE NEWS: 'Heroic' Neeson's Work Ethic Praised by Director
Attempting to delve into one of Tinseltown’s most curious scandals--the mysterious suicide (or was it?) of the original TV Superman actor George Reeves--the story begins after Reeves (Ben Affleck) is found dead of a seemingly self-inflicted gunshot wound during a late night party in his Benedict Canyon home. The case then unfolds through the eyes of Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) a street-smart publicity hungry private dick hired by Reeves’ grieving mother. As Simo slowly peels back the layers of Reeves’ seemingly glamorous life he discovers an actor of charm talent and sophistication whose every opportunity for a big break fizzled forcing him to lead a frustrated existence slumming in the superhero show he deemed beneath him. Gradually identifying with Reeves’ failed expectations for himself Simo discovers a host of candidates who may have actually pulled the trigger on the actor including his young party girl paramour (Robin Tunney) his longtime lover and patron (Diane Lane) and his lover’s husband a powerfully connected studio “fixer” (Bob Hoskins). It is Brody not Affleck who carries the bulk of the film on his shoulders and the Oscar winner delivers a finely etched turn as Simo who’s fractured potential mirrors Reeves’ but quite simply Simo’s story isn’t nearly as dark or engaging as Reeves’ life or the mystery surrounding his death. Affleck an actor who has had his share of ups downs duds and disappointments in Hollywood delivers one of his most charming and fully realized performances to date even if his spot-on recreation of Reeves’ speech pattern is a bit distracting. The luminous Lane’s acting talents remain in full blossom in a character she’s well-suited to play—the aging beauty fearing the road ahead—and she commands every scene she’s in. Unfortunately there should have been many many more of them. She’s almost criminally underused. Hoskins more menacing then ever and the reliable stable of supporting players like Joe Spano are all top-notch as well; only Tunney apparently trying to channel both Betty Boop and Bette Davis simultaneously seems a bit off her game as the wannabe femme fatale. Best known for his strong turns helming many of the best episodes of television series such as The Sopranos Sex and the City and Six Feet Under first time feature director Allen Coulter’s cool assured hand and meticulous recreation of Cold War Los Angeles are major bonuses here. Even when Simo’s story sags in comparison to Reeves’ Coulter keeps us interested particularly when staging the Rashomon-like sequences depicting the various theories behind Reeves’ demise. But by skimping on Reeves’ story in favor of a less compelling fictional framework built around a private detective investigating the case we never see one key suspect’s possible murder scenario enacted visually and it comes off as a glaring omission.
Ben Affleck's forthcoming film on the death of TV Superman actor George Reeves has been renamed, following legal threats by the producer of the Superman movies.
Affleck plays late actor Reeves in theTruth, Justice and the American Way, which has now been changed to Hollywoodland.
Distributors Focus Features were forced to give up the original title after Warner Bros - who produces the Superman film franchise, including the upcoming Superman Returns - threatened to sue. "Truth, Justice And The American Way" is Superman's slogan.
Reeves, who played the Man of Steel in the 1951 feature film Superman and the Mole-Men and the 1950s TV series Adventures of Superman, died of a gunshot wound in June 1959. While the cause of his death was ruled suicide, friends and family suspected he may have been murdered.
Hollywoodland, directed by Allen Coulter, also stars Adrien Brody, Diane Lane and Bob Hoskins, and hits US cinemas screens this year.
Article Copyright World Entertainment News Network All Rights Reserved.
"The Sopranos' " stranglehold on awards shows no sign of weakening.
HBO's runaway mob series -- a hit at last month's Golden Globes -- has staked out four nominations for best direction in a TV series from the Directors Guild of America, making it the first drama series ever to walk away with four mentions in a single category for the same year. The DGA's TV categories were announced Monday.
The four "Sopranos" helmers tapped for the best director award are: Daniel Attias, for the episode titled "46 Long"; Henry J. Bronchtein, for "Nobody Know Anything"; David Chase, for the pilot episode; and Allen Coulter, for "College." The "Sopranos" foursome is up against Thomas Schlamme for his work on the pilot episode of NBC's "The West Wing."
The nominees for best director in a TV comedy series are: James Burrows, for an episode titled "Yours, Mine, Ours" of NBC's "Will & Grace"; Thomas Schlamme, for the episode "Small Town" from ABC's "Sports Night"; Pamela Fryman, for the "Frasier" episode "The Flight Before Christmas"; Katy Garretson, for the "Frasier" episode "Dr. Nora"; and Victoria Hochberg, for "The Man, The Myth, The Viagra" from HBO's racy "Sex and the City."
In the category of best director of a musical variety show, the DGA nominated Gerard Foley for CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman"; Dennie A. Gordon, for HBO's "Tracey Takes On ... End of the World"; Louis J. Horvitz, for the "71st Annual Academy Awards" on ABC; Rob Marshall for ABC's "Annie"; and Beth McCarthy Miller, for NBC's "Saturday Night Live 25th Anniversary."
The Directors Guild of America Awards will be announced March 11.
'MALCOLM' ON THE RISE: The fledgling Fox smash sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" is set to continue its comic form, as the network has ordered up 16 new episodes.
The light comedy has been a surprise hit since its debut last month and has been holding its turf as the top-ranked show during its 8:30-9 p.m. Sunday time slot. Its renewal comes as an expected move given the overall unspectacular lineup plaguing Fox of late.
Three of the 16 new "Malcolm" episodes will run as extra installments during the May sweeps; the remaining 13 are slated for the show's 2000-2001 fall season.
MALLRATS OF THE WORLD UNITE: Looks like MTV has stumbled upon a cost-efficient, foolproof formula for grabbing the undivided attention of 18- to 24-year-olds: Put real-life folks in probable confrontational situations, tape them, and then broadcast the video for the consumption of viewers worldwide.
Such is the concept of MTV's latest exploit -- "Mall Confession," another quasi-"drama" series being developed for the teen-music empire. In the cinema-verité tradition of "The Real World" and "Road Rules," the new "Mall Confession" is said to involve a traveling confessional booth that will solicit personal testimonies and intimate secrets from teens in malls across America.
No word yet if MTV's upright Carson Daly will be on hand to offer absolution.
THE HUMANITY OF IT ALL: And now a moment of silence for "Shasta."
The low-rated hip-hop sitcom, formerly titled "Shasta McNasty," will depart UPN's prime-time lineup next month. Starting March 21, the network will place the new cop drama, "The Beat," in the 9-10 p.m. Tuesday time slot. The move also will bump UPN's "Dilbert" toon from the schedule. Both departing shows will see their last air dates on March 14.
Produced by Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana ("Homicide"), "The Beat" follows Derek Cecil and Mark Ruffal as two young policemen fighting crime and personal evils in Manhattan's Lower East Side.
WHERE'S ROSIE: Rosie O'Donnell, seemingly the hardest-working woman on TV, will have a guest spot on NBC's "Third Watch" on Feb. 21.