News, Feb. 24: Polanski Wins BAFTA, Cesar; Alleged Victim Speaks Out in His Favor

Top Story: Polanski wins BAFTA and Cesar, Alleged Victim Speaks Out in His Favor

In what has come as a surprise to many Oscar watchers, Roman Polanski‘s Holocaust drama The Pianist took best film honors at the UK’s equivalent of the Academy Awards, the BAFTAs, held last night in London’s West End and took top props at the annual French movie awards, the Cesars, on Saturday as well. Polanski, who also won the BAFTA for best director, has been considered a dark horse in the Oscar race, in part because of his checkered past: the director fled the US in 1978 rather than face imprisonment on charges of having sex with then-minor Samantha Geimer. Geimer argued in a bylined L.A. Times editorial Sunday that Polanski‘s work should be judged on its merits, not on its creator’s past behavior. “I believe that Mr. Polanski and his film should be honored according to the quality of the work,” Geimer wrote. “What he does for a living and how good he is at it have nothing to do with me or what he did to me.” With his BAFTA win, Polanski becomes a frontrunner in the Oscar race, although odds are he still won’t risk arrest by attending the ceremony. Nicole Kidman (The Hours) and Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York) received the top acting prizes, and Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago) and Christopher Walken (Catch Me If You Can) were honored in the supporting categories.

Circle the Wagons: Celebs on War in Iraq

Add actor/director George Clooney to the list of celebs speaking out against war in Iraq. Reuters reports that the star of the Gulf War drama Three Kings told a German television program that the war will only lead to increased violence. “You can’t beat your enemy anymore through wars,” Clooney said. “Instead you create an entire generation of people revenge-seeking.” The star added that he believes it’s unfair to brand opponents of the war as unpatriotic.

Eminem Launches Clothing Line

Speaking of branding, rapper Eminem is launching a clothing line called Shady Ltd. at Macy’s. Reuters reports that the line features–you guessed it–hooded sweatshirts, velour jogging suits and baggy jeans.

Tonya Harding Loses Debut Bout as Pro Boxer

Whack! Pow! Splat! So goes disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding‘s professional boxing debut against Samantha Browning. Now known as the “Bad Girl of Boxing,” the dressed-in-black Harding rarely landed a clean blow against her opponent (and vice versa), Reuters reports.

Alleged Spice Girl Kidnap Perps in Court

A UK judge ordered the five men charged with conspiring to kidnap former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice) to be held without bail pending their trial later this year, The Associated Press reports.

Paul Reubens Won’t Get Off This Time

Charges that actor Paul Reubens possessed child pornography will not be dropped, Superior Court Judge Carol Rehm ruled Friday, ordering both defense and prosecution back in court on Friday to schedule a trial date. Reubens, 50, is currently is free on $20,000 bail. He had pleaded innocent to one misdemeanor count of possessing material depicting children under 18 engaging in sexual conduct.

Titos Vandis Dies at 86

Versatile Greek character actor Titos Vandis died in an Athens hospital Sunday after a long battle with cancer. Vandis appeared in The Exorcist, among other films, and was also seen on the TV series Kojak and Hawaii Five-O.

Role Call: Scorsese Docu in the Works; Sarandon Having “Whale” of a Time

Oscar-nominated director Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York) will document the history of British cinema in an as-yet-unnamed documentary for Miramax to be produced by Carlton International and Cappa Prods, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, Variety reports Susan Sarandon is set to play a widowed doctor who gets a new sense of purpose after experiencing some freaky events in A Whale in Montana.