News, Feb. 9: The Award Season Heats Up: Peter Jackson Takes DGA, “Nemo” Sweeps Annies, “Seabiscuit” Tops in Cinematography, More…

Top Story: Jackson Nabs DGA Honor

Director Peter Jackson is one step closer to the Academy Award after the Directors Guild of America named him best director Saturday for his work on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Reuters reports. Jackson accepted the award with humility, praising his cast and co-workers and saying “I had the most amazing time” making the film, which he described as a tale of “courage, friendship and faith.” Only six times since 1949 has the winner of the DGA award not gone on to receive an Oscar, including last year’s DGA winner Rob Marshall , who won the DGA for Chicago but lost the Oscar to Roman Polanski for The Pianist. Jackson beat out acclaimed directors Clint Eastwood (Mystic River); Gary Ross (Seabiscuit); Peter Weir (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) and Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation). For television, Mike Nichols won the best TV movie or miniseries award for HBO’s Angels in America, and The West Wing‘s Christopher Misiano took the award for dramatic series. Sex and the City‘s Timothy M. Van Patten won for best comedy series.

Nemo Does Swimmingly at Annie Awards

The delightful fish tale Finding Nemo took home nine awards Saturday at the animation industry’s 31st annual Annie Awards, including best theatrical feature, best directing and best voice acting for Ellen DeGeneres (who voiced the ditzy Dory), The Associated Press reports. Pixar’s Nemo bested Disney’s Brother Bear, Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes: Back in Action, the Japanese anime film Millennium Actress and the French film The Triplets of Belleville. On the television side, Fox’s The Simpsons was named best animated television production.

Seabiscuit Races Away With Cinematography Award

In a surprising win, Seabiscuit snagged the American Society of Cinematographers’ top award, Reuters reports. Like its namesake racehorse, the film edged out some major players, including Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Seabiscuit‘s cinematographer John Schwartzman, on accepting the award, called the race horse movie, “the ride of a lifetime.”

Theron Speaks Out Against the Death Penalty

Playing a woman who was executed hasn’t changed Charlize Theron‘s mind about the death penalty. Reuters reports the actress told reporters at the Berlin Film Festival, “I’m not for the death penalty and working on [the indie film Monster] didn’t really change anything for me. If anything it made me more aware of how ineffective it is.” Theron has been getting a lot of critical attention, including an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, for portraying convicted serial killer Aileen Wuornos. “I don’t think condemning people who murder and then killing them necessarily sends out the right message,” said Theron, 28. “And I have a huge problem with the way these people are used as political pawns.”

Actress Driver Visits Cambodia

In an effort to learn more about the effects of globalization on workers in developing countries, Minnie Driver went to Cambodia and Thailand to meet with garment workers, AP reports. “The poorest people with the least are making sacrifices for those of us who have the most,” the Oscar-nominated actress said Sunday after a mock fashion show in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where garment workers modeled clothes bearing large tags reading “Made in Cambodia … by us … US$0.25 per hour.” Driver, 33, came to Southeast Asia as a representative of Oxfam International’s “Make Trade Fair” campaign. The British charity aims to persuade governments, institutions and companies to make trade “part of the solution to poverty, not part of the problem,” AP reports.

ABC Bids Farewell to Blue

NYPD Blue looks to be heading into its 12th and final season. According to the Hollywood Reporter, ABC is planning a big sendoff for the cop drama during the 2004-05 season, while at the same time giving a pilot order to Blue‘s producer Steven Bochco Prods. and Paramount Network for a new drama, Blind Justice, starring Ron Eldard.

Fear Goes Syndie Route

Fear Factor has become the first primetime network reality show to go into syndication, Variety reports, with a four-year deal that could be worth up to $30 million. The cabler FX has also acquired the cable rights to the reality show, in which contestants perform a number of fear-producing (as well as vomit-producing) stunts.