News, May 20: Race Narrows at Cannes for Palme d’Or, Media Request in Jackson Case Denied, “Psycho” Death Named Best in Movies, More…

Top Story: Race Narrows at Cannes for Palme d’Or

The race for the Palme d’Or–the top film prize at a 2004 Cannes festival–is heating up, and with director Quentin Tarantino heading the jury, movie industryites are prepared for just about anything. Reuters reports that leading contenders are French director Agnes Jaoui‘s Look at Me, about an angst-ridden 20-year-old desperate for the attention of her egotistical father and longing for the figure of a fashion model, and Brazilian Walter SallesThe Motorcycle Diaries, which traces the political awakening of a young Che Guevara on a Latin American odyssey. Variety executive editor Tim Gray told Reuters the 2004 festival is proving a refreshing change from last year’ lackluster showing, with a political edge that is reflecting what is happening in the world. He also added the top prize is still up for grabs: “With Quentin Tarantino head of the jury, I have no idea.” Many critics predict Tarantino could be swayed by the Korean revenge pic Old Boy in which the distressed hero cuts off his tongue after finding out he has slept with his long-lost daughter. Winners for the 2004 Cannes Film Festival will be announced Saturday night.

Court Denies Media Request To Lift Jackson Gag Order

The California Supreme Court said Wednesday it will not consider arguments from news organizations trying to end a gag order in the Michael Jackson child molestation conspiracy case, which bars anyone connected to the case from talking about it. According to The Associated Press, attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr., who represents a coalition of media organizations, had argued that a blanket gag order imposed by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville was an unconstitutional restriction of freedom of speech and press and added that lifting the gag order would “ensure that more accurate information will be disseminated, and will reduce the amount of rumors, speculation and gossip about which the District Attorney complains.”

Psycho‘s Movie Death Best of All Time

According to a critics’ poll published Thursday in Total Film magazine, Janet Leigh‘s shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1960 thriller Psycho is the “best movie death” of all time. “Knowing that the blood is Bosco’s chocolate syrup and that a pulped casaba melon stood in for the stabbing noises does nothing to reduce the impact,”Total Film deputy editor Simon Crook notes. The runners-up: Slim Pickens riding an atomic bomb in Stanley Kubrick‘s 1964 comedy Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb comes in at No. 2; the big ape’s fatal plunge to earth in the 1933 actioner King Kong comes in third place; terrorist Hans Gruber’s fall from a 30-story building in the 1988 thiller Die Hard places fourth; and the killing of the two ruthless bank robbers in the 1967 crime drama Bonnie and Clyde rounds out the top five.

Fox Picks Up Kelsey Grammer Sketch Comedy

Frasier Kelsey Grammer may have left the building, but the actor is quickly moving on. Just one week after Grammer ended his 20-year stint as TV’s neurotic psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane, Fox said on Wednesday it has picked up a new sketch comedy co-produced and hosted by the actor for its fall slate. A Fox Broadcasting Co. spokesman told Reuters the network had ordered six episodes of The Kelsey Grammer Sketch Show–an American version of a British program from the ITV network. Fox said Grammer will serve as its host, with performances delivered primarily by an ensemble of players, in the vein of Drew Carey’s Whose Line Is It Anyway? on ABC.

Cosby Does TV Stints for Philly’s Schools

Bill Cosby is helping out his community by appearing in several shows and spots on the Philadelphia School District’s local access station, as well as volunteering as a creative consultant, AP reports. The creator of The Cosby Show said Wednesday the programming will reinforce lesson plans and give parents the opportunity to talk with their children about education and will feature some student-produced segments as well as include messages on homework, SAT preparation and vignettes about students and their communities. “This can become a friend to the kid who finds that he or she is a bit shy or a bit slow in the classroom,” Cosby said. “The student can turn to that station to get help, even the student who may not know why he or she needs to be studying.”

Role Call: Sandler Goes Longest Yard; Witherspoon, Ephron Do Sammy; Sin City‘s Cast Expands

Adam Sandler is set to remake the football drama The Longest Yard for Paramount Pictures, also starring Chris Rock and Burt Reynolds, who starred in the 1974 original. The story revolves around a former pro quarterback, now serving time in prison, who must contend with a sadistic warden and his idea to pit a team of inmates against the guards in a football game. The film is shooting in New Mexico to take advantage of tax rebates and location incentives offered by that state … Sony Pictures has picked up Delia Ephron‘s romantic comedy spec Sammy, with Reese Witherspoon attached to star. Witherspoon would play a woman who can sense what animals are thinking. She crosses paths with a man who claims to have the same relationship with dead people … Clive Owen and Benicio Del Toro have joined the cast of Robert Rodriguez‘s Sin City, a screen version of the graphic novel series by Frank Miller. Others in the cast include Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett, Mickey Rourke, Nick Stahl, Jessica Alba, Elijah Wood and J