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News, Nov. 20: Depp is "Sexiest Man Alive," 11 Films To Compete for Animation Oscar, Hayek and Farrell Covered in "Dust," More…

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Nov 20, 2003 | 2:14pm EST

Top Story: Depp Tagged as "Sexiest Man Alive"

Johnny Depp has been chosen by People magazine as this year's "Sexiest Man Alive" for its upcoming Dec. 1 issue, The Associated Press reports. The magazine says the actor, known for his "brooding eccentricities," has mellowed since becoming a father of two young children with his girlfriend, French actress and pop singer Vanessa Paradis. "Because he arrived at his new, happy place without selling out, without becoming slick or packaged or politically correct, he is a hero to his fans and an idol to his young co-stars," People says about the Pirates of the Caribbean star. People also picked its Top 10 sexiest men: Brad Pitt, Ashton Kutcher, George Clooney, Lenny Kravitz, Justin Timberlake, Hugh Grant, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington and Colin Farrell.

Finding Nemo, Brother Bear Vie for Animation Oscar

Disney flicks top the list of movies competing for the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar in the 76th Academy Awards competition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Wednesday. Of the 11 films in consideration, four are from the Mouse House, including Brother Bear, Finding Nemo, The Jungle Book 2 and Piglet's Big Movie. Other animated movies being considered include Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Rugrats Go Wild and Millenium Actress. Under the rules for this category, a maximum of three films can be nominated in a year in which the field of eligible entries numbers less than sixteen.

Cobain's Journals Reveals New Material

Late Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain was a tortured soul, to say the least. The paperback release Nov. 10 of Cobain's Journals, a book of the late musician's writings and thoughts, has been bolstered with 14 pages of new material, Reuters reports, including a section of narrative detailing the exploits of a semi-fictional serial killer. "Frankly, we had this the first time around, but we chose not to include it, because it's disturbing and bizarre," Riverhead Books co-editorial director Julie Grau told Billboard.com of the serial killer-themed pages. "I think the first time, we thought it would skew the appreciation of all the material that was in here," Grau continues. "Now that the hardcover has come out and the journals have been judged and read, we thought people could handle it." The original hardcover edition was released November 2002.

Gibson's Passion Gets Unauthorized Preview

The New York Post managed to obtain an unauthorized video copy of Mel Gibson's controversial The Passion of Christ three months before its release and screened it for its movie critic Lou Lumenick, as well as a priest, a rabbi, a religion professor and a "Post reader" picked at random, Variety reports. Claiming the coverage was strictly news-related rather than a review of the film, each panelist was asked to write a brief reaction to the film, especially on whether the depiction of Jews in Passion borders anti-Semitism. "A source provided us with the tape, no copies were made and we have returned the tape to Mr. Gibson's representatives," a Post spokesman told Variety.

Limbaugh Suspect in Laundering Probe

Authorities are investigating Rush Limbaugh on whether he illegally funneled money to buy prescription painkillers, a law enforcement source told AP on condition of anonymity. Limbaugh recently returned to the airwaves after a rehab stint to kick an addiction to painkillers and responded with a blanket denial of the allegations first reported Tuesday by ABC News, AP reports. "I was not laundering money. I was withdrawing money, for crying out loud," Limbaugh said during his three-hour broadcast Wednesday. "I know where the story comes from, I know who's behind it, and I know what the purpose of the story is, and I'll be able to tell you at some point," he added.

Fame Actor Dies

Gene Anthony Ray, best known for playing dancer Leroy in the 1980 film Fame, died Friday in Manhattan of complications from a stroke. He was 41.

A New Form of Film Financing: Movie Fans

It can be hard to finance an independent film, so director Keith Gordon (Waking the Dead) is trying a new way to generate funds for his next project; movie fans. AP reports online brokerage company Civilian Capital Inc. is underwriting an initial public offering to finance Gordon's next movie, Billy Dead, by posting the first chapter of the book and part of the screenplay on the company's Web site for potential investors to read. Investors can contribute funds, but will have neither voting control in the company nor a voice in casting the movie or approving script changes. "It's a joke that I've become a professional fund-raiser who directs as a hobby," Gordon said Wednesday during a news conference. "Independent films are breaking out of the system, so why shouldn't the financing as well?" Billy Dead is a dark tale of childhood violence and sexual abuse which is to star Ethan Hawke.

Role Call: Hayek and Farrell Go to Towne

Salma Hayek will join Colin Farrell in the Robert Towne-directed Ask the Dust, an adaptation of John Fante's Depression Era novel. Variety reports the movie follows Camilla (Hayek), a fiery Mexican beauty who hopes to rise above her station by marrying a wealthy American. It is complicated when she meets Arturo Bandini (Farrell), a first-generation Italian hoping to land a writing career and a blue-eyed blonde on his arm.

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