Liv Tyler has baby boy
Lord of the Rings star Liv Tyler and her husband, Royston Langdon of the band Spacehog, welcomed a baby boy Tuesday. The baby, born at New York-Prebysterian Hospital, hasn't yet been named. According to People magazine, the baby was born at 4:11 a.m. and weighed 8 pounds. "They are both doing great," Tyler's publicist, Stephen Huvane, told The Associated Press Wednesday. Besides playing the elf princess Arwen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tyler's screen credits include Jersey Girl and Armageddon--both alongside co-star Ben Affleck. But it was her appearance as a teen vixen in Aerosmith's 1994 video for "Crazy" that really put her on the map. The 27-year-old actress is the daughter of model Bebe Buell and Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, which now makes the sexy 54-year-old rock star a grandfather. It's probably too early to tell if the baby will have the same, sensual, full-lipped mouth the Tylers are so famous for.
Whitney Houston rams Porsche into bus
Singer Whitney Houston rear-ended a city bus with her sports car in Alpharetta, Ga., Wednesday afternoon but no one was hurt, the AP reports. According to Sgt. Chris Lagerbloom, the accident happened as Houston was making a left turn. The bus sustained minor damage and the bumper of Houston's Porsche was mangled--but the 41-year-old singer was not injured. She was given a citation for failure to yield, a misdemeanor. Houston and her husband, R&B singer Bobby Brown, live near the suburb of Alpharetta, about 25 miles north of Atlanta. The couple met in 1989 and were married in July 18, 1992. They admitted to marital problems in in the mid-'90s and reportedly separated in June 1998, but have since reunited.
Anderson gets naked for anti-fur campaign
Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson may have posed naked for an anti-fur billboard, but China's straight-laced media regulators might not allow the billboards to go up, the AP reports. The posters, featuring the slogan "Give fur the cold shoulder" in English, show the 37-year-old actress topless with her back to the camera and an arm partly hiding her right breast. "Depending on the censors, they may be concerned about it, but it's very tastefully done," Jason Baker, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals told AP. "We may end up having to crop (the photo) a bit." China was the origin of 40 percent of all American fur imports in 2000, according to PETA. Anderson has been an longtime and outspoken supporter of PETA and their initiatives.
Critics Choice pick Sideways
The indie comedy Sideways scored a leading eight nominations, including best picture, for the 10th annual Critics' Choice Awards, Reuters reports. Other Critics Choice contenders included Miramax Films' Finding Neverland with seven nominations, and Martin Scorsese's The Aviator which scored six nods. In the acting categories, Jamie Foxx picked up a best actor mention for Ray and a best supporting actor for Collateral, while Kate Winslet was nominated as best actress for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and as best supporting actress for Finding Neverland. The Critics Choice Awards, organized by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, will announce their winners Jan. 10 in Los Angeles. The WB will broadcast the ceremony live at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Wife Swap producers sue over rival show
British producers of the ABC's popular reality show Wife Swap have filed suit over the Fox show Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy, labeling it as an illegal rip-off, the AP reports. The suit, filed by RDF Media, targets Fox Broadcasting and the show's producers, claiming the show, "more aptly might be entitled 'Trading Copyrights' or perhaps 'Copyright Swap,'" and calls the Fox series "a blatant and wholesale copycat" of Wife Swap. RDF Media is asking for more than $18 million in damages plus all "gains, profits and advantages" derived from the Fox show, the AP reports. Fox spokesman Scott Grogan said the network had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
James Brown comes through surgery with flying colors
James Brown underwent successful surgery Wednesday in Atlanta to treat his recently diagnosed prostate cancer, the AP reports. "Mr. Brown has successfully undergone a localized prostate cancer procedure and is resting comfortably," Dr. James Bennett, his urologist, said in a statement. "We expect a full recovery. With proper follow-up and care, we can also expect a full cure." Before the operation, the 71-year-old Godfather of Soul said, "I have overcome a lot of things in my life. I will overcome this as well." Brown is due to release an autobiography next month and is planning a tour of Asia and Australia early next year, the AP reports.
Blake's trial gears up
Before the murder trial against actor Robert Blake begins on Monday, Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp reversed herself and has decided to allow segments of jailhouse interviews the former Baretta star gave, including the interview he granted journalist Barbara Walters in February 2003, to be used in the prosecution's case, the AP reports. Snippets will also be played from a recorded conversation that Blake had in jail in 2002, in which he told comedian Mort Sahl that Bakley's family were "monsters" who would never get his daughter, which, according to the prosecution, will prove Blake killed his wife because he despised her and her family. Defense attorney M. Gerald Schwartzbach said the comment came some 20 months after the night of the killing and had no relevance to Blake's state of mind at the time of the murder, the AP reports.
A small army of media reps and publicists, only mildly nervous following a government warning of possible terrorist attacks, patiently filed through metal detectors in the wee hours of Feb. 12 for the announcements of the 74th Annual Academy Awards nominations. And while the anticipatory buzz was a bit more subdued than usual, Oscar rewarded with a not-exactly-predictable crop of nominees, spreading the wealth among a wide-ranging group of films.
Last year's Best Supporting Actress winner Marcia Gay Harden (Pollock) was looking fresh for the pre-dawn occasion in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' Beverly Hills headquarters, wearing a smart black pantsuit. Moments before the announcements, Harden stood in the wings of the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater making excited, pixie-ish faces at one of her handlers, who had the actress present herself for a last-minute check to ensure her dark ensemble was fully buttoned and lint-free. "I love it," Harden whispered gamely as she was inspected. "You've got to do it."
Harden then joined Academy president Frank Pierson to announce the top ten categories of the 24 different Oscar races, including the first ever animated feature film category. And while two expected powerhouse films, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (with 13 nominations) and A Beautiful Mind (with eight), dominated in several categories, many nods were given to films that had already been mentioned as possible Oscar contenders by the Golden Globes, the Directors Guild, the Screen Actors Guild, the Writers Guild and other award-bestowing organizations.
In the end, almost every major movie with early buzz came up with at least one nomination. But the real heavyweights landed in the Best Picture category, which features a highly competitive field comprised of A Beautiful Mind, The Lord of the Rings, In the Bedroom, Moulin Rouge and Gosford Park.
The 800-pound gorilla--or is that orc?--among the nominees was The Lord of the Rings, only the seventh film in history to snag a baker's dozen worth of nods (historically, only All About Eve and Titanic scored more with 14), but earned only one acting nod, a supporting nom for Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf. New Line, the studio behind the film, was so dedicated to getting older Academy members to screen the fantasy flick that one member told Hollywood.com he had a DVD of the film hand-delivered within hours when he told the studio he hadn't received a screening copy.
In contrast, the much smaller but equally well-marketed film (from Miramax, the grand champ of Oscar campaigns) In the Bedroom received five nominations, and while none were in technical categories and director Todd Field was bypassed, it snared three nominations in the prestigious acting categories, for Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson and Marisa Tomei.
Still, it may be tough for either the fantastic visuals of Lord of the Rings or the measured angst of In the Bedroom to triumph over A Beautiful Mind, which seems to gather more momentum with each passing day. Not only did star Russell Crowe garner his third consecutive Oscar nomination as expected, supporting actress Jennifer Connelly scored her first nod, as did director Ron Howard. The film is also nominated for adapted screenplay, original score, film editing and makeup. If Crowe--who took home last year's trophy for Gladiator--wins, he'll join the elite ranks of Tom Hanks, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Luise Rainer as a back-to-back Oscar winner.
Perhaps the biggest success story among the nominations was the strong performance of Moulin Rouge, a you-either-love-it-or-you-hate-it modern musical that, thanks to 20th Century Fox's aggressive Oscar campaign and almost a year of relentless stumping from director Baz Luhrmann, scored with Academy voters, tying A Beautiful Mind's eight nods--including Best Picture. But despite accolades for lead actress Nicole Kidman and nods in several technical categories, Luhrmann, star Ewan McGregor and the film's music were snubbed.
Gosford Park also performed admirably, garnering seven nominations, including two for supporting actress. But forgotten was Memento, considered a leading contender throughout most of the year but left behind with but two noms, for original screenplay and editing. Black Hawk Down, the military drama that has seen its popularity skyrocket since its Christmas release, was also downed as a best picture contender but soared with four nominations.
There were a few interesting wrinkles in the acting categories. Provoking the biggest response among the live audience was the nomination for Ali's Will Smith, a major movie star who saw his chances at Oscar gold rise when he was tapped for a Golden Globe nom, then get murkier when he was bypassed by the SAG Awards. Smith joined Denzel Washington (Training Day) among the Best Actor nominees, marking the first time two African American men have been named simultaneously in that category.
Just ten hours before the announcements, Jon Voight was rooting for his Ali co-star. "There'll be a lot of people having sleepless nights," said Voight, out on the town in Hollywood on the night before the nominations were revealed. "I sure hope he gets it." Voight--previously nominated for Midnight Cowboy, Runaway Train and a 1978 Oscar winner for Coming Home--was more sanguine about his chances for being feted for his nearly unrecognizable turn as sportscaster Howard Cosell, and his humility was rewarded with a Best Supporting Actor nod.
Conspicuously absent among the acting nominees was Voight's son-in-law, Billy Bob Thornton, who was widely praised for his roles in three 2001 films, The Man Who Wasn't There, Bandits and Monster's Ball--indeed, Thornton's multiplicity of good work may have divided his Oscar votes. His absence may have opened the field for Academy favorite Sean Penn, nominated for I Am Sam, which otherwise left voters unmoved.
Conversely, the year's most hyped actress, Kidman--like Smith, overlooked by SAG--managed to withstand her own toughest competition--herself in The Others--and pulled off a Best Actress nomination. She joined Spacek, Halle Berry (Monster's Ball), Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones's Diary) and Judi Dench (Iris).
The oft-nominated Dench may have had an added lucky charm in the form of her co-star, Kate Winslet, who was nominated in the supporting actress field for playing writer Iris Murdoch, the same character as Dench. The only other time two actresses were nominated for playing the same character was in 1997, when Gloria Stuart and--you guessed it--Winslet were singled out for Titanic.
An actor whose surprise SAG nod may have helped his Oscar chances was Ethan Hawke, whose role as a rookie cop in Training Day landed him among the supporting actor nominees. He edged out the buzzed-about Steve Buscemi (Ghost World) to join Jim Broadbent, McKellen, Voight and Ben Kingsley, still on a roll for his blistering turn in Sexy Beast.
Two grand dames from Gosford Park's Brit Pack of distinguished thespians made the cut in the supporting actress category: Helen Mirren (in her second Oscar nomination) and Maggie Smith (in her sixth!) rounded out a roster that features former Academy Award winner Tomei, three-time nominee Winslet and first-timer Connelly.
Gosford Park's maverick director Robert Altman survived a DGA snub to take home his fifth nomination in the directing category (earlier noms came for M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player and Short Cuts). And while In the Bedroom's Field and Moulin Rouge's Luhrmann join the ranks of directors whose films were nominated as best picture but who failed to be nominated themselves, Black Hawk Down's Ridley Scott and Mulholland Drive's David Lynch managed to nab slots, joined by Howard and Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson.
In what may be a foreshadowing of things to come, each of the three nominees in the brand-spanking-new animated feature film category--Shrek, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and Monsters, Inc. --featured CGI animation over the more conventional ink and paint style. Shrek was frequently discussed as a best picture nominee, but while it didn't make the cut there it was recognized in the adapted screenplay field.
The whimsical and visually inventive French film Amélie was the standout among the foreign film nominees (joining Norway's Elling, India's Lagaan, Bosnia & Herzogovina's No Man's Land and Argentina's Son of the Bride). Amélie was also tapped in four other categories, including art direction and original screenplay.
Paul McCartney proved the old Beatle still has Wings, scoring an original song nomination for his end-title track to Vanilla Sky, the much-debated film's only nod. In the Oscar ranks, McCartney still has a long way to go to match composer John Williams, who is the single most nominated living person with 41 nominations, receiving not one but two this year for his original scores for A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Only Walt Disney (with 64) and composer Alfred Newman (with 45) have more.
Speaking of both Disney and Newman, the latter's nephew Randy continued his streak as one of the Academy's favorite composer-songwriters, garnering two nominations--for original score and original song--for his music from Disney's Monsters, Inc.