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2006 Independent Spirit Awards uplifts 'Brokeback'


Western nabs feature, helmer prizes

By PAMELA MCCLINTOCK - Variety.com

Ang Lee and his oater romance "Brokeback Mountain" rode off with the top ribbons at the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, while tyro director Paul Haggis' "Crash" took best first feature.

Although Focus Features' "Brokeback" scored as best feature and best director, the wealth was spread among a quartet of films. Receiving two awards each were "Brokeback," Lionsgate's "Crash," Sony Pictures Classics' "Capote" and the Weinstein Co.'s "Transamerica."

Indie Spirits, administered by Film Independent and held at a beachside tent in Santa Monica, came just one day before the Academy Awards, where the same pics were set to compete in an awards year dominated by smaller indie titles.

"Transamerica" star Felicity Huffman picked up the Indie Spirit for best female lead for her portrayal of a male transsexual about to become a woman.

Best male lead went to much-honored "Capote" star Philip Seymour Hoffman for his portrayal of Truman Capote.

The other "Capote" Indie Spirit went to scribe Dan Futterman for best screenplay. Award for best first screenplay went to Duncan Tucker for "Transamerica."

Matt Dillon won the award for best supporting male for his role as a racist cop in "Crash," while "Junebug" star Amy Adams was recognized as supporting actress for her role as a Chicago art dealer who visits her new in-laws in North Carolina. Pic was distribbed by Sony Classics.

Another awards favorite this season, helmer George Clooney's "Good Night, And Good Luck." picked up one Indie Spirit award, for Robert Elswit's cinematography.

Warner Independent Pictures' "Paradise Now," the Palestinian film directed by Hany Abu-Assad, won best foreign film.

Director Alex Gibney's "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," from Magnolia Pictures, was voted best documentary.

The John Cassavetes Award, which recognizes the best feature made for under $500,000, went to writer-director Mora Stephens "Conventioneers" from Cinema Libre Studios. Stephens co-wrote the screenplay with Joel Viertel, who produced the film.

Sony Pictures Classics nabbed three Indie Spirit Awards, the most of any distrib. Focus, Lionsgate, TWC and Warner Independent each took two.

"Brokeback" producers are Diana Ossana and James Schamus. "Crash" producers are Cathy Schulman, Don Cheadle, Bob Yari, Mark R. Harris, Bobby Moresco and Haggis.

And the winners are...

BEST FEATURE
"Brokeback Mountain"

BEST DIRECTOR
Ang Lee, "Brokeback Mountain"

BEST SCREENPLAY
Dan Futterman, "Capote"

BEST FIRST FEATURE
"Crash," Paul Haggis

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY
Duncan Tucker, "Transamerica"

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD
(for the Best Feature made for under $500,000)
"Conventioneers"

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE
Amy Adams, "Junebug"

BEST SUPPORTING MALE
Matt Dillon, "Crash"

BEST FEMALE LEAD
Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"

BEST MALE LEAD
Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Capote"

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Robert Elswit, "Good Night, and Good Luck"

BEST FOREIGN FILM
"Paradise Now"

BEST DOCUMENTARY
"Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room"

AMC/AMERICAN EXPRESS PRODUCERS AWARD
Caroline Baron, "Capote" and "Monsoon Wedding"

IFC/ACURA SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD
Ian Gamazon and Neill Dela Llana, "Cavite"

TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD
Ian Olds and Garrett Scott, "Occupation: Dreamland"

INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD WINNERS BY DISTRIBUTOR
Cinema Libre Studio 1
Focus Features 2
Lionsgate Films 2
Magnolia 1
Sony Pictures Classics 3
Warner Independent Pictures 2
The Weinstein Company 2

What Will Halle Berry Wear at The Oscars?


Well I hope it's a repeat of this dress! Wow, what an eye-popper! I'd like to carry that train. We will see tommorrow night.

Transvestite King Kong billboard attacks L.A.

From www.upi.com

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- An underground global movement called the "Guerrilla Girls" has rankled Oscar officials with a billboard of a transvestite King Kong in Los Angeles.

The billboard -- near the Kodak Theatre where the Oscars will be handed out next Sunday -- depicts Kong wearing a dress and makeup holding an Oscar statuette, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

The sign -- which cost $4,500 a month -- reads: "Unchain the Women Director. Women directed only 7 percent of the top 200 films of 2005," and "No woman director has ever won the Oscar. Only 3 have been nominated."

The sign was created and funded by 13 women's organizations, including Women in Film and the Fund for Women Artists.

The "Guerrilla Girls" have been around more than 20 years, pushing the worldwide entertainment industry to be more female-friendly, the newspaper said.

The latest attempt to ruffle feathers at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences drew a terse, "No comment," the Times reported, noting that the Oscar in the billboard is a trademarked image.

"King Kong" DVD Release March 28th 2006

I can't wait for this one, and I'm not kidding. I still think "King Kong" was unfairly snubbed by the Academy in the nominations process. Time will prove that it's one of the best movies ever made. The only massive error was releasing it in December, rather than in August, thus drawing summer box office traffic.

"King Kong" Set To Sweep Sony Empire Awards

From: www.news.com.au

KING Kong is set to sweep the board at this year's Empire awards - after receiving five nominations.

After being snubbed by the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the Bafta's, the remake of the 1933 monster movie has been nominated for a host of top honours, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor.
Pride and Prejudice, Crash, and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit also faired well with four nominations each.

The Best Actor category will be a fight between Matt Dillon for his performance in Crash, Batman Begins' star Christian Bale, Johnny Depp for his portrayal of Willy Wonka in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Viggo Mortensen in the critically acclaimed A History Of Violence.

Similarly, the Best Actress category will be an equally tough choice between Dillon's Bafta-winning Crash co-star Thandie Newton, Pride and Prejudice's Keira Knightley, Renee Zellweger for her role in Cinderella Man, Hilary Swank for turn in Million Dollar Baby and King Kong star Naomi Watts.

The Sony Ericsson Empire Awards - which will be presented by British comedian Bill Bailey - will take place at the Hilton London Metropole on March 13.


Full list of Sony Ericsson Empire Awards nominees:



Best Newcomer

Leo Gregory (Stoned)
Kelly Reilly (Mrs. Henderson Presents/Pride & Prejudice)
Georgie Henley (Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe)
James McAvoy (Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe)
Nathan Fillion (Serenity)


Sony Ericsson Scene of the Year

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit - The Dogfight
War Of The Worlds - Arrival of the First Tripod
The Descent - First Attack of the Crawlers
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith - Birth of Vader
Crash - The Car Rescue



Best Comedy

The Wedding Crashers
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
The League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse
Team America: World Police
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit



Best Thriller

The Constant Gardener
Sin City
Batman Begins
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
A History Of Violence



Best Horror

The Skeleton Key
The Descent
Land Of The Dead
Wolf Creek


Best Sci-fi/Fantasy

King Kong
Serenity
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire


Best Director

Steven Spielberg - War Of The Worlds
Peter Jackson - King Kong
Christopher Nolan - Batman Begins
Ron Howard - Cinderella Man
Nick Park and Steve Box - Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit
Joe Wright - Pride & Prejudice


Best Actor

Christian Bale - Batman Begins
Johnny Depp - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Andy Serkis - King Kong
Matt Dillon - Crash
Viggo Mortensen - A History of Violence


Best Actress

Naomi Watts - King Kong
Keira Knightley - Pride & Prejudice
Thandie Newton - Crash
Renee Zellweger - Cinderella Man
Hilary Swank - Million Dollar Baby


Best British Movie

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
The Descent
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Pride & Prejudice
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
Stoned


Best Film

King Kong
War of the Worlds
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Crash
Sin City

Hilary Swank - What Will She Wear This Time?


As the 78th Annual Academy Awards approach, the question I have is what will Hilary Swank wear? All I can say is last year, she was totally hot in this blue body fitting dress. I'll bet she got so many date offers it screwed up her marriage to Chad Lowe. Note to Chad: you're still friends; be the dog! Go after that bone!

Jack Nicholson Joins Presenters for 78th Annual Academy Awards


My question: will he wear sunglasses?

Presenters Announced
for 78th Academy Awards®

Beverly Hills, CA — Academy Award® - winning actor Jack Nicholson will join Oscar® nominee Jake Gyllenhaal, Eric Bana, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller, John Travolta and Ziyi Zhang as presenters at the 78th Academy Awards ceremony, telecast producer Gil Cates announced today.

These presenters will join Hilary Swank, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, Jessica Alba, Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, Will Ferrell, Queen Latifah, Terrence Howard, Meryl Streep, Will Smith, Steve Carell, Nicole Kidman, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Uma Thurman, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, Lily Tomlin, Reese Witherspoon, George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek on the telecast.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2005 will be presented on Sunday, March 5, 2006, at the Kodak Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network beginning at 5 p.m. PST. A one-hour red carpet arrivals show will precede the telecast at 4 p.m.

# # #

A.M.P.A.S.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
(310) 247-3000
www.oscars.org
publicity@oscars.org

Madea's Family Reunion Rules Week's Box Office

Wow! This is a sure sign of the changing tastes of the American public. Madea's Family Reunion, a movie about, well here's the plot line: "While planning her family reunion, a pistol-packing grandma (Perry) must contend with the other dramas on her plate, including the runaway who has been placed under her care, and her love-troubled nieces." --but really features a black man -- Tyler Perry -- in drag, is a hit as he explores black issues and family matters in a humorous way. But in a (thankfully) increasingly interracially mixed America, Perry plays to a wide audience.

Weekly:
Feb. 24 - Mar. 2, 2006
in millions

1 Madea's Family Reunion
$35.1

2 Eight Below
$19.2

3 The Pink Panther
$13.0

4 Date Movie
$10.9

5 Curious George
$8.6

6 Firewall
$8.3

7 Final Destination 3
$7.0

8 RUNNING SCARED
$4.6

9 Doogal
$4.2

10 Freedomland
$3.8
Expanded 'Idol' rolls again
Morning Ratings Flash - Rick Kissell

By RICK KISSELL - Variety.com

With the hot "American Idol" again accounting for more than 75% of its sked, Fox cruised to victory on Wednesday in key young-adult demos, while the night's top scripted dramas delivered low-range scores.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, "American Idol" averaged roughly a 12.1 rating/31 share in adults 18-49 and 29.4 million viewers overall from 8 to 9:31, dominating in each half-hour. That big score provided nice sampling for a special preview episode of slacker comedy "Free Ride" (roughly 6.1/14 in 18-49, 13.5 million viewers overall), which will regularly air on Sundays.

"Idol" seemed to have an effect on both ABC hit "Lost" (roughly 6.9/16 in 18-49, 16.5 million viewers overall from 9 to 10:03), which hit a firstrun season low, and CBS drama "Criminal Minds" (3.6/9 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall), which posted its second lowest tally.

The Eye was also on the low end but still won as usual at 10 with "CSI: NY" (4.4/12 in 18-49, 13.7 million viewers overall), topping NBC's "Law & Order" (4.0/11 in 18-49, 12.4 million viewers overall) and ABC's "Barbara Walters Oscar Special" (roughly 3.8/10 in 18-49, 9.8 million viewers overall); latter had run on the night of the Academy Awards prior to this year.

From 8 to 9, NBC's "Deal or No Deal" (3.3/9 in 18-49, 10.6 million viewers overall) placed second to "Idol" with the net's best series showing opposite "Idol" in the hour since May 2004.

Preliminary 18-49 averages on the night: Fox, 10.6/27; ABC, 4.3/11; CBS, 3.3/9; NBC, 3.2/8; WB, 1.2/3; UPN, 0.7/3.

In total viewers: Fox, 25.5 million; CBS, 11.1 million; ABC, 10.8 million; NBC, 10.4 million; WB, 3.0 million; UPN, 1.7 million.

Night Before ups its score - Oscar eve party wraps up $6 million

By NICOLE LAPORTE - Variety.com, March 3, 2006

The annual Night Before party, held on Oscar eve at the Beverly Hills Hotel, continues its ascent as the hottest pre-Academy Awards ticket. This year's event has raised more than $6 million, up from $4 million last year.
Proceeds from the party benefit the Motion Picture & Television Fund. The Night Before accounts for more than a third of the $15 million the MPTF has raised over the last year.

"The numbers are staggering, given the fact that (the Night Before) didn't exist four years ago," said MPTF chief exec Ken Scherer.

Because of fire marshal-enforced safety requirements, guest list is limited to about 800. Among those who will be attending are Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, George Clooney, Jamie Foxx, Hilary Swank and Night Before host Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Producers, directors, studio executives and lawyers also will be part of the crowd. The only non-invitees are press agents and members of the press -- an attempt to keep things more personal and low-key.

"What we set out to do four years ago was provide an environment where people could talk and have conversations," Scherer said. "We wanted to make it a real community effort."

The Night Before was started by Katzenberg and Variety in 2002 as a charitable solution to what was always a fairly dull evening in Hollywood -- the night before the Oscars, when industryites are typically recovering from Friday night events, such as Ed Limato's pre-Oscar party, and preparing for post-Oscar fetes, such as the Vanity Fair party and the Governors Ball, held on Sunday.

Another tradition is the Night Before the Night Before, on Friday, when there'll be a dinner at Spago for sponsors. Border Grill chef-owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger will be on hand to teach guests how to make tamales; Mariah Carey will perform after dinner.

The number of Night Before corporate sponsors has grown by two and includes Variety, McDonald's, L'Oreal, Lexus, Hewlett-Packard, Target and AOL.

Scherer said the surge in raised funds resulted from the increase in sponsors, which each contribute $350,000, and from a greater number of contributors who made a five-year commitment of $10,000 a year to the MPTF (in exchange for getting their names placed on retirement cottages on the fund's Woodland Hills campus).

Tickets to the Night Before start at $25,000 for a group of four.

Katzenberg also has rallied to raise money.

"He's the man," Scherer said of the DreamWorks Animation head. "Jeffrey and (wife) Marilyn both step up and give the same amount that sponsors give. More importantly, his passion for this charity is so strong -- he just spends hours calling people and making sure people support the organization, which is so critical to our success."

Besides charity, of course, there's swag, and the Night Before ranked high on the free goodies list last year, with guests taking away expensive sneakers and computers. This year Lexus is giving away a car, Hewlett-Packard has donated 58-inch plasma TVs and color printers and AOL is giving away a Fender guitar.

The nonprofit MPTF, headquartered in Woodland Hills, was founded in 1921 to offer charitable relief for those in the film industry who had fallen on hard times. Today, the fund provides the industry with a full-scale residential retirement community and child-care center, as well as health care, human services and financial assistance.

Tom O'Neil: Is secret homophobia fueling a possible 'Crash' upset?

Tom O'Neil of the LA Times penned this column which I just read. It's not designed to be directly linked to, so here it is:

"I don't think he's right, but there's some of it. I think Brokeback will win because it's got too many mainstream A-List Hollywood people behind it. But we'll see.


Is secret homophobia fueling a possible 'Crash' upset?

Something weird is going on among Oscar voters — and it's also going unspoken. "Crash" and "Good Night, and Good Luck" have their passionate supporters who gush with their honest love of those best picture nominees, but most non-"Brokeback" votes I hear from Oscar voters are really anti-"Brokeback."

Scads of academy members fume to me when they tattle on how they're inking their ballots, "I'm not voting for 'Brokeback'!" Then they calm down a bit and add, "I'm voting for (fill in the blank)" and give a positive reason to justify their decision for picking an alternative. In most cases I hear contrary votes for "Crash," but there's also surprising strength for "Good Night, and Good Luck." So far I've heard equal numbers of votes for "Brokeback" as "Crash," with "Good Night" not far behind. The best picture race is really thisclose.



It's the fury that voters express when mentioning "Brokeback" that's so odd and suspicious. In some cases I believe they're people who think the film is overrated. Or they're just weary of gay cowboy jokes. But in the majority of cases I suspect it's something else and something bad that they feel they can't utter out loud, so they're holding it in. You can see it on their faces.

Could it be secret homophobia? Perhaps. The academy is comprised mostly of straight white guys with white hair who know it's intolerable to bash gays in lavender-friendly, liberal Hollywood. But I really don't think it's that in any large way. Instead, I think it's the same frustration non-Jews feel when there's a glut of Holocaust films leading the Oscar pack in Jewish-friendly Hollywood. They want to exclaim, "Enough already with the Holocaust films!" This time I suspect many straight Hollywooders — who are totally cool with gay people in general — are fighting the urge to shriek, "Enough already with the gay persecution films!"

This Oscar year there really is a glut of them and, if I'm right in my predictions, we'll see the all-gay Oscars on March 5 with victories in the top categories by "Brokeback Mountain," "Capote" and "Transamerica."

How widespread is this anti-"Brokeback" tide? It's hard to say because it's mostly unspoken, but it's very real and it makes predicting the best picture race a crapshoot. It's quite possible that we could see another one of those best picture/director splits that used to be so rare, but are now commonplace with "Chicago," "Shakespeare in Love" and "Gladiator" winning best picture while the director laurels went to, respectively, Roman Polanski ("The Pianist"), Steven Spielberg ("Saving Private Ryan") and Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic"). Whatever happens this year, it's clear that Ang Lee has the best director trophy in the bag.

In the end, I believe "Brokeback" will win because there's a clear voting pattern in the top category recently: academy members want to be on the winning team. Front-runners tend to win even when there's a growing surge against them. Backlash against "The English Patient" was so widespread that "Seinfeld" did a whole episode about it, but it still won. Even though "A Beautiful Mind" was under attack on all fronts a few years ago, it nonetheless prevailed. "Chicago" pulled off its best picture victory even though late-breaking momentum for "The Pianist" was so strong that it won the top prizes for director, actor and screenplay. That bodes well for the gay cowboys remaining tall in the saddle on Oscar night.

Crash Cost $6.5 Million to Make; It's Oscar Campaign Was $4 Million - A Look at The High Cost of Gaining an Oscar

Oscar Economics 101
Lions Gate opens the books on 'Crash's' academy campaign.
James Bates - LA Times
February 12, 2006

It's appropriate that Oscars are gold, since winning one can make a fortune for talent or a studio. This column will look at the business of Hollywood's awards season, and what all that money being spent really buys. Send your ideas, comments, criticisms, tips and pontifications to James.Bates@latimes.com

______________________________________________

Thanks to Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and federal laws requiring companies to disclose meaningful developments to investors, we can all get a "Crash" course in Oscar economics.

Last week, Lions Gate (which recently decided to save space by referring to itself as Lionsgate) publicly disclosed to Wall Street that its profits will be crimped in 2006. One reason: the company is spending "an additional $2 million" to promote director Paul Haggis' "Crash" during the stretch run of the best picture race, which ends March 5 with the Academy Awards.

The operative word here is "additional." That's because it's double what the company had already spent to promote the movie for various awards. All told, Lions Gate is expected to spend $4 million to campaign for a film that only cost $6.5 million to make.

What's interesting about last week's corporate disclosure is that it may be the only time anyone has had to publicly own up to how much cash is being thrown around to buy Oscar votes.