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By PAT NASON, UP Hollywood Reporter   |   Jan. 14, 2002 at 8:33 PM
CRITICS LIKE CROWE, HOWARD FOR THEIR 'MIND'

The Broadcast Film Critics Association has named "A Beautiful Mind" best picture of 2001 and honored its star, Russell Crowe, as best actor.

At ceremonies in Beverly Hills Friday night, the movie biography of troubled math genius John Forbes Nash Jr. walked off with four BFCA awards in all -- including best supporting actress for Jennifer Connelly and a share of the best director award for Ron Howard, in a tie with Baz Luhrmann, the director of "Moulin Rouge."

Crowe accepted the award with words of praise and gratitude for his director.

"Ron Howard, whose command of the medium is beyond question, whose attention to detail and willingness to collaborate and whose intellect are all pristine examples of a director in his prime," he said. "Suffice it to say, 'Opie done good!'"

The audience chuckled at Crowe's reference to Howard's well-known, long-running role as Opie Taylor on the TV comedy, "The Andy Griffith Show."

Sissy Spacek was named best actress for her portrayal of a mother coping with the tragic loss of a son in the family drama, "In the Bedroom." Ben Kingsley won best supporting actor honors for "Sexy Beast."

The BFCA honored "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" with two prizes -- both for music. Howard Shore won for best composer. Irish singer Enya, who wrote "May It Be" for "Lord of the Rings," shared the best song award with Paul McCartney, who wrote the title song for "Vanilla Sky."

The cast of Robert Altman's "Gosford Park" was named best ensemble, and Christopher Nolan won another award for his screenplay for "Memento."

"Shrek" was named best animated feature, and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" was named best live action family film. Dakota Fanning -- Sean Penn's 7-year-old "I Am Sam" co-star -- was voted best young actress.

The BFCA also honored boxing legend Muhammad Ali with its Freedom Award.


HANKS, ROBERTS -- THE PEOPLE LOVE 'EM!

The 28th Annual People's Choice Awards are in the books, leaving Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts with more trophies for the mantel -- Hanks with a pair of awards for favorite motion picture actor and favorite dramatic motion picture and Roberts with her eighth favorite motion picture actress award.

"Shrek" won for favorite motion picture, and Eddie Murphy won for favorite motion picture star in a comedy.

As determined by the Gallup polling organization, the people's choice for favorite TV drama series was "ER," and the choice for favorite TV comedy series was "Friends."

There was a tie between Kelsey Grammer of "Frasier" and Ray Romano of "Everybody Loves Raymond" for favorite male TV performer. Jennifer Aniston of "Friends" was named favorite female TV performer.

"My Wife and Kids" won for favorite new TV comedy series, and "Alias" won for favorite new TV drama series. Damon Wayans of "My Wife and Kids" and Reba McEntire of "Reba" won for favorite male and female performers in a new TV series.

"Survivor: The Australian Outback" won for favorite reality-based TV program, and "Days of Our Lives" won for favorite daytime drama series.

'N Sync was named favorite group or band, and Faith Hill and Garth Brooks were named favorite female and male musicians.


DIRECTOR TED DEMME DEAD AT 38

An autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause of death for Ted Demme, the film and TV director best known for last year's picture, "Blow," starring Johnny Depp. Demme -- the nephew of Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme -- was 38 when he died Sunday after taking part in a celebrity basketball game in Santa Monica, Calif.

A spokesman for Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center said Demme was in full cardiac arrest when paramedics rushed him to the hospital's emergency room. He was pronounced dead 20 minutes after he arrived at the emergency room.

Demme's resume also included the 1999 Eddie Murphy-Martin Lawrence prison comedy "Life," and the 1996 Matt Dillon-Uma Thurman comedy "Beautiful Girls." He also directed several episodes of the TV series "Homicide: Life on the Street."


'RINGS' STILL ON A ROLL

"The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" was No. 1 at the U.S. box office for a fourth consecutive weekend, grossing an estimated $16.2 million and running its cumulative gross to $228.3 million through 26 days.

"A Beautiful Mind", which has been adding screens gradually week by week, took in $15.8 million at 2,222 theaters, taking its U.S. gross to $59 million.

The new comedy, "Orange County," finished third with an estimated $15.1 million in its inaugural weekend.

"Monsters, Inc." finished out of the Top 10, but took in $2.2 million in its 11th weekend to become the biggest hit ever for Disney-Pixar. The Billy Crystal-John Goodman computer animated comedy has taken in $247.4 at the U.S. box-office, passing "Toy Story 2" on the all-time list.

"Ali" is beginning to look like a lost cause -- commercially speaking -- for star Will Smith and writer-director Michael Mann. In just its third week in release, the film version of Muhammad Ali's ups and downs in the world of heavyweight boxing fell out of the Top 10 at the U.S. box office, taking in just $3.2 million.


BRATT'S NEXT

Benjamin Bratt -- the former "Law & Order" star who is getting some Oscar buzz for his performance in the new movie, "PiƱero" -- will play a U.S. Army Ranger in "The Great Raid," an upcoming dramatic account of a true incident in the waning days of World War II.

Bratt will play Col. Henry Mucci, the man chose by Gen. Douglas MacArthur to lead a raid on a POW camp where 500 U.S. prisoners were being held.


LYNCH GETS CANNES GIG

David Lynch, the director best known for "Mulholland Drive," "Blue Velvet," "Twin Peaks" and other nearly incomprehensible movies and TV shows, has been named to head the jury at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival in May.

"David is in a magnificent period in his career," said festival president Gilles Jacob in an interview with Daily Variety, "and as one of the best two or three directors in the world, it was normal that he have his turn as jury president one day."

Lynch issued a statement saying he was "excited, nervous and fully conscious of the responsibility" of heading the jury at what he called "the greatest film festival in the world."

Lynch's "Wild at Heart" won the top prize at Cannes, the Palme d'Or, in 1990.

Previous jury presidents include Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese and Liv Ullmann.


ANIMAL LOVERS RAP DISNEY ON NEW COMEDY

An animal-rights group based in Miami is slamming the Walt Disney Co. over the new Cuba Gooding Jr. movie, "Snow Dogs," which opens this weekend.

The movie stars Gooding as a dentist who travels to Alaska to claim an inheritance, which includes a pack of sled dogs. He doesn't like animals, but learns to love the dogs -- as he faces the choice of learning to mush and winning a race with his team or losing them to another owner.

The Sled Dog Action Coalition contends that the movie glorifies a cruel sport.

"Contrary to Disney's portrayal, the Iditarod (dog sled race) does not celebrate the bond between man and dog," said the coalition in a prepared statement. "Documentation of the race's history clearly demonstrates a pattern of dog deaths, injuries and many repeated instances of mushers harming their dogs for the sake of profit."

A Disney spokeswoman told the Los Angeles Times the movie does not condone the harming of animals.

"The race is not called the Iditarod (in the film)," said Andrea Marozas. "It's a family comedy, not a documentary."

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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