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Entertainment Today: Showbiz news

By United Press International   |   Jan. 25, 2002 at 4:45 AM   |   Comments

ARTHUR HILLER

Director Arthur Hiller will receive one of the highest honors the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can give a filmmaker at the 74th Academy Awards on March 24.

The academy said it will present Hiller with its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, which is given to "an individual in the motion picture industry whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry."

Hiller -- who served as Academy President from 1993-97-- has been involved with such charitable organizations as the Motion Picture and Television Fund, Los Angeles public TV station KCET, Amnesty International, Inner City Filmmakers, the Los Angeles Central Library's reading program, the Deaf Arts Council, the Anti-Defamation League, Los Angeles County Museum programs on film and television, Humanitas, the Streisand Centre at UCLA and the Venice Family Clinic.

He participates frequently in classes and workshops at universities, festivals and other organizations in the United States and abroad, said the Academy in a news release. He served as president of the Directors Guild of America from 1989-93.

Hiller was nominated for an Academy Award in 1970 for directing "Love Story." His other film credits include "The Americanization of Emily" (1964), "The Out-of-Towners" (1970), "Plaza Suite" (1971), "The Hospital" (1971), "Man of La Mancha" (1972), "Silver Streak" (1976), "The In-Laws" (1979), "Author! Author!" (1982) and "Outrageous Fortune" (1987).

Previous recipients of the Jean Hersholt Award include composer-arranger Quincy Jones, actresses Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, and producer Howard W. Koch.


JENNIFER CONNELLY

Jennifer Connelly describes as a "no-brainer" her decision to accept the role of mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr.'s wife in "A Beautiful Mind," telling reporters how she fell in love with the fictionalized account of the inspiring couple's life the moment she read the script.

"I thought, 'this is such a beautiful script. I love (director) Ron (Howard). Russell Crowe's a great actor. This part ... this woman is beautiful, what I wouldn't do to do this movie! They'll never cast me ...'" she remembered. Crowe plays Nash.

Although the movie is only loosely based on the Nashes' extraordinary life together, Connelly met with the real-life Alicia Nash to discuss what the woman might want or not want conveyed about the character that bears her name in the film.

"She's a lovely woman, but it became more about having a nice lunch, and she gave me her blessings," Connelly recalled.

Alicia Nash did have one serious question for Connelly, however. "She wanted to know what Russell Crowe was like," the actress said.

Connelly won a Golden Globe award last weekend for her role in "A Beautiful Mind."

(Thanks to UPI's Karen Butler in New York)


HITLER MINISERIES

This week's announcement that CBS is planning a four-hour miniseries on the early life of Adolf Hitler touched off a debate over whether the public is ready for such a thing -- as well as some curiosity over who would play Hitler as a young man.

Producer Ed Gernon told E! Online he'd like Ewan McGregor to do it.

McGregor co-starred with Nicole Kidman in the Golden Globe-winning movie "Moulin Rouge." He also plays Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" and the upcoming "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones."

If he winds up taking the miniseries part, that will give him two things in common with the late Sir Alec Guinness -- who not only played Obi-Wan in the first "Star Wars" trilogy, but also played Hitler in the 1973 movie "Hitler: The Last 10 Days."

Gernon said he has no idea whether McGregor would be interested in the Hitler project. "I haven't approached him," said Gernon, "so he may be surprised to read this."

Gernon's production company, Alliance Atlantis, produced the ABC miniseries "Me and My Shadows: Life with Judy Garland" and the HBO movie "Nuremberg." The company also produces the hit CBS drama "C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation."


SHAE D'LYN

A former star of the TV comedy "Dharma & Greg" is spearheading a campaign by artists in Los Angeles to use the arts to fight hunger.

Shae D'Lyn -- who played the flaky friend Jane Deaux on the series from 1997-2000 -- is one of the driving forces behind an effort to bring several anti-poverty nonprofits together in Los Angeles to fight hunger. She told UPI she wants to call on her friends in the arts and entertainment communities to "lend some resonance" to the campaign.

Her first step in that direction is a benefit rock concert in Los Angeles this weekend, featuring bands that D'Lyn says hail from some of the poorest neighborhoods in the entertainment capital.

Calling Los Angeles "the hunger capital of the United States," D'Lyn said she does not intend to let her actor friends show up at the benefit and then leave without learning as much as they can about hunger. "I don't like benefits where people come in and have a great party but they don't see what it is that they're there to help out with," she said.

D'Lyn, a native of Abilene, Texas, said she gets her altruism from her parents, who taught her by example about the importance of community involvement.

D'Lyn is a founding member of the Independent Artist Cooperative, which also has branches in New York, San Francisco and Vancouver. She said the Los Angeles branch has 300 members.

Apart from "Dharma & Greg," D'Lyn's credits also include the movie "Convict 762" (1997)and "National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation" (1997). She has also had guest-starring roles on such TV series as "That '70s Show," "Ellen" and "Law & Order."

Up next, a voice-over in an animated feature -- "Happily Never After" -- which D'Lyn said also features Sigourney Weaver, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. D'Lyn plays an offbeat Rapunzel. "She's been in the tower too long and thinks her hair is her best friend," said D'Lyn. "She named her hair Alice."

(The above two items thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)


'LORD OF THE RINGS; FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS'

Critics have generally praised and audiences flocked to "The Fellowship of the Ring," Peter Jackson's first film installment of J. R. R. Tolkien's trilogy "The Lord of the Rings."

But does Jackson's recreation of mythic Middle Earth -- down to the elves, orcs, wizards, warriors and hobbits -- pass muster for tried-and-true Tolkien fans? That's the question that will be examined by a cadre of fans Feb. 7 at Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Mich., where a mock trial of Peter Jackson will be staged. Students at the Catholic liberal arts college will render verdict.

"This will be very tongue-in-cheek, and we plan to play up very big," said the college's writer-in-residence and Tolkien biographer Joseph Pearce, one of the two Tolkien experts to present evidence at the "Trial of Peter Jackson for the desecration of 'The Lord of the Rings'."

While Pearce serves as defense attorney, literature professor Henry Russell, Ph.D., will serve as prosecutor. Russell has already laid down the gauntlet, remarking that Jackson's rendition of Tolkien "has all the depth and intellect of a video game."

Pearce said the students at the Catholic college are big fans of Catholic author Tolkien and his fantasy world, so the college "expects to have a lot of fun with this one."

© 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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