For Berry -- who was honored for her performance in "Monster's Ball" as a woman who falls in love with the white prison guard who executed her husband -- the SAG Award represents a major step towards possibly becoming the first black actress to win a best actress Oscar. In the first seven years that the actors union has handed out its awards, the winner for outstanding female actor in a lead role has gone on to win the Oscar five times.
Crowe -- who took home his first Actor Award for his performance in "A Beautiful Mind" as the schizophrenic Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. -- seems to have strengthened his hand for a second straight best actor Oscar. Six of the previous SAG winners for male actor in a leading role have gone on to win the Oscar -- the only exception coming last year when Benicio Del Toro won the SAG Award but went on to win the Oscar for supporting actor for "Traffic."
"Gosford Park" won two Actor Awards. Besides the award for outstanding cast, the comic murder-mystery set against the British class system also earned an award for Helen Mirren, for outstanding female actor in a supporting role.
Ian McKellen won for lead actor in a supporting role for his performance as the wizard Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."
NBC's White House drama "The West Wing" swept the TV drama series categories for a second straight year. Martin Sheen once again won for male actor in a drama series for his portrayal of President Josiah Bartlet. Allison Janney -- who now has five Actors -- won her second straight Actor for female actor for her performance as White House press secretary C.J. Cregg. The cast -- Stockard Channing, Dulé Hill, Janney, Rob Lowe, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, Sheen, John Spencer and Bradley Whitford -- won for outstanding ensemble.
Ben Kingsley won for male actor in a TV movie or miniseries for his performance as Otto Frank in the ABC movie, "Anne Frank." Judy Davis won for female actor in a TV movie or miniseries for her Emmy-winning performance as Judy Garland in the ABC miniseries, "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows."
The NBC comedy "Will & Grace" scored a pair of awards as Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally won for male and female actor in a comedy series, for their performances as Jack McFarland and Karen Walker. The cast of the HBO comedy "Sex and the City" -- Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Sarah Jessica Parker -- won for ensemble in a comedy series.
The winners --
Theatrical motion pictures:
Male actor in a leading role: Russell Crowe, "A Beautiful Mind"
Female actor in a leading role: Halle Berry, "Monster's Ball"
Male actor in a supporting role: Ian McKellen, "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"
Female actor in a supporting role: Helen Mirren, "Gosford Park"
Cast of a theatrical motion picture: "Gosford Park" (Eileen Atkins, Bob Balaban, Alan Bates, Charles Dance, Stephen Fry, Michael Gambon, Richard E. Grant, Tom Hollander, Derek Jacobi, Kelly MacDonald, Helen Mirren, Jeremy Northam, Clive Owen, Ryan Phillippe, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith, Geraldine Somerville, Sophie Thompson, Emily Watson, James Wilby)
Male actor in a television movie or miniseries: Ben Kingsley, "Anne Frank" (ABC)
Female actor in a television movie or miniseries: Judy Davis, "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows"
Male actor in a drama series: Martin Sheen, "The West Wing" (NBC)
Female actor in a drama series: Allison Janney, "The West Wing" (NBC)
Male actor in a comedy series: Sean Hayes, "Will & Grace" (NBC)
Female actor in a comedy series: Megan Mullally, "Will & Grace" (NBC)
Ensemble in a drama series: "The West Wing" (Stockard Channing, Dulé Hill, Allison Janney, Rob Lowe, Janel Moloney, Richard Schiff, Martin Sheen, John Spencer, Bradley Whitford) (NBC)
Ensemble in a comedy series: "Sex and the City" (Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Sarah Jessica Parker) (HBO)
Screen Actors Guild 38th annual Life Achievement Award: Edward Asner
The Directors Guild of America has honored Ron Howard with its top feature film award for "A Beautiful Mind," his Oscar-nominated drama based on the life of the schizophrenic Nobel Prize-winning mathematician John Forces Nash Jr.
The honor -- presented at the 54th Annual DGA Awards Saturday night -- establishes Howard as a strong favorite to win the Oscar for best director. Since the DGA started handing out prizes for top feature film directors in 1948, the winner has gone on to take Oscar every year but five.
Howard accepted the honor with a note of grace toward the other nominees -- Peter Jackson ("The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"), Baz Luhrmann ("Moulin Rouge"), Christopher Nolan ("Memento") and Ridley Scott ("Black Hawk Down"). "It was a tough selection," he told his fellow directors. "I'm very happy with the one you made."
Howard joins a list of two-time DGA feature winners that includes Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Oliver Stone, Milos Forman, Robert Wise, David Lean, Fred Zinneman, George Stevens and Joseph Mankiewicz.
The DGA gave its top TV movie award to Frank Pierson for the HBO movie "Conspiracy," starring Kenneth Branagh in an account of the businesslike meetings that officials in Nazi Germany held as they planned the program of exterminating Jews.
The top award for TV primetime drama series directing went to Alan Ball for the pilot episode of the HBO hit, "Six Feet Under."
The top prize for TV comedy went to Todd Holland for the "Bowling" episode of the Fox series "Malcolm in the Middle."
Joel Gallen and Beth McCarthy-Miller won the musical-variety award for "America: A Tribute to Heroes," which was simulcast on every major network and virtually every cable channel days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. The show -- which raised tens of millions of dollars for the September 11 Telethon Fund -- featured musical performances by artists including Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Sting and Neil Young, as well as spoken appeals by such actors as Tom Hanks and Kelsey Grammer.
Feature film: Ron Howard, "A Beautiful Mind"
Movies for television: Frank Pierson, "Conspiracy" (HBO)
Dramatic series (night): Alan Ball, "Six Feet Under" (HBO)
Comedy series: Todd Holland, "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox)
Musical variety: Joel Gallen and Beth McCarthy-Miller, "America: A Tribute to Heroes"
Daytime serial: William Ludel, "General Hospital" (ABC)
Children's programs: Amy Schatz, "'Twas the Night" (HBO)
Commercials: Bob Kerstetter, "Worker," "Orphanage," "Birds"
Documentary: Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim, "Startup.com"
Honorary life member: Delbert Mann
Robert B. Aldrich Award: Ed Sherin
Frank Capra Achievement Award: Burt Bluestein
Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award: Anita Cooper-Avnick
Melissa Gilbert -- who was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild in a flawed election last fall -- has won the election re-run, and will serve a two-year term as head of the actors union.
SAG announced the results of the mail-in balloting Saturday morning -- ending a sometimes bitter campaign between Gilbert and Valerie Harper, who had urged the re-run election because of irregularities in the original balloting last year.
Elliott Gould ("M*A*S*H"," "Ocean's 11") and Kent McCord ("Adam 12") were elected as recording secretary and treasurer, respectively. Both had won the original election as well.
One of the major issues is the tentative new deal changing decades-old rules defining the relationship between SAG actors and agents. Gilbert supports the deal, while Harper characterized it as a sellout that could lead to actors becoming employees of agents and agencies.
The new deal allows talent agencies to buy stock in, and receive investments from, advertising firms. It would replace an agreement -- in place for six decades -- that was designed to prevent conflicts of interest by barring agents from owning any part of the companies for which their clients work. The guild board is scheduled to vote on the agreement Monday.
(The above three items thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
A Newark, N.J., court has ruled that Richard Pryor has won back the rights to master tapes of recordings he made in the first days of his career.
Court records show that Pryor, now 60, wanted the materials to help him deal with a deteriorating financial situation caused by his multiple sclerosis. Pryor had gone to court last summer to wrest control of the recordings from a New Jersey company whom he claimed had infringed on his property rights.
The transfer was not an outright trade. The comedian apparently had to pay $10,000 to complete the transaction.
(Thanks to UPI's Dennis Daily)
'SIX FEET UNDER'
The creator of HBO's latest hit, "Six Feet Under," admits to having had his doubts about the show.
"I had no idea if this would take or not," Alan Ball, who earlier won an Oscar for his "American Beauty" screenplay, tells Newsweek. "I didn't know if audiences would think the subject matter was too creepy."
Apparently not. Last year, "Six Feet Under" -- which focuses on a dysfunctional family of undertakers -- became the highest-rated program ever to debut on HBO, a bigger first-year hit than "The Sopranos." It won the Golden Globe for best TV drama last month, and on Saturday, the Directors Guild of America gave the show its top award for television primetime drama series.
The opening of science-fiction fantasy "The Time Machine" easily led the nation's box office with an estimated $22.5 million at 2,944 theaters during the Friday-Sunday period, studio sources said.
Paramount's second weekend of "We Were Soldiers" followed solidly in second place with $14.5 million at 3,143 theaters.
New Line's opening of action comedy "All About the Benjamins" finished a respectable third with $10.1 million despite rolling out at only 1,505 sites. The project stars Ice Cube as a bounty hunter pursuing a con man played by Mike Epps.
Miramax's second weekend of sex comedy "40 Days and 40 Nights" finished a distant fourth with $7.1 million at 2,225 theaters, followed by New Line's fourth weekend of "John Q" with $6 million at 2,382 locations to lift its total past $59 million.
Rounding out the top 10 were "Return to Never Land," "Dragonfly," "A Beautiful Mind," "Big Fat Liar," and "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring."
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]