ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
Robert Downey Jr. stood before a judge in California again this week -- not to be lectured, scolded or sentenced, but to be praised and encouraged for the job he's doing in drug rehab.
"Keep up the good work," said Superior Court Judge Randall White after hearing a progress report on Downey in Indio, Calif.
"Thank you," replied Downey.
The 36-year-old actor was placed on three-year probation and ordered into drug rehab after pleading no contest last July to drug possession charges. By agreeing to the plea bargain, he managed to avoid being sent back to jail.
Downey -- who has been living at a round-the-clock rehab center in Malibu -- had been charged with one felony count of cocaine possession and one misdemeanor count of being under the influence of a controlled substance when he was arrested at a Palm Springs report. A second felony count of possessing Valium was dropped.
Downey's acting career has had its ups and downs because of various criminal violations and accusations, but he is working once again. His lawyer said Downey is scheduled to begin shooting a movie with Mel Gibson -- his co-star in "Air America" (1990).
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
When young director Henry Bean brought his gritty drama "The Believer" to the last Sundance Film Festival, it played to rave reviews, but none of the major studios would touch it. It deals with a Jewish boy who renounces his beliefs and becomes a neo-Nazi skinhead.
The film beat out more traditional movies at Sundance and took top dramatic honors.
Now comes word that the movie has made its debut. The film finally has been shown -- not in movie theaters, but on television. Showtime gave it its first airing this past weekend. It might have come to television earlier, but due to its main plot element -- the planting of a bomb in a synagogue -- and the events of Sept. 11, it's just now being broadcast.
The star of "The Believer," Ryan Gosling, got his start on the "All New Mickey Mouse Club" and subsequently appeared in several Disney productions. The airing could renew a controversy that has been swirling in the months since Sundance. Many in major Jewish groups have roundly criticized Bean's film.
(Thanks to UPI's Dennis Daily)
Filming has begun in Paris for the contemporary comedy "Le Divorce." Three-time Academy Award-nominated director James Ivory will helm, with Kate Hudson and Naomi Watts leading an ensemble cast that also includes Glenn Close, Stockard Channing, Sam Waterston, Matthew Modine, Bebe Neuwirth, Stephen Fry and Leslie Caron.
In this modern-day comedy of manners, American sisters Isabel (Hudson) and Roxy (Watts) come face to face with the complicated social mores of French society. Pregnant and jilted by her scoundrel husband, Roxy is headed for "Le Divorce," while Isabel leaps into l'amour with a married, French diplomat who happens to be the uncle of Roxy's soon-to-be-ex. Culture clash and scandal ensue as the sisters learn what it really takes to be an American in Paris.
The film is scheduled to open in 2003 in the United States.
Another sit-com duo is promoting Denny's restaurants. Barney Martin and Liz Sheridan -- best known as the television parents of Jerry Seinfeld on "Seinfeld" -- will be featured in a new commercial for the family restaurant chain that begins airing nationally March 25.
Last year, Sherman Hemsley and Isabel Sanford -- the actors who portrayed George and Weezy on "The Jeffersons" show -- talked up the Grand Slam Breakfast, Denny's signature entree. In Denny's newest 30-second spot, Martin and Sheridan also tout the $2.99 Grand Slam.
THE ACADEMY AWARDS
All eyes will be on Hollywood this Sunday when the winners of this year's Oscars are announced during the 74th Annual Academy Awards ceremony.
With the announcement of the SAG Award winners and all the other awards handed out during the past couple of months, the experts have been handicapping the chances of each picture in taking home Oscar gold. The Caribbean-based Web site Intertops.com has been accepting wagers on the six major categories of this year's Oscars since the nominations were announced last month.
The current odds:
-- Best Motion Picture: A Beautiful Mind 1/2, The Lord of the Rings 5/2, Gosford Park 5/1, Moulin Rouge 6/1, In the Bedroom 15/1
(Web site: intertops.com)