Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Dec. 17, 2002 at 3:00 AM   |   0 comments

'CHICAGO' TOPS NY CRITICS' LIST

New York Film Critics Online has declared the musical "Chicago" the Best Picture of 2002.

The screen adaptation of the Broadway favorite also won the Best Breakthrough Director award for Rob Marshall.

Coming in second on the critics' list was the 1950s-era drama, "Far From Heaven," which earned Julianne Moore a Best Actress prize and Todd Haynes the Best Director honor. Sharing the title with Haynes was Martin Scorsese, who helmed the group's No. 3 film, "Gangs of New York." Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays the villain in the 19th century Scorsese epic, was named Best Actor.

The critics group also recognized supporting players Willem Dafoe for his outstanding work in "Auto Focus," the Bob Crane story, and Edie Falco for her memorable performance in the family drama, "Sunshine State."

Charlie Kaufman's extraordinary screenplay for "Adaptation" was named the year's best script, while that quirky film tied with "Y Tu Mama Tambien" for the No. 5 spot on the group's list. "Y Tu Mama" also was deemed the Best Foreign Language Film of 2002, while "Bowling for Columbine" was named Best Documentary.

TEN BEST

1. "Chicago" (Miramax)

2. "Far From Heaven" (Focus Features)

3. "Gangs of New York" (Miramax)

4. "Femme Fatale" (Warner Bros.)

5&6. "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (IFC), "Adaptation" (Columbia) TIE

7&8. "The Hours" (Paramount), "The Quiet American" (Miramax) TIE

9&10. "Minority Report" (Dreamworks), "Talk To Her" (Sony Pictures Classics) TIE


RENEE CAN REALLY SING THE BLUES...

Those who remember Renee Zellweger's horrid, hilarious karaoke performance in "Bridget Jones's Diary" will be pleasantly surprised to hear how beautifully she sings in the musical, "Chicago."

Asked when she first started singing, the soft-spoken Texan told United Press International: "It happened a long, long time ago in the shower to Paul McCartney and Beatle records with my brother yelling, 'Shut up!' So, I always had it my head that I couldn't sing."

Humbly deflecting compliments on her performance, Zellweger remarked: "I think the powerful voice comes from my counterpart. My Welsh friend."

Zellweger portrays entertainer-turned-murderess Roxie Hart in "Chicago," sharing a cell block with fellow celebrity criminal, Velma (Catherine Zeta-Jones,) under the watchful eye of prison matron Mama (Queen Latifah.)

Before "Chicago," the "Nurse Betty" actress rarely sang on-screen. Early in her career, she appeared in "Empire Records" as a girl who couldn't carry a tune very well, but who hits "one good note." Several years later, she followed that vocal performance up with her "drunken moment" in "Bridget."

"My brother was like, 'Yeah, that's the voice from the shower,'" Zellweger quipped.

Wait 'until he sees "Chicago..."


'TWO WEEKS' NY'S FIRST POST-SEPT. 11 FEATURE

Sandra Bullock's new romantic comedy, "Two Weeks Notice," also might be described as a valentine to New York City.

The movie, which was the first major film made in the Big Apple since Sept. 11, 2001, features beautiful aerial shots of the city, offering bittersweet moments to the audience as it scans the famous skyline for the missing World Trade Center.

Referring to one scene in the film where she and co-star Hugh Grant fly past the Chrysler Building, Bullock recalled, "We were scared because the helicopter shot came a few months after the incident, and to me, I just look at that and just want to cry."

Bullock and company were already in pre-production on the film when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center last year.

"I said: 'This is the perfect time for something like this. I don't want to be doing anything sad. I don't want to be doing anything that really brings your spirits down.' So, it's all timing," Bullock explained to reporters in New York.

The actress/producer went on to say the folks at City Hall were incredibly warm and helpful during the film's production.

"It was so amazing because we were allowed to get locations that normally you wouldn't be allowed to shoot in because New York just went, 'We want people to feel like it's OK to come back,' and what better than a movie which glamorizes everything?" she wondered. "It's more expensive (to film there) but it's where I got my start. This is where I got my career going. This is where I moved after school. This is where I got my first job. This is where I first got mugged, and I thought, 'It'll be a real guilty pleasure for me to go back and go, 'I'm shooting in the city where it all started.'"

"Two Weeks Notice" opens Friday.


LEO: CON MAN WAS GREAT ACTOR

Leonardo DiCaprio says being a con man isn't all that different from being an actor.

DiCaprio plays master scammer Frank Abagnale in the new Steven Spielberg adventure, "Catch Me if You Can."

"I absolutely see a direct correlation (between being an actor and being a con artist) and I think the real Frank Abagnale is one of our great actors. His stage, though is the real world," DiCaprio told UPI. "He was able to embody these different personas effortlessly."

Passing himself off as a pilot, a doctor, a lawyer and a sociology professor, Abagnale cashed more than $2.5 million in forged checks before he was 21. He now works as a security consultant to Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. government.

Playing Abagnale with all his personalities and disguises was a great exercise for an actor, DiCaprio noted.

"It was basically an actor playing another actor," said the "Titanic" star.

© 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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