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Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   March 3, 2003 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

MR. ROGERS BURIED IN PA

Children's television icon Fred Rogers was laid to rest in a private ceremony Saturday in Pennsylvania.

The 74-year-old creator and star of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" lost his battle with stomach cancer and died at his home in Pittsburgh Thursday.

Family spokesman David Newell said about 60 loved ones turned out to say goodbye to the beloved TV host, who asked generations of children, "Won't you be my neighbor?"

Rogers began filming his show at a PBS station in Pittsburgh in 1968. The last new episode of the series, which included songs Rogers composed himself, aired in 2000.


'CHICAGO' DIRECTOR WINS DGA AWARD

First-time director Rob Marshall beat out veteran filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Roman Polanski for the coveted Directors Guild of America award Saturday.

Thanking his cast, as well as the directors of Hollywood's classic musicals, Marshall said, "I stand here because of them."

Industry watchers predicted the DGA award would go to Scorsese or Polanski because they have each won prestigious prizes in recent weeks. Scorsese, who directed the 19th century crime epic "Gangs of New York," won the Golden Globe for Best Director, while Polanski nabbed the BAFTA for Best Director last week for his Holocaust drama, "The Pianist."

Now Oscar prognosticators say Marshall's DGA win has paved the way to Oscar gold for his dazzling musical, "Chicago," which earned 13 Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture.

In the 55 years the DGA has given its prize for feature film directing, the winner has gone on to win the Academy award for best director all but five times.

Describing the experience as "overwhelming," Marshall, a 42-year-old Tony Award-winning Broadway director, admitted, "This is something I didn't quite expect."

In addition to Scorsese and Polanski, Marshall also bested Stephen Daldry, director of the Virginia Woolf saga, "The Hours" and Peter Jackson, the mastermind behind the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, for the DGA honor.

Scorsese didn't leave the event empty-handed, however. The director of "Raging Bull," "Taxi Driver" and "GoodFellas," who has never won a DGA award or an Oscar, was given a lifetime achievement award. The award came just days after he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


"CRADLE 2 GRAVE" STRAIGHT TO NO. 1

They might not be superheroes, but DMX and Jet Li still managed to wrest the No. 1 spot at the box office away from "Daredevil."

The DMX-Jet Li actioner, "Cradle 2 the Grave," earned $17.1 million in ticket sales since it opened Friday, burying last week's top draw, "Daredevil" in the No. 3 spot with $11 million, according to studio estimates released Sunday. Holding fast in second place was the Will Ferrell-Luke Wilson comedy, "Old School," which earned high grades with moviegoers and $13.9 million at the box office.

The top five still can't seem to lose the romantic comedy, "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," which took in another $10.1 million and came in fourth place. Profiting from all that Oscar buzz, the dazzling musical "Chicago" kept its No. 5 spot, earning another $8.1 million.


BRANAGH SERVES BREAKFAST TO TICKET BUYERS

Actor-director Kenneth Branagh was to serve tea Monday to folks scooping up $1 tickets to his new Broadway show, "The Play What I Wrote."

The box office at the Lyceum Theatre, where the hit London import will start playing later this week, was set to offer tickets for the comedy's first five performances for $1 for the first night, $2 for the second and so on. Customers were limited to six tickets each and normal ticket prices will be re-instated after the first five shows.

Winner of the 2002 Olivier Award, "The Play What I Wrote" was written by Hamish McColl, Sean Foley and Eddie Braben. A sold-out hit during two London engagements, the play revolves around Hamish, a performer who wants to end his comedy double-act with Sean and see his own play, "A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple," properly mounted on Broadway with a huge star in a supporting role. The play features Foley, McColl, and Toby Jones (Olivier Award winner for this performance) and a surprise celebrity guest star. In London, Ralph Fiennes, Sir Ian McKellen, Roger Moore, Jerry Hall, Sting and Ewan McGregor were a few of these guest stars. The identity of the surprise celebrity guests for the New York engagement is a tightly guarded secret.

Previews begin March 7, with opening night slated for March 30.


'FRANKIE AND JOHNNY' TO CLOSE

Terrence McNally's play, "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune," is set to close after its March 9 matinee.

The two-person drama about a cook and a waitress pondering love and life will have played 15 previews and 229 regular performances.

Directed by Joe Mantello, "Frankie and Johnny" opened on Aug. 8, 2002, starring Edie Falco ("The Sopranos") and Stanley Tucci ("Maid in Manhattan.) It recouped its $1.5 million investment in nine weeks. Rosie Perez ("Fearless") and Joe Pantoliano ("Daredevil," "The Sopranos") took over the roles on Jan. 1.

© 2003 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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