BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Kevin Costner edged out three Hollywood veterans to take Directors Guild of America honors for his frontier epic 'Dances With Wolves,' moving the first-time director into the forefront of Academy Award competion.
James Burrows was named best director of a television comedy series for NBC's 'Cheers' and Michael Zinberg was honored for his direction of the dramatic prime-time television series 'Quantum Leap,' also on NBC.
The DGA awards for directing excellence in both films and TV were announced at the guild's 43rd annual banquets Saturday night, held simultaneously at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and the Crowne Plaza Hotel in New York.
Costner's DGA win over veterans Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Barry Levinson sets him in good stead to pick up an Oscar at the Academy Award ceremonies next week.
Only three times in the past 42 years has the DGA award winner differed from the winner of the Academy Award Oscar.
Costner earlier won a Golden Globe award for 'Dances with Wolves,' his film about a Civil War veteran who befriends a Sioux Indian tribe on the Amercian frontier.
Other DGA honors went to Jeff Margolis, who was singled out as best director of a musical variety television show for the 62nd Annual Academy Awards show on ABC.
Lynn Hamrick was named best director of a dramatic daytime television show for the ABC presentation 'Testing Dirty' and Elena Mannes won for best documentary director for the program 'Amazing Grace' on PBS.
Robert Fishman was named best director of a television sports program for game four of the American League championship series on CBS.
Roger Young won the award for best direction of a dramatic special for the NBC show 'Murder in Mississippi' and Peter Smillie was named best director of a television commerical for 'Perfectionist,' a spot about alcoholism.