Entertainment Today: Showbiz news

By United Press International  |  Feb. 18, 2002 at 4:45 AM
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With three black actors sharing the top Oscar nominations this year, Hollywood's uncomfortable relationship with race is once again taking center stage. While Denzel Washington is favored to end the decades-long dry spell that followed Sydney Poitier's win in 1963, he is noticeably ambivalent about it all.

"To say that these nominations mean that African-Americans are now getting the recognition they deserve is to give a lot of power to people who don't have it. Three nominations mean three nominations -- nothing more or nothing less for black actors. I don't worry about a statue that doesn't look like me," he tells Newsweek.

Washington -- up for the Best Actor award for his portrayal of rogue Los Angeles cop Alonzo Harris in "Training Day" -- has now been nominated three times in the category. But the magazine reports the actor understands the rules of the game and he's resigned to the idea that he may never win. "It's all in the politics. It's more about that than anybody knows," he said.


Jami Gertz -- seen in a recurring role on "Ally McBeal" last season -- will play the title role in "It's Always Something: The Gilda Radner Story," scheduled to air on ABC TV this spring.

The project is based on Radner's autobiography, "It's Always Something." The former "Saturday Night Live" standout died of ovarian cancer in 1989.

The cast of "It's Always Something" also includes Tom Rooney ("Working Girl") as Radner's husband, Gene Wilder, and Ari Cohen ("Archangel") as "SNL" producer Lorne Michaels.

(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)


Producer-director Oliver Stone is reportedly in Cuba to check out locations for a documentary about the country. According to published reports, at least one of the project's producers says that Stone will stay for about a week, but gave few other details.

The 55-year-old Oscar-winning controversial moviemaker ("Platoon," "Born on the Fourth of July") apparently first met Cuban leader Fidel Castro during a visit to the Caribbean island nation in 1987. Stone had gone to Cuba for a screening of one of his earlier films, "Salvador."

For years there has been speculation as to what the relations between this country and Cuba will be when Castro "steps down." In recent years, Castro has relaxed some of the strict rules on his island. For example, the country no longer bans the practice of religion.

(Thanks to UPI's Dennis Daily)


Arnold Schwarzenegger will step into the ring with Muhammad Ali, who'll present the action-adventure star with "The Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award" at Celebrity Fight Night on March 16 in Phoenix.

Talk show hosts Larry King and Merv Griffin will host the star-studded evening of music, entertainment and celebrity boxing.

The Celebrity Fight Night Foundation is a non-profit organization that was established in 1994 and has been supporting the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Research Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, among other local charities. This year, Celebrity Fight Night VIII also will support ChildHelp USA and its fight against child abuse and neglect.

Last year's recipient was Michael J. Fox and the event raised $3.5 million.

(Web site: celebrityfightnight.org)


Denzel Washington's hospital drama "John Q" easily led the nation's box office during the President's Day holiday weekend with an estimated $20.6 million at 2,466 theaters during the Friday-Sunday period, studio sources said Sunday.

The New Line release -- with Washington as a distraught father holding an emergency room hostage -- benefited by opening three days after the actor had scored his fifth Academy Award nomination for "Training Day." Critical reaction for "John Q," which has been endorsed by some advocates of healthcare insurance reform, has been mixed.

Britney Spears' movie debut "Crossroads" opened in second place with a solid $14.6 million at 2,380 sites. Paramount said the film, in which Spears portrays a high school grad on a road trip, cost a relatively inexpensive $12 million and drew mostly teenage females.

Disney's opening of animated sequel "Return to Never Land" finished a respectable third with $11.8 million at 2,605 theaters. The second weekend of Warner's "Collateral Damage" followed in fourth place with $9.1 million at 2,824 sites. Universal's second weekend of "Big Fat Liar" came in fifth with $8.7 million at 2,534 theaters.

Rounding out the top 10 were "A Beautiful Mind," "Hart's War," "Black Hawk Down," "Super Troopers," and "Snow Dogs."

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