HONORS FOR 'AMELIE'
"Amélie," which has five Oscar nominations including best foreign-language film, has been named best picture at the Cesar awards -- the French equivalent of the Academy Awards.
The story of a woman who dedicates her life to the happiness of others also won for best director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. But its star, Audrey Tautou, watched Emmanuelle Devos walk off with best actress honors for "Sur Mes Levres (Read My Lips)."
"Amélie" -- the top-grossing French film ever in the United States -- won for best music and art direction, for a total of four Cesars out of a record 13 nominations.
Michel Bouquet was named best actor for "Comment J'ai Tue Mon Pere (How I Killed My Father)." David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" was named best foreign-language film.
SOME OSCAR GOLD ALREADY IN THE BANK
The 74th Academy Awards will not be handed out until March 24, but some filmmakers took home Oscar gold Saturday when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out 21 awards for scientific and technical achievement.
The awards were presented as plaques and certificates -- not the world-famous Oscar statuette. Still, the technical awards remain among the most prestigious and coveted recognition of merit in the film industry.
Seven filmmakers received Scientific and Engineering Awards (plaques), while 14 picked up Technical Achievement Awards (certificates), based upon recommendations from the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee.
The committee is chaired by Academy Visual Effects Branch Governor Richard Edlund,who won a Scientific and Engineering Award in 1986 and won visual effects Oscars in 1983 ("Return of the Jedi"), 1981 ("Raiders of the Lost Ark") and 1977 ("Star Wars"). Edlund also is known for his visual effects work on such hit movies as "Air Force One" (1997), "Die Hard" (1988) and "Poltergeist (1982).
Scientific and Engineering Awards were presented Saturday to filmmakers who devised technical improvements for making or exhibiting movies -- including advances in motion picture loudspeaker systems and a new zoom lens for Panavision, the camera most widely used in moviemaking. Other technological advances that were honored include a new color film restoration process and a new Kodak Panchromatic Sound Recording Film that has made it possible to distribute movie prints more economically.
Technical Achievement Awards also were presented to honor a new underwater camera housing system, a new camera motor that offers built-in time-lapse programmability and a new kind of camera crane that provides filmmakers with long reach at high speed, and can be set up very quickly in the field. An award also went to developers of a new computer animation system that makes it possible for animators to direct the dynamics of hair, clothing, skin, flesh and muscle in characters.
STARS COME OUT FOR DIRECTORS GUILD AWARDS
Carl Reiner will return as host for the 54th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards in Los Angeles this Saturday -- the 16th time that Reiner has hosted the event.
The DGA also announced that presenters will include several of this year's top nominees for acting Oscars -- including Halle Berry, Jennifer Connelly, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Will Smith and Denzel Washington. The list of presenters also includes Gillian Anderson, Faye Dunaway, Josh Hartnett, Don Johnson, Ang Lee and Elijah Wood.
STARS COME OUT FOR OSCARS
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Monday that Sting will perform his Oscar-nominated song, "Until ..." from "Kate & Leopold," at the 74th Academy Awards.
At the 73rd Academy Awards, Sting sang "My Funny Friend and Me" -- his nominated song from "The Emperor's New Groove."
SAG WILL USE LOOT BAGS TO RAISE FUNDS
The Screen Actors Guild has come up with a plan to raise money for its charitable endeavors -- by taking those lavish gifts that performers get as nominees and presenters on awards shows and auctioning them off on eBay.
Gifts presented by the guild to participants in Sunday's 8th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards are posted at the online auction site (eBay.com/sagawards) from now until Thursday, March 14.
SAG said proceeds will be turned over to the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, which oversees the union's charitable activities.
'SOLDIERS' WIN BOX-OFFICE BATTLE
Mel Gibson's new Vietnam War drama won the box-office battle in its first weekend, but may end up losing the war, so to speak.
"We Were Soldiers" took in an estimated $20.2 million -- good for first place but less than most analysts expected, considering Gibson's track record. He has opened previous hits such as "What Women Want" and "Lethal Weapon 4" with more than $30 million.
"Pearl Harbor" and "Black Hawk Down" star Josh Hartnett slipped out of his uniform and into a sex comedy, finishing second in "40 Days and 40 Nights." The story of a sexually active young man trying to give up all forms of sex temporarily attracted $12.5 million worth of business.
Denzel Washington's take on the ultimate in frustration with the health system, "John Q," finished third in its third weekend in release with $8.4 million. In his second weekend with the supernatural thriller "Dragonfly," Kevin Costner did $6.8 million.
Disney's "Peter Pan" sequel, "Return to Neverland," is still airborne with $65 million, but "Queen of the Damned" fell from grace -- from No. 1 last week to No. 6 this week with an estimated $5.8 million.
The rest of the top 10 were: "Big Fat Liar," "A Beautiful Mind," "Crossroads" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring." The Oscar-nominated adaptation of the first book of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Rings" trilogy has run its total gross to $287.7 million and stands at No. 13 on the all-time list of U.S. blockbusters.
The top 12 pictures from Friday to Sunday grossed an estimated $81.1 million -- down 3.7 percent from the previous weekend but up 8.4 percent from the same weekend in 2001.
DIANE KEATON ON THE SMALL SCREEN
Diane Keaton, who stars with Jennifer Jason Leigh in the CBS movie "Crossed Over," says there shouldn't be any mystery about why so many movie actors are working in TV these days -- it's about quality.
In the new TV movie, Keaton plays Beverly Lowry, a woman who coped with the murder of her son by getting close with Karla Faye Tucker (Leigh), who was executed by the State of Texas for the killing.
Before now, about the closest Keaton has come to TV was in 1988, when NBC ran the short-lived half-hour comedy, "Baby Boom." Keaton wasn't in the show, but it was based on her 1987 movie hit of the same name.
There was a time that movie actors shied away from doing TV. Keaton told TV Guide those days are gone.
"The television movie has changed," Keaton told TV Guide. "With serious television and HBO, I don't think there's anybody saying that one is superior to the other."
Keaton concedes that at her age, 56, she's grateful for any work she can get. She said she'll take "whatever is possible for me to play, considering my limitations ... pretty much anything that has substance or is funny."
THAT EXPLAINS IT
Oscar-winning actress Whoopi Goldberg admits it -- she doesn't look like Halle Berry.
But, Goldberg said over the weekend, "Chances are she's going to end up looking like me."
Goldberg was in Aspen, Colo., picking up the American Film Institute Star Award at the eighth annual U.S. Comedy Festival.
Speaking onstage at the festival with "60 Minutes" star Ed Bradley, Goldberg -- whose given name is Caryn Johnson -- said she came by her stage name because of a physical condition she shares with untold numbers of other people.
"I get gassy," she said.
She adopted the name of Whoopi after a friend observed that she resembled a whoopee cushion. Goldberg was her mom's idea.
Goldberg was nominated for the best actress Oscar for her first movie, "The Color Purple," in 1985. She won the supporting actress Oscar for "Ghost" in 1990.
She will host the upcoming 74th Academy Awards on March 24.