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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter

ACTORS IN POLITICS

There wasn't much talk of politics and war at Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards, and what there was came mainly in response to reporters' questions backstage.

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Stockard Channing -- who won an Actor for her portrayal of Judy Shepard in "The Matthew Shepard Story" -- was asked about reports that her co-star on "The West Wing," Martin Sheen, might sustain career damage for his outspoken opposition to war in Iraq.

"He has every right to speak his mind, which he has been doing for 20 years," said Channing. "He didn't just start this when he started playing President Bartlet. When we all stop speaking out, that's when we have to worry about it."

Channing -- who plays first lady Abigail Bartlet on the NBC White House drama -- took a jab at President George W. Bush when she was asked what kind of war-and-peace conversations her character would be having with the president if she were Bush's first lady.

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"Probably no conversation, because I believe he is the kind of president who doesn't listen to anybody," she said.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore was critical of the Bush administration Saturday, when he accepted the Writers Guild of America award for best original screenplay for "Bowling for Columbine."

"What I see is a country that does not like what's going on, does not like what's coming out of Washington, D.C.," said Moore. "Let's all commit ourselves to Bush removal in 2004."


JESSICA LANGE CARRIES PETITION FOR WIN WITHOUT WAR

Actress Jessica Lange was at the United Nations Monday, helping deliver what organizers said was more than 1 million signatures on an international anti-war petition.

The two-time Oscar-winning star of "Blue Sky" and "Tootsie" said the United States should only go to war against Iraq as a last resort, but that war right now would be unjust and immoral.

"When the pope and the major U.S. religious leaders disagree with the president, it has to raise serious doubts about the legitimacy of this war," said Lange.

She also addressed the question of what standing celebrities have to take leading roles on political matters.

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"You can see me as one who is using my celebrity status to take advantage of this forum," she said, "or you can see me as I see myself -- as a mother, an American mother from the Midwest, who feels that it is my obligation to speak out."

Lange is a member of Artists United to Win Without War, an organization of entertainment industry professionals that it part of the anti-war coalition Win Without War.


MEGAN MULLALLY LOVES MERYL STREEP

Megan Mullally tripped on her way to the stage to pick up a Screen Actors Guild Award in Los Angeles because she was distracted by Meryl Streep.

Mullally won a second consecutive Actor for outstanding performance by a female actor in a comedy series for her work as Karen Walker in "Will & Grace." She explained to reporters backstage that she wasn't watching her step because she was focusing on Meryl Streep -- one of "maybe three people in the world" that Mullally said cause her to be star-struck.

Streep did not win an Actor, but Mullally said she should have.

"She should win everything," said Mullally. "She's Meryl Streep. She's awesome."

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STARS LINE UP FOR OSCARS

Cameron Diaz ("Gangs of New York") will be a presenter at the 75th Anniversary Academy Awards.

It will be her fourth appearance as a presenter on an Oscars telecast. Diaz -- due on U.S. theater screens in June in "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" -- has also appeared in "Vanilla Sky," "There's Something About Mary" and "My Best Friend's Wedding."

The Oscars will be presented on March 23 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, in ceremonies to be televised by ABC.


WRITERS HONOR 'THE HOURS,' 'BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE'

The Writers Guild of America presented their top movie awards on Saturday to "The Hours" and the gun-culture documentary "Bowling for Columbine."

David Hare won the WGA Award for best adapted screenplay for "The Hours," based on Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. The win improves Hare's prospects of winning a screenwriting Oscar, since the WGA adapted screenplay winner has gone on to win the Oscar in 14 of the past 20 years.

Michael Moore won the original screenplay award for "Bowling for Columbine," which is not nominated for a writing Oscar. It is up for best documentary feature.

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In the TV awards, "Frasier" won for best comedy series writing and the short-lived Richard Dreyfuss drama "The Education of Max Bickford" won for best drama series.


'BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE' TOPS AT U.S. BOX OFFICE

The new Steve Martin-Queen Latifah comedy "Bringing Down the House" opened at No. 1, with an estimated $31.7 million at the U.S. box office this weekend.

It was the biggest opening ever for Martin, who has starred in such comedy hits as "Father of the Bride" and "Parenthood." It was also the third-biggest march opening in U.S. box-office history, behind "Ice Age" and "Blade 2."

The new Bruce Willis military action-drama "Tears of the Sun" opened at No. 2 with an estimated $17.2 million. "Old School" was third with $9.2 million, and Oscar-favorite "Chicago" was fourth with $6.9 million. "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days" was No. 5 with $6.75 million.

Overall, the U.S. box office took in $108 million, an improvement of 5 percent from the same weekend in 2002. So far this year, the box office has taken in $1.37 billion -- and is running about 10 percent behind last year's pace.

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