- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 30, 2005

Making his day

Reuters News Agency

In an important precursor to the Oscar race, the Directors Guild of America on Saturday named Clint Eastwood best director for his bittersweet female boxing drama, “Million Dollar Baby.”

Mr. Eastwood, 74, beat out the evening’s other favorite for the award, Martin Scorsese, who has been nominated six times for the DGA best-film-directing award — including bids for “Taxi Driver” (1976) and “Raging Bull” (1980) — but has never won.

Mr. Scorsese’s film “The Aviator,” a biography of billionaire Howard Hughes, has received 11 Oscar nominations, the most of any film. “Million Dollar Baby” got seven, as did “Finding Neverland,” a drama about how “Peter Pan” came to be written.

“This is a surprise. … I got to say this is a real pleasure. I am as pleased as punch,” Mr. Eastwood told a black-tie audience after receiving the award. Earlier in the evening, Mr. Scorsese received a standing ovation from the Directors Guild audience.

This year’s battle for the top Oscars is seen largely as a contest between the two veteran directors. Mr. Scorsese has never won an Oscar, but Mr. Eastwood has a best-director’s Academy Award for his 1992 Western “Unforgiven.”

Fifty of the past 56 winners of the DGA award have gone on to win Oscars — which will be presented this year on Feb. 27.

Love for Lisa Marie?

San Francisco Chronicle

Lisa Marie Presley is at the center of a new engagement rumor after she was spotted wearing a new ring on her wedding finger at a recent memorial service for rocker pal Johnny Ramone, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The singer, who formerly was married to actor Nicolas Cage and Michael Jackson, is dating songwriter Michael Lockwood and recently confessed she wanted “to get old” with him.

Miss Presley was spotted wearing a new ring at the Los Angeles remembrance service for Mr. Ramone, which also was attended by her newly married ex-husband, Mr. Cage.

Send in the clowns

Internet Movie Database

Funnyman Chris Rock has called in some expert help as he prepares to host the Oscars for the first time next month: comedy masterminds Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno.

The trio met up with fellow comics Garry Shandling and Bill Maher to pay their respects to late TV icon Johnny Carson at Dan Tana’s — Mr. Carson’s favorite Hollywood restaurant — last week. The night of mourning quickly turned into a round of quick-fire jokes, however, as Mr. Rock’s friends reportedly helped him create his opening monologue for the big show.

Top ‘Forty’

Associated Press

The family drama “Forty Shades of Blue,” centering on a modern Oedipal triangle involving a music producer, a Russian wife half his age and his son, won top dramatic honors at the Sundance Film Festival.

Directed and co-written by Ira Sachs, “Forty Shades of Blue” stars Rip Torn as the aging husband, Dina Korzun as his Russian bride and Darren Burrows as the estranged son whose visit hurls their lives into turmoil.

Awards were presented Saturday, with top winners screening one last time during yesterday’s conclusion of the 11-day independent-film showcase in Park City, Utah.

A very Brady split

E! Online

Growing up Brady apparently didn’t do much for Barry Williams’ love life.

The former sitcom star, who played Greg in the blended-family series, is in the midst of his second marital breakup after wife Ella Mary Matt Williams filed for divorce Tuesday.

The couple, married since 1999, formally separated earlier this month.

Mr. Williams, 50, works in musical theater, gives public speaking tours and is the author of “Growing Up Brady: I Was a Teenage Greg.”

Can’t stop loving Ray

BBC News

Bonnie Raitt and Billy Preston will pay homage to the late, great Ray Charles with a tribute performance at this year’s Grammy Awards ceremony Feb. 13.

Mr. Charles, who died in June at age 73, is posthumously nominated for seven awards this year, including Album of the Year for his collection of duets, “Genius Loves Company.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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