- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2007

No love for Hugo

Cuban-born actress Maria Conchita Alonso, who grew up in Venezuela and is a staunch opponent of President Hugo Chavez, plans to play a die-hard Chavez supporter in a film that takes a critical view of Latin America’s most outspoken leader.

Miss Alonso, who co-starred in the films “Moscow on the Hudson” and “The House of the Spirits,” said Monday that she will enjoy switching roles to play a passionate admirer of the president she deplores.

“It is not going to be very difficult to play a Chavista,” she told Associated Press. “You know, love and hate are very close to each other.”

The film, “Two Minutes of Hate,” is to include real footage of Mr. Chavez’s speeches and his supporters firing guns from a bridge when chaos erupted at a large opposition march that led up to a short-lived 2002 coup. Producer Edward Bass said he plans to begin shooting the film — written by a Venezuelan who remains anonymous — in Miami within three months. Miss Alonso’s character is in love with an anti-Chavez professor who, in the semifictional account, is among those shot and killed in 2002.

Miss Alonso, whose parents left Cuba shortly after Fidel Castro came to power, lived in Venezuela from the age of 5, becoming a beauty queen and acclaimed actress. She moved to Los Angeles more than two decades ago to pursue her film career and is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. She has no plans to return to Venezuela.

Twain shall meet Billy

Stage and screen star Billy Crystal will receive the 10th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Kennedy Center officials announced yesterday.

The Tony Award winner will receive the prize on Oct. 11 in the Opera House of the performing arts center during a star-studded program that will be taped for nationwide broadcast this fall on PBS, Playbill.com reports.

The Twain prize recognizes “people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist Samuel Clemens” — best known as Mark Twain.

Mr. Crystal, 59, follows previous Twain prize recipients Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, Carl Reiner, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, Lorne Michaels and Neil Simon.

300’ leads MTV bids

Two “Dreamgirls” — Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and Grammy winner Beyonce Knowles — will compete for a golden popcorn trophy at this year’s MTV Movie Awards. Both received nominations for best performance for their work in the 2006 film, MTV announced.

Also nominated for best performance: Will Smith for “The Pursuit of Happyness,” Keira Knightley for “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and Gerard Butler for “300.”

The blood-soaked “300” leads with five nominations, followed by “Dead Man’s Chest” with four. Both films will compete for best movie along with “Blades of Glory,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”

Sarah Silverman will host the awards, airing live June 3 on MTV.

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

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