- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 13, 2005

A fitting tribute

Associated Press

The stars of Hollywood joined the people of Harlem to bid farewell Saturday to actor and activist Ossie Davis, filling Manhattan’s Riverside Church with laughter and tears as a parade of admirers recalled his integrity, courage and devotion to family.

His wife of 56 years, actress Ruby Dee, sat in the front row, near where Mr. Davis’ coffin stood covered in flowers. Former president Bill Clinton led a contingent of well-known mourners, including Spike Lee, scholar and author Cornel West, Rachel Robinson and outgoing NAACP president Kweisi Mfume.

Entertainer Harry Belafonte, Mr. Davis’ friend for six decades, delivered the eulogy.

It was a fitting send-off for the acclaimed actor and civil rights activist, with rousing music provided by Wynton Marsalis, a poem from Pulitzer Prize-winner Maya Angelou, and songs from the choir at his alma mater, Howard University. The funeral service lasted more than three hours.

“Ossie was my hero, and he still is,” said Oscar-nominee Alan Alda, a friend of the family for 44 years.

Burt Reynolds, his co-star on the television show “Evening Shade,” recalled Mr. Davis as a friend who could make everything seem right. “I want so badly someday to have his dignity — a little of it anyway,” Mr. Reynolds said.

Mr. Davis, 87, died Feb. 4 in a hotel room in Miami Beach, Fla., where he was working on a film.

Tripped by technology

Reuters News Agency

Actress Scarlett Johansson handed out the first Oscar statuettes of the 77th Annual Academy Awards to movie engineers on Saturday while gamely slogging though complex descriptions of inventions she admitted she did not quite comprehend.

“The words are coming out of my mouth but I’m just not processing them,” Miss Johansson said.

“All you really need to know is it makes it sound better,” Steven Boze later told her as he accepted an award for creating a device that removes unwanted noise from soundtracks.

Among those honored were the man who created “bluescreen” technology that allowed actors to be placed in locations they were nowhere near, and engineers who made camera cranes more mobile and improved wide-screen cinematography.

The Academy also honored the inventors of 11 other devices, including lights, audio systems, special effects makeup and animation software.

What a girl wants

Reuters News Agency

Christina Aguilera is engaged to longtime boyfriend Jordan Bratman, People magazine reported Saturday.

Mr. Bratman, a music executive, proposed to the 24-year-old three-time Grammy award winner on Friday while on vacation, the magazine said on its Web site, citing her representative.

Miss Aguilera, who was born in New York and grew up outside Pittsburgh, has received numerous music industry awards including a Grammy for best new artist in 1999.

She and Mr. Bratman have been dating for more than two years.

Miss Aguilera made a big splash as part of the teen pop revolution with her self-titled 1999 debut album, which featured the hit singles “Genie in a Bottle” and “What a Girl Wants.”

Busy Beyonce

Internet Movie Database

Beyonce Knowles will have a lot on her plate at the 77th Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 27 — she’s singing three of the five nominated songs.

The Destiny’s Child lead singer had already agreed to duet with Josh Groban on “The Polar Express” theme “Believe” and will now sing the Original Song nominees from “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Choristes.”

“Phantom” star Minnie Driver, who performed Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Learn To Be Lonely” in the film and on its soundtrack, was considered the obvious choice to sing the song at the Oscars but Miss Knowles will perform it instead.

She’ll also sing “Look To Your Path” from “Les Choristes.”

Meanwhile, the Counting Crows will perform “Accidentally In Love,” their Oscar-nominated tune from “Shrek 2.”

Still, there’s no confirmation on who’s been tapped to perform the fifth nominated song, “Al Otro Lado Del Rey” from “The Motorcycle Diaries.”

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

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