- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 20, 2005

Ray’s‘ winning ways

Associated Press

The biopic “Ray” about the life of the late, great Ray Charles won four NAACP Image Awards, including an outstanding-actor trophy that added to its star Jamie Foxx’s armful of honors.

“Ray” was nominated for a leading seven awards, including outstanding motion picture and outstanding actor in a motion picture for Mr. Foxx, who received the best actor Oscar at last month’s Academy Awards. He exchanged long embraces Saturday night with presenters Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll as he accepted his NAACP trophy.

Singer-songwriter Alicia Keys was a multiple winner, taking home a pair of trophies for outstanding song and music video for “If I Ain’t Got You.”

The 36th annual Image Awards, which honor films, television, literature and music by and about people of color, were handed out at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. The ceremony, hosted by actor Chris Tucker, is scheduled to air Friday on Fox TV.

Winners were chosen by members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.

Spamalot’ makes a lot

Playbill.com

The new Broadway musical “Monty Python’s Spamalot” grossed $1.7 million in ticket sales on Friday, the day after its opening, according to a production spokesperson.

Advance sales as of Thursday were at $18 million, Daily Variety reports, with the show taking in more than $300,000 a day in sales. A new block of tickets was released a minute after midnight following Thursday’s opening-night performance — which received favorable reviews from most critics.

Mike Nichols (“The Graduate,” “Angels in America”) directs the new musical inspired by the 1975 feature film comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

“Spamalot” tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table on their quest from God for the Holy Grail — with a short stop in the dazzling Spam-filled land of Camelot.

The new musical stars Tim Curry (“The Rocky Horror Show,” “Clue”) as King Arthur, David Hyde Pierce (“Frasier,” “The Heidi Chronicles”) as Sir Robin, and Hank Azaria (“The Birdcage,” “Sexual Perversity in Chicago”) as Sir Lancelot.

Franklin wears new hat

After more than 50 albums, the Queen of Soul will soon gain r-e-s-p-e-c-t on another level as the head of her own eponymous record label.

Aretha Franklin’s next album, due out in June, will be her first release under her own label, Aretha Records.

The album will feature contributions from country music superstar Faith Hill and popular gospel artist Smokie Norful. Former Temptations lead singer Dennis Edwards will also join Miss Franklin on “Friends,” a special tribute to Ray Charles. The late entertainer had requested that Miss Franklin sing the song before his death last year.

Miss Franklin, who turns 63 on Friday, swept through the District on Saturday for a salute to American music of the 1940s at the Kennedy Center.

Hasta la vista

E! Online

Apparently, Sarah Michelle Gellar is more than capable of holding a grudge.

The actress left the William Morris Agency in a huff last week after learning of unflattering comments that WMA President David Wirtschafter made about her in a lengthy New Yorker profile.

In the piece, titled “Secret Agent Man,” in the magazine’s “Letter From California” feature, Mr. Wirtschafter said Miss Gellar was “nothing at all” before the success of the horror flick “The Grudge,” according to E! Online.

An outraged Miss Gellar rapidly exited the agency, apparently in favor of management that can better appreciate her “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” acting chops.

She wasn’t the only Tinseltown type ticked off by Mr. Wirtschafter’s candor in the 12-page piece, in which he made cutting remarks about numerous clients.

Halle Berry also bid a not-so-fond farewell to WMA in response to the article, Variety reports.

The Oscar winner was the subject of three paragraphs in the New Yorker story, which quoted from a discussion about finances Mr. Wirtschafter had with Miss Berry’s attorney about her starring role in the upcoming “Perfect Stranger.”

Mr. Wirtschafter stated that the “Catwoman” star was willing to “give up a little money to get a good director or co-star.”

Compiled by R. Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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