- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 14, 2006

‘Crash’ course

Best-supporting-actor Oscar nominee Matt Dillon said Monday that his role as a bigoted policeman in the racially charged drama “Crash” has breathed new life into his career, Agence France-Presse reports.

Mr. Dillon, 41, got his first Academy Award nomination for the role in Paul Haggis’ low-budget movie about four strangers whose lives unexpectedly collide in a single incident in Los Angeles.

“Has [the role] invigorated my career? Yeah,” he told journalists at the 25th-anniversary luncheon for Oscar nominees in Beverly Hills.

Mr. Dillon first became known for his roles as troubled teenagers and then went on to achieve a measure of fame in films such as “To Die For” (1995), in which he played Nicole Kidman’s husband, and in the hit 1998 comedy “There’s Something About Mary.”

“It’s really awesome,” he said of attending his first nominees’ luncheon, at which he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Steven Spielberg, George Clooney and “Brokeback Mountain” stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Mr. Dillon said the appeal of “Crash” was that it touched a nerve in people all over the world.

“It’s really an American story — the landscape is very particular to Los Angeles in a certain way, but so much of it is also universal,” he said of the film’s themes of racial tension and prejudice.

Domingo withdraws

Placido Domingo, general director of the Washington National Opera, has canceled his appearance in Richard Wagner’s “Die Walkure” in Paris in April, citing a lack of time to prepare for the production by avant-garde director Robert Wilson.

A replacement for the 65-year-old tenor has not yet been named, the Theatre du Chatelet said yesterday.

“Unfortunately, my timetable does not allow me to be fully devoted to such intensive work. Rather than performing an approximation of [Mr. Wilson’s] conception, it is my duty … to withdraw so that another singer, who will have more rehearsal time, can make that conception his own,” Mr. Domingo said in a statement released by the theater.

According to Le Monde newspaper, the cancellation was not related to Mr. Domingo’s recent struggles with an inflamed windpipe, which caused him to step down from several performances at the New York Metropolitan Opera this month.

Taking on terrorists

Bored with pitting his wits against the Joker and the Riddler, Batman is setting his sights on a more challenging target: Osama bin Laden.

“Holy Terror, Batman!” an upcoming graphic novel from famed Batman writer Frank Miller, sees the Caped Crusader facing off against al Qaeda operatives who attack Gotham City. No date has been set for its release.

Mr. Miller, who already has inked his way through 120 pages of the 200-page opus, told a recent comic-book convention that the novel was an unashamed “piece of propaganda” in which Batman gets the best of al-Qaeda, AFP reports.

A 20-year comic-book veteran, Mr. Miller became one of the best-known names in the industry with the graphic novel “Dark Knight Returns,” in which he brought Batman out of retirement. He also was the creator of the graphic novel series “Sin City,” which was turned into a hit movie of the same name last year, directed by Mr. Miller, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.

Superhero, supercop

Would-be criminals beware: You don’t want to run afoul of Deputy Lou “The Incredible Hulk” Ferrigno.

The former bodybuilder and star of the 1970s TV show no longer turns into a raging green monster when he sees people breaking the law. However, since being sworn in Monday night as a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reserve deputy, he has the power to arrest them.

“I’m having a blast,” Mr. Ferrigno told Associated Press after his swearing-in ceremony.

Mr. Ferrigno, 54, began training to become a reserve deputy in September after passing a background check. He completed training in firearms, first aid and high-speed driving techniques and was recognized as “an outstanding trainee” by Sheriff Lee Baca.

Mr. Ferrigno, who will serve at least 20 hours a month, suffered a partial hearing loss in childhood that will result in his being assigned to duties that likely won’t result in his having to make arrests. Instead, he’ll focus on helping recruit new deputies and will work with the sheriff’s Youth Activities League and the Special Victims Bureau, which assists abused children.

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

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