- - Sunday, January 15, 2012

‘Artist’ wins critics’ awards for best picture, director

“The Artist,” the black-and-white ode to the silent-film era directed by Michel Hazanavicius, led winners with four honors at Thursday’s 17th annual Critics’ Choice Awards, presented by the 250 members of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

“The Artist” took the top prize, best picture, as well honors for best score, costume design and director.

“I made a silent movie,” French director Hazanavicius joked in English while accepting the award for best picture. “I don’t like to speak so much.”

“The Help,” the adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel about black maids speaking out about their white employers during the civil-rights movement, followed “The Artist” with three wins in the ceremony’s acting categories: Viola Davis as best actress, Octavia Spencer as best supporting actress and the film’s cast as best acting ensemble.

Others who accepted trophies at the lavish Hollywood Palladium ceremony included George Clooney as best actor for “The Descendants,” Christopher Plummer as best supporting actor for “Beginners” and Thomas Horn as best young actor for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”

Other winners included “Bridesmaids” as best comedy movie, “Drive” as best action movie, “Rango” as best animated feature, “Midnight in Paris” as best original screenplay, “Moneyball” as best adapted screenplay, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” for best editing and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” for best makeup and best sound.

Keith Urban to return to stage after surgery

Keith Urban will return to the stage on Feb. 3 Grand Ole Opry for the first time since vocal surgery, the Associated Press reports.

The country superstar had a polyp removed from a vocal cord at Vanderbilt University Medical Center late last year and has been on vocal rest.

His appearance at the Ryman Auditorium next month will be his first public performance since he recorded a song for the “CMA Country Christmas” television special in mid-November.

He was forced to postpone his “All For The Hall” benefit concert for the Country Music Hall of Fame that was originally scheduled for Jan. 18. He also rescheduled the tail end of his 2011 concert tour for later this year.

Deputy in Gibson arrest to have his day in court

A jury should decide whether the sheriff’s deputy who arrested Mel Gibson for drunken driving suffered workplace discrimination, a judge ruled Thursday, despite expressing serious concerns about whether the man can win his case.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Scheper said James Mee should be allowed to argue to jurors that he suffered discrimination and a hostile work environment after arresting Mr. Gibson in Malibu in 2006.

Deputy Mee, who is Jewish, claims his Christian superior officers ordered him to remove Mr. Gibson’s anti-Semitic remarks from a report and then ostracized him and blocked his chances for a promotion.

Attorneys for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department have denied any wrongdoing and have written in court filings that the deputy was insubordinate at times after Mr. Gibson’s arrest and subjected to the same discipline as others.

Judge Scheper noted that Deputy Mee is still on the force, although he no longer patrols for drunken drivers in the coastal community of Malibu. She dismissed his allegation Thursday that he was retaliated against and questioned whether he would be able to recoup any damages at trial.

While the deputy complained to others in the department that Mr. Gibson’s arrest was mishandled, it didn’t appear he ever cited his religion as a cause for discrimination, the judge said.

Mr. Gibson’s arrest and the revelation of his anti-Semitic rant in Deputy Mee’s patrol car damaged the Oscar-winning director’s reputation for years. He apologized for his conduct and his conviction was expunged in 2009 after he completed all the terms of his sentence.

Eddie Van Halen donates electric guitars to schools

Rocker Eddie Van Halen has donated 75 electric guitars to Los Angeles-area high schools as a way to inspire music in kids, according to the Associated Press.

Tricia Steel of the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation says the Van Halen lead-guitarist came with the brand-new guitars this week, saying he wanted them used in schools and not sold.

The nonprofit Los Angeles foundation has distributed the guitars to seven schools serving mostly low-income students that needed them to replace broken instruments or build music enrollment.

Schools were not told where the guitars came from until they arrived, and then they were advised to keep them under tight lock and key.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports

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