Award season begins now: Amid the political races and the run-up to Oscar fever, the movie awards are starting to be announced. The early winner is "The Lord of the Rings" -- named today as best picture by the 45-member Chicago Film Critics Association. The big-shouldered reviewers also loved Charlize Theron in "Monster" and Bill Murray in "Lost in Translation." (Reuters)
Life imitates art: Sean Connery, in a real-life scenario right out of "Lost in Translation," will shun his vodka martini and appear in ads for Dewar's scotch. The campaign is based on the phrase "Some age, others mature." Unfortunately, TV viewers in the U.S. and Britain won't have the pleasure -- they'll have to go to Venezuela, Greece or Russia to see Bond imbibe. (BBC)
The bloviator comes to the City by the Bay: Director James Cameron (aka King of the World) is hinting strongly that he's going to come to San Francisco to "play" with the digital genius gnomes who populate the area for his next film. He is being coy about details, except to say it'll be science fiction. (SciFiWire)
Movies online: If slogging through the slush and then standing in a movie line in front of someone who is coughing down your neck isn't your idea of a good date, check out this idea: As of today, AOL is offering subscribers the chance to download and watch a first-run movie once, for 99 cents. You have 30 days to get to the viewing, and movies available include "Finding Nemo," "The Hulk," The Matrix Reloaded" and "Pirates of the Caribbean." Pretty soon your computer will make popcorn, and then life will be perfect. (IMDB)
Why do actors speak more openly to German magazines? This time it's Ben Affleck on the size of his noggin: "I've got a lot of physical flaws, for example a huge head. Have you ever seen the statues on Easter Island?" (Ananova)
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If things weren't bad enough for Howard Dean after the fiasco in Iowa, now comes news that he doesn't even enjoy the support of the other Howard Dean.
A few weeks back, Salon debunked a growing (wishful?) rumor among Deaniacs that the presidential hopeful had a small speaking part in 1984's "Ninja III: The Domination," starring ninja legend Sho Kosugi.
But the "Howard Dean" who plays a cop in the cheesy ninja click confirmed to Salon that he's not that Howard Dean, and -- in a recent telephone call -- showed a shocking lack of loyalty to his political namesake:
You were in "Ninja III: The Domination"?
Yeah, that was my stellar acting performance.
And you're the policeman in the chopper?
No, I'm actually another policeman. A lot of it ended up on the cutting room floor. I had some close-ups, some lines: "You take this squad over there," that kind of thing. What ended up in the movie was: "Hold your fire. Don't hit that chopper."
How'd you get the part?
I'm a stand-up [comedian]. I was in a club in Phoenix near where the movie was shot, and a big part of my act was ninja movies. I'd act out an entire movie in 60 seconds, the scenes where all the ninjas would attack Sho [Kosugi] from every direction. I get off the stage, and there he is: Sho Kosugi, with the director [Sam Firstenberg of "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo" fame]. They said, "You're very funny. We really like you. Would you like to be in the movie?"
And you're not former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean?
I've been getting calls from newspaper reporters since he announced he was going to run for president. I tell people I'm the good Howard Dean.
Hmmm. So who are you supporting this year?
-- John Gorenfeld
Next time you toke up in your limo, Art, tell your driver not to speed: Art Garfunkel was arrested for drug possession in upstate New York on Saturday after police pulled his driver over for speeding, smelled pot in the car and found some in the right pocket of the musician's jacket. Garfunkel was said to have "identified himself as a celebrity," but his arresting officer was apparently unimpressed. (Kingston Daily Freeman)
Sad sack First twin Barbara Bush has failed to be "tapped" to join notorious Yale secret society Skull & Bones, despite the fact that her father, grandfather and great-grandfather were members. "Sadly, her contribution to campus life has been lacking," reported the London Telegraph, adding that Bush will join the Yale Potato Sack Relay Team instead. (N.Y. Post)
Drinks were spilled: Paris Hilton's honor defended by ex-boybander Lance Bass, who deliberately jostled the heiress's amateur porn partner Rick Solomon at Sundance party. (N.Y. Post)
And speaking of surprise attacks and spilled drinks: Von Bondies singer Jason Stollsteimer says he was totally blindsided by attack by White Stripes frontman Jack White in that bar fight they got into in December in Detroit, also says he may have permanent eye damage as a result of the scuffle. (Launch Radio Networks)
Queer eye for the straight general: Wesley Clark gives interview to the Advocate, says "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a faulty system. Adds: "The armed forces are the last institution in America that discriminates against people. It ought to be the first that doesn't. They [gay people in the military] ought to have the right to be who they are. They shouldn't have to conceal their identities." (The Advocate)
Peggy Noonan writing on the Vatican's recent denial that, after seeing Mel Gibson's "The Passion," the pope said, "It is as it was," as she reported back in December: "Believe me, it is painful to be accused however implicitly of being the accessory to a lie. And it would grieve me more than I can say to have been part of wrongly attributing an important statement to a great pope who is for me a personal hero." (WSJ's Opinion Journal)