AWARDS Although you have to wait another month for the Oscars, the British Academy of Film & Television Arts have already crowned the best movie and performances of the year. In a London ceremony Sunday night, ”Gladiator” won the night’s big prize, for best film and four other awards. ”Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” won four BAFTAs, including a best director trophy for Ang Lee. ”Billy Elliot” picked up three awards, winning best actor for 14 year old star Jamie Bell and supporting actress for Oscar nominated Brit Julie Walters. Julia Roberts received a best actress trophy her role in ”Erin Brockovich, while Steven Soderbergh‘s other contender, ”Traffic” won best supporting actor and best adapted screenplay for Benicio Del Toro and Stephen Gaghan. Roberts’ costar Albert Finney got a standing ovation — no wait, there’s an award too — and the Academy Fellowship award in recognition of his film career.
SINGLE Elton John — who holds the record for highest selling single for his 1997 ”Candle in the Wind” tribute to Princess Diana — has a chance to outsell himself. John’s live ”Stan” collaboration with Eminem at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards will be released as a single, according to SonicNet. The controversial duet has already popped up on radio stations across the United States, and now the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences plans to sell ”Stan” as a charity single to benefit MusiCares, NARAS’ nonprofit organization that offers financial support and substance abuse recovery programs to musicians. GLAAD doesn’t get a cut? So far, however, Interscope (Eminem’s label) has yet to confirm the plans, but the duet is already on Napster and hip hop stations.
MORE AWARDS TV Guide readers have spoken, and their favorite shows are ”The West Wing” (drama) and ”Everybody Loves Raymond” (comedy). More than 30 million subscribers voted for the year’s TV Guide Awards, which were announced Saturday in Los Angeles. Other winners included Martin Sheen for playing the prez in ”West Wing”; Amy Brenneman for ”Judging Amy”; Ray Romano for ”Raymond” and Debra Messing for ”Will & Grace.” Supporting acting props went to Noah Wyle (”ER”); Tyne Daly (”Amy”); Sean Hayes (”Will”); and Doris Roberts (”Raymond”). The big upset of the night? ”Survivor” lost to ”A&E’s Biography” in the best reality series category.
LEGAL BRIEF Pop diva Whitney Houston‘s drug possession hearing in Hawaii has been postponed a week. According to the Associated Press, Houston was supposed to appear in court next Friday, but now she’s scheduled for a March 8 hearing. Houston was caught with less than an ounce of loose marijuana and three partly smoked joints at the Keahole Kona International Airport in January 2000. The singer was not arrested (who do you think she is, Bobby Brown?), entered a no contest plea last November, paying a $4,025 fine. The court ordered Houston to submit a substance abuse assessment to avoid a misdemeanor charge. Since she hasn’t complied, Hawaiian prosecutors are asking the judge to set aside the plea agreement and charge Houston.
CASTING Oscar winner Hilary Swank will star opposite Al Pacino in the thriller ”Insomnia” for Warner Bros. The English language remake of a 1997 Norweigan drama, the movie follows a detective (Pacino) who accidentally kills his partner during an investigation. Swank plays the police officer who discovers his secret.
Jodie Foster is producing (and may star in) a female centered Western: ”One Hundred Years On.” The period picture chronicles a frontier woman’s struggle to keep her cattle ranch from the hands of greedy trespassers. Although Foster has yet to negotiate a deal to appear in the drama, Paramount reportedly bought the film with hopes of Foster starring.
Ralph Fiennes will play the lead in director David Cronenberg‘s (”Crash”) low budget psychological drama ”Spider,” which starts production this summer. An adaptation of Patrick McGrath’s 1991 novel, the film concerns a man (Fiennes) who becomes insane while investigating his mother’s mysterious death.
Tiffani Thiessen (”90210”) is the latest actor to join Woody Allen‘s upcoming DreamWorks film. Since Allen’s movies are always top secret, there’s no word on who Thiessen will play (the film already stars Téa Leoni, Debra Messing, and Treat Williams. Our guess: Since Thiessen’s young enough to be Allen’s daughter, she’ll probably be playing his lover.
AUCTION Are you a Beatles fan with unlimited amounts of disposable income? Thought so. John Lennon‘s black Steinway goes on sale March 27 in an auction organized at London’s Hard Rock Cafe. The ebony piano, which Lennon purchased in 1979, is expected to sell for anywhere between $1.3 and $1.7 million. George Michael bought another of Lennon’s pianos for $2.1 million last year and plans to donate it to the Beatles Museum in Liverpool. Also being auctioned is Lennon’s 1970 Mercedes-Benz limousine, which has driven around a lot of pop stars: Lennon sold the limo to George Harrison before moving from England to New York in the ’70s. In 1975, Harrison sold it to Supremes singer Mary Wilson. The limited edition limousine is expected to fetch more than $600,000.