Today's News: Our Take

Denzel's Discovery Gets Kudos

Derek Luke is no household name, but perhaps you've seen his baby face from the movie posters for Denzel Washington's directorial debut, Antwone Fisher. The newcomer recalls getting the surprise of his life when Washington personally popped into the Sony gift shop where Luke worked to say he'd won the title role!

"I saw Denzel and he called me 'Antwone,' and I tried to play it off," Luke admits. "But I just busted out crying because I felt like this Jersey boy with a dream that was finally coming true. I just broke down and fell on my knees crying, hugging him and just expressing all kinds of joy."

The role carried a lot of emotional weight for the 28-year-old actor, especially since he'd become friends with the real Antwone Fisher while they both were Sony employees. Fisher, an ex-security guard, just happened to be on hand for Washington's announcement.

"Antwone mysteriously came in [the shop] that day," says Luke. "I read more


3rd Rock from the Sun's Kristen Johnston is returning to TV. The actress — who won an Emmy in 1999 for her role as a zany alien — will star in a character-driven ensemble sitcom for ABC next fall. read more


The Broadcast Film Critics Assoc. announced nominees for its 2002 film kudos Tuesday, and in the running for best picture are About Schmidt, Adaptation, Catch Me If You Can, Chicago, Far From Heaven, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist and Road to Perdition. Winners will be announced Jan. 17. read more

Lost Ark Star Raids Rings!

An accomplished Shakespearean actor, John Rhys-Davies was cajoled by his agent into devoting years of his life to playing Gimli, a belligerent dwarf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Soon after arriving on the New Zealand set, however, this grumbling cynic became LOTR's biggest cheerleader.

"I didn't want to do a mediocre film that'd go direct to video, and spend that much of my life doing it," admits Rhys-Davies — who's best known as Indy's sidekick, Sallah, from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Hence, he inspected the 2,500-person cast and crew, just itching for an excuse to bow out of the production. "Within two weeks, [director Peter Jackson] turned me from saying, 'Let's find the way out of this!' to saying, 'Guys, make no mistake. We're making a masterpiec read more

Did Titanic Curse Leo's Career?

Titanic may have made Leonardo DiCaprio king of the worldwide box office, but his rep as one of Hollywood's most accomplished thesps seems to have taken an iceberg-sized hit in the process. The same actor who won raves for his performances in such "little" films as This Boy's Life, What's Eating Gilbert Grape and The Basketball Diaries suddenly found himself lumped in with Tiger Beat's pin-up boys instead of Tinseltown's leading men.

"Titanic was this monumental success, and yet somehow, it's as if he's been reassessed because of that — and not in an altogether positive way," admits Daniel Day-Lewis, DiCaprio's arch rival in read more


Liz Hurley sent a strong message to ex-beau Steve Bing on Tuesday: Take your cash and shove it! Soon after London's High Court awarded Hurley $158,000 a year in child support from Bing, the model/actress turned down the dough. "The money is not wanted or welcome," she fired back. "Damian and I are managing very well by ourselves." Hurley is clearly still miffed at Bing for questioning whether he was Damian's dad. In June, a paternity test proved that he was. read more


Buoyed by a No. 1 ranked CSI, CBS won the ratings war last week over second-place NBC. Rounding out the top five were ER, Friends, Law &#038 Order and Everybody Loves Raymond. read more


Stephanie March reportedly will exit Law &#038 Order: SVU at the end of the season to pursue other interests... Destiny's Child singer-turned-actress Beyonc&#233 Knowles has signed a deal to become Pepsi's latest celeb endorser... Christopher Reeve and his wife, Dana, have landed a pretty cool gig: They'll push the button to lower the New Year's Eve ball in Times Square this year... Variety reports the Rob Schneider comedy Deuce Bigalow is getting a sequel: Electric Gigolo... Oscar winner Diane Keaton will star i read more


Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon gave birth to a baby boy Monday in New York. Charles Ezekiel Mozes is the second child for Nixon and her longtime boyfriend Danny Mozes. The couple also have a 6-year-old daughter. read more


The National Film Registry has selected This is Spinal Tap and 24 other films for preservation by the Library of Congress. This year's list also includes Alien, From Here to Eternity, Beauty and the Beast and Boyz N the Hood. The movies were chosen based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic contributions to American cinema. read more

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