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<i>Chicago, Six Feet Under, Matthew Shepard Story</i> honored at SAG Awards (7981)

7981Entertainment News2003-03-11

Chicago, Six Feet Under, Matthew Shepard Story honored at SAG Awards

Chicago dazzles at SAG Awards

Chicago burned up the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, winning the prize for best ensemble work by a cast and awards for best actress and best supporting actress.

Can the Chicago fire be put out? The film musical, adapted from the 1975 Broadway show, burned up the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, winning the prize for best ensemble work by a cast and awards for best actress and best supporting actress just two weeks before Hollywood's big show goes on--the Oscars. The awards for best actress and best supporting actress went to a pair of high-kicking homicidal hoofers played by Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

If ever there was a hot show two weeks in the countdown to the Oscars, it is Chicago, having also recently won the top awards from the Directors and Producers guilds. But backstage, the cast of the hit musical refused to talk about their Oscar chances. Said Zellweger: "I don't know, I don't know from the process...but we sure are having a good time tonight." Zellweger, who portrays killer would-be showgirl Roxie Hart, won the best actress award, beating out early favorite Nicole Kidman, whose character in The Hours commits suicide in the first minutes of the film. A heavily pregnant Zeta-Jones, who plays a dancer done wrong, won the best supporting actress award and said her main concern at the Oscars will be finding a pair of shoes and a dress that fit.

British actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who, after taking five years off from making films, played a criminal mastermind in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, was named best actor. Given that the night was about celebration, a possible war with Iraq was pushed to the back burner, and when asked by reporters backstage how a possible war might affect the Oscars, Day-Lewis seemed to have mixed feelings. "Undoubtedly it will be [affected]," he said. "I think people will be fearful, I think people will be thoughtful, a lot of people will be extremely sad.... It will be affected, but who knows how."

Political comments were few and far between, but Stockard Channing, who won the award for best female performance in a TV movie or miniseries for her work as Judy Shepard in The Matthew Shepard Story, took a swipe at President Bush. Channing, who plays the first lady on The West Wing, was asked backstage what conversation she would have with President Bush. "No conversation," she said. "He is a president who doesn't listen to anybody."

Christopher Walken, best known for his over-the-top, sometimes foaming-at-the-mouth performances, won the best supporting actor award for his restrained work as Leonardo DiCaprio's father in Catch Me If You Can. "A reviewer said I was playing a human being for once," Walken said after winning.

Chicago has been sweeping the pre-Oscar ballots, indicating that it may be impossible to stop at the Academy Awards on March 23, where it leads the pack with 13 nominations.

The gay-inclusive drama series about a family of undertakers, HBO's Six Feet Under, was given the cast award for best drama series, and James Gandolfini, who plays the mob boss Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, was given the award for best actor in a drama series. Gandolfini encouraged struggling actors to keep working and keep auditioning because, he said, it takes only one break to make it big. But, he added, "enjoy what you can now, because things get pretty weird once it works." He was referring to his lawsuit seeking release from the popular HBO popular drama, which many have seen as a ploy to increase his pay in order to return for a fifth season. He thanked HBO and said he was sorry if the publicity over his suit made him seem ungrateful. Backstage he said, "I am sure everything will be fine," and when asked by a reporter how much he wanted to be with the show, he hemmed and hawed and finally smiled sheepishly, saying, "You know." Edie Falco, who plays his wife on the series, was named best actress in a drama series. Asked if she thought the show could go on without him, she said, "I don't want to be there without him."

The TV comedy ensemble winner was CBS's Everybody Loves Raymond. For a second consecutive year, TV comedy performer trophies went to costars Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes of NBC's Will & Grace.

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