‘Chicago’ Burns Up SAG Awards
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Can the “Chicago” fire be put out? The film musical made from the hit 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 were finding a pair of shoes and a dress that fits.
British actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who played a criminal mastermind in Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York” after taking five years off from film-making, was named best actor.
Given 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 for best actress in a mini-series or TV movie, took a swipe at President Bush. Channing, who plays the First Lady on “The West Wing” was asked what conversation she would have with President Bush and said, “No conversation. 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 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 it only takes 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.”
Channing won the award for best female performance in a TV movie or mini-series for her work as the mother in “The Matthew Shepard Story” and William H. Macy won the award for best actor in a TV movie or mini-series for playing the salesman Bill Porter in “Door to Door.”
Clint Eastwood won the lifetime achievement award and said “I hope this doesn’t mean I’m supposed to collect my pension and head on down the road.”
The Oscars contest this year is between front-runner “Chicago” and four other films — “The Hours, “Gangs of New York,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” and “The Pianist.”
‘Chicago’ Burns Up SAG Awards