Entertainment News from February 1999


Beverly Hills, 90210 alum Jason Priestley marries makeup artist Ashlee Peterson. It is the first marriage for both. Peterson has a child from an earlier relationship.


ER's Emmy-winning Julianna Margulies, who plays compassionate nurse Carol Hathaway, announces that she's going the way of her on-screen beau, George Clooney's Dr. Doug Ross, and leaving the show. She'll finish out her contract, which expires after the 1999–2000 season. She plans to return to New York and appear in plays and independent films.
The New York Daily News reports that actor Christian Slater and girlfriend Ryan Haddon are expecting a child. Slater is currently appearing on Broadway in the critically acclaimed Side Man. Fatherhood will be quite a change of pace for the actor, who served two months in jail last year for a 1997 incident in which he assaulted police and his then-girlfriend while under the influence of drugs.
While the Oscars supposedly reflect the best that Hollywood and beyond have to offer, the Razzies, administered by the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation, highlight the bottom-of-the-barrel offerings. An Alan Smithee Film tops the 19th annual nomination list, with nine nods, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Ryan O'Neal) and Worst Supporting Actor (Sylvester Stallone). Other films earning several dubious distinctions are The Avengers (8), Armageddon (7), Spice World (6) and Godzilla (5). Awards will be presented March 20.
Nominations for the 71st Annual Academy Awards are announced. The list is notable not so much for whom and what was nominated, but for whom and what was overlooked. Peter Weir's The Truman Show, a critical and commercial hit of 1998, seemed a shoo-in, as did a Best Actor Oscar for its star, Jim Carrey. The Academy didn't think so. Director Weir and supporting actor Ed Harris did earn nominations, however. Ally Sheedy, who won best-actress honors in several critics' societies for her role as a lesbian junkie photographer in High Art, was also snubbed. Bill Murray, who gave the performance of his career in Rushmore, also went unnoticed. Best Picture nominees are Elizabeth, Life Is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, Shakespeare in Love and The Thin Red Line. Shakespeare leads the pack with 13 nominations, and Private Ryan follows with 11. For a full listing of nominees, see the 1998 Academy Award Nominees. The awards will be announced March 21.
Wonder why the religious right is faltering? This could provide a clue: Rev. Jerry Falwell outs Teletubby Tinky Winky (for those of you who don't have toddlers, he's the big purple figure who carries a red purse) and calls him a gay role model. Falwell deduced that because Tinky Winky's purple, carries a purse and has a triangle on his head he's gay. “As a Christian I feel that role modeling the gay lifestyle is damaging the moral lives of children,” he said. Steve Rice, a spokesman for Itsy Bitsy Entertainment, which licenses the Teletubbies in the United States, said, “It's a children's show, folks. To think we would be putting sexual innuendo in a children's show is kind of outlandish. To out a Teletubby in a preschool show is kind of sad on his part. I find it absurd and kind of offensive.”
Garth Brooks announces he's heading to Arizona to try out for the San Diego Padres. The 37-year-old country phenom promises the move is not a publicity stunt — or a joke. “I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm scared. You know, it's going to be neat,” he said. “I want to be a 10th man, a utility man.”
Columbia TriStar TV announces that Oscar-nominated actress Rosie Perez has signed a deal to star in an upcoming sitcom about a New York actress. HBO reportedly picked up the series.
Aimee and Jaguar, a German love story about two women, a German and a Jew, who fall in love in wartime, opens the 49th Annual Berlin Film Festival. Several of the 25 films competing for the Golden Bear, including The Girl of Your Dreams, deal with the Holocaust. “It is a topic which is very much in the air right now,” said festival director Moritz de Hadeln. “I had the impression for a long time that there was still shame in Germany about confronting the Holocaust. But now the new generation has a new attitude — it is more analytical even though there are still passions there.”
Roberto Benigni's Holocaust drama/comedy Life Is Beautiful becomes North America's the highest-grossing foreign-language film of all time, having taken in $29.1 million at the box office. Miramax's multi-Oscar-nominated film takes the position previously held by The Postman, another Miramax release.
Eric Clapton announces he's auctioning off 100 of his 150 guitars, with proceeds going to his Crossroads Center, an alcohol and drug rehabilitation center on Antigua. “I wanted to make a gesture to draw attention to the Crossroads Center and demonstrate the extent of my personal commitment,” Clapton said. The guitars are expected to bring in about $750,000.
ER's Dr. Doug Ross bids a bitter farewell to Chicago's General Memorial Hospital. George Clooney, who has played the maverick pediatrician since the show debuted in 1994, is leaving the top-rated series to focus on his moderately successful movie career. He promises to return for a few guest appearances, which is likely why he didn't meet an untimely demise. The episode earns a 35.7 rating, which is the highest of the year. Each rating point represents 985,000 households using television.
Dustin Hoffman becomes the 27th recipient of the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award. Past winners include John Huston, John Wayne and Orson Welles.
Mel B, aka Scary Spice, and husband Jimmy Gulzar welcome Baby Spice no. 2. The baby girl, named Phoenix Chi, weighs in at 5 pounds, 5 ounces. She was born three weeks early.
Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel dies at age 53. While the cause of death was not announced, the tall, thin half of the Siskel and Ebert movie-review team underwent surgery last May to remove a growth on his brain. On February 3, he announced that he was taking some time off to finish his recovery. In 1975 he teamed with his rival, Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert, on the PBS show Sneak Previews. The show, best known for its “thumbs up, thumbs down” assessments went into syndication in 1982 and was renamed At the Movies. “Gene was a lifelong friend and our professional competition only strengthened that bond,” Ebert said. Siskel leaves a wife and four children.
Terrence Malick's Thin Red Line wins the Golden Bear award for Best Feature at the Berlin Film Festival.