People talk 12/17/02

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Pitt's car ad series angers Malaysians

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Brad Pitt is sought after for magazine covers and posters worldwide, but the Malaysian government believes the Hollywood star's appearance in a recent series of car advertisements in this region was "an insult to Asians."

Deputy Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin said Monday that ads featuring models and personalities who don't look Asian would "plant a sense of inferiority among Asians," the national news agency Bernama reported.

"Why must we use their faces in our advertisements?" Zainuddin was quoted as saying. "Aren't our own people handsome enough?"

Zainuddin said the government recently pulled the plug on advertisements for Toyota Altis cars featuring Pitt. The campaign ran for several weeks in mid-2002 in newspapers and on television in Malaysia and many other Asian countries.

"We canceled the ads because they were considered an insult to Asians," he said.

Moore takes home more film honors

NEW YORK -- The honors keep rolling in for Julianne Moore, the latest of which comes from the New York Film Critics Online.

The group named Moore the year's best actress Sunday for her portrayal of a 1950s housewife in Todd Haynes' "Far From Heaven." She's won the same honor recently from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review.

The online critics picked the musical "Chicago" as their top movie of the year, with "Far From Heaven" as the runner-up. Haynes tied for best director with Martin Scorsese for "Gangs of New York."

"Gangs" star Daniel Day-Lewis won the best-actor award for his portrayal of the villainous Bill the Butcher. Supporting-actor honors went to Willem Dafoe for "Auto Focus" and Edie Falco for "Sunshine State."

The New York Film Critics Online is composed of 24 New York-based critics, most of whom post their reviews exclusively to an online source.

Fox Theater in St. Louis impresses comedian

ST. LOUIS -- On a swing through St. Louis, comedian Mel Brooks was awe-struck by the Fox Theater, where he watched a local performance of his Tony-winning musical, "The Producers."

"What do you call this?" he asked, looking from the stage into the vast, gold-and-crimson house, a former movie palace that opened in 1929. "It's gorgeous. What kind of style is this?"

"Siamese Byzantine," said Mary Strauss, the woman who supervised its restoration. Brooks nodded, impressed.

"Well, it's grand," he said Sunday. "This is the grandest theater that I've ever seen in my life."

The author-composer-lyricist is keeping track of his show as it tours the country. He said the performances are always a little different.

"In Pittsburgh, it had a steely feeling," Brooks said. "In Cincinnati, it was a little bit red. And I'm going to see it in San Diego. Why not -- it's just a hop, skip and a jump (from his home in Los Angeles)."

Lewis J. Standlen, who stars in the St. Louis production as the scheming producer Max Bialystock, said Brooks was gratified to see that Midwestern audiences reacted the same as those in New York.

"Besides, he just likes to hear people laugh at his material," he said.

The 76-year-old Brooks created both the stage version of "The Producers" and the original 1968 movie.

DiCaprio uses break to reevaluate career

SAN FRANCISCO -- The years since Leonardo DiCaprio's biggest film hit offered a chance for the actor to reevaluate his career.

"I think that after 'Titanic' was definitely a reflective time for me, where I really secured in my own mind who I wanted to be," he told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday.

"I don't think that was much different from what my original intentions were as an actor. I always felt compelled to play certain characters, and that was the only reason I chose a film, and that's pretty much been consistent. But it certainly refined things for me and made me be more specific about my decisions as an actor."

Since "Titanic," DiCaprio has starred in "The Man in the Iron Mask," "Celebrity" and "The Beach." He stars in two of the biggest movies this holiday season: "Gangs of New York," opening Friday, and "Catch Me If You Can," opening on Christmas.

-- From wire reports

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