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DGA short list fuels duels

The closely watched awards duel between Steven Spielberg and Jane Campion and their ballyhooed pix revved up Monday as the Directors Guild of America nominated both helmers along with three others for outstanding directorial achievement in 1993.

Spielberg, picking up his seventh DGA nomination, was tabbed for the Holocaust drama “Schindler’s List” and rookie nominee Campion for the arthouse favorite, “The Piano.”

They were joined by three other helmers up for the coveted industry accolade, which is voted on by DGA members: Andrew Davis for “The Fugitive,” James Ivory for “The Remains of the Day” and Martin Scorsese for “The Age of Innocence.”

“We have five very fine nominees,” DGA prexy Gene Reynolds said at a news conference at the guild’s Sunset Boulevard headquarters. “I think the membership has chosen wisely. There were a number of outstanding films to choose from.”

The winner will be announced at the 46th annual DGA Awards banquet at the Beverly Hilton Hotel March 5, but the more important function of the award may be as an accurate precursor to the Oscars.

Since 1949, the DGA directing winner has copped the subsequent Oscar every year except three. Ironically, the last time the DGA voted for a director who didn’t go on to win the Academy Award was 1985, when Spielberg earned the DGA honor for “The ColorPurple,” but Sydney Pollack garnered Oscar for “Out of Africa.”

While Reynolds refused to predict winners Monday, insiders say it will boil down to Spielberg and Campion.

Spielberg already has taken home the Golden Globe Award and the National Society of Film Critics best director tag.

Campion has countered with top helmer nods from critics associations in New York and Los Angeles.

Spielberg has been snubbed by Academy voters several times. Reynolds said he called the veteran director Monday morning to inform him of the nomination.

“Steve was especially excited by the news. He was very pleased,” Reynolds said.

Earlier DGA nominations for Spielberg included “Empire of the Sun” (1987), “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), “Jaws” (1975) and “The Color Purple,” for which he won in 1985.

He joins John Huston, Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet and William Wyler with seven DGA nominations. Only Billy Wilder, Alfred Hitchcock and Fred Zinnemann have had more nods with eight each.

With Campion’s selection, she becomes the fourth female nominated, following Lina Wertmuller for “Seven Beauties” (1976), Randa Haines for “Children of a Lesser God” (1986) and Barbra Streisand for “The Prince of Tides” (1991).

Scorsese was pegged for the fourth time after being nominated three other times for “Taxi Driver” (1976), “Raging Bull” (1980) and “Goodfellas” (1990).

Three-time nominee Ivory has been included for “A Room With a View” (1986) and “Howards End” (1992).

Davis is a first-timer on the list.

Reynolds said the competition was extremely tight this year with as many as 10 top-rated films vying for placement. Two DGA omissions that might slip into the Oscar list, which will be announced Feb. 9, are Jonathan Demme’s “Philadelphia” and Jim Sheridan’s “In the Name of the Father.”

“It was close,” Reynolds said. “There were very strong contenders. Those other films we mentioned (“Philadelphia” and “In the Name of the Father”) were outstanding as well.”

TV nominees for DGA directing awards are expected to be announced next Monday. Reynolds also said a symposium that will include at least three of the film nominees is skedded for 10 a.m. March 5 at the DGA.

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