SAG honors ‘Monty’ cast

Nicholson, Hunt win top individual nods

Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt, stars of “As Good as It Gets,” took top acting honors for film at the Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday. The awards, presented for only the fourth time, also featured a tie in the category of best supporting actress in a film: Kim Basinger in “L.A. Confidential” and Gloria Stuart in “Titanic.”

Mark Addy, one of the “Full Monty” club dancers, accepted the award for best cast in a motion picture on behalf of his colleagues. “The clothes will stay on,” he said. “Sorry to disappoint so many people.”

In the TV awards, “ER” took three drama series prizes: for actor Anthony Edwards, actress Julianna Margulies and best ensemble.

“Seinfeld” also did well, capturing the comedy series ensemble award, as well as an individual award for Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Basinger feels like “class president”

“Somehow I felt like I was just voted president of the class,” an obviously moved Basinger said in accepting her award. “Thank you so much for this.”

Stuart went further: “After the birth of my beautiful daughter, this is the next best thing that has ever happened to me,” said the veteran thesp. Acting, Stuart said, “is a wonderful profession, a giving profession.”

Nicholson, one of the most successful actors of his generation, said that early in his career he had worked for 10 years without getting more than a day-player rate. “The negotiations in the ensuing years have taken some of the sting out of that,” Nicholson told reporters later. From the stage, he congratulated “all the actors who got to work this year,” and the hall erupted in applause.

“This movie was about loving,” Nicholson said, adding that Hunt, James Brooks, Greg Kinnear and the others with whom he worked on the film were people he had come to love. “It’s a word I never thought I could say in a scene,” he said.

Hunt lives a dream

Hunt, a longtime TV actress who has made a spectacular transition to movies, said her role as a harried single mother who reluctantly comes under the Nicholson character’s thrall, was “a dream part in a dream movie with my dream leading man and my dream director.”

In a move popular with the celebrity-packed audience at the Shrine Auditorium, Robin Williams received SAG’s new statuette, dubbed “The Actor,” for his supporting performance in “Good Will Hunting.” Commenting afterward to reporters, Williams said the script for “Hunting,” written by actors Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, “was so good I had to do it once I got it.” Playing the role of the ” tough, damaged” therapist, he said, was a question of “relaxing and letting the words live.”

When Gary Sinise stepped up to receive his award for best actor in a TV movie or miniseries in “George Wallace,” he began quietly, thanking his family and associates in an emotion-laden voice. But he switched gears suddenly, pointing to Nicholson, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman and other actors in the audience and thanking them in ringing tones for inspiring him when he was starting out.

“These guys incited a riot in me, man, and made me want to become an actor,” he said, pumping the air with his statuette.

“Seinfeld” winner Louis-Dreyfus told the audience that there were just three shows to shoot before the series wraps for good. “It’s been a fabulous job,” she said after leaving the stage. “If I thought anything other than that, I’d be a moron. I do feel melancholy about this. I’m going to miss these boys more than I can tell you.”

Other awards went to Alfre Woodard for “Miss Evers’ Boys” and John Lithgow for “3rd Rock From the Sun,” the second consecutive year he has won.

The SAG awards were voted on by the guild’s 90,000 members, a voting pool far larger than that of the other major organizations that bestow entertainment prizes.

At one point in the evening, SAG prexy Richard Masur tried to dampen fears of an actors’ strike, saying flatly that there would not be one. “So stop talking about it,” he said.

The award were televised live on TNT across the country.

A complete list of winners follows.

MOVIES

MALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Jack Nicholson — “As Good as It Gets” (TriStar)

FEMALE ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Helen Hunt — “As Good as It Gets” (TriStar)

MALE ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Robin Williams — “Good Will Hunting” (Miramax)

FEMALE ACTOR A IN SUPPORTING ROLE

Kim Basinger — “L.A. Confidential” (Warner Bros.)

Gloria Stuart — “Titanic” (Paramount)

CAST IN A THEATRICAL MOTION PICTURE

“The Full Monty” — Mark Addy, Paul Barber, Robert Carlyle, Deirdre Costello, Steve Huison, Bruce Jones, Lesley Sharp, William Snape, Hugo Speer, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Woof

TELEVISION

MALE ACTOR IN A MOVIE OR MINISERIES

Gary Sinise — “George Wallace” (TNT)

FEMALE ACTOR IN A MOVIE OR MINISERIES

Alfre Woodard — “Miss Evers Boys” (HBO)

MALE ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Anthony Edwards — “ER” (Warner Bros./NBC)

FEMALE ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Julianna Margulies — “ER”

MALE ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

John Lithgow — “3rd Rock From the Sun” (Carsey-Warner/NBC)

FEMALE ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES

Julia Louis-Dreyfus — “Seinfeld”

ENSEMBLE IN A DRAMA SERIES

“ER” — Maria Bello, George Clooney, Anthony Edwards, Laura Innes, Alex Kingston, Eriq LaSalle, Julianna Margulies, Gloria Reuben, Noah Wyle

ENSEMBLE IN A COMEDY SERIES

“Seinfeld” — Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jerry Seinfeld

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