D'Works pic, 'Sopranos' top SAG noms

“American Beauty” continued to bloom Tuesday as the awards season front-runner with four nominations for the sixth annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. “Being John Malkovich” and “Magnolia” received three nominations each.

DreamWorks’ “Beauty,” which won Golden Globes for best film drama, director and script, received SAG nominations for outstanding performance by a cast, for leads Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening and for Chris Cooper in a supporting role.

First-time nominees dominated, taking 15 of the 20 possible individual nods in the film categories. The nominations were announced by Lolita Davidovich (“Play It to the Bone”) at SAG headquarters in Los Angeles.

Julianne Moore achieved a first by taking double nominations for lead role in “The End of the Affair” and her supporting role in “Magnolia,” giving Moore her second and third nominations; her first was for 1997′s “Boogie Nights.”

HBO’s “The Sopranos” led the television nominations, which were announced by Blair Underwood (“City of Angels”), with five nods, followed by Fox’s “Ally McBeal” with four and ABC’s “NYPD Blue” and NBC’s “Frasier” with three each.

Dennis Franz, who was has won twice for his work on “NYPD Blue,” and Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce, both of “Frasier,” each received their sixth consecutive nominations, while David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson of “The X-Files” both took in their fifth nominations.

Michael J. Fox, who recently announced he would leave “Spin City” at the end of the season to spend more time dealing with his Parkinson’s disease, received a second consecutive nomination in the male actor in a comedy series category, which he won last year.

Crystal ball

SAG film nominations and awards provide forecasting guidance as to sentiment among Academy Awards voters, since actors represent nearly 24% of the Oscar vote with 1,321 of the 5,607 ballot-casting members.

Indications have been particularly strong in the lead actor and actress categories, with nine of 10 SAG winners since 1994 also taking the Oscar. The lone exception came in the first year, when Jodie Foster won the SAG award for “Nell” and Jessica Lange won the Oscar for “Blue Sky.”

SAG selections in supporting categories have been a less reliable predictor. Last year Robert Duvall (“A Civil Action”) and Kathy Bates (“Primary Colors”) won SAG awards, but James Coburn (“Affliction”) and Judi Dench (“Shakespeare in Love”) won the Oscars. And SAG ensemble cast winners matched the best picture Oscars only last year with “Shakespeare in Love.”

“This and the Globes are good indicators of what might happen at the Oscars,” said SAG president William Daniels. “It’s very meaningful for these actors to be honored by people who are in front of the camera.”

Ballots to 97,000

Nominations were based on polling of 4,200 randomly selected SAG members. Ballots will be mailed Feb. 15 — the day that Oscar nominations are announced — to the 97,000 SAG members, and winners will be announced March 12 at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.

The film nominations give a major boost to New Line’s “Magnolia” and USA Films’ “Being John Malkovich,” which were both shut out at the Globes. Besides Moore’s nod, “Magnolia” also received nominations for cast performance and for Tom Cruise for his supporting role, while USA Films’ “Being John Malkovich” scored nods for cast and for Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener in supporting roles.

Warner Bros.’ “The Green Mile,” Fox Searchlight’s “Boys Don’t Cry” and Miramax’s “The Cider House Rules” each took two nominations. “Mile” received nods for cast and Michael Clarke Duncan’s supporting role; “Boys” for Hilary Swank’s lead and Chloe Sevigny’s supporting role (Swank took the Globe for actress in a drama); and “Cider House” for cast and for Michael Caine’s supporting role.

“I’m very proud for the nomination from my fellow actors, who really know what I’m doing,” Caine said. “I’m grateful to my director Lasse Hallstrom, who made it happen.”

Kudos counting

In addition to Cruise, Globes winners Denzel Washington (“The Hurricane”), Jim Carrey (“Man on the Moon”), Janet McTeer (“Tumbleweeds”) and Angelina Jolie (“Girl, Interrupted”) received nominations. Jolie won last year’s SAG award for actress in a TV movie, “Gia.”

“It is gratifying to be acknowledged for my work as an actor and I am particularly honored by my peers in the Screen Actors Guild,” Jolie said.

A mild surprise came from the lead actor nomination for Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Flawless” rather than a supporting actor recognition for “Magnolia.” Meryl Streep’s nomination for “Music of the Heart” was her fourth, the most of any of the nominees. Her previous noms were “The River Wild” (1994), “The Bridges of Madison County” (1995) and “One True Thing” (1998).

“The Sopranos” took three of the five nominations for actresses in a TV drama series — Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco and Nancy Marchand — along with nods for James Gandolfini in the category of best actor in a drama series and for the cast in a drama series. “Ally McBeal” received nominations for Calista Flockhart, Lucy Liu and Peter MacNicol along with a comedy ensemble nomination.

Besides Franz’s nomination, “NYPD Blue” took nominations for the cast in a drama series and Rick Schroder competing against Franz in the actor in a drama series category. “Frasier” received nominations forthe cast, Grammer and Pierce, who won in 1996.

ABC took the most TV nominations with nine — three for “NYPD Blue,” two for “Oprah Winfrey Presents: Tuesdays With Morrie,” and one each for “Spin City,” “The Practice,” “Sports Night” and “The Wonderful World of Disney Presents: Annie.” HBO and NBC followed with eight each.

SAG announced that Roberto Benigni, who won last year for “Life Is Beautiful,” will be a presenter for the lead film actress category. The awards show will include presentation of a Life Achievement Award to Sidney Poitier.

The organization also said People magazine and the Entertainment Industry Foundation will be supporting the event through a donation to the SAG Foundation and by hosting the post-awards gala.

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