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L.A. crix’ picks

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Kicking off the season of award dinners, the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. presented its honors Wednesday serving up good will, humor and a chicken repast. In addition to such winners as Steven Spielberg, Warren Beatty and Joan Allen, the event also brought out Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh, repping the restoration of “Touch of Evil,” Laura Dern, Holly Hunter and Annette Bening, writer-directors Bill Conden and Lisa Cholodenko, producers Mark Gordon, Ian Bryce, Gary Levinsohn, Jim Jacks and Arthur Cohn, studio execs Joe Roth and Tom Rothman and such indies as Bingham Ray, Tom Bernard and Mike Thomas and Marcus Hu.

Latent blossoming

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Steve Zahn (“Out of Sight”) and Josh Hamilton (“House of Yes”) will star in “Freak Talks About Sex” for Latent Image, a new foreign sales and production company.

WGA to give Cox award to Reisman

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Former Writers Guild of America president Del Reisman, whose credits as producer, writer and editor include shows like “The Twilight Zone,” “The Untouchables” and “Cagney & Lacey,” will receive the guild’s Morgan Cox Award on Feb. 20.

Viva Nava at NL

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New Line Cinema has signed filmmaker Gregory Nava and his El Norte Prods. banner to an exclusive, two-year production deal under which the “Selena” director will churn out a string of Latino-themed pics for the studio.

TW to buy back up to $5 bil of stock in 3 yrs.

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Time Warner is to buy back up to $5 billion of its stock in the next three years, it said Thursday, fulfilling a long-standing promise by the company that it would take advantage of its strengthened balance sheet to retrieve shares.

PrimeStar deal looks promising

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DirecTV’s parent, General Motors Hughes, could announce the acquisition of PrimeStar as early as today, Wall Street sources said, although EchoStar Communications was rumored to be making a last-ditch counterbid.

Review: ‘Cookie’s Fortune’

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The deceptively modest “Cookie’s Fortune” may or not be Robert Altman’s best film in years, but it is certainly his most pleasurable. Distinguished by a generosity of spirit most uncommon in the director’s work, as well as by Charles S. Dutton’s enormously embraceable performance, this wry melodrama about an eccentric female family in a small Mississippi town becomes more disarming as it proceeds and should develop a positive rep.

Review: ‘Can’t Stop Dancing’

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Try putting this in your comedy blender: Take the hapless showbiz wannabes of “Waiting for Guffman,” the costumes and camp humor of “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and the full frontal amateur ensemble onslaught of “The Full Monty,” mix all of them together in the service of spoofing ’80s dance movies — such as “Flashdance,” “Breakin’ ” and “Footloose” — add a major dollop of Three Stooges slapstick, and you’ve got “Can’t Stop Dancing.”

Sweet sounds of success

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In the annual post-Oscar whining and dining game, players gleefully complain about who won and lost, but some have more to gripe about than others.