“Quills” wins Board award; Oscar buzz beginning

Among the first hints of who might be picked for an Oscar in this flaccid movie season were yielded in the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures’ 2000 awards. The board, comprising educators, writers, film historians and film students, singled out “Quills” the take on Marquis de Sade as best film. Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” garnered best foreign film, and the late Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Decalogue” series received outstanding achievement in foreign film. “Chicken Run” was awarded best animated feature, while best documentary honors went to “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.”

Best actor award went to Javier Bardem, who plays Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas in “Before Night Falls,” which will be released in the Bay Area Dec. 22. Julia Roberts’ whistle-blower role in “Erin Brockovich” garnered her best actress. This last movie and “Traffic” got Steven Soderbergh best director.

Other winners: Bjork, outstanding dramatic musical performance (“Dancer in the Dark”); Joaquin Phoenix, best supporting actor (“Gladiator,” “The Yards,” “Quills”), Lupe Ontiveros, best supporting actress (“Chuck & Buck”); Ted Tally, best screenplay (“All the Pretty Horses”); Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin and Sarah Jessica Parker, best ensemble performance (“State and Main”); Michelle Rodriguez, outstanding young actress, (“Girlfight”); Jamie Bell, outstanding young actor (“Billy Elliot”).

Ellen Burstyn received the career achievement award, and composer Ennio Morricone was recipient of the career achievement award for excellence in film music scoring. Kenneth Lonergan received the special filmmaking achievement honor for “You Can Count on Me.” The awards will be presented Jan. 16 in New York City.

AWARDS SHOW NUMBER 421: Underwear overseer Sisqo won Billboard Music Awards’ male artist of the year and five other awards Tuesday. Best known for his hit “The Thong Song” which encourages the subjugation of skanky women by wedgie the singer led by two awards over groups like ‘N Sync, the Dixie Chicks and Destiny’s Child. “I wasn’t expecting to win that many,” he said backstage. The Billboard Awards, broadcast on Fox, are determined by the magazine’s year-end chart listings, which are based on a combination of record sales and radio airplay.

I HAVE AN ADVERTISING BUDGET THIS BIG: USA Network executives must have a headache this big, but they probably won’t be reaching for pain medication anytime soon. The cable network canceled its TV movie “Who Killed Sue Snow?” Nov. 22, five days before filming was to begin in Vancouver. The network lost $1 million and left 150 people out of a job, including Katey Sagal; the former “Married With Children” actress was to play killer Stella Nickell, who used Excedrin laced with cyanide to make her husband’s death look like a random killing.

The company killed the project after Johnson & Johnson, whose subsidiary manufactures Tylenol, threatened to pull all advertising from the network and tell other similar pharmaceutical companies to do the same, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Johnson & Johnson spokesman John McKeegan confirmed the complaint Tuesday but not the threat. “We were advised of the program and didn’t feel it was appropriate,” McKeegan said. “And we communicated that to the network.” In a kiss-kiss statement Wednesday, network spokesman Ron Sato said not only that “USA Network and its advertisers agreed that it would be in the public’s best interest to stop production of this movie,” but the movie might lead to copycat crimes. Isn’t that what all the child-proof caps and seals are meant to prevent? “We made the right decision, and we stand by it,” Sato said.

STYRON IN HOSPITAL: Novelist William Styron, 75, (“Sophie’s Choice,” “The Confessions of Nat Turner”), who has admitted to past attacks of depression, was admitted Sunday to Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, Va., for unstated reasons. His family says it’s precautionary. “He just overdid it, and we were concerned,” said his son, Thomas. “We just wanted to be careful.” The Pulitzer Prize-winner was up late the night before being admitted; he was honored by the Library of Virginia for his life’s work, and he took the occasion to talk about his treatment at the hospital.

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail