Stephen M. Silverman
March 23, 2003 10:58 AM

“Chicago” is singing anything but the blues: The big-screen adaptation of Bob Fosse’s murderess musical swept the 75th annual Academy Awards on Sunday night, scoring six Oscars including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The movie — which was a frontrunner coming into Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre with 13 nominations — also was cited for Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound and Film Editing.

Holocaust drama “The Pianist” followed with three major Oscars, including Best Actor for Adrien Brody, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director for Roman Polanski, who faces arrest if he enters the United States because of a 25-year-old statutory rape charge against him.

The other multiple winners were “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” for Visual Effects and Sound Editing, and “Frida,” for Makeup and Original Score.

Nicole Kidman was named Best Actress for her role as author Virginia Woolf in “The Hours.” Chris Cooper picked up the sole win for “Adaptation” as Best Supporting Actor. And rapper Eminem can now call himself an Oscar winner, though he didn’t show up to claim his trophy for Best Original Song, “Lose Yourself,” from “8 Mile.”

Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York,” on the other hand, was completely shut out of the winners’ circle, despite 10 nominations.

Original screenplay went to Pedro Almodovar for the Spanish film “Talk to Her.” He dedicated his Oscar to “those people who are raising up their voices for peace and for free expression.”

Despite the widespread belief that the three-and-a-half hour show might turn into a large-scale anti-war rally, that was never the case. In fact, when “Bowling for Columbine” Documentary winner Michael Moore made a political speech that was entirely anti-Bush, he was roundly booed in the hall — not so much for his sentiments, but for using the Oscars as a political platform.

“We are against this war, Mr. Bush,” Moore shouted above the boos. “Shame on you.”

Others took a different approach, whether it was flashing a peace sign (in the case of Susan Sarandon) or simply calling for U.S. troops to come home soon.

In one of the most moving moments of the night, surprise Best Actor winner Brody asked for a “swift end” to the war and remembered a friend from Queens, N.Y., who is currently involved in the fight in Iraq.

But before turning serious, Brody received a standing ovation and planted a kiss on Halle Berry when he arrived onstage. “There comes a time in life when everything seems to make sense,” he said. “This is not one of those times.”

In her acceptance, a teary Nicole Kidman justified staging the Oscars ceremony during these uncertain times. “Why do you come to the Academy Awards when the world is in such turmoil? Because art is important, and you believe in what you do, and you want to honor that tradition that must be upheld.”

Host Steve Martin also kept things light (and occasionally tasteless) throughout the evening, cracking jokes about Jennifer Lopez, Kathy Bates and the decision to eliminate red-carpet arrivals from the Academy Awards pre-show.

“Well, I’m glad they cut out all the glitz,” Martin said sarcastically. “You probably noticed, there was no red carpet tonight. That will show them.”

He then dedicated the show to U.S. troops watching abroad.

Meryl Streep presented a Lifetime Achievement Oscar to Peter O’Toole, who first became a star more than 40 years ago, in David Lean’s larger-than-life epic “Lawrence of Arabia.” Nominated for Best Actor seven times but never winning, O’Toole, 70, had written the Academy saying he didn’t want the honorary award — that he’d prefer to wait and still try to win one.

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot,” O’Toole said. “I have my very own Oscar to be with me until death do us part.”

• Check out PEOPLE.com’s final Oscar tally.

11:30 p.m.: Brody Scores Upset, Kidman Wins by Nose

Nicole Kidman was named Best Actress and “Chicago” scored five trophies, but Oscar experienced at least one major, wonderful upset Sunday. Despite the polls, critics and bookies who said the Best Actor race was only between Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson, the Oscar went to “The Pianist” star Adrien Brody — who then provided the most moving comments of the evening.

Brody, who stars as a Holocaust victim in Roman Polanski’s drama, raced to the stage and kissed presenter Halle Berry as the entire Kodak Theatre leapt to its feet.

Brody, clutching his heart at the podium, spoke at length. “It doesn’t come out of slow motion,” he told Berry, “but I didn’t know my name when you called it.”

Then, attempting to turn serious, he said, “There comes a time in life when everything seems to make sense. This is not one of those times.”

He asked for a “swift end” to the war — and was applauded for the sentiment — and he remembered a friend of his from Queens, N.Y., who is currently involved in the fight in Iraq.

Brody received a second standing ovation as he left the stage with his Oscar.

Nicole Kidman had trouble composing herself when accepting her Best Actress Oscar for “The Hours,” in which she played author Virginia Woolf.

“I have such appreciation and gratitude for this,” she began, before dissolving into tears. “Russell Crowe said ‘Don’t cry if you get up there,’ and now I’m crying. Sorry.”

Finally pulling herself together, she said, “Why do you come to the Academy Awards when the world is in such turmoil? Because art is important, and you believe in what you do, and you want to honor that tradition that must be upheld.”

She also paid tribute to those who have suffered on and since 9/11, and those who are suffering through the war in Iraq. “God bless them,” she said.

She concluded by saying that she was there with her mother and daughter. “My whole life,” she said, “I wanted to make my mother proud. Tonight I want to make my daughter proud of her mother.”

In other Oscar developments, Barbra Streisand presented the Best Song Oscar to Grammy winner Eminem, for “Lose Yourself” from “8 Mile.” The rapper was not there.

Meryl Streep presented a Lifetime Achievement Oscar to Peter O’Toole, who first became a star more than 40 years ago, in David Lean’s larger-than-life epic “Lawrence of Arabia.” Nominated for Best Actor seven times, but never winning, O’Toole, 70, had written the Academy saying he didn’t want the honorary award — saying he’d prefer to wait and still try to win one.

But O’Toole changed his mind — and kissed Meryl Streep three times when he got to the stage.

“Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot,” O’Toole said. “I have my very own Oscar to be with me until death do us part.”

He also talked about the great young talent from whom he now draws strength when he goes to work, and how much the United States has given to him, “both personally and professionally. And now you have given me this great shock. You are very good. Goodnight, and God bless you.”

10:45 p.m.: Michael Moore Stirs Passions at Oscars

Oscar experienced its first explosive moment when Best Documentary Oscar winner Michael Moore — only seconds after receiving a standing ovation for his “Bowling for Columbine” — was roundly jeered by the crowd inside the Kodak Theatre for his outspoken attack on President Bush.

Moore brought up his fellow nominees to the stage with him, he said, because they all stood in solidarity and were fans of nonfiction. Moore then said that none of them could support “a fictitious president who won a fictitious election and has led us into a fictitious war.”

“We are against this war, Mr. Bush,” Moore tried to shout above a chorus of boos. “Shame on you.”

After Moore left the stage, host Steve Martin said, “The Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo.”

Julianne Moore (a vision in green) received a rousing ovation when she entered to present the Oscar for Sound, which went to “Chicago” — its fourth win of the night. So far, it has also copped the gold for Art Direction, Costume Design and Supporting Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.

“The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers” took its second Oscar for Sound Editing, having won for Visual Effects earlier in the evening.

“Frida” also has two Oscars in its fold, for Makeup and for Music (Original Score). The film biography concerns the great Mexican artist Frida Kahlo — who said, “I don’t paint my dreams, I paint my reality” — and was a labor of love for Best Actress nominee Salma Hayek.

Hayek, considered a dark horse in that race, did present the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, which went to Germany’s “Nowhere in Africa,” about a Jewish family finding refuge from the Nazis on the Dark Continent.

“Y Tu Mama Tambien”‘s boyish young star, Gael Garcia Bernal, made, until that point, one of the relatively few references to the war in Iraq when, introducing the Best Song nominee from “Frida,” “Burn It Blue,” said it was a shame that Kahlo was no longer with us, so that she could speak out against the war.

Presenter Julie Andrews — 1964’s Best Actress for “Mary Poppins” — received a standing ovation when she appeared onstage to introduce a film-clip montage of musical moments from past Oscarcasts. Ethel Merman monopolized the seemingly pointless montage with the anthem, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

Afterward, host Steve Martin explained, “I’m sorry I was late. I was backstage trying to convince Jennifer Lopez that the best way to remove duct tape was with saliva.”

J.Lo — sitting in the audience with fiancé Ben Affleck — flashed her beau a puzzled look and then both shrugged their shoulders.

10:15 p.m.: Zeta-Jones Leads ‘Chicago’ Oscar Haul

Catherine Zeta-Jones’s merry murderess Velma Kelly in “Chicago” brought the Welsh-born beauty a Best Supporting Actress Oscar at Sunday night’s 75th annual Oscar ceremony.

“My hormones are just way too out of control to be dealing with this,” said the very pregnant Zeta-Jones, who is expecting her baby with husband Michael Douglas in April.

Presenter Sean Connery (in full Scottish regalia) said merely “Catherine” as he announced the winner — leaving nominee Kathy Bates looking slightly bewildered. But when the orchestra inside the Kodak Theatre broke into “All That Jazz,” there was no mistaking who won.

“Chicago” took the lead during the first half of Sunday night’s 75th annual Oscars, with the musical winning four trophies. Besides the victory for Zeta-Jones, the film also was cited for Art Direction, Costume Design and Sound. The musical, starring Renee Zellweger, Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere, went into this year’s race with a leading 13 nominations, the eighth film in Hollywood history to receive so many. (1950’s “All About Eve” and 1997’s “Titanic” each had 14.)

John Travolta also introduced Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah — both in beautiful black lace gowns — for their performance of “Chicago”‘s “I Move On,” nominated for Best Original Song. (There had been fears that Zeta-Jones might go into labor during the number. She didn’t.)

Meanwhile, Jennifer Garner and Mickey Mouse — “one of the most beloved black actors in Hollywood,” joked host Steve Martin — presented the Animated Short Film Oscar to “The ChubbChubbs!” Mickey required eyeglasses to read the winner’s names.

The Live-Action Short Film Oscar went to “This Charming Man.” Garner made the presentation solo.

Nia Vardalos, of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” presented the Makeup Oscar to “Frida,” whose only other competition was “The Time Machine.” Among the other movies that didn’t make the makeup cut in the nominations was “The Hours,” because Nicole Kidman’s fake nose, it was determined, had been digitally enhanced.

Before the first hour had wrapped up, ABC broke in with news from Iraq, to report on the heavy bombing taking place there, for a brief update before returning to the Oscarcast.

9:30 p.m.: Chris Cooper Win Kicks Off Oscar’s 75th

Chris Cooper became the first big winner of Sunday night’s 75th annual Academy Awards, taking the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as an orchid thief in the black comedy-drama “Adaptation.”

Gracefully walking to the stage of the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, the actor, a first-time nominee, said, “From the Academy to the womb that bore me, thank you.” He also made special mention of his costar — and fellow nominee — Meryl Streep.

“Working with this woman was like making great jazz,” said Cooper, who also choked back tears as he acknowledged his wife, Marianne. “You took on all the burden,” he said. “Thank you.”

Meanwhile, diamonds showered on Oscar for its 75th year — its diamond jubilee — as film clips shown inside a shower of sparkling jewels kicked off a ceremony that was mired in controversy ever since Wednesday’s initiation of U.S. bombing in Iraq.

Host Steve Martin delivered a riotous opening monologue that sidestepped the political issues at hand, but did acknowledge that the night had been toned down given world events.

“Well, I’m glad they cut out all the glitz,” Martin said sarcastically. “You probably noticed, there was no red carpet tonight. That will show them.”

He also made reference to his “Bringing Down the House” costar Queen Latifah (“Or, as I like to call her, ‘Sequel Money’), poked fun at nominee Kathy Bates and her hot tub scene in “About Schmidt”, (“Jack Nicholson got into a tub with Kathy Bates. Well, who hasn’t?”), and pointed out Nicole Kidman’s fake nose in “The Hours,” saying that she has actually worn a fake nose in all of her movies — “except “The Hours.”

The evening’s first award was for the two-year-old category of Best Animated Feature Film, with Cameron Diaz presenting. And the Oscar went to Japan’s “Spirited Away,” which Disney half-heartedly released in America last summer.

“Matrix” star Keanu Reeves presented the Achievement in Visual Effects Oscar to the “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” effects team. (In all, “Rings” received six Oscar nominations this year.) Jennifer Lopez presented the Art Direction Oscar to “Chicago,” winning its first trophy of the night.

Despite the Academy’s decree that there would be no bleachers full of screaming fans and no red carpet, the stars still made star arrivals, and ABC, despite producers’ promises to avoid making the event seem frivolous, stopped some of the nominees to get their reactions to being here on this big night.

Renee Zellweger, nominated as Best Actress for “Chicago,” said her brother has been calling her all week “and screaming into the phone … he’s the greatest guy,” she said.

“Unfaithful” Best Actress nominee Diane Lane, arriving with Josh Brolin, said that her late father “is here with me in spirit” and that her daughter, who was home, “wishes her well.”

“Frida” Best Actress nominee Salma Hayek, arriving with Ed Norton, said being in the Oscar race means a lot to her. “For the first time,” she said, “a person of my nationality is nominated in this category.”

During the pre-show there was also a touching birthday salute to Bob Hope, Oscar’s most frequent host (a record 18 times) who turns 100 this May 29. Arriving stars Hilary Swank, Kate Hudson, Mickey Rooney, Joel Grey and Marlee Matlin, among others, blew kisses into the TV camera and wished the veteran comedian — resting at home tonight — happy birthday.

8 p.m.: Iraq (Not "Chicago") on Oscar’s Mind

Under hazy Hollywood skies, the 75th annual Academy Awards are ready to roll — under a cloud that is the American attack on Iraq.

Since early afternoon, as the show was being set up, protesters were out in force on the outskirts of Hollywood Boulevard, though reinforced security kept them at a distance from the Kodak Theatre, where the ceremony is due to kick off at 5:30 p.m. PT.

Still, there have been reports that the stars will be protesting the war on their own, with Dustin Hoffman and Julianne Moore supposedly planning to wear duct tape as a jab at President Bush’s plea for Americans to seal their windows from biological attack.

“I spoke to a lot of nominees here today,” documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (“Bowling for Columbine”) said Saturday at the IFP Independent Spirit Awards, “and they plan to speak their minds (at the Oscars) about what’s gone on this week.”

The traditional red carpet, where fans scream and TV cameras allow viewers to gawk in awe at star gowns, was scrapped this year as a concession to the war.

Global events, however, did not stop Joan and Melissa Rivers from hosting their annual E! Oscar pre-show. This year, though, the pair is keeping a distance, holding court in a media room while a TV screen showed stars arriving on the truncated, more somber red carpet.

Joan, meanwhile, tried to keep the mood light. “There’s Mickey Rooney!” she proclaimed. “I dated him once.”

As it was, parties this week in celebration of the nominees were greatly subdued, and the press had speculated to the last moment whether the show would be canceled altogether. (However, ABC, which is broadcasting the Hollywood event, is still featuring live coverage from Iraq.)

As for the Oscars, “Chicago” — going in with a leading 13 nominations — is considered a veritable shoo-in for Best Picture, and the conventional wisdom is that by the end of the night, after the political speeches, nostalgic film clips and host Steve Martin’s usual glib remarks, Daniel Day-Lewis (“Gangs of New York”) and Nicole Kidman (“The Hours”) could be in the winners’ circle.

With them, in all likelihood: “Chicago” director Rob Marshall and supporting performers Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Chicago”) and one of the Christophers … that is, either Walken (“Catch Me If You Can”) or Cooper (“Adaptation”).

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