HONORED: Johnny Depp’s critically acclaimed film Finding Neverland was named best film of 2004 on Wednesday by The National Board of Review, which typically hands out the first awards of Oscar season. Depp’s performance in the film, about Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, has garnered much Oscar buzz, but another Oscar hopeful, Jamie Foxx, was named best actor for his portrayal of musician Ray Charles in Ray. Annette Bening was named best actress for Being Julia. The group’s list of top 10 films of the year also includes The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, followed by Mike Nichols’s Closer, Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby and the wine country comedy Sideways.
FILED: CBS honcho Les Moonves can’t get divorced fast enough. The exec, who was named co-president Viacom with Tom Freston over the summer, has asked a California judge to immediately grant him a divorce even though he has yet to work out alimony, child support, and property division arrangements with his estranged wife, Nancy Moonves, according to court papers on the Smoking Gun Web site. Anticipating a “lengthy trial” due mostly to financial matters, Moonves said in a motion filed with Los Angeles Superior Court that an expedited divorce decree would alleviate “emotional strain, and would help to promote settlement of the reserved issues.” Nancy and Les Moonves have been married since 1978.
CHOSEN: A jury of seven men and five women who will hear the Robert Blake murder case was sworn in Wednesday. The former child actor and Baretta star is accused of killing his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, on May 4, 2001. The panel of jurors, including six alternates, was ordered to return Monday morning for opening statements. Prosecutors allege that Blake, 71, killed Bakley, 44, after the pair dined together in a Los Angeles-area eatery, to get sole custody of their young daughter. Blake has pleaded not guilty.
NOMINATED: Usher and Alicia Keys lead the pack of multiple-award nominees for the Billboard Music Awards, to be held Dec. 8 at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena and set to air live on FOX, with Ryan Seacrest as host. Other multiple finalists include Maroon 5, OutKast, Kanye West, R. Kelly, Gretchen Wilson, Hoobastank and Jay-Z. Winners are determined by performance on Billboard’s weekly charts. Stevie Wonder will receive the Century Award, the magazine’s highest honor for creative achievement.
CONFIRMED: Sony Pictures has formally announced that, as was first leaked two weeks ago, Tom Hanks, 48, will reunite with director Ron Howard to play symbologist Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code, the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s best-selling mystery. Production will begin next year, with a premiere date set for May 19, 2006. Code will mark Hanks’s third collaboration with Howard and his producing partner Brian Grazer. The three previously worked together on Splash and Apollo 13.
INJURED: Prince Harry, 20, will delay until May his planned January entry into the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to allow a knee injury to fully recover, royal officials said Tuesday. Harry hurt his knee several months ago while he was training with the army before his entry test for Sandhurst. It has continued to trouble him in recent months and sidelined him from playing polo during a stay at a polo farm in Argentina this month. “While I am disappointed that I cannot start as planned in January, I am still very much looking forward to starting my Army career next year,” Harry said in a statement.
SUED: Radio host Don Imus, 64, and his wife, Deirdre, were slapped with a lawsuit by their former nanny, who’s alleging wrongful termination and defamation after Imus allegedly called her a “terrorist” on the air – because she reputedly carried a sheathed folding knife and a cap pistol for playing cowboys with the couple’s 5-year-old son at their 4,000-acre New Mexico ranch last year. Nicole Cathleen Mallette, 24, of Brooklyn, is suing Imus and his broadcast outlets MSNBC and Westwood Radio, according to documents posted on the Smoking Gun Web site. “I won’t be settling this,” the radio host tells New York’s Daily News, calling the suit absurd.
OFFERED: Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg has placed more Kennedy family possessions on sale – including those of her mother’s and brother’s – in a Sotheby’s New York auction to be held next February, The New York Times reports. A previous auction of items that had belonged solely to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis fetched $34.5 million, seven times the original estimates. In the new sale, a JKO monogrammed horse wardrobe carries an asking price of $100-$150.
WARNED: As celebrities gather around the globe to help mark World AIDS Day on Wednesday, Dr. Peter Piot, the head of the United Nations’ AIDS program warns that India, China and Russia are “perilously close to a tipping point” that could turn their small, localized AIDS epidemics into gigantic ones capable of disrupting the world’s response to the disease,” The Washington Post reports. The situation “bears alarming similarities to the situation we faced 20 years ago in Africa” and could transform “from a series of concentrated outbreaks and hot spots into a generalized explosion across the entire population – spreading like a wildfire from there.”
LIT: All 30,000 lights on the 71-ft. tall Norway spruce got the juice in a Rockefeller Center ceremony Tuesday night in the annual Christmas tree lighting. This year’s performances around the spruced-up spruce included those by Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, as well as Chris Isaak and Hilary Duff – and Olympic champs Paul Hamm, Carly Patterson and Sarah Hughes.