By Todd Peterson
Updated February 09, 2004 10:00 AM

AWARDED: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and director Peter Jackson took one step closer to Oscar glory Saturday night by winning the Directors Guild of America’s top honor. In the 56 years the award has been handed out, the winner of the DGA prize has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Director all but six times, the Associated Press reports. Jackson was previously nominated for the first two “Rings” films, but lost out to Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind”) in 2002 and Rob Marshall (“Chicago”) last year.

HONORED: “Finding Nemo” captured nine prizes at the 31st annual Annie Awards on Saturday, including best theatrical feature, best directing and best voice acting, according to AP. “Nemo” was the second-highest grossing film of 2003, behind “Return of the King.” … Meanwhile, the American Society of Cinematographers surprised some industry observers by handing its top prize to “Seabiscuit” cinematographer John Schwartzman on Sunday, reports Reuters. The award, which is given for best camerawork, means “Seabiscuit” could be a contender for the Academy Awards’ Best Picture prize, for which it is also nominated.

SPIKED: Janet Jackson’s revelation during the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 1 has fueled much debate and controversy, but at least one type of business isn’t complaining. Piercing studios nationwide have reported a spike in business since Jackson’s breast, and its attendant pierced nipple, were uncovered during her and Justin Timberlake’s performance. Nipple shields like the silver sunburst on Jackson’s breast have been hot sellers, going for $30 to $100, Bianca Bubenik, who owns two tattoo and piercing stores in New York, tells AP.

DIED: Samuel M. Rubin, 85, also known as “Sam the Popcorn Man,” died Thursday, reports The New York Times. The concessionaire is widely recognized for helping make popcorn a movie theater staple, and he was one of the first to bring freshly popped corn into theaters seven decades ago. Rubin died in Boynton Beach, Fla., his daughter, Karen Rubin, said.