January 06, 2005 09:00 AM

CELEBRATED: Martha Stewart had a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve celebration at Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia – but it also marked the halfway point in her sentence, PEOPLE reports in its latest issue. Meanwhile, Stewart, who’s due to be freed in early March, has been focused on remaking herself and making the most of her situation, friends say. “This has been a time for reflection and for gathering strength,” says her close friend, businessman Charles Simonyi. Says another pal: “In the last eight years she became so stretched in terms of what she had to do, and that didn’t always allow her to be the thoughtful, gentle person I knew her to be. But now there is an enforced time to be by herself.” Add to it the daily power walks and regular yoga sessions with fellow inmates, and “she looks better than ever,” the friend says.

NOMINATED: Martin Scorsese is considered the frontrunner to win the Directors Guild of America Award for The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes. Also in the running, in a race that will be determined at a Jan. 29 ceremony (and sometimes is an indicator of who will win the Best Director Oscar): Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby; Marc Forster for Finding Neverland; Taylor Hackford for Ray; and Alexander Payne for Sideways.

PRAISED: Good Morning America anchor Diane Sawyer, who is in Indonesia’s Banda Aceh covering the tsunami disaster, is getting praise from her boss for working continuously without sleep to cover the story. “This is a woman who does not sleep when she’s in the field and on the hunt. Anyone who works with her will tell you she has superhuman stamina,” GMA boss Ben Sherwood tells the Philadelphia Inquirer. “She’s left long lines of producers clobbered and spent,” he added. Meanwhile, NBC’s Brian Williams reportedly sleeps in two-hour shifts in the damaged home of an Indonesian aide who lost his sister Dec. 26.

HONORED: Kevin Bacon will receive the 2005 Ray-Ban Visionary Award at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival for his directorial feature debut, the drama Loverboy, which also stars his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, as well as Campbell Scott, Matt Dillon and Oliver Platt. Sundance runs Jan. 20-30.

REMOVED: CNN announced Wednesday that bow-tied conservative pundit Tucker Carlson is leaving after the network decided to not renew his contract. The network will probably fold his show, Crossfire, into its other programming, perhaps as an occasional segment on the daytime show Inside Politics, said CNN CEO Jonathan Klein. Carlson, who has been talking with MSNBC about a prime-time opening replacing Deborah Norville, tells The New York Times about the end of his current tenure: “I don’t know what CNN is saying, but I have no dispute with CNN.”

PLEDGED: Seven-time Formula One racing champ Michael Schumacher, of Germany, has pledged $10 million to the tsunami relief effort, believed to be the largest gift from any one individual. It is being reported that Schumacher, 36, was personally affected by the disaster. His bodyguard Burkhard Cramer and his two sons were lost in Phuket, Thailand, where they were on vacation.

SPLIT: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his wife, Court TV legal analyst and former model Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, are filing for divorce after three years of marriage. In a joint statement issued Wednesday by the mayor’s office, the Newsoms cited the strain posed by their high-profile, bi-coastal careers as the reason for the split. Newsom, a Democrat, made headlines last year by granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

NOMINATED: The Producers Guild of America’s nominations for its best movie of the year award, announced Wednesday, are Sideways, Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, Finding Neverland and, in a surprise move, the animated The Incredibles. The winner will be announced Jan. 22 and could have some bearing on the Oscars – whose Academy places animated films into a separate Best Picture category.

SUED: A Cleveland man has sued NBC for $2.5 million, saying he could not stomach seeing contestants eat dead rats on Fear Factor, reports Reuters. In a handwritten four-page lawsuit filed in federal court in Cleveland on Tuesday, paralegal Austin Aitken said: “To have the individuals on the show eat (yes) and drink dead rats was crazy and from a viewer’s point of view made me throw-up as well an another in the house at the same time.” A spokesman for Fear Factor said there would be no comment until producers had seen a copy of the complaint.

DIED: Inventor H. David Dalquist, 86, founder of Nordic Ware, died of heart failure Sunday at his home in Minnesota, reports the Associated Press. He will be remembered for developing the Bundt cake pan in 1950, though the aluminum utensil did not become a household item until 1966, when a Texas woman won second place in the Pillsbury Bake-Off for her Tunnel of Fudge Cake. After that, everyone wanted the pan, and Nordic Ware has sold more than 50 million of them.

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