NEWS BRIEFS: NY Critics Grab 'Rings'

HONORED: Peter Jackson‘s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” was named best picture of the year on Monday by the New York Film Critics Circle. “Lost In Translation ” won for best actor Bill Murray and director Sofia Coppola. Hope Davis was named best actress for her performances in “American Splendor” and “The Secret Lives of Dentists.” Shohreh Aghdashloo was named best supporting actress for “House of Sand and Fog,” while Eugene Levy was named best supporting actor for “A Mighty Wind.” Elsewhere, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle chose “Lost” as the year’s best movie and Murray as best actor. While the Boston Society of Film Critics preferred Clint Eastwood‘s “Mystic River” as its top film, but the group still granted “Lost” wins for best director, actor and actress (Scarlett Johansson).

SUED: Doris Burns, a Los Angeles actress, has sued MTV and rapper Snoop Dogg for unspecified damages, saying they edited her videotaped performance to make her appear to be naked and having sex despite her insistence that she wanted to appear in pajamas and would only consent to holding hands. Burns, who occasionally appears as a featured extra in film and TV programs, was hired last March to appear in an episode of MTV’s “Doggy Fizzle Televizzle,” which was hosted by Snoop Dogg. Representatives for Snoop Dogg and MTV could not immediately be reached for comment.

QUOTED: “She had ‘Chicago’ and I had ‘The Hours,’ so we were about to go on a big press tour for the films. And we were saying, ‘God we can’t wait to hit London and get a facial!'” — Nicole Kidman, 36, on working with Renee Zellweger on “Cold Mountain,” at that movie’s London premiere, to PEOPLE

DIAGNOSED: Secretary of State Colin Powell, 66, underwent surgery for prostate cancer on Monday and was expected to spend several days in the hospital before going home, the State Department said. The cancer was said to have been caught in its early stages. Powell is expected to remain at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for the next two to five days before returning home and will be on a reduced schedule while he recovers.

BORN: Riccardo, the first second-generation elephant to be born into the breeding program at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, arrived Dec. 5 at 9:25 a.m., the Central Florida-based center has announced. Riccardo, weighing 232 lbs. at birth, is the first offspring from the center’s bred elephants, Shirley and Romeo, and the 16th Asian elephant born into the center’s care.

ESTABLISHED: The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and its Children’s Programming Peer Group have set up the Fred Rogers Memorial Scholarship in honor of the creator and longtime host of “Mister Rogers Neighborhood,” reports Variety. The scholarship will support a student studying children’s media and childhood education, or a recent college graduate pursuing a career in children’s media. The first one will be awarded in fall 2004.

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