Fox 411: Oscar Omen? SAG Picks 'Almost,' 'Billy,' 'Chocolat,' 'Gladiator,' 'Traffic'

Oscar Omen? SAG Nominations Come Through | Cuomo’s Run for Governor | Dana: Taking the Fifth Today, Speaking in Verse | N.Y. Times Op Ed Page Discovers 'Rapsters'

Oscar Omen? SAG Picks Almost, Billy, Chocolat, Gladiator, Traffic 

The 7th annual Screen Actors Guild Award nominees have been announced. And there are some surprises.

SAG, which is the best indicator of the upcoming Oscar nominees, went for these five films for best ensemble cast: Almost Famous, Billy Elliott, Chocolat, Gladiator and Traffic. They skipped over Erin Brockovich entirely. I think, sadly, this may knock Erin out of the Best Picture category at the Oscars.

For best actor, the SAG voters allowed Benicio Del Toro to submit himself as best actor for Traffic. This took away Javier Bardem's nomination for Before Night Falls. All because of a quirk in the SAG rules that allows actors to nominate themselves in the category they choose. This will be corrected by the Oscars, where Del Toro is a supporting actor and Bardem, who deserves a best actor nomination, will get one.

But the other surprise in the best actor category is the absence of Michael Douglas for Wonder Boys. Jamie Bell, who danced his way through Billy Elliott, takes that spot. The nail-biter here is what will happen to Douglas at the Oscars. I've got to say, I think Douglas will still get the Oscar vote. The other best actor nominees are Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks and Geoffrey Rush.

Best actress and best supporting actress categories held no surprises: Joan Allen, Juliette Binoche, Ellen Burstyn, Laura Linney and Julia Roberts in the first category; Judi Dench, Frances McDormand, Kate Hudson, Julie Walters and Kate Winslet all made the latter cut. The only missing name was Marcia Gay Harden from Pollock, who I still think could grab that last line from Winslet.

Best supporting actor nominees are Willem Dafoe, Albert Finney, Joaquin Phoenix and both Gary Oldman and Jeff Bridges from The Contender. Of course, in the Oscar voting, Del Toro will supplant one of those. My guess is it will be Oldman, but you never know. A lot of Oscar voters have mentioned an interest in Richard Harris from Gladiator. Maybe he's the dark horse.

SAG was wise to institute this awards program. And the reason they've become the Oscar predictor is that it's largely the same group of people voting, and they don't change their votes from one week to another unless they're schizophrenics. The only real change we're going to see in the best supporting actor category. As far as best picture goes, I think SAG is telling the Academy that two Steven Soderbergh movies are not going to make that category. They chose Traffic, I chose Erin Brockovich. And that's show biz.

Cuomo’s Run for Governor a Poignant Moment 

It could not be lost on anyone that three second-generation family members were in one room last night. Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo and Martin Luther King III all came together to support Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that he would seek the Democratic nomination for governor of New York.

What they have in common is extraordinary: Each of their fathers — President John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. — was assassinated in the 1960s. Their murders stand out as the most bruising and enduringly memorable American crimes of the last century. Each of their fathers, despite his flaws, was committed to moving America forward and each paid for his beliefs with his life.

Martin Luther King III is well-spoken and focused. He told me, "I met Caroline when I was 16, and I met Kerry a little later. I worked with Caroline at a political event." Did they ever discuss the tragedies that bound them? He looked at me with narrowed eyes. "No, I don’t think so."

It was understood.

Introducing Andrew Cuomo — who is as gifted an orator as his own father, former New York governor Mario Cuomo. This trio of progenies acquitted themselves very well. Caroline Kennedy has experienced more loss than most women her age, but she was relaxed and self-reflective when she spoke about her cousin’s husband. Her mother, Jacqueline Onassis, would have been proud.

Kerry Kennedy Cuomo joked that her 5-year-old daughter Kara, realizing who her grandfather was for the first time, told her mother that now "my father is trying to change things." Kerry responded, "You mean, your father and your mother." How times have changed.

The cocktail party was low-key and low-profile, with just a smattering of Kennedy-Cuomo loyalists, friends and family. Jane Rosenthal, who produces hits like Meet the Parents with Robert De Niro, co-hosted with her husband, Craig Hatkoff. Among the other hosts were music impresario Russell Simmons, who has established himself as the leader of the young African-American community in New York; Kenneth Cole, a fashion world star married to Maria Cuomo, Andrew’s sister.

There were no movie stars and although Sen. Charles Schumer’s name was invoked, Hillary Clinton was absent and never mentioned. Denise Rich, the intended party hostess, chose to skip the event now that she’s mired in controversy over the Clinton pardon of her ex-husband Marc.

Cuomo’s announcement, and his inclusion of people like Simmons and King, would seem to signal some major problems for State Comptroller Carl McCall, who is black and contemplating a run for the same office. I asked King about this predicament. "I don’t think Carl can run this kind of campaign or be the best candidate." Still, he said, he thought that Andrew Cuomo would reach out to McCall in a short time in order to present a united Democratic front.

Dana: Taking the Fifth Today, Speaking in Verse 

Sources tell me that bankruptcy investigators will have a rough time today when they visit Dana Giacchetto in prison.

He's going to take the Fifth, as they say, and refuse to answer their questions about where all that money went. This of course is the $9-20 million he stole or relocated for his various celeb clients when he was their money manager. On January 17th the receivers intervened before Giacchetto could be sentenced to 47-56 months for securities fraud. They insisted on an accounting which they were promised on August 2nd. But nothing's happened and, I am told, nothing's gonna happen.

Meantime Giacchetto has submitted to Judge Robert Patterson the following poem, which this column has obtained exclusively in all its pomposity. Let's put it this way, it may not help his case:

N.Y. Times Op-Ed Page Discovers 'Rapsters' 

I never thought I could feel sympathetic to Eminem, but this latest contretemps did it:

Pop music issues are generally confined to the Arts section of the New York Times. This is the newspaper that used to refer to one certain rocker as "Mr. Loaf."

So what's Bob Herbert doing in yesterday's paper writing about Paul Simon vs. Eminem? Herbert is outraged, justifiably, that Em has a Grammy nomination for Best Album. He calls him a "rapster."

Herbert writes of Em's style: "No image is too vile ... Not even mom is immune... the singer's mother, as debased as any other woman, is ordered to prepare herself for sex with her son. Album of the year? Only a lunatic could think this was the finest album of the year."

But what about Paul Simon, whose album You're the One was his biggest commercial flop in thirty years? Has Bob Herbert forgotten about his song, "Mother and Child Reunion"? Or more seriously, some of Simon's earlier, edgier lyrics, in which he's "twitching like a finger on a trigger of a gun"?

Herbert writes: "While Eminem rants about raping his mother, Mr. Simon makes a serious attempt in You're the One to explore artistically the possibility of achieving, in an absurd, crazy world, a modicum of grace and healing and mutual tolerance and mature love."

I called Bob Herbert and asked him what motivated him to take on pop criticism. He said, "That's silly. I don't discuss how I write my column." A little more prodding produced: "These are issues of the day. I'm interested in rap music and misogynistic lyrics."

But what's at heart here may be something else. I asked Herbert if his interest in Paul Simon had more to do with his good association with Simon's publicist, Dan Klores. (I can't tell you how much admiration I have for Dan. If I ever need a PR expert, I will call him pronto.) This must have struck a note with Herbert, because he promptly hung up on me.

Anyway. I'm for Steely Dan in that category. And everyone knows U2 was robbed. So there.