GOOD “KNIGHT” PATRICK STEWART

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LONDON – There’s an especially starry knight in Britain’s latest round of royal honors.

Patrick Stewart — “Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s” Capt. Jean-Luc Picard — becomes Sir Patrick in Queen Elizabeth II‘s New Year honors list, which also includes a knighthood for theater and film director Nicholas Hytner.

“This is an honor that embraces those actors, directors and creative teams who have in these recent years helped fill my life with inspiration, companionship and sheer fun,” said 69-year-old Stewart, who recently returned to the British stage following a long career in Hollywood that included playing Professor Charles Xavier in three “X-Men” films.

Erich Reich, a refugee from Nazi-occupied Europe who organized last year’s 70th anniversary of the “Kindertransport,” which brought 10,000 children to wartime Britain, also received a knighthood.

A separate honors list in New Zealand bestowed a knighthood on the king of Middle Earth — “Lord of the Rings” filmmaker Peter Jackson.

Jackson, 53, was knighted in New Zealand, his native land and the filming location for the trilogy, which collected 17 Academy Awards. The New Zealand award is approved by the queen, the country’s head of state.

Jackson is currently is working on the two-movie prequel “The Hobbit,” also based on a book by J.R.R. Tolkien, with Mexican director Guillermo del Toro.

In Britain, lesser honors went to Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi of the rock group Status Quo. They were named Officers of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, in recognition of a four-decade, three-chord career that has seen them score 64 British hit singles, including “Rockin’ All Over the World.”

Parfitt, 61, said he’d given up hope of an honor because of his wild past.

“If they’d reviewed some of my old newspaper cuttings!” he said.

Phyllida Lloyd, who directed “Mamma Mia!” — the most financially successful British film of all time — was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE.

CBEs also went to artist Maggi Hambling and Olivier Award-winning actress Margaret Tyzack.

There also were honors for Formula I racing champion Jensen Button, who received an MBE; children’s author Dick King-Smith (OBE), who wrote the book which became the film “Babe”; and opera star Sarah Connolly (CBE).

Hytner, 53, was honored for his work as artistic director of the National Theatre, where his hit productions have included Alan Bennett’s “The History Boys” and “War Horse.”

He also stirred controversy by putting on “Jerry Springer: The Opera,” a production that attracted protests from some Christian groups.

 In descending order, the honors are knighthoods, CBE, OBE and MBE. They are bestowed by the queen, but recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.

Knights are addressed as “sir” or “dame.” Recipients of CBEs, OBEs and MBEs have no title but can put the letters after their names.

 

MEL GIBSON MAKES HIS COMEBACK ON TO THE BIG SCREEN BUT WILL HE BE WELCOMED BACK?

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Mel Gibson is making his acting comeback in January starring in the new thriller Edge Of Darkness.

This will be his first starring role in a movie since the incident in 2006 where he was pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence, followed by a well-documented, anti-Semitic rant directed toward the officers.

Will audiences welcome him back with open arms or will they stay away?

Let us know what you think.

 

 


 

WANDA SYKES LOYAL TO LENO

Wanda Sykes hosts THE WANDA SYKES SHOW Saturdays (11:00 PM-Midnight ET/PT) on FOX. ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Wanda Sykes hosts THE WANDA SYKES SHOW Saturdays (11:00 PM-Midnight ET/PT) on FOX. ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

Despite the fact that Wanda Sykes is hosting her own talk show (The Wanda Sykes Show), the comedienne would still jump at the chance to sit down for a chat on The Jay Leno Show.

Sykes says Leno had her back long before anyone else had given her a shot – and to avoid him now would be disrespectful.

Click onto media bar for the reason why Wanda Sykes makes guests appearances on The Jay Leno Show.

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The Wanda Sykes Show airs 11:00 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

The Jay Leno Show airs Monday through Friday, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

KRIS ALLEN – GRACE UNDER PRESSURE

Season Eight winner Kris Allen is set to perform in Las Vegas on BILLBOARD'S NEW YEAR'S EVE LIVE airing Thursday, Dec. 31 (11:00 PM-12:30 AM ET live; CT/MT/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Kelsey McNeal/FOX

Season Eight winner Kris Allen is set to perform in Las Vegas on BILLBOARD'S NEW YEAR'S EVE LIVE airing Thursday, Dec. 31 (11:00 PM-12:30 AM ET live; CT/MT/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. ©2009 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Kelsey McNeal/FOX

Kris Allen is ringing in the New Year in Las Vegas performing for Billboard’s New Year’s Eve Live – just one of the many opportunities in his life since winning American Idol last season.

Still, the opportunities don’t come without pressures, specifically where his music is concerned.

Allen tells us that he began concentrating on his first album almost immediately along with the importance of delivering what his fans wanted…and deserved.

Click onto the media bar for how Kris Allen deals with the demands of being an American Idol winner.

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 Billboard’s New Year’s Eve Live airs December 31st, 11:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET (CT/MT/PT taped delayed) on Fox.

 Allen’s CD, Kris Allen, debuted in November.

MERYL STREEP – EMBRACING ACTOR INSECURITIES

Meryl Streep stars as Julia Child in "Julie & Julia."

Meryl Streep stars as Julia Child in "Julie & Julia."

Isn’t it great to be a star; knowing generations of fans appreciate your work? Well, that’s not the world Meryl Streep lives in.

The actress has garnered critical and professional acclaim, not to mention holding the record for the most Academy Award nominations ever (15) and winning two Oscars. As impressive as that is, Streep knows how fickle the movie biz is.

Quite frankly, the actress says she’s worked less than she’s actually been on the job and that’s a fact that’s always been in the back of her mind. Which is also the reason why Streep appreciates every opportunity that comes her way.

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Streep is currently starring in the romantic-comedy It’s Complicated and Julie and Julia, where she portrays cooking legend Julia Child. She’s already gotten nominations from several critics groups for those performances, putting her on the fast-track for yet another Oscar nom…or two.