Gold Derby nuggets: Honors for Stephen Sondheim and Matt Damon | Good debut for 'Breaking Bad'
• Broadway tunesmith Stephen Sondheim got a memorable 80th birthday present Monday night. The Roundabout Theater company -- which has presented Tony-winning revivals of many of his classic shows over the years -- announced it is renaming a Broadway theater (the Henry Miller) for him. The non-profit is currently staging a new musical revue -- "Sondheim on Sondheim" -- featuring many of the eight-time Tony winner's most memorable songs. Funding for the gift came from an anonymous group of benefactors who gave an undisclosed amount to the company's musical production fund.
• "Cheers" Emmy champs and current Broadway stars Kelsey Grammer ("La Cage aux Folles") and Bebe Neuwirth ("The Addams Family") are reuniting to announce the Drama League nominees on April 26 at renowned theatrical haunt Sardi's. The league will honor one performer drawn from upwards of 60 nominees, none of whom can have won this award before, at a May 21 luncheon emceed by "Ugly Betty" co-stars Vanessa Williams and Michael Urie.
• Two more Oscar-winning actress -- Kathy Bates ("Misery") and Sissy Spacek ("Coal Miner's Daughter") -- could be getting regular TV series gigs if their pilots get picked up. And, as per Nellie Andreeva, their roles got a sex change when these women expressed interest in them. Bates is playing the head of a law firm in David E. Kelly's latest legal drama "Kindred" while Spacek leads a team of doctors who travel the world helping those in need in an untitled drama from John Wells ("The West Wing"). THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
• Matt Damon will be feted with the 24th annual American Cinematheque award on March 27 at the Beverly Hilton. Leading the tribute -- which will air later in the season on ABC -- will be his old writing partner and co-Oscar winner Ben Affleck along with Oscar champs George Clooney, Clint Eastwood, Charlize Theron and Robin Williams. And, oh yes, former president Bill Clinton will also be on hand to sing Damon's praises. The award is given to "an extraordinary artist (actor, director or writer) in the entertainment industry who is fully engaged in his or her work and is committed to making a significant contribution to the art of the motion picture" and the evening raises funds for the non-profit film organization that programs two landmark movie palaces in Los Angeles.
• The 68th annual Golden Globes will air live coast-to-coast on NBC on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011. Nominations for the awards bestowed by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. will be announced sometime in December.
• The South Korean drama "Mother" won three prizes at the fourth annual Asian Film Awards including best picture, actress (Kim Hye-ja) and screenplay (Joon-ho Bong and Park Eun-kyo). And, as Jonathan Landreth reports, "Lu Chuan of China was named best director for his Nanjing massacre drama 'City of Life and Death,' and the best actor award went to China's Wang Xueqi for his performance in 'Bodyguards and Assassins.' No prizes went to Japan this year, a letdown after Japanese films took home five AFA prizes in 2009." THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
• "Breaking Bad" launched its third season on AMC Sunday to record ratings, pulling in 2.1 million viewers for the initial airing with repeats pushing the total up to an impressive 3 million. This showpiece for two-time Emmy champ Bryan Cranston earned rave reviews, including from EW scribe Ken Tucker who noted that the premiere episode, directed by Cranston, "was filled with striking images, such as Walt burning a huge amount of money, suggesting a break with his meth-cooking criminal past." ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
• Saturday's Kids' Choice Awards -- hosted by Kevin James live on Nickelodeon from the Pauley Pavilion at UCLA -- has added a slew of bold-faced names who may get slimed in the tradition of this raucous kudosfest. Among those appearing will be Steve Carell, Robert Downey Jr., Tina Fey, Katy Perry, Chris Rock, David Spade and "Glee" stars Lea Michele and Cory Monteith. Among those slated to perform are Justin Bieber and Rihanna.
• Following up on the recent Gold Derby awards with forum members choosing their top picks of 2009 the night before the Oscars -- Meryl Streep won with us -- comes a look back at the best films and performances of the past decade. The first round of voting -- on now till Sunday -- will winnow the hundreds of possibilities down to 10 contenders in each category. Those nominees will be announced on April 5. GOLD DERBY
Top Photo: Artist's rendering of Stephen Sondheim Theater. Credit: Roundabout Theater Company
Middle Photo: American Cinematheque logo. Credit: American Cinematheque
Bottom Photo: "Breaking Bad" poster. Credit: AMC