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People: ‘Gravity’ picks up serious momentum

Alfonso Cuaron was awarded the top film honor from the Directors Guild of America for “Gravity” on Saturday night, giving the lost-in-space saga an edge on the journey to the Academy Awards.

“Gravity,” David O. Russell’s con caper “American Hustle” and Steve McQueen’s historical epic “12 Years a Slave” had been competing in the tightest three-way Oscar race in years.

But Cuaron’s film now has the upper hand for the best-picture and director Academy Awards, and with 10 Oscar nominations is likely to gain the most statuettes March 2. “American Hustle” also has 10 nominations, but in tougher, more competitive races than “Gravity’s” mainly craft nods.

In the 65-year history of the DGA awards, the winner has failed to also take home the best director Oscar just seven times. Ben Affleck, who presented Cuaron with his guild award, won the same accolade last year for “Argo” but was denied a best director nomination at the Oscars. However, like many DGA winners, “Argo” went on to win the best-picture prize at the Oscars.

African roots impacted ‘Dead’ actor

Growing up in Zimbabwe and visiting South Africa as a young woman helped forge Danai Gurira’s passion for producing theater in Africa.

As a young girl, she saw how females could be placed at the margins of society.

As a college student, she saw the power of artistic expression in South Africa, where creative people used theater and other art forms to fight apartheid.

The playwright and actress says those experiences “seeped into my soul.”

Now, when she’s not filming on the Georgia set of “The Walking Dead,” Gurira devotes much of her time to Almasi Collaborative Arts, the nonprofit she co-founded that seeks to foster collaboration between Zimbabwean artists and American theater professionals.

Gurira plays swordswoman “Michonne” on “The Walking Dead. The show’s fourth season resumes airing Feb. 9.

Dempsey confirms ‘Grey’s’ extension

Patrick Dempsey confirmed Saturday night that he has signed a two-year contract extension to continue with the popular television series “Grey’s Anatomy.” The show has not officially been picked up beyond its 10th season, but Dempsey’s deal provides a strong indication that it will be back.

The birthday bunch

Actor James Cromwell (“Babe”) is 74. Drummer Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) is 69. Singer Nedra Talley of The Ronettes is 68. Dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov is 66. Actress Mimi Rogers is 58. Guitarist Janick Gers (Iron Maiden) is 57. TV commentator Keith Olbermann is 55. Singer Margo Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) is 53. Keyboardist Gillian Gilbert (New Order) is 53. Actress Bridget Fonda is 50. Actor Alan Cumming is 49. Singer Mike Patton (Faith No More) is 46. Country singer Tracy Lawrence is 46. Rapper Tricky is 46. Guitarist Michael Kulas (James) is 45. Comedian Patton Oswalt is 45. Actor Josh Randall (“Ed”) is 42.


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