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'The Office' wins Directors Guild TV comedy prize

"THE Office" won the top honor for television comedy yesterday from the Directors Guild of America, while the animated war remembrance "Waltz With Bashir" received the documentary prize.

Paul Feig received the award for an installment of "The Office," whose competition included two episodes of "30 Rock," the series that has dominated at recent Hollywood honors such as the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

"We're in a real golden age of TV comedy, and I'm just happy to be part of it," Feig said backstage.

"Waltz With Bashir," which is nominated for best foreign-language film at the Academy Awards, is director Ari Forman's animated study of a soldier struggling to recall suppressed memories of his involvement in the war with Lebanon.

Among other guild winners:

_ Reality programming: Tony Croll, "America's Next Top Model."

_ Children's programs: Amy Schatz, "The Poetry Show."

_ Daytime serials: Larry Carpenter, "One Life to Live."

In the running for the evening's main prize, for feature-film directing, were Danny Boyle for the rags-to-riches story "Slumdog Millionaire"; David Fincher for the whimsical romance "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Ron Howard for the Richard Nixon drama "Frost/Nixon"; Christopher Nolan for the Batman blockbuster "The Dark Knight"; and Gus Van Sant for the Harvey Milk biopic "Milk."

Among Hollywood's many honors on the buildup to the Academy Awards, the Directors Guild prizes have one of the best track records for predicting eventual Oscar winners. Only six times in the guild awards' 60-year history has the winner failed to take home the directing Oscar.

Nolan was the odd man out at the guild awards, the only contender who did not also receive an Oscar nomination. Boyle, Fincher, Howard and Van Sant all are nominated for the best-director Oscar, along with Stephen Daldry for the Holocaust-themed drama "The Reader."

While "Slumdog Millionaire" started as an underdog that nearly went straight to DVD, it has emerged as a potential Oscar favorite. Audiences have embraced Boyle's tale of a poor boy rising to fame and fortune from the streets of Mumbai, and the film triumphed at the Golden Globes and Producers Guild of America Awards, while taking the prize for best ensemble cast from the Screen Actors Guild.

Among awards presenters were Joel and Ethan Coen, who won the guild prize and the directing Oscar a year ago for "No Country for Old Men." Others presenting awards included current Oscar nominees Sean Penn, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, Amy Adams, Frank Langella, Viola Davis, Josh Brolin, Richard Jenkins and Michael Shannon.


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