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High Wattage

The latest from Venice.

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VENICE — Naomi Watts dazzled in an array of outfits at the Venice Film Festival: A demure green Collette Dinnigan dress to meet the press; a sizzling black Gucci number for the premiere of her movie “21 Grams,” and a soft white Chanel for the award ceremony. And just what is she wearing to the Oscars?

“Oh quit,” Watts said, at the mention of the O word. “But thank you.”

Watts didn’t win Best Actress in Venice (the honor went to Katja Riemann for her performance as the Aryan wife of a Jew in Nazi Germany in “Rosenstrasse”) but she received buckets of praise — and Oscar buzz — for her performance as a middle-class mother with a reckless past in the ensemble drama. Jetting from Venice, Watts was off to the Toronto Film Festival for the Canadian premiere of the film and then to New York, where she begins filming the supernatural thriller “Stay” this month, opposite Ewan McGregor.

Sean Penn,
Watts’ co-star in “21 Grams,” picked up the Best Actor trophy. A three-time Oscar nominee, Penn routinely skips the Hollywood award shows, so, don’t expect to see him there in 2004. “I live in mortal fear of Joan Rivers so I can’t,” Penn explained. “She’s scary to me. Joan Rivers is the only thing I fear.”

Luckily for him, Rivers wasn’t in Venice to corner him on the red carpet. “On the way in the door, nobody asked me who I was wearing as though I was Hannibal Lecter or something like that,” he said.

Meanwhile, George Clooney, who has spent the whole summer in Italy, has been planning to put an editing bay in the back of his Lake Como villa, where Steven Soderbergh can work on a sequel to “Ocean’s 11.” “I’d love to do as much in Italy as I possibly can because I think [things are done very well] in this country,” said Clooney. “I’d love to become more and more part of the culture. I’m trying to learn the language, which I’m an idiot at. But I’ve got all the discs. I just keep saying, ‘Non parlo Italiano molto bene.’”
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