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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 January, 2005, 16:16 GMT
US producers honour The Aviator
The Aviator producers Michael Mann and Graham King
Producers Michael Mann and Graham King shared the award
The Aviator has won the Producers Guild of America's top award, a prize that often indicates Oscar success.

Film-makers Michael Mann and Graham King were named joint producers of the year for the movie, a Howard Hughes biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

In 11 of the past 15 years, the industry body has honoured films that then won the best picture Oscar.

Angels in America won the award for best TV miniseries while Curb Your Enthusiasm was best comedy series.

Tough competition

Long-running series The Sopranos was named best episodic drama while The Ellen DeGeneres Show took the guild's variety television award at the Los Angeles ceremony.

The award for tackling social issues was shared by the producers of Hotel Rwanda, the true tale of a hotel manager who saved people from the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and Innocent Voices, a fictional account of a boy's experience during the Salvadoran civil war.

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator
Leonardo DiCaprio plays millionaire Howard Hughes in The Aviator
The Aviator was named best picture, and its star DiCaprio best male actor, at last week's Golden Globe Awards.

But it faces tough Oscar competition from offbeat comedy Sideways and Million Dollar Baby, which earned Clint Eastwood the best director Golden Globe.

The producers are the first of three US craft guilds to name their best picture for the year prior to the Oscars on 27 February.

Next Saturday the Directors Guild selects its best movie, followed by the Screen Actors Guild on 5 February.


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