NEW YORK (AP) – Joan and Melissa Rivers are singing the praises of the Oscar fashions, saying the simple, colorful gowns hit the right note.

Usually, the mother-daughter duo come off the red carpet and dish about the best and worst dressed, “but there was no worst!” Joan Rivers said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show. They are the fashion commentators for the TV Guide Channel.

“The women were beautiful,” added Melissa Rivers.

Cate Blanchett’s yellow one-shoulder Valentino gown, which had a wide maroon sash, was a hard look to pull off, but she did it. “To wear maroon and yellow, and to look gorgeous … that’s a fashionista!” Joan Rivers said.

Among their other favorites from Sunday’s Academy Awards show in Los Angeles were Catalina Sandino Moreno, who wore a white hourglass slip gown with thick beaded straps by Roberto Cavalli, Renee Zellweger in a red strapless Carolina Herrera gown and Salma Hayek in a blue Prada gown with black beading and bows.

Melissa Rivers also admired Hayek’s diamond and sapphire drop earrings by Harry Winston. The Rivers duo explained that most of the jewelry is borrowed and must be returned immediately after the show, but it’s common knowledge that Oprah Winfrey wears her own diamonds. “She buys,” Joan Rivers said.

Meanwhile, Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who is Calvin Klein’s underwear model and lately has worn his gowns to awards shows, chose a high-neck, sapphire-blue gown with long sleeves by Guy Laroche. (The New York Times said perhaps Swank was being superstitious, noting that she had made a last-minute change in designers when she won an Oscar for “Boys Don’t Cry” in 2000.)

The few fashion missteps were taken by men, critics said. Spike Lee wore a white suit paired with a black fez, black shirt, black tie and clear, oversized round eyeglasses. And Samuel L. Jackson’s stretch wool tuxedo with a covered placket and rolled collar looked – from a distance – like a rubber scuba suit.

NEW YORK (AP) – Ashlee Ashby wasn’t surprised when she was voted off CBS’ “Survivor: Palau.” She was looking forward to it.

“Everyone sensed that I was ready to go home,” Ashby told The Associated Press Friday. “I knew that I was ready to go home. So tribal council was a good thing.”

Despite surviving the 10th edition’s kickball-style tribe selection in the premiere episode, the 22-year-old wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for “Survivor.” Although it wasn’t seen on the show, Ashby cried about the experience to Jolanda Jones, the first person voted off the “Palau” edition.

“I shouldn’t have cried,” said Ashby. “I had just reached a point where I could no longer play the game. Everything had gotten to me.”

“Everything” included a budding romance between Ulong tribemates Kim Mullen and Jeff Wilson. “Everyone wondered if they were pulling another Rob and Amber,” said Ashby, referring to “Survivor: All Stars” Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich, who later became engaged. “I’m going to have to watch the show and see how that plays out. There are some intentions there beyond more than just winning.”

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PARIS (AP) – Abdellatif Kechiche’s “L’Esquive,” a story about disenfranchised inner-city youth, was named best picture at the annual French movie awards.

Kechiche won four awards, including best director for his low-budget film featuring a largely amateur cast. It beat out favorites for best film that included Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “A Very Long Engagement.”

Jeunet’s movie, a whimsical drama about a woman who refuses to believe her fiance died in the trenches of World War I, won five awards Saturday, including best supporting actress and best costumes.

Two awards went to Christophe Barratier’s “The Chorus,” a story about a struggling musician who takes a job at a troubled boys school and works magic through song. It won for best music written for a film and best sound.

Sofia Coppola won best foreign film for “Lost in Translation,” the quirky story of two lonely Americans who find friendship in a Tokyo hotel, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson.

RADNOR, Pa. (AP) – In his final days, Jerry Orbach refused to let cancer stop him from portraying police Detective Lennie Briscoe on NBC’s “Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” the show’s executive producer said.

Orbach, who died of prostate cancer in December, continued to work even while getting chemotherapy every two weeks, Walon Green told TV Guide for its Feb. 27 issue.

Green said he needed to make some changes for Orbach’s final scene because the actor had weakened to the point where he could not speak in his normal voice.

“He was down to a whisper,” Green said. “So we had everybody else in the scene whisper.”

Green said the 69-year-old Orbach refused to be written out of scenes when Green tried to lighten his workload.

“He’d call and be upset and want to know why I’d taken him out” of a scene, Green said. “He’d want the scene back. He was like the Energizer bunny. He wanted to keep going.”

“Law & Order: Trial by Jury” previews Thursday (10 p.m. EST), with another episode Friday (10 p.m. EST) in what will be the series’ regular slot. The show is the latest spinoff in the “Law & Order” franchise.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A faded concert poster from the 1968 Miami Pop Festival may tell as much about banjo great Earl Scruggs as any of the other relics in a new Scruggs exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

“Banjo Man: The Musical Journey of Earl Scruggs” opens March 4 and runs through June 16, 2006.

The exhibit traces Scruggs’ life and career from his childhood in rural North Carolina through his years with Bill Monroe’s band, Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, and the folk-rock group he formed with his sons in the early 1970s, the Earl Scruggs Revue.

At the Miami Pop Festival, Scruggs and musical partner Lester Flatt shared the bill with the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, James Cotton, Richie Havens and the Box Tops – all for $6.

“I like to play with some of the young bands that play rock ‘n’ roll because I don’t play rock ‘n’ roll,” Scruggs said recently. “But there’s enough rhythm in what I play that if you’ve got somebody who knows how to put a little sway in it, it really comes off in a country tune.”

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