The folks behind Chicago are seriously jazzed today, as the high-stepping movie musical racked up a leading eight nominations for the 60th annual Golden Globe Awards.

Instantly boosting its Oscar credentials and putting it on track to be 2002's Moulin Rouge, Chicago scored nominations for Best Picture, Musical or Comedy, along with lead acting nods for its dueling singing-and-dancing murderesses, Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, and their slickster laywer, Richard Gere.

Also looking Golden on Thursday: double nominee Meryl Streep, Eminem (in the Best Song race), The Simpsons (a surprise nomination for Best Television Comedy) and, this is not a misprint, Adam Sandler.

In the musical/comedy category, Chicago will face off against six-time nominee Adaptation, a film about a screenwriter's struggle to adapt an unadaptable book. Also in contention: a straight-forward adaptation of Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby; the year's sleeper star, My Big Fat Greek Wedding; and the Hugh Grant-powered About a Boy.

Meanwhile, on the drama side, The Hours clocked in with a whopping seven nominations, including Best Picture. It will square off against entries by two all-time great filmmakers, Martin Scorsese's epic Gangs of New York and Roman Polanski's escape-from-the-Nazis effort The Pianist. Also up in the category: About Schmidt, starring Jack Nicholson as a frazzled midwestern widower, and the second Hobbit installment The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Sandler, making his play as a serious thespian with his oddball loner part in Punch-Drunk Love, secured his first Globe nomination, in the Best Actor, Musical/Comedy race. He's up against Gere, Grant, Nicolas Cage (who doubled his pleasure playing twins in Adaptation), and one of the endless supply of Culkins, Kieran, a left-field nominee himself for the dark comedy Igby Goes Down.

Aside from Chicago's Z-rated stars, the musical/comedy lead actress contenders include The Banger Sisters' Goldie Hawn, coincidentally one of the actresses originally slated to be in the big-screen Chicago. Rounding out the slate: Greek Wedding planner Nia Vardalos and Maggie Gyllenhaal for her breakout role as an S&M-loving executive assistant in Secretary.

The dramatic acting category is led by two Gangs of New York stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio--sort of. DiCaprio earned the nod for his chameleon-like performance in his other holiday release, Catch Me If You Can. Vets Nicholson and Michael Caine (The Quiet American) and relative newcomer Adrien Brody (The Pianist) complete the category.

Be sure to catch E!'s live Globe coverage on January 19, beginning at noon ET/PT. And for the latest news, a complete list of nominees and more, check out our Golden Globes 2003 package.

The Hours' Streep and Nicole Kidman will square off against costar Julianne Moore--a nominee for the 1950s melodrama Far from Heaven--as well as Salma Hayek (for playing monobrowed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo) and Diane Lane, who steamed things up in Unfaithful.

When it comes to Best Supporting Actor/Actress, the Globes don't differentiate between dramas and musicals/comedies, meaning fewer slots for the under-the-title types. Making the cut among actors: grizzled legend Paul Newman for his role as a grizzled gangster in Road to Perdition; Chris Cooper for his scene-stealing turn as a orchid-stealing oddball in Adaptation; Dennis Quaid for his career-remaking role in Far from Heaven; Ed Harris for The Hours; and John C. Reilly as the put-upon cuckold in Chicago.

Streep picked up her second nomination of the day, this one in the Supporting Actress race, for Adaptation. She's up against Kathy Bates (About Schmidt), Cameron Diaz (Gangs of New York), Queen Latifah (Chicago) and Susan Sarandon (Igby Goes Down).

Perhaps the day's biggest dissees were Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, favorites of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association who normally pencil in a Golden Globe nomination this time of year. Hanks failed to get nominated for either Road to Perdition or Catch Me If You Can. Likewise, Spielberg came up empty for Catch Me If You Can and Minority Report.

With Spielberg MIA, the Best Director race will feature Gangs ringmaster Scorsese jockeying with Chicago's Rob Marshall, Adaptation's Spike Jonze, The Hours' Stephen Daldry, The Two Towers' Peter Jackson and About Schmidt's Alexander Payne.

One twist in the Best Screenplay showdown--both Charlie Kaufman and his fictional twin Donald were nominated for Adaptation. As far as we know, neither Bill Condon nor David Hare got an assist from a make-believe sib for their adaptions of, respectively, Chicago and The Hours, both of which were nominated, as were Todd Haynes for Far from Heaven and Payne and Jim Taylor for About Schmidt.

And there's a compelling race shaping up for Best Song, which finds Eminem's 8 Mile theme, "Lose Yourself," up for golden glory against Madonna's "Die Another Day," Paul Simon's "Father and Daughter" (from The Wild Thornberrys Movie) and U2's "The Hands That Built America" (Gangs of New York).

While the Globes are usually a more accurate bellwether for Oscars than Emmys, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association seems more attuned to cutting-edge shows than the fuddy-duddy Emmy folks. Hence we get The Simpsons, now in its 14th season, sneaking in for a Best Comedy Series nod among usual suspects like NBC's Friends and Will & Grace and HBO's hilarious Larry David romp Curb Your Enthusiasm and Globe vet Sex and the City.

Up for Dramatic Series: HBO's power twosome The Sopranos and Six Feet Under, Fox's 24, FX's The Shield and NBC's The West Wing.

Per usual, HBO dominated the TV Movie/Miniseries category, scoring nods for The Gathering Storm, Live from Baghdad and Path to War, which are up against A&E's Shackleton and Sci Fi's Spielberg-produced smash Taken.

In fact, HBO led all tube types with 26 nods, followed by NBC (13), Fox (seven), CBS and FX (three apiece) and ABC and TNT (two each).

Finally, there is one person guaranteed to bring home the hardware come Globes night--master thespian Gene Hackman will be honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his lifetime achievement.

The Golden Globes, voted on by the 90-member Hollywood Foreign Press Association, will be divvied up January 19 live on NBC.

See the complete list of Golden Globe nominations.

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