LOS ANGELES – “The King’s Speech” is precisely the kind of film that has long appealed to awards voters: It’s historical, focuses on royalty, depicts a character overcoming physical adversity and features a classy cast.

So it should come as no surprise that it received the most Golden Globe nominations Tuesday with seven, including best picture, on a morning when there were few surprises to be found. The film’s director, Tom Hooper, was also among the nominees, as were stars Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter.

Based on the story of how King George VI (Firth) battled a stammer with the help of an unorthodox speech therapist (Rush) just prior to World War II, “The King’s Speech” hits all the right notes and does it with impeccable polish. But beneath the flawless production values and period trappings is a relevant story about uplift – always popular come awards time.

Other top nominees were David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” which traces the origins of Facebook, and David O. Russell’s “The Fighter,” inspired by the true story of Boston-area boxer “Irish” Micky Ward. Both films received six nominations, including best picture and best director.

“The Social Network” has been racking up top honors from critics groups across the country in recent days.

Birch dropped from revival of ‘Dracula’


NEW YORK – A stake has been driven into Thora Birch’s New York stage debut.

The 28-year-old actress best known for the films “American Beauty” and “Ghost World” has been dropped from an off-Broadway revival of “Dracula” at the Little Shubert Theater a few weeks before it is to open.

Birch had been slated to play the love interest of Count Dracula. Now her role will be filled by Emily Bridges, who is the daughter of Beau Bridges and who had been playing a smaller part.

Producers of the show didn’t specify why Birch was released, but The New York Times reports that Jack Birch, her father and manager, objected to back rubs another cast member was giving his daughter.

The dropping of Birch has not changed the show’s official opening, which is set for Jan. 5.

Heel knocks Usher’s nose


NEW YORK – Being a sex symbol has its dangers, as Usher learned firsthand at his New York City concert.

The crooner brought an ecstatic female fan onstage Monday night for a serenade of his sensual song “Trading Places” at Madison Square Garden. The overexcited fan tried to move her leg to get closer to him. Her stiletto boot heel knocked him in the nose. Usher wasn’t hurt and cracked a joke about it.

Johansson, Reynolds ending their marriage

LOS ANGELES – Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds are breaking up.

The two entertainers say that “after long and careful consideration” they have decided to end their two-year marriage.

Their joint statement on Tuesday says that “while privacy isn’t expected, it’s certainly appreciated.”

The 26-year-old actress and 34-year-old actor were wed in 2008.

Johansson recently appeared in “Iron Man 2.” Reynolds stars in “Green Lantern,” set for release next year.