As the North American awards season gathers pace the USComedy Arts Festival (USCAF) and HBO have got in on the gong-giving act byannouncing that next year's ninth annual event will feature the inauguralComedy Film Honours.

The awards will recognise Studio Comedy Film, Independent ComedyFilm, First-Time Director and the Entertainment Weekly Audience Award and are to be presidedover by an executive committee of comedy filmmakers that includes Steve Martin,Jay Roach, Billy Crystal, Barry Levinson and the Farrelly Brothers.

The committee will help a jury panel of comedy writers, actors,producers and directors choose the eventual winners. The public gets a chanceto vote online for their favourite comedy by logging in at, starting Dec 19. The ninth US Comedy Arts Festival runs in Aspen,Colorado, from Feb 26-Mar 2, 2003.

'Funny movies look easy, sometimes, but a lot goes into thegood ones,' said Jay Roach, director of Meet The Parents and Austin Powers In Goldmember. 'I'm glad to be part of an eventthat recognises artists who are making good comedic films.'

'The Comedy Film Honours were founded in a desire tosupport the comedy film-making community,' Stu Smiley, executive directorand founder of the USCAF, said.

'The awards are designed to acknowledge the creative andcommercial success of the most popular genre of film.' Stanley also servesas executive producer on the Emmy Award-winning CBS show Everybody LovesRaymond and HBO's TheMind Of The Married Man.