No question about it; Crazy Love lives up to its title--and then some. The story of Burt Pugach and Linda Riss' rocky relationship will leave you shaking your head and yes even chuckling at the mind-boggling quirks of human nature. The pair met in the Bronx in the '50s when Burt a successful personal injury lawyer spotted lovely Linda sitting on a bench and decided then and there that he had to have her. But Burt's dogged glamorous courtship (private planes! nightclub stars!) couldn't erase the fact that he was already married; when Linda broke up with him and got engaged to someone else he went ballistic ultimately paying a pair of thugs to throw lye in her face and blind her. The sensational case was all over the papers and Burt eventually went to jail for the crime--only to get paroled 14 years later and wind up marrying the woman who was still the girl of his dreams. If you didn't know better you'd swear that most of the people interviewed in Crazy Love were straight out of central casting. Outspoken brash and as thoroughly New York as bagels and marble rye Burt Linda and their friends and relatives are as entertaining a bunch as any fictional characters could be. Even knowing the sordid details of their ups and downs it's hard not to sympathize with both Burt--now a roly-poly type who doesn't seem capable of hurting a fly much less the love of his life--and Linda a say-it-like-it-is gal decked out in jewelry and a big-haired wig who seems like the type of forthright dame Shirley MacLaine would love to play. Other folks involved in the story--including the female cop who started out protecting Linda from Burt and later helped arrange their reconciliation--weigh in with their own unique take on the couple's long strange trip. Eschewing narration in favor of a few discreet time stamps and peppy period music cues Klores mostly just sits back and lets Burt and Linda tell their unbelievable tale--which works perfectly since it's one that doesn't need any embellishment. Perhaps most impressively Klores manages to frame the story--which looked at objectively is a horrifying account of obsession and abuse--in an engagingly lighthearted way without condescending to his subjects. You may not understand how Linda could take Burt back after everything he did to her but you don't dismiss her as a brainless broad either. In the end watching them kibitz at each other as they putter around their apartment and grab a bite to eat Linda's theory she's gotten her revenge by making Burt put up with her for almost 30 years doesn't throw you for any more of a loop than anything else the pair has said or done. Ah young love!
George Clooney and Brad Pitt's Las Vegas dream is over--their ambitious Las Ramblas hotel complex is dead.
Ten months after its much-publicized launch and following multiple rumors about its demise, the Las Ramblas sales office has been closed and the 25-acre plot of land the hotels, casinos and play areas were to stand on has been sold to the developers of the neighboring W Hotel, Casino & Residences for a whopping $202 million.
The news has been confirmed by Dan Klores Communications, the New York-based publicity firm representing Las Ramblas.
A spokesman says, "We are no longer dealing with that account as I understand the Las Ramblas project is no longer going ahead."
Vegas insiders claim rising construction costs are behind the decision to shut down the Las Ramblas venture--a project backed financially by Clooney and Cindy Crawford's restaurateur husband Rande Gerber, and supported by new dad Pitt.
Pitt and Clooney were signed onto a boutique project rumored to involve Gerber and Station Casinos on the plot of land currently housing the Wild, Wild West Casino.
When the project details were unveiled in 2004, they included 4,400 rooms and 11 high-rise towers.
Sin City property watchers now believe Clooney and Gerber will collaborate on a smaller Las Vegas hotel and casino property designed, in part, by architecture fan Pitt.
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Top Story: Gandolfini, HBO Play Nice
Both actor James Gandolfini and cable network HBO have decided to let things cool down by dropping their lawsuits against one another, Reuters reports. Gandolfini dismissed his suit Monday so he could begin negotiations for a fifth season of The Sopranos, while HBO officials said they were willing to step back from their $100 million countersuit filed after the actor refused to come back to work unless his salary was hiked to $16 million for a 13-episode season. "The only thing I can say...is that temperatures are taken down and there is an optimism in the air," Gandolfini's spokesman Dan Klores told Reuters early on Monday. Bert Fields, an attorney for HBO, said the cable network was still awaiting formal notice from a Los Angeles court that Gandolfini had withdrawn his lawsuit. Sources close to the negotiations told Reuters Gandolfini also would be required to sign a sworn statement agreeing to the terms of his original contract before new salary negotiations could resume.
Studios Move Ahead With Movie Releases Despite War
Despite the imminent threat of war against Iraq, Hollywood studios are forging ahead with plans to release their top movies over the next few weekends, Variety reports. "Once you start your campaign and sink money into it, it becomes counterproductive to move," MGM distribution head Erik Lomis explained to Variety, whose film Assassination Tango with Robert Duvall opens March 28. Opening this weekend is Artisan's Boat Trip, Buena Vista's animated Piglet's Big Movie, Miramax's View From the Top and Warner Bros.' Dreamcatcher.
Martin Sheen Continues Antiwar Diatribe
In an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times published Monday, Martin Sheen defended the rights of Hollywood antiwar activists to express their views, The Associated Press reports, and criticized those who belittle celebrities' opinions "solely due to our celebrity status." Sheen admitted celebrity activists do carry a responsibility since their comments would likely receive coverage. "As a result, we are often called to give voice to the voiceless and a presence to the marginalized," wrote Sheen.
System of a Down Makes Antiwar Video
Hardcore rock band System of a Down wants the video to their song "BOOM!" to help change the way people think about war, AP reports. "We want to make the idea of dropping bombs, of waging war seem as antiquated and ridiculous as it is today for an Afro-American to have to sit at the back of the bus," guitarist Daron Malakian told AP. The video depicts antiwar rallies across the world and features satirical animation of several leaders including President Bush, Saddam Hussein and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Celebrities To Arrive at Oscars in Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Instead of showing up in fancy stretch limos, celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams will be arriving at the Academy Awards ceremony in fuel-efficient gas-electric hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius, a Global Green USA press release stated Tuesday. "Improving fuel efficiency and conserving energy is a critical part of creating a more peaceful and sustainable world," Sarandon said in a statement. "Collectively, we have the power to make a shift, to make a difference, today."
Bets Closed on Chicago
After being inundated with customers betting on the musical Chicago to win the Oscar for Best Picture, a London betting company, Ladbrokes Ltd., is now declining any more wagers in the Best Picture category, Reuters reports. It is still, however, taking bets on many of the other categories.
Meryl Streep Laments Oscar Campaigns
Oscar-winning Meryl Streep reiterated her complaint that the whole idea of Oscar campaigning comes down to money, rather than on the merit of the work of those nominated, to Reuters Monday. "The biggest campaign could be rewarded, and as a result, more money will be thrown at these things," Streep said. "It's a business, you know. You can see why they all do it. But in a way, it kind of destroys the integrity of the Academy Awards that they do that."
Morgan Freeman Gets Star
Veteran actor Morgan Freeman, who is starring in the upcoming Dreamcatcher, will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Tuesday, making his the 2,220th star to grace the famous star-lined Hollywood Boulevard.
Dire Straits Knopfler Injured in Motorcycle Accident
Mark Knopfler, former frontman of rock band Dire Straits, was rushed to a hospital Monday after being injured in a motorcycle accident, Reuters reports. The 53-year-old singer suffered a broken collarbone and six broken ribs when his bike collided with a car in on a London street. A spokeswoman told Reuters Knopfler was in stable condition and had been released from the hospital.
Judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson will reunite with old pal Simon Cowell for the second round of Fox's American Idol. The producers of the show have also announced they will bring in a fourth judge who will "add a different and unique perspective" to the group, Variety reports. Ryan Seacrest will return as host and most likely be paired with a female co-host, after Idol's original co-host Brian Dunkleman announced he wouldn't be returning.
Easy Rider star Peter Fonda, riding a custom-built Harley-Davidson motorcycle, led a parade of about 200 bikers Tuesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to help promote the Santa Fe Film Festival, which runs Dec. 4-8. Fonda, 62, who will receive a festival award, is familiar with the surroundings since the cult classic was filmed in the Taos area 33 years ago.
Tony Soprano may not want to get involved in drugs but the guy who plays him once did. James Gandolfini, star of HBO's The Sopranos, admits he once struggled with drugs and alcohol abuse, Dan Klores, Gandolfini's spokesman, confirmed to the Associated Press. The actor's past substance abuse problems have been brought up in the divorce proceedings with his wife of three years. "To bring it up now, as an attempt to gain leverage and a better settlement during the divorce, is just reprehensible," Klores said.
Along with many X-Files fans, David Duchovny would like to see a second X-Files film made. "I think we're all kind of excited to go back and have a reunion, even though we haven't been apart for that long," Duchovny told AP. The actor left the now-defunct series in 2001 to pursue an career in movies. No word yet on whether a X-Files sequel will actually happen.
Let's all rest easy now. Miramax has finally picked Dec. 20 as the release date for Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio. The film, whose release date has been bounced around since late last year, was to hit the theaters this Christmas Day but would have competed against another DiCaprio film Catch Me If You Can.
Director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson--the masterminds behind the Scream franchise--are reteaming on a new film Cursed. Set in Los Angeles, the film will be a hip, modern twist on the classic werewolf tale. Production is slated to be immediately.
Diego Luna, the hot, young star of Y Tu Mama Tambien, has been cast as the male lead in Havana Nights, the sequel to Dirty Dancing. The story follows a 17-year-old girl who moves with her family to revolution-era Cuba. While there, she goes against her family's wishes and falls for a young Cuban dancer (Luna), who helps her discover herself and the world beyond her sheltered existence.
Roseanne is returning to television--but not how you'd expect. The comedian has set a deal with her old pals at ABC to develop a reality-based comedy, setting Roseanne in a workplace environment, either a talk or cooking show. Maybe she can get Anna Nicole Smith and Ozzy Osbourne as guests to make it complete.
Celine Dion has begun the rehearsal process in Bousval, Belgium, for her return to center stage. She is preparing for her appearance at the new $100 million Colosseum theater at Las Vegas' Caesars Palace next March.
Based on the life of New York City police detective Vincent LaMarca City by the Sea vacillates between a true-crime mystery and a family drama. As Vincent (De Niro) investigates the murder of a Long Beach N.Y. drug dealer it becomes painfully clear that his estranged son junkie Joey (James Franco) known on the street as Joey Nova is the prime suspect. Vincent is of course taken off the case but when his partner is killed while pursuing Joey the search becomes the Long Beach police department's top priority--and saving his son from a police department eager for cop-killer blood becomes Vincent's. The fact that Vincent discovers that he has a grandson Angelo doesn't help the situation especially when Joey's supposedly clean ex-junkie girlfriend (Eliza Dushku) leaves the kid at Vincent's apartment when she goes to buy cigarettes and fails to return. Vincent who's always defined himself against his criminal father finds himself forced to decide whether he's a cop or a father and grandfather first a quandary that naturally leads to some pretty compelling if slightly melodramatic scenes for De Niro. Interestingly despite the somber subject matter and the dramatic tone the film still manages a few lighthearted moments which really save it from the pitfalls of its own seriousness.
Sometimes a great cast can make even a mediocre film good and that's what happens in City by the Sea. Even though the dialogue they're given to work with isn't always completely natural--in fact sometimes it's downright contrived--the cast still manages to create a compelling final product. You just can't go wrong with De Niro as a hardened streetwise emotionally distant cop and he makes everyone opposite him look great especially relative newcomer Franco (whose performance as a young James Dean in TNT's James Dean earned him some critical kudos of his own). The young actor swaggers onto the scene like a very young Bob Dylan a hollow-body vintage guitar slung across his back. Of course he's selling it for drugs not heading for a gig. Patti LuPone really sinks her teeth--and catty claws--into her role as LaMarca's bitter ex-wife creating some of the film's most dynamic scenes while Frances McDormand lends her subtly expressive style to the most emotional moments as De Niro's sometime girlfriend Michelle.
Director Michael Caton-Jones delves into the dark side of his imagination with images of a desolate Long Beach: graffiti-covered walls crumbling casinos and a rickety boardwalk--all the detritus of a once-thriving tourist destination. In this grim setting Joey wanders virtually empty streets and beaches where as a child he played happily; meanwhile in Manhattan Vincent is wandering his streets in much the same way. It's an interesting device Caton-Jones uses to show the similarities between the two men and it's as effective at establishing their relationship as the relatively few scenes they have together. At moments like this when the film is making its emotional impact visually it shines; unfortunately City by the Sea relies a little too often on its average dialogue and does a little too much telling and not enough showing.