As the Sundance Film Festival rounds out its first week Wednesday, many stars were on hand to promote their films at the famed indie festival, co-founded by director/actor Robert Redford.
The fabulous 21-year-old Christina Ricci was there hawking her new film Pumpkin (a big buzz at the festival) and talked about independent films being less "indulgent" in 2002 than in previous years (sure). Others in attendance included Jennifer Aniston, promoting her film The Good Girl, with hubby Brad Pitt along for the ride; and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, hyping their film Stolen Summer, which was made by Pete Jones, the $1 million winner of the Project Greenlight contest co-sponsored by the dynamic duo.
Robin Williams, supporting his film One Hour Photo, couldn't pass up the opportunity to provide a little zany comedy for the Sundance crowd as he ran up on stage to perform, pointing out a woman's llama coat and calling it "Genghis Kahn's road kill." The festival ends this Saturday with an awards ceremony.
When the ninth season wraps in May, Fox has decided to end its serial on paranormal investigation and close shop on the Emmy-winning The X-Files. What? No more alien abductions? The series will end its primetime life with a special two-part episode penned by creator Chris Carter.
Outspoken lesbian Ellen DeGeneres has admitted that she would like to have children someday, in an online interview on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Web site. Good for her. Still, she acknowledges the fact "the kid is going to have a hard time at school" by having a lesbian mother.
In related news, TV's Enterprise star Scott Bakula, along with other famous Star Trek captains, including Patrick Stewart and Kate Mulgrew, bemoaned the lack of gay characters in the Star Trek series, to MetroSource magazine. Stewart said, "Given what growth and advancement has been made in the past 20 years even in the most rigid male bastions...one would have thought that Star Trek would be the ideal environment [for a gay character]." Data finally gets a boyfriend!
Hot off the critical success of his veddy British film Gosford Park, director Robert Altman is looking at his next project, Voltage, a comedy about corporate America based on Robert Grossbach's novel A Shortage of Engineers. He's already compiling an ensemble cast with Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Liv Tyler, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Tony Shalhoub and Bob Balaban.
A plaque to be given to actor James Earl Jones at a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. day had one teeny-weeny typo on it: it read, "Thank you James Earl Ray for keeping the dream alive." Of course, we all know James Earl Ray was the man who shot and killed King in 1968. Oops. The manufacturers of the plaque, Merit Industries, have said the mix-up was an "honest error." Hey, guys, don't upset Darth Vader or the NAACP.
HBO executives announced some of their programming plans Wednesday at the Television Critics Assn., including placement a 13-episode order for the new police drama The Wire, from the creator of the successful HBO miniseries The Corner, due for a summer or fall launch. HBO has also picked up the comedy series The Mind of the Married Man for another season.
Barbra Streisand feels a need to get closer to one of our country's founding fathers, George Washington (oh, don't we all). At a Sotheby's auction, Babs outbid the Mount Vernon Ladies Association to buy an oil painting of our first president to hang in her Malibu home.
Pop singer Dido has had her nomination for best-newcomer from the Official U.K. Charts Company taken away Wednesday, mainly because she's not all that "new." The 30-year-old had actually been nominated for best female artist the previous year. Those goofy British.
Actor Brad Renfro, 19, is in trouble again. He was arrested and charged Monday with public intoxication and driving without a license in Knoxville, Tenn. after being stopped for a traffic violation. Last year Renfro was sentenced to two year's probation for trying to steal a yacht in Florida.
The Boss gets his own musical. That's right, the songs of rocker Bruce Springsteen have been fashioned into a musical called Drive All Night, with Springsteen's blessing. A first reading will take place in March after a three-week rehearsal.
The myths and legends of Native American folklore will be made into a $30 million-plus miniseries for ABC. The four-hour epic will center around a 100-year-old Native American grandfather telling his 17-year-old grandson about such myths as the story of a rain god who falls in love with a mortal woman and an outcast child who tries to tame a water beast. The targeted air date is November 2003.
Fashion designer extraordinaire Giorgio Armani, creator of some of the world's most lavish clothes, says he is tired of luxury. "Luxury disgusts me," he told an Italian newspaper Thursday. "I want to pay homage to the workers, to the dignity of workers..." Does this mean Armani is giving up the private jet?
Publicist Lizzie Grubman, who injured 16 people by backing her SUV into a crowd of people outside a Hamptons nightclub last year, has been hit with another lawsuit related to that incident. Grubman's vehicle hit the outside structure of the establishment and pieces of the wall fell and injured Dabney Mercer, who brought the suit.
Mariah Carey has booked a guest appearance on Fox's Ally McBeal on Jan. 7. In the episode, Carey will play a key figure in a lawsuit brought by (Jami Gertz's) Kimmy Bishop after she is given a refund by a matchmaking service and deemed unmatchable. Carey also will be featured warbling "Lead the Way" from her new album, "Glitter."
The movie memorabilia-themed restaurant Planet Hollywood filed for bankruptcy on Friday due to a drop in tourist business after Sept. 11. Planet's chief executive Robert Earl tells Reuters the Orlando-Florida based restaurant chain owes $133 million in debt against $121 in assets. Planet Hollywood, once valued at $3.5 billion on the day of its 1996 opening day, is struggling to find customers to fill its restaurants.
An Italian court has cleared Tenor Luciano Pavarotti of tax evasion charges, throwing out a state claim for up to $18 million, BBC News reports. Prosecutors argued that Pavarotti claimed to be a resident of the Italian town Modena, not Monaco, as claimed in his tax return between 1989 and 1995. In his defense, his lawyers said the tenor only visited Italy a few days each year to see friends and for the holidays. Otherwise, he lived "179 days a year" in the United States.
How's "Survivor" surviving? Not so well, apparently. The CBS reality show Survivor: Africa came in second to NBC's Friends last Thursday for the second week in a row. According to Nielsen ratings, Survivor has dipped its lowest levels since its June 2000 debut, having declined by 18 percent in total viewers (19.59 million vs. 23.84 million) and by 24 percent in adults (7.9 rating, 20 share vs. 10.4/23) from its premiere a week ago. . Friends was down 18 percent week-to-week in adults 18-24 to a season-low 12.2/32, but that's still 4 percent ahead of its fourth episode last season.
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, will stop making TV programs about royalty following controversy over his production company's filming of Prince William, BBC News reports. Adrent Productions has been criticized for not adhering to an agreement for all media not to intrude into William's life at St. Andrews University in Edinburgh, where he has just begin his first term.
Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins will star in The Human Stain, based on a Philip Roth novel set against the backdrop of the 1998 Clinton impeachment scandal, Reuters reports. Robert Benton is set to direct the film, which is expected to begin shooting in March.
The Runner, an ambitious reality show developed by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, has been put on hold until next season due to concerns over the national mood, Reuters reports. The series, previously set to premiere on Jan. 7, is a cat-and-mouse game in which pre-selected "agents" pursue "runners" cross-country According to ABC, security issues and concern about the show's arose after the Sept. 11 attacks. No word yet on what ABC will do with the 9 p.m. Monday slot come January.
Producers Harry Thomason, his wife Linda Bloodworth-Thomason and filmmaker Adam Friedman are set to begin filming a theatrical documentary based on the Joe Conason and Gene Lyons book The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hunting will document the efforts to discredit the couple from the time of Bill Clinton's governorship in Arkansas through his 1998 presidential impeachment trial. Production is scheduled to start during the next few weeks.
With the balloting for the Screen Actors Guild presidential and more than 40 offices up for election ending in Oct. 31, candidates can now send email messages to the 30,000 or so union members who have email adresses, Reuters reported. For 8 cents per message, the emails supposedly contain harsh criticism on the presidential race between Melissa Gilbert and Valerie Harper, who are seeking to replace the current SAG president William Daniels, who will not be running for a second two-year term.
Bad-ass Kid Rock is looking for a few fans to appear in his new video "Forever," the first off his Nov. 20 release Cocky. According to an Atlantic Records spokesperson, the Wayne Isham-directed video will be shot on Oct. 26 and 27 in Detroit, Mich. Details will be announced soon through local radio stations and Kid Rock's official Web site.
The last time an epic fantasy miniseries came along, it was NBC's exercise in stamina "The 10th Kingdom." We suggested then that you wait until the next sweeps period for impresario Robert Halmi Sr.'s more promising "Arabian Nights" (8-10 p.m., tonight, and 9-11 p.m., Monday, ABC). Well, the sweeps are here again, and "Arabian Nights" has been worth the wait. Filmed in exotic Turkish and Moroccan locations, it features very cool and moody visual effects, and most importantly, a great story, er, stories, as "The Thousand and One Nights" of Middle-Eastern folklore has provided some of the most bulletproof material in entertainment for about 1,000 years now. The cast is strong and looks like they were having a lot of fun throughout, with Jason Scott Lee ("Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story") as Aladdin and John Leguizamo as the genie. "Arabian Nights" also features a very sexy narrator in Mili Avital as Scheherazade, the sultry weaver of the ancient tales. Fortunately, first-choice James Earl Jones was already booked. (He couldn't have pulled off wearing her outfits, anyway.)
In other highlights:
-- For anyone who was alive during the 20th century's most embarrassing decade, we all know that the last thing we need is to have any of the 1970s documented in an epic miniseries. Unfortunately, that's exactly what's happened in "The '70s" (9 p.m., today and Monday, NBC). It's the sideburn-heavy sequel to last year's mini "The '60s." Some of "The '70s" is, as you might expect, pretty "mellow," but much of drama in this film comes from an extended series of "hangups" and "bummers" ranging from Watergate to disco. Amy Smart ("Felicity") stands out as a possible breakout performer.
-- As the venerable "X-Files" (9 p.m., Sunday, Fox) perhaps winds down, the show proves it's still very capable of giving us a special episode. This week's installment might sound like a recipe for self-indulgence and disaster as star David Duchovny not only wrote and directed (remember what eventually happened to "M*A*S*H?"), but cast his wife (Tea Leoni) and his friend (Garry Shandling) in major roles. But you know what? It's a lot better than it sounds. "The X-files" has always been smart, even when it's being funny, and with Leone and Shandling guest starring as actors in a movie based on the work of Scully and Mulder, this pip of an hour continues the tradition.
-- Finally, two staples of quality teen/twentysomething programming deliver series farewells this week. In a satisfying two hours of closure, Fox's engaging study in angst, "Party of Five" (8 p.m., Wednesday), finally sees the Salingers go their separate ways after six seasons. Somewhere among the tears, alcoholism, terminal illness and more tears, "Party" also provided the launching pad for several present and future stars, including Neve Campbell, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Scott Wolf. We're sorry to see them go here but suspect we'll be seeing them all again. Meanwhile, "Boy Meets World" (8 p.m., Friday, ABC), the always warm and surprisingly intelligent teen comedy, ends its seven-year run with a special one-hour finale. Cory (Ben Savage) and Topanga (Danielle Fishel) are all grown up, married and moving to New York. It almost sounds like they are ready to start their own little spin-off.