Top Story: Sizemore Didn't Take the Witness Stand
After Tom Sizemore declined to testify in his abuse trial, his lawyers concluded their case Monday by showing a videotape shot by Heidi Fleiss, Sizemore's former fiancé, who has claimed the actor beat her during their tumultuous relationship and has since threatened her and her family's life. The Associated Press reports the tape was shot in a hotel room where Fleiss and Sizemore were staying during a publicity tour for Black Hawk Down. On it, she declares her love for Sizemore. "I can't wait for Tom to get home to tell him how good he was, how handsome he is, how happy he makes me," she reportedly said on the tape. The defense suggests this contradicts her claim that on the same day Sizemore came to the hotel room and beat her so badly that both of them missed the premiere of the movie. AP reports Sizemore cried at the defense table while the tape was playing. The actor could face up to 13 years in prison if convicted of all the charges, which include making about 100 harassing phone calls to Fleiss, vandalism, threatening to inflict injury to a person or property and corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition.
More on the Ben & Jen Saga
Promoting the new Project Greenlight film The Battle of Shaker Heights, Ben Affleck skirted reporters' questions about his recent visit to a Vancouver strip club in July, Reuters reports. "You can tell your news editors that you are too big for that kind of stuff, that you are better than that, that you rise above it," Affleck joked at the press conference. The affable actor also commented on his upcoming film Jersey Girl, in which his lady love Jennifer Lopez also makes an appearance. "I think Jersey Girl is a really good movie," he said. "Jen is only in it for about 10 minutes, so it's not really like a 'me-and-Jen' movie. In fact, probably after the towering success of Gigli, I suspect Miramax will find a way to sell it as other than a 'me-and-Jen' movie."
Al Franken Sued by Fox Over Slogan
Saturday Night Live writer and political humorist Al Franken is being sued by Fox News to stop using the phrase "fair and balanced" in the title of his new book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, AP reports. Fox filed the suit Monday, claiming they registered "Fair & Balanced" as a trademark in 1995. Franken's "intent is clear--to exploit Fox News' trademark, confuse the public as to the origins of the book and, accordingly, boost sales of the book," AP reports the suit said.
P. Diddy Targeted in Lawsuit
Two men have filed suit against rap mogul Sean "P. Diddy" Combs for $25 million each, claiming they were attacked by a security team at Combs' recording studio, AP reports. Thomas Guest and Damon Jackson filed their suits Monday, alleging that they were assaulted in August 2002 at the Daddy's House studio in New York, where the two men were trying to visit Combs, a friend of Guest. Combs' spokeswoman, Susan Makarichev, told AP the lawsuits were "totally baseless" and "the allegations are ridiculous."
Robert Evans's Wife Files for Divorce
Former model Leslie Ann Woodward filed for divorce Monday from legendary film producer Robert Evans, citing "irreconcilable differences," Reuters reports. The 34-year-old Woodward married the 73-year-old Evans last November, his sixth marriage, and has been separated from him since June. The couple has no children.
Bertrand Cantat Probed in Beating Death of Girlfriend
Bertrand Cantat, the lead singer of the popular French rock band Noir Desir, is close to being charged in the beating death of his girlfriend, Marie Trintignant, AP reports. The French actress was found in a coma in July in a hotel in Lithuania, where she was filming a movie, after she and Cantat reportedly had an argument. AP reports a French judge will travel to the Baltic nation Monday, when Cantat, who has been detained in the country, will be notified that he is under investigation for "fatal blows leading unintentionally to death," officials told AP on condition of anonymity. In France, being placed under investigation is one step short of charges, AP reports. Cantat has maintained the death was an accident.
Coppola Searching for Utopian City
Location scouting for his next film, director Francis Ford Coppola visited the sleepy town of Curitiba, Brazil, as a possible place to shoot Megalopolis, his first film in six years, Reuters reports. The story follows a visionary architect who sets out to design a utopian city. "[Curitiba] is amazing, especially the public transportation," Coppola told Reuters, whose quest for an urban paradise will also take him to cities in India, China, the Netherlands and the United States.
Rap Industry Producer Cuts Deal With Prosecutors
Rap industry player Jon Ragin, who co-produced a recent film marketed by the record label Murder Inc., has quietly cut a plea deal with authorities investigating alleged ties between the Murder Inc. music label and New York City's violent drug trade, AP reports. Ragin, a convicted drug dealer, was arrested in January during raids at various New York locations, including the Murder Inc. offices and a fake tuxedo rental business linked to a 1999 murder. He was accused of using the tuxedo shop as a front for laundering proceeds from stolen credit cards, AP reports. Ragin is also known to be a close associate of Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff, a convicted drug kingpin suspected of secretly bankrolling Murder Inc.--a 50-50 joint venture between McGriff's longtime friend Irv Gotti, and Island-Def Jam Records, a division of Universal Music Group, home to multi-platinum artists Ashanti and Ja Rule, AP reports. Neither McGriff, Gotti nor any of Vivendi's companies have been charged in the ongoing investigation.
New York City detective Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff) teams up with Department of Health researcher Terry Huston (Natascha McElhone) to investigate five bizarre deaths. Before long they discover that all the victims died exactly 48 hours after visiting the Web site feardotcom.com. The site itself looks amateurish with rapid-fire images of a strange doorway screaming faces torture tools and indiscernible grainy objects. Users log on to watch a twisted doctor perform autopsies on people--while they're still alive torturing his victims until they beg to be killed. The voyeurs must then interact with a mysterious woman who asks things like "Do you want to hurt me?" She challenges users to find her within two days--or die. Those who don't find her end up suffering whatever gruesome fate they fear most and--this is the best bit--it's brought on by some sort of evil force generated through the computer. Of course curiosity gets the better of them and Mike and Terry log on to the site only to find themselves embroiled in a supernatural violent fight for their lives. If this explanation made sense that's more than we can say for the plot of feardotcom.
Dorff is well cast as Mike Reilly a brash young city police detective whose curious nature gets him into trouble. But the character is too simplistic and underdeveloped to give Dorff much to do. Although we get a little more insight into McElhone's character Terry (we know she has a cat name Benny for example) there isn't much to like or dislike about her. Dorff and McElhone's characters strike up a sort of friendship as the film progresses but there isn't much chemistry between the actors. A couple of the creepier roles in the film are much more entertaining to watch especially Stephen Rea and Michael Sarrazin. Rea plays Alistair Pratt the twisted doctor whose torture victims provide feardotcom.com's "entertainment " while Sarrazin plays Frank Sykes a drunk and washed-up author. It's a shame these two didn't have more screen time.
Director William Malone explains in the production notes for the film that feardotcom offers both a scientific and spiritual explanation for what happens in the film and that it is ultimately up to moviegoers to decide which school of thought they subscribe to. But the film's storyline is so convoluted and contradictory that it's difficult to figure out what question the film is asking let alone find the answer. Even if nothing about the story--or the philosophical questions it purports to ask--makes sense the intense look of the film is enough to keep you watching. Malone bathes the film in murky blue tones and sunlight never even trickles in. Offices are dimly lit and apartments are always dank and dilapidated. It rains day and night. The weird flashes of images presented in this setting are graphic and disturbing making feardotcom a film for the strong of heart--and stomach.
December 31, 2001 6:50am EST
New Line Cinema's epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring made a noble debut at the box office this weekend, taking in $45.2 million in its opening weekend, bringing its four day domestic theatrical release total to $73.1 million. Hitting 3,359 theaters, The Fellowship of the Ring averaged $13,471 per theater.
While the PG-13-rated The Fellowship of the Ring did not surpass last month's $90.3 million take for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it did eclipse the $60 million mark predicted by the studio.
The Fellowship of the Ring pulled in $18.2 million at the domestic box office on its first day, the biggest take ever for a single day in December, and the third biggest Wednesday opening for any film in North America. It did not, however, surpass records set by Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, which grossed $28.5 million on May 19, 1999, and Jurassic Park III, which made $19 million on July 18, 2001.
Directed by Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring stars Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd and Liv Tyler.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 crime remake Ocean's Eleven kept its runner-up title for the second week in a row, earning $14.5 million in 3,075 theaters ($4,745 per theater). Its cume is approximately $95.2 million.
The film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, and Don Cheadle.
Armed and ready, Paramount's G-rated animated feature Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius comfortably slid into third place with an estimated $14 million in 3,139 theaters ($4,460 per theater), easily beating out Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
Last week's box office topper, Paramount's Vanilla Sky, dropped to fourth place this weekend. The romantic thriller earned $12.1 million, a 52 percent drop from last week, at 2,744 theaters ($4,410 per theater). Sky has a cume of approximately $45.1 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Cameron Crowe, Vanilla Sky star Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz.
Universal's R-rated pot comedy How High smoked its way to a fifth place with an estimated $7.6 million at 1,266 theaters (an impressive $6,003 per theater).
It's directed by Jesse Dylan and stars rappers Method Man and Redman.
Slowly losing steam, Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone dropped two spots to finish sixth, making $6.7 million-a 38 percent drop from last week, at 3,311 theaters (-111 theaters; $1,863 per theater). Its cume is approximately $236.1 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Chris Columbus, it stars Daniel Radcliffe in its title role.
Sony's R-rated youth flick Not Another Teen Movie fell four notches to place seventh with an estimated $5.5 million (-56%) at 2,365 theaters ($2,326 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.6 million.
Directed by Joel Gallen, the film stars Jaime Pressly, Mia Kirshner, Chyler Leigh, Chris Evans and Cody McMains.
Warner Bros.' The Majestic made a weak debut in eighth place with a dull estimated $5 million at 2,361 theaters, with an average of $2,128 per theater.
The PG-rated drama directed by Frank Darabont stars a subdued Jim Carrey.
Fox's Joe Somebody eked by in ninth spot. The PG-rated comedy opened with an estimated $3.6 million at 2,503 theaters ($1,458per theater).
Directed by John Pasquin, the film stars Tim Allen, Julie Brown, Hayden Panettiere and Greg Germann.
Rounding out the top ten was Buena Vista's Monsters, Inc., down four rungs in its eighth week with an estimated $3.5 million at 2,097 theaters (-585 with an average of $2,530 per theater). Its cume is approximately $224.1 million.