The Coen brothers could be adding a third Writers Guild of America Award to their impressive trophy case next month if they can nab best original screenplay for their quirky comedy Burn After Reading. The WGA, who announced their nominees today, presented Joel and Ethan Coen with best adapted screenplay last year for No Country for Old Men and best original screenplay in 1997 for Fargo.
Rounding out the contenders this year are Dustin Lance Black for Milk, Woody Allen for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Tom McCarthy for The Visitor and Robert Siegel for The Wrestler.
The WGA’s best adapted screenplay noms include Eric Roth for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with story by Roth and Robin Swicord; Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight with story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer; John Patrick Shanley for Doubt, based on the stage play; Peter Morgan for Frost/Nixon, based on his stage play; and Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire.
WGA members will meet simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles for the award ceremony on Feb. 7.
Burn After Reading, Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Focus Features
Milk, Written by Dustin Lance Black, Focus Features
Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Written by Woody Allen, The Weinstein Company
The Visitor, Written by Tom McCarthy, Overture Films
The Wrestler, Written by Robert Siegel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Screenplay by Eric Roth; Screen Story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord; Based on the Short Story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures
The Dark Knight, Screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan; Story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer; Based on Characters Appearing in Comic Books Published by DC Comics; Batman Created by Bob Kane, Warner Bros. Pictures
Doubt, Screenplay by John Patrick Shanley, Based on his Stage Play, Miramax Films
Frost/Nixon, Screenplay by Peter Morgan, Based on his Stage Play, Universal Pictures
Slumdog Millionaire, Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, Based on the Novel Q and A by Vikas Swarup, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, Written by Stefan Forbes and Noland Walker, InterPositive Media
Chicago 10, Written by Brett Morgen, Roadside Attractions
Fuel, Written by Johnny O'Hara, Greenlight Theatrical / Intention Media
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Screenplay by Alex Gibney, From the Words of Hunter S. Thompson, Magnolia Pictures
Waltz with Bashir, Written by Ari Folman, Sony Pictures Classics
Dramatic Series Dexter, Written by Scott Buck, Daniel Cerone, Charles H. Eglee, Adam E. Fierro, Lauren Gussis, Clyde Phillips, Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, Tim Schlattmann; Showtime
Friday Night Lights, Written by Bridget Carpenter, Kerry Ehrin, Brent Fletcher, Jason Gavin, Carter Harris, Elizabeth Heldens, David Hudgins, Jason Katims, Patrick Massett, Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, John Zinman; NBC
Lost, Written by Carlton Cuse, Drew Goddard, Adam Horowitz, Christina M. Kim, Edward Kitsis, Damon L. Lindelof, Greggory Nations, Kyle Pennington, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Brian K. Vaughan; ABC
Mad Men, Written by Lisa Albert, Jane Anderson, Rick Cleveland, Kater Gordon, David Isaacs, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Marti Noxon, Robin Veith, Matthew Weiner; AMC
The Wire, Written by Ed Burns, Chris Collins, David Mills, David Simon, William F. Zorzi, Richard Price, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos; HBO
30 Rock, Written by Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Donald Glover, Andrew Guest, Matt Hubbard, Jon Pollack, John Riggi, Tami Sagher, Ron Weiner; NBC
Entourage, Written by Doug Ellin, Jeremy Miller, Ally Musika, Steve Pink, Rob Weiss; HBO
The Office, Written by Steve Carell, Jennifer Celotta, Greg Daniels, Lee Eisenberg, Anthony Farrell, Brent Forrester, Dan Goor, Charlie Grandy, Mindy Kaling, Ryan Koh, Lester Lewis, Paul Lieberstein, Warren Lieberstein, B.J. Novak, Michael Schur, Aaron Shure, Justin Spitzer, Gene Stupnitsky, Halsted Sullivan; NBC
The Simpsons, Written by J. Stewart Burns, Daniel Chun, Joel H. Cohen, Kevin Curran, John Frink, Tom Gammill, Valentina Garza, Stephanie Gillis, Dan Greaney, Reid Harrison, Ron Hauge, Al Jean, Brian Kelly, Billy Kimball, Rob LaZebnik, Tim Long, Ian Maxtone-Graham, David Mirkin, Bill Odenkirk, Carolyn Omine, Don Payne, Michael Price, Max Pross, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, Matt Warburton, Jeff Westbrook, Marc Wilmore, William Wright; Fox
Weeds, Written by Roberto Benabib, Mark A. Burley, Ron Fitzgerald, David Holstein, Rolin Jones, Brendan Kelly, Jenji Kohan, Victoria Morrow, Matthew Salsberg; Showtime
Breaking Bad, Written by Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Patty Lin, George Mastras, J Roberts; AMC
Fringe, Written by JJ Abrams, Jason Cahill, Julia Cho, David H. Goodman, Felicia Henderson, Brad Caleb Kane, Alex Kurtzman, Darin Morgan, J.R. Orci, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Zack Whedon; Fox
In Treatment, Written by Rodrigo Garcia, Bryan Goluboff, Davey Holmes, William Meritt Johnson, Amy Lippman, Sarah Treem; HBO
Life on Mars, Written by Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Scott Rosenberg, Becky Hartman Edwards, David Wilcox, Adele Lim, Bryan Oh, Tracy McMillan, Sonny Postiglione, Phil M. Rosenberg, Meredith Averill; ABC
True Blood, Written by Alan Ball, Brian Buckner, Raelle Tucker, Alexander Woo, Nancy Oliver, Chris Offutt; HBO
Episodic Drama - any length - one airing time
“Don’t Ever Change” (House), Written by Doris Egan & Leonard Dick; Fox
“Double Booked” (Burn Notice), Written by Craig O’Neill & Jason Tracey; USA
“Gray Matter” (Breaking Bad), Written by Patty Lin; AMC
“Pilot” (Breaking Bad), Written by Vince Gilligan; AMC
“Pilot” (Eli Stone), Written by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim; ABC
“There’s Something About Harry” (Dexter), Written by Scott Reynolds; Showtime
Episodic Comedy - any length - one airing time
“Believe in the Stars” (30 Rock), Written by Robert Carlock; NBC
“Cooter” (30 Rock), Written by Tina Fey; NBC
“Crime Aid” (The Office), Written by Charlie Grandy; NBC
“Crush’d” (Ugly Betty), Written by Tracy Poust & Jon Kinnally; ABC
“Succession” (30 Rock), Written by Andrew Guest & John Riggi; NBC
“Vote for This and I Promise to Do Something Crazy at the Emmys” (My Name is Earl), Written by Greg Garcia; NBC
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That's how Ali came out in his Christmas Day bout at the box office.
The Michael Mann-directed biography overcame mixed reviews to punch up $10.2 million on its first day in release. That was not enough to knock out reigning champ The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which earned $11.4 million at 1,000 more theaters, but Ali did break the record for a Dec. 25 opening.
The mawkish Patch Adams held the previous record, opening on Christmas Day in 1998 with $8 million, on its way to a healthy $135 million.
Ali, dropping to $5.8 million on Wednesday, now has $16 million.
The future of the $105 million-plus Ali rests predominately on the beefed-up shoulders of a former Fresh Prince of Bel Air and whether audiences accept him as Muhammad Ali. Critics failed to enthusiastically embrace Will Smith's portrayal of arguably one of the most famous of all sports icons, although he did receive a Golden Globe nomination for his noble but flawed attempt to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
Still, Ali should serve as a strong springboard for Smith to free himself of kicking alien butt and explore other dramatic possibilities.
With the legendary fights against Sonny Liston and George Foreman serving as bookends, Ali tries to be more than the typical recount of a real-life athlete's path to glory. Mann employs Ali's life as a means to explore racial and religious tension in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, with the boxer's conversion to Islam given as much thought and detail as his efforts to gain and defend his heavyweight title.
Other recent race-driven sports biographies have gone the distance at the box office, including a pair of Denzel Washington offerings, The Hurricane ($50.6 million) and Remember the Titans ($115.6 million).
Ali, and the upcoming Men In Black 2, will allow Smith to regain his position as one of Hollywood's sure things. Smith became Mr. July Fourth when Independence Day and Men In Black opened huge in the summers of 1996 and 1997, respectively. Wild Wild West, another July Fourth holiday opening, tarnished Smith's reputation when the witless western failed to make more than $113.8 million.
Last year's The Legend of Bagger Vance, marking Smith's first dramatic endeavor since 1993's Six Degrees of Separation, could not muster more than $30.6 million.
Ali delivered a bruising blow to Kate & Leopold, pairing workaholic Meg Ryan with 19th-century blueblood Hugh Jackman. Miramax yanked the slow and corny time-traveling romantic comedy from Dec. 21 to avoid getting lost amid a slew of new releases. The ploy didn't work as well as expected, given that Kate & Leopold opened Dec. 25 with a quiet $2.5 million and has $5.1 million through Wednesday.
Kate & Leopold finds itself in the unique position of being the only mainstream offering for couples in the mood for love. Yet Ryan and Jackman face stiff competition for the adult audience in the form of Ali, the sturdy Ocean's Eleven, the waning Vanilla Sky, and such limited release offerings as A Beautiful Mind, The Royal Tenenbaums and Amelie.
Plus, even though she is very much in her element, Ryan looks extremely tired and bored with the notion of being wooed by a man from another time. Maybe she knew that hopping from one century to another didn't work not once, but twice, this year with Just Visiting and Black Knight. That's tough, because Ryan's not enjoyed a hit since 1998's You've Got Mail. Is it time for Ryan to call in a favor from Tom Hanks?
The jury is still out on Jackman, who shot to fame in 2000 as Wolverine in X-Men. He failed to sizzle opposite Ashley Judd in Someone Like You, which made just $27.3 million, and he got cuaght with his pants down in the repugnant cyberthriller Swordfish, which went offline at $69.7 million. Still, Jackman is Kate & Leopold's sole saving grace. The very personalization of charm and gallantry, Jackman could set many hearts on fires as the nobleman inadvertently removed from the New York City of his day.
Little doubt lingers now about the risk New Line took in sending director Peter Jackson off to New Zealand in 1999 with $270 million to film all three of The Lord of the Rings books back to back. Jackson's masterful adaptation of the first book, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, won over J.R.R. Tolkien fans and those completely unfamiliar with the quest to save for Middle-earth.
After debuting Wednesday, Dec. 18, with $18.1 million, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring seized the mantle as the biggest December weekend opening with its $47.2 million haul. The film broke the $100 million on Wednesday, and stands tall with $107.9 million in company coffers.
Jackson's epic looks set to dominate the box office for weeks to come, with $150 a certainty by the end of the year. Unlike Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring can count on the awards season to keep audiences spellbound by the adventures of Frodo Baggins.
Not that a certain apprentice wizard should worry. Harry Potter lost much of its magic this Christmas weekend--conjuring up an OK $10.7 million from Friday through Tuesday--but it now ranks as the year's top earner. Harry Potter's $271.1 million puts it slightly ahead of Shrek's $267.6 million, with $300 million a strong possibility.
Monsters, Inc. continues to close in on Shrek. The Disney/Pixar animated yarn scared up $5.6 million from Friday through Tuesday, with its total now at $227.9 million through Wednesday. Toy Story 2, released in 1999, remains the best grosser of all Disney/Pixar collaborations at $245.8 million.
Harry Potter and Monsters, Inc. no doubt lost some plenty of toddlers--and their parents--to the animated Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Based on its name recognition, the Nickelodeon TV spin-off rocketed to a $13.8 million opening and has $22.5 million through Wednesday. That's well below the $27.3 million and $22.7 million openings of, respectively, The Rugrats Movie and Rugrats in Paris. But the boy genius looks like he has the smarts to zoom off with some serious cash.
Director Steven Soderbergh enjoyed his third consecutive $100 million smash Tuesday when Ocean's Eleven shot past $102 million in swag. The cool remake of the Rat Pack comic crime caper cashed in $106.6 million through Wednesday. Ocean's Eleven looks to head into 2002 and surpass Soderbergh's Erin Brockovich ($125.5 million) and Traffic ($124.1 million) at the box office.
Tom Cruise can't look forward to a good start to the New Year. As expected, Cruise's Vanilla Sky lost more than half its audience in its second weekend, dropping from $25 million to $12 million. Director Cameron Crowe's remake of the Spanish psychological thriller Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes) has $52.5 million through Wednesday, almost equal to what Cruise's Eyes Wide Shut made in 1999. Lousy reviews and word of mouth will likely to thwart any chance of Vanilla Sky becoming Cruise's ninth film to top $100 million.
How High, with rappers Redman and Method Man as the 21st-century answer to Cheech & Chong, swiped away much of the audience from the spoof Not Another Teen Movie. How High, playing at a modest 1,266 theaters, smoked up $7.1 million in its opening weekend and has $11.2 million through Wednesday.
Not Another Teen Movie collapsed in its second weekend, dropping from $12.6 million to $5.2 million. Its total through Tuesday is $23.3 million.
The Majestic marked Jim Carrey's second consecutive dramatic flop, following 1999's Man on the Moon. Perhaps, post-Sept. 11, audiences are more interested in America engaging the enemy--hence the jingoistic Behind Enemy Lines' $45.1 million through Tuesday--than watching a community come to terms with the sacrifices required to win a war.
The Majestic opened with $4.9 million, and has $7.3 million through Tuesday, a low for Carrey since making a splash with Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Man on the Moon, with Carrey as the late comedian Andy Kaufman, opened with $7.5 million on its way to $34.5 million.
Nobody put Joe Somebody on their must-see list. The workplace comedy, with Tim Allen battling bullying colleague Patrick Warburton, managed a terrible $3.5 million opening and has $5.3 million through Tuesday. That ranks as Allen's worst opening, well behind the $6 million opening that For Richer or Poorer cobbled together in December 1997. Little wonder Allen is suiting up for The Santa Clause 2.
In limited release, director Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind has $4.2 million through Wednesday. Excellent reviews, and a slew of Golden Globe nominations, will help this biography of mathematical genius John Forbes Nash Jr. to place high in the Top 10 when it expands Jan. 4. The same should apply to The Royal Tenenbaums when it goes wider this weekend. Director Wes Anderson's third quirky comedy, with Gene Hackman, amassed a regal $1.9 million from Friday through Tuesday at just 40 theaters, with its total at $2.4 million.
Director Lasse Hallstrom's bleak adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Shipping News opened to a so-so $318,000 at 186 theaters. Perhaps this is a sign that few may want a dose of the News when it expands Jan. 4.
The final spate of Oscar contenders arrive in a limited number of theaters this week, including Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down; Robert Altman's Gosford Park; I Am Sam, with Sean Penn; Monster's Ball, with Billy Bob Thornton; and Charlotte Gray, starring the hardest working new mother in Hollywood, Cate Blanchett.
It's amazing how one hit pop song and an electronic gizmo that makes your voice sound like a robot can lead to global domination.
Forbes magazine released its annual "Celebrity 100" list Thursday, power-ranking the world's greatest actors, entertainers, athletes, authors and other notables according to how much moola they made last year and how much media attention they received making said moola. Most of the names in the Top 10 were no-brainers, given their recent successes: Julia Roberts is the world's No. 1 omnipotent celeb (with estimated 1999 earnings of $50 million), followed by people like George Lucas (No. 2 -- $400 mil), Oprah Winfrey (No. 3 -- $150 mil), Tom Hanks (No. 4 -- $71.5 mil), golfer Tiger Woods (No. 7 -- $47 mil) and Steven Spielberg (No. 10 -- $60 mil).
But then there's No. 9. One word: Cher.
According to the magazine, Cher only made a measly $40 million last year (peanuts compared to Lucas' league-leading $400 million haul). Cher's take presumably came from sales of her chart-topping "Believe" album, and from copies of her terribly thoughtful book, "The First Time," in which she observed that Jackie Kennedy was better looking than Mamie Eisenhower.
Perhaps based on the power of such ideas, Cher's Forbes "power rank" was higher than that of Spielberg, Bruce Willis (No. 11 --$54.5 mil), Jim Carrey (No. 19 -- $45.5 mil) and Tom Cruise (No. 20 -- $27 mil).
Although Cher's 1999 earnings were less than those of other celebs in the Top 10, Cher's rank was bolstered by the number of Web site hits, press clips, magazine covers and TV/radio stories she generated. All this from a woman whom Sonny Bono once said was so stupid, she thought the moon was the backside of the sun.
Here are some other notable story lines to emerge from the Forbes list:
BOY POWER: While most members of the "Celebrity 100" are well past puberty, the Backstreet Boys are representin' the teen crowd (even if they aren't exactly teens anymore themselves) at No. 8, with 1999 earnings of $60 million.
THE POWER OF THE PRINTED WORD: Most of the celebrities named by Forbes are of the short-attention-span variety (i.e., TV stars, music stars, movie stars and athletes). But lest you think that America doesn't read anymore, think again. Bestselling authors making the list include Stephen King (No. 14 -- $65 mil), John Grisham (No. 21 -- $36 mil), "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling (No. 25), Dean Koontz (No. 53 -- $34 mil) and poet Maya Angelou (No. 81 -- $3.3 mil). Then again, most of these guys, save for Angelou, are makin' the big bucks off film rights.
WHO? So, we know who Michael Jordan (No. 5 -- $40 mil) and Harrison Ford (No. 15 -- $46.5 mil) are, but who the heck are Anna Kournikova (No. 58 -- $11 mil), Gerald Cassidy (No. 69 -- $18 mil), The Rock (No. 83 -- $3 mil), Reed Hundt (No. 89 -- $2 mil), Edgerrin James (No. 75 -- $15 mil), Jean-George Vongerichten (No. 91 -- $3 mil) and Jim Romenesko (No. 96 -- $60,000)? Answers: A tennis player, an artist, a pro wrestler, an ex-chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, a football running back, a chef and a Web site guy. (But we cheated and looked 'em up.)
FLASH IN THE POWER PAN? Somebody tell "Mambo No. 5" guy Lou Bega (No. 87) to savor the moment. He's not likely to be included in this list ever again. Of course, with a $6 million haul on the strength of one novelty hit, does he really need to be?
YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PHOTOGENIC: These days, you can become a powerful celebrity even if you've got a face for radio -- or the Internet. That helps explain the lofty rankings of the likes of Howard Stern (No. 30 -- $18 mil), Rush Limbaugh (No. 40 -- $22 mil), Dr. Laura Schlessinger (No. 70 -- $13 mil), Dr. Joy Brown (No. 90 -- $2 mil) and Internet movie-rumor guru Harry Knowles (No. 95, with an estimated 1999 income of a whopping $100,000).
GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Taking a year off, quitting your hit sitcom or breaking up the band isn't healthy for your power ranking. Three celebrities who made the Forbes Top 10 just one year ago fell entirely off the 2000 edition of the "Celebrity 100" list. Notable MIAs include: Leonardo DiCaprio (No. 3 in 1999 with $37 million in earnings); Jerry Seinfeld (No. 4 in 1999, with $267 million); and ex-supergroup Spice Girls (No. 6 in 1999 with $49 million).
FORGOTTEN, BUT NOT GONE: Will someone please tell the Rolling Stones (No. 6 -- $50 mil), Mike Tyson (No. 17 -- $33 mil), surname-free Roseanne (No. 74 -- $8 mil), George and Barbara Bush (No. 76 -- $6 mil),and unfunnyman Don Imus (No. 77 -- $10 mil) to give it up?
HOW'D THEY DO THAT? What have Penn & Teller (No. 88), that early 1990's comedy/magician duo, been up to lately? Whatever it is, it's lucrative: They made $3 million last year.