Finally, something to report from ShoWest!
Stars (lots of 'em) came out at noon today to do their time at the New Line/Fine Line luncheon, hyping (what else?) upcoming New Line/Fine Line flicks. The event, held at the multimedia-readied, projection-screen-laden Paris Ballroom, featured celebs prancing down a catwalk for all to see (if you could see), sitting down at their designated tables and, then, eating!
Yes, this is what passes for excitement at a movie-theater-owners trade show. Did we mention that not one of the stars said a single word?
No, we're not complaining. We're just worried about the talents. You know, they've got egos.
Anyway, here's a rundown of the spotted celebs:
Adam Sandler: Single-handedly brought the level of formality and decorum way down with his ultra-casual attire of Adidas tee, a zipper sweater and denims. There to hype his new frat-boy comedy "Little Nicky."
Patricia Arquette: Peroxide-bleached blonde. We couldn't really catch a good look at her face because her facial skin tone and her hair sorta bled into each other under the spotlight. (Another "Little Nicky" pusher.)
Jennifer Lopez: Yes, she still makes movies. She was here for the thriller "The Cell." Well, all right, she actually wasn't here here. Lopez has got the cushiest gig out of everyone. Instead of having to actually show up at this thing in person, she was teletransmitted via video. (Must be all those court-related matters that were tying her down.)
Dennis Quaid: A member of the "Frequency" contingent (the upcoming fantasy/thriller), he was the first person to be introduced, and we didn't know which way he'd be strolling down the catwalk. So to make a long explanation short, we, um, sort of didn't really see him.
Ali Larter: Female co-star of the studio's newest Gen-Next horror flick "Final Destination," this highly touted newcomer looked like she could be any 18- to 21-year-old from anywhere.
Devon Sawa: Male version of the above. (Conveniently, also featured in "Final Destination.")
Jimmy Smits: Well, you know, it's Jimmy Smits.
Jon Seda: The real-life boxer (coming soon to a theater near you as an aspiring boxer in "Price of Glory" with Smits) was doing the old one-two uppercut, right jab dance all the way to the table.
Vince Vaughn: Lopez's "Cell" co-star looked disheveled in that "Swingers" way. Hold on, isn't he always though?
Melina Kanakaredes: Er, we looked somewhere else again. But we did catch that the "Providence" lady is going to star opposite Robert De Niro in the thriller "Fifteen Minutes."
Omar Epps: The "Love and Basketball" star looking noticeably irate.
In other ShoWest happenings:
COMING (MAIN) ATTRACTION: As promised, the studio delivered promotional footage from that fan-boy fantasy also known as "The Lord of the Rings." More of a short making-of film rather than a true trailer, the reel alternated clips from the (still-in-the-making) epic film with interviews with director Peter Jackson and actors Sean Astin and Elijah Wood. And judging from the applause, this film is certainly one to watch for in the end of 2001.
OTHER TRAILERS THAT BUZZED: "Thirteen Days," the Kevin Costner vehicle about the Cuban missile crisis and Sandler's "Little Nicky."
TRAILERS WE LIKED, REGARDLESS OF THE BUZZ: (1) "The Cell." Vaughn plays a cop, Lopez plays the serial killer he's chasing. Other than that, there's no logical way we could piece together a coherent story line from the trailer. That said, the clip was still a snazzy and stylish piece that is at once perverse and surreal; (2) "State and Main." Now we really don't know what this one's about. But an auspicious ensemble cast certainly compensates for it. The David Mamet comedy reunites P.T. Anderson crewmates Philip Seymour Hoffman and William H. Macy, as well as piling on Alec Baldwin and Sarah Jessica Parker.
OTHER NOTABLE SNEAKS: "Rush Hour 2" (a rearrangement of film clips from the 1998 original, save for a new voice-over and some new titles); "Bones" (an extremely minimal trailer for a horror movie that was so deliberately minimal it reminded us of another little horror flick name of, um, "The Blair Witch Something or Other"); and, "Town and Country," Warren Beatty's long, long, long delayed marital comedy, with Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton.
The "Town and Country" clips were uncensored. And by uncensored, we specifically mean the F-bomb that co-star Garry Shandling dropped at the very end of the trailer -- a phrase that you can bet won't make it out to the public come actual release time. (At least not in trailer form.)
MORE TRAILERS!OK. By now you're probably thinking (hoping) that we've run out of trailers. Wrong.
Eleven more came our way via the Miramax shindig this evening. To make it fast and painless, the most notable sneaks included: the slasher film send-up "Scary Movie; an anachronistic adaptation of "Hamlet" with Ethan Hawke; "Boys and Girls," a teen flick with Freddie Prinze Jr.; "Birthday Girl," starring Nicole Kidman as a Russian woman with a past; and "Bounce," featuring ex-lovers Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck as lovers.
But really the coolest thing seen at the Miramax preview was the trailer for "The Yards." Mixing old-school and new-school bad boys James Caan, Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix, the film looks to be operating heavily on the generic codes of Mafia flicks.
OK, no more trailer talk. Until tomorrow.
WHERE'S HARVEY? Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein (a notable no-show at the Golden Globes and Sundance) was not the only notable MIA at tonight's Miramax shindig. There was also a total absence of Miramax stars to promote any of the Miramax films (OK, trailers) discussed above. No word on why.
WEDNESDAY'S EXPECTED STAR SIGHTINGS: The early sked-line on the Sony luncheon Wednesday reads a little something like this: Sandra Bullock, Brooke Shields, Mel Gibson, Elizabeth Shue, Chris O'Donnell, Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz and Bill Murray. Experience tells us that they'll be doing pretty much the same dog-and-pony show as the stars at today's New Line/Fine Line luncheon.
PLUGGING AWAY: For most folks at ShoWest this morning, Hollywood was not merely a click away on the Internet but right there at their breakfast table. The day's events were kicked off with a portly breakfast (scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes) at the majestic Champagne Ballroom hosted by our very own Hollywood.com. Representing the entertainment dot.com were Hollywood.com Chairman and CEO Mitchell Rubenstein and President Laurie S. Silvers, among others. The hands-down highlight was the sneak preview of a Hollywood.com theatrical trailer titled "Easy."
The realization hits after you recover from the initial excitement of seeing movie stars, viewing countless trailers and wining and dining at the Hollywood studios' expense. ShoWest is not going to get any better. It's only going to get longer.
With that said, it was hardly surprising at his theater-owners convention to find Sony Pictures doing today exactly what New Line/Fine Line did the day before -- namely, showing us trailers, feeding us lunch and baiting us with stars.
But in all fairness, the A-list movie-types (from actors to directors and producers) from Sony at least put in the effort to convince people that they were actually happy to be there. While the shyer ones, like Sandra Bullock ("28 Days"), Kim Basinger ("I Dreamed of Africa") and Chris O'Donnell ("Vertical Limit"), stayed mum, their more loquacious counterparts -- Mel Gibson, Bill Murray and Arnold Schwarzenegger included -- more than made up for it with playful irreverence, ingratiating harangue, and even some blue comedy.
Envision the following expectation-defying moments:
'ANGELS' DESCEND: From total darkness and amid deafening sound effects and spraying fire, they came: The all-new "Charlie's Angels," a k a Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu. And they came doing the pose. (The one from the old TV credit sequence -- get a clue.)
Well, anyway, the pose was pretty much the high point. Then the three headed to the mic. Following several unsuccessful attempts to speak coherently, they sat down, and looked pretty.
MEL THE HAM: "The Patriot" star Mel Gibson's goof-off repertoire included racing his co-stars to the podium, making fun of Sony's PR arm, and hogging the mic.
ARNOLD SPEAKS: And speaks.
Schwarzenegger probably thought that there was at least one person in the audience who could salvage his flagging career, so he made sure he covered all grounds by delivering an interminable speech. Ironically, nothing much was said about his next film, "On the Sixth Day," since he spent all the time thanking everyone from theater owners to ShoWest to Armyan Bernstein (also known as ShoWest producer of the year).
REACTION TO ARNOLD: "I thought Arnold was really sincere," reflected one luncheon participant while exiting the event. Okay.
KEEPIN' IT REAL:In promoting "Black and White," a flick about black and white urban teens in NYC, Brooke Shields contended that the dreadlocks she wore for the movie were indeed real, and that the ‘do resulted in hair loss.
Thanks for sharing.
WHAT ABOUT 'GOOD WILL HUNTING'? Apparently, an Oscar didn't exactly do it for Matt Damon. The golden boy called Billy Bob Thornton’s upcoming "All the Pretty Horses" the best thing he's ever been in his life. Chew on that, Gus van Sant.
EXTERMINATING 'ANGEL': Don't get Bill Murray improvising.
Rather than do the straight talk about "Charlie's Angels" (in which he's got a bit), the comic actor instead chose to entertain the strait-laced theaterheads by dissing everyone from Brooke Shields (or, rather her dreadlocks) to Schwarzenegger's self-absorbed litany. He, uh, also used some four-letter words.
TRAILER TIME (AGAIN): And now, what you have all been waiting for: our daily round-up of buzz-worthy trailers:
-- "The Patriot" -- Mel Gibson's epic follow-up to "Braveheart" (as directed by the guy who did "Godzilla.") Being the mammoth flick that it is, the trailer has a grandiose air (i.e., it's got battle scenes with a gazillion extras). The clip seemingly went on forever, but the crowd loved it.
-- "Godzilla 2000" -- This one is not by the guy who did "Godzilla." Instead, it's the real man-in-a-rubber-suit deal. Coming straight outta Japan (and to a U.S. theater near you in August), "Godzilla 2000" features a rubbery-looking oversized reptile that breathes fire, steps on model cars and sunders about on a cheapo set. The fact that it's a dubbed, lips-don't-match movie only adds to its old-school campiness. (P.S.: The crowd loved this one, too.)
-- "Charlie's Angels" -- The clip for this one plays like a Gillette (the razors!) ad crossed with a L'Oreal (the make-up!!) commercial. The trailer is undoubtedly slick, but so much so that it resembles a bad commercial. Here's what you see: Charlie, faceless and in silhouette, enters some sort of modernist structure (and/or a really aesthetically-lit parking lot). Our three angels do their angels poses, followed by some awkward kung-fu moves (all in silhouette). Then, there's a series of close-ups of each angel (Diaz, Barrymore and Liu) as they toss their hair (first frontal, then profile) the way models do it in TV hair spots. Finally, the angels do their kung-fu stuff again (this time not in silhouette) and then they go back into their trademark logo pose.
NOT COMING SOON: Sony knows how to get its money's worth at ShoWest. Besides trailers, the studio rolled out teasers for flicks that won't be opening until (at least) 2001. The early-bird sneaks included: the Muhammad Ali bio-pic "Ali" (with Will Smith); the still-uncast live-action "Spider-Man," Steven Spielberg's "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Men In Black II."
FREEBIES: For those who assume that ShoWest is just an elaborate PR stunt masterminded by the movie industry -- you're right. But, in fairness, it's also about free gifts, perks and gratuities. Here's a look at some of the higher-end promo items we have gladly accepted:
1. A matching gold-color-plated money clip and tie tack (encased in a fake black-velvet jewelry case) hyping the upcoming "Shaft" remake.
2. A limited-edition lithograph from the animated feature "Titan A.E.," with a certificate of authenticity and everything
Is Diane Sawyer further honing in on the turf of Barbara Walters?
Probably, as the name game of ABC's venerable television magazine "20/20" continues.
USA Today reported Tuesday that head honchos over at ABC news are once again thinking of renaming the Wednesday's edition of 20/20 (it was changed from "PrimeTime" just last season to reflect the network's decision to consolidate all its news magazines under one unifying brand name) to "20/20/Primetime."
The name might change but the anchors will apparently remain the same. The future "20/20/Primetime" will continue to be hosted by Sawyer and Charles Gibson. But unlike its former "20/20" incarnation, it will air live (like "PrimeTime" once did) and feature correspondents Chris Wallace, Jay Schadler and John Quinones ... (all from "PrimeTime") and a distinctive editorial style that is more reminiscent of ... "PrimeTime."
TELEVISION AWARDS: The Alfred I. Du Pont-Columbia University Awards for excellence in television reporting were handed out Tuesday.
The top honor went to Bill Moyers' "Public Affaires Television" for its documentary on the post-apartheid South Africa. The Silver Batons were shared by Diane Sawyer's "20/20" report on unwanted children in Russia; Bob Simon's "60 Minutes II" report on the Serbs massacre in 1995; "Frontline's" story on the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda; and CNN's Candy Crowley for her coverage of the Clinton impeachment process.
FOX TALKS: Michael J. Fox came out of the woodwork on "Access Hollywood" on Tuesday to discuss his decision to leave "Spin City."
In the two-part interview (the second part will air today), Fox asserted that his current health condition hasn't deteriorated to the point where it prevents him from performing and that his exit is solely based on his preference to spend time on things other than acting.
"Certainly, it is a progressive disease, it doesn't get better," Fox told host Pat O'Brien. "But it hasn't debilitated me. So I thought, 'If that time comes, if it comes when my ability to do things is severely impaired more than it is now, if I'm in the middle of a show or a season, then I have no choices.'"
Fox continued, "So I wanted to make the choice while I could. It wasn't about taking a turn, I didn't suddenly take a turn, it wasn't like I hit a wall. I feel good and I'm happy and I have energy and there's stuff to do."
Fox went on to say that he supports ABC's decision, whether the network decides to continue "Spin City" or not, and will work with the show's producer to come up with the best way for his character's exit.
CAMEO: James Garner will come out of TV retirement to guest star on CBS's "Chicago Hope" this spring. Garner is slated to appear in the drama's last four episodes as a millionaire who takes over the hospital. The actor was last seen on the tube in "Rockford Files" 20 years ago.
WHAM, BAM: "The Sopranos" continues to make television history, as it became the most-watched original drama ever on cable with its season premiere Sunday night. The same episode is predicted to pull in a total of 11.5 million viewers for its four repeated airings this week on HBO.