While the dark side will almost certainly grow stronger in Star Wars: Episode II - The Attack of the Clones, the film itself will still be a vehicle for good. Eleven sneak previews (in 11 different cities nationwide) for Episode II have been announced, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting local children's charities. The previews will be held May 12, four days before the official release of Episode II. A Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox release quoted a pleased Chewbacca as saying "MMMRRAAAAHHHM." We couldn't agree more.
Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient) is set to star in the romantic comedy The Chambermaid opposite super-sexy Jennifer Lopez. (To quote famous philosopher Homer Simpson, "Mmm, Jennifer Lopez.") Ms. Lopez will play the titular chambermaid who becomes romantically involved with Fiennes' politician character. (As if Jennifer would clean her own bathroom, much less someone else's.)
New Jersey's Bergen County Prosecutor William Schmidt, head of the victims' family advisory board for his county, has requested that CBS not show graphic footage from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in its planned March 10 documentary on the subject. Writing on behalf of the United Way, American Red Cross and other groups, Schmidt said it would disrupt the healing process. In related news, scientists have observed that the ostrich's penchant for sticking its head in sand in times of danger really doesn't help.
During her routine at an Ovarian Cancer Research benefit, soon-to-be ex-talk show host Rosie O'Donnell proudly proclaimed, "I'm a dyke!" the USA Today reports. Wanting to shed her "nice" label, O'Donnell later ripped on Anne Heche at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC. Lampooning Heche's interview with Barbara Walters, in which Heche admitted she was "possessed," O'Donnell attacked with "She couldn't just say, 'I was a lesbian for two years, it didn't work out for me'?" We bow to the master.
Not-so-nice Jewish boy Al Goldstein, publisher of lurid Screw magazine, was convicted of six counts (and acquitted of six more counts) of aggravated harassment for graphically tongue-lashing with expletives an employee who had just quit. Our New York City correspondent, covering the trial in Brooklyn, filed this report: "I can't f***ing believe they f***ing convicted his a** for some s****y curses. This is f***ing NYC, after all!"
Five former Screen Actors Guild presidents have publicly excoriated current SAG CEO Bob Pisano for jettisoning Lance Simmens, the now former government relations director. Ed Asner, William Daniels, Charlton Heston, Howard Keel and Dennis Weaver sent an open letter to all SAG members complaining that "Mr. Pisano and [SAG president] Melissa Gilbert have put their own agenda forward." Pisano and Gilbert were unavailable for comment, other than to say they really enjoyed Dennis Weaver's recent turn as a guest voice on The Simpsons.
Despite a U.S. Senate threat to impose government legislation, the computer industry is asking the government to allow private negotiations to continue on how best to safeguard movies with the advent of digital TV. Senator Fritz Hollings, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and other legislators are frustrated with the stalled transition to digital TV. (Methinks they shouldn't have bought those high-priced, new-fangled HDTV sets from Circuit City just yet. No wonder they're frustrated.)
Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey (The Shipping News) says he won't be in front of the camera "for a while." The hardworking actor is also a producer, and Spacey says he'd like to commit more time and attention to his production company, Trigger St. Productions, The Associated Press reports. "I've been acting nonstop for four or five years and taking a break is a healthy thing," the 42-year-old actor said. We can't believe he waited so long: we've only been working for a couple of hours this morning, and we're ready for a break.
Brendan Fraser (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns) apparently has no fear of bandages. The big-screen star is set to be a guest on NBC's new hit medical comedy, Scrubs, during May sweeps. Of course, Fraser won't be playing a doctor...
Fore! Producer Jerry Weintraub (Ocean's Eleven) was struck in the eye by a golf ball he hit, causing a wound that took 16 stitches to close, The AP reports. The ball caromed off a rock and hit Weintraub over the right eye. Maybe there's a part for Paul Bloch, Weintraub's publicist, in Weintraub's next film: Bloch amazingly kept a straight face when he insisted to reporters that Weintraub is a "good golfer."
Supermodel Naomi Campbell, who is suing British tabloid The Mirror over invasion of privacy, appeared in a London court and testified that she has used illegal drugs and has had her share of tantrums. (Which drew a shocked gasp from the gallery. Not.) Campbell also admitted that she had no regrets over being photographed with her clothes off. We admit that we had no regrets over looking at those photographs.
In a move no doubt to help Regis Philbin curtail his already immense dry-cleaning bill, ABC is removing Who Wants to be a Millionaire? from its Monday night slot. Millionaire, which will be replaced Monday nights with a comedy block, will still air on Thursday nights opposite NBC's and CBS's ratings juggernauts. Good thing Regis never quit his day job.
Sony is reportedly putting up its Culver Studios for sale. The Hollywood Reporter says the 17-acre parcel of land where Citizen Kane and Gone With the Wind were filmed will go to the highest bidder. Sony, which purchased the lot for $80 million in 1991, will probably have to lower its asking price once potential buyers learn that TV's most annoying show, The Nanny was also shot on the Culver lot.
Peter Fonda (Easy Rider) is interested in playing the president of the United States in ABC's new pilot set on Capitol Hill, to be helmed by Rod Lurie (The Last Castle), The Hollywood Reporter reports. (West Wing rip-off, anyone?) Hollywood.com surmises that the only thing that can save this show (other than moving off of ABC) is the addition of Dennis Hopper to the cast.
Oops, they did it again: SAG has once more messed up their elections. This time an e-mail sent by a senior exec to all members endorsing Melissa Gilbert's candidacy for president puts in jeopardy the current rerun election, the results of which will be released March 8. Embattled Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris has confirmed she had nothing to do with botching this presidential election.
New York Fashion Week started off with a wave of patriotism. Tommy Hilfiger, known for his red, white and blue logo, sent models down the runway in red, white and blue clothing. Hilfiger said of his "weekend" clothing, "The intention is you put them on Friday night and don't take them off until Sunday." Hygiene notwithstanding, such clothing will save us all time and effort, as we won't have to get undressed before going to bed Friday and Saturday night.
The year's first space disaster flick, "Supernova," will blast into the stratosphere this week.
Along with the sci-fi thriller, this week's openers include the family drama "My Dog Skip," Ice Cube's "Next Friday" and the baseball documentary "The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg."
Here's a look at the new films hitting theaters - and the films already around going into new release patterns:
"The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg" (Cowboy Booking) -- Portrait of the legendary Bronx-born Jewish baseball player who came close to breaking Babe Ruth's home-run record. Tall, handsome, and uncommonly good-natured, Greenberg was a secular Jew from Bronx who became "the baseball Moses," an icon for everyone from Walter Matthau to Alan Dershowitz. (Limited release)
"My Dog Skip" (Warners) -- Based on the autobiographical book by Willie Morris, the film chronicles the growing pains of an unpopular, introverted 9-year-old boy living in a small Mississippi town during World War II. The arrival of a Jack Russell terrier puppy on his birthday will open the boy up to valuable lessons of life and friendship. Kevin Bacon plays his overprotective father. Diane Lane co-stars as his mother. (Limited release)
"Supernova" (MGM/UA) -- Set in the 22nd century, this sci-fi thriller follows the rescue mission of Nightingale 229, an ambulance spacecraft dispatched to investigate a distress signal from a distant comet. Awaiting the six members are a lone survivor, a strange alien artifact and a star that is about to go supernova. James Spader, Angela Bassett and Lou Diamond Phillips play the time-bound rescuers. (Wide release)
"Next Friday" (New Line) -- Ice Cube produces, writes and stars in this sequel to 1995's comedy hit "Friday." The action picks up where the original film left off with Cube taking down the neighborhood bully. In fear of revenge, the young man flees the inner city to hide out at his uncle's suburban home. (Limited release)
"The Quarry" (First Run) -- Set in the South African outback, an escaped criminal accidentally kills a minister and assumes his identity. His action catches up with him when a band of petty thieves discover his true identity and threaten to expose the impersonator. Based on the novel by South African writer Damon Galgut. (Limited release)
"The Terrorist" (Phaedra) -- Inspired by events surrounding the assassination of Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, this insightful portrait traces the final days of a female bomber preparing for a suicide mission to kill a major political figure. Her ideological quest transforms into a spiritual and psychological journey after a series of encounters she has with various characters. (Limited release)
"Girl, Interrupted" (Sony) - Winona Ryder stars in this based-on-a-true story tale of a teen confined to a psychiatric ward. Angelina Jolie co-stars as a fellow patient. (Expanded release)
"Holy Smoke!" (Miramax) -- Kate Winslet plays a young Australian woman who journeys to India for spiritual enlightenment. When her family suspect her transformation is in fact the doing of religious brainwashing, they hire Harvey Keitel to rescue her. Undermining his task, the experienced guru gets sucked into a world of temptation. Directed by Academy Award-winning director Jane Campion. (Expanded release)
"The Hurricane" (Universal) - Denzel Washington stars as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the real-life middleweight boxer who was wrongly convicted of the murders of three white men in 1966. Deborah Kara Unger, John Hannah and Liev Schreiber co-star as the activists who champion his cause. (Expanded release)
"Jesus' Son" (Lions Gate) -- Billy Crudup plays an itinerant junkie stumbling across 1970s America, searching for meaning in everything from drugs and sex to chance encounters with anonymous strangers. Samantha Morton, Holly Hunter, Denis Leary and Dennis Hopper co-star. (Expanded release)
"Topsy-Turvy" (USA) -- Acclaimed director Mike Leigh leaps back in time to enter the lives of two Londoners who were marked by their extraordinary creativity: William Schwenck Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. (Expanded release)
A bounty of buzz-heavy, star-studded new releases will kick off the countdown to Christmas this year, promising something different and special each day of the week.
The holiday movie bonanza commences Tuesday with the limited release of Sony's "Girl, Interrupted." Adapted from Susanna Kaysen's critically acclaimed memoir, the film stars Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie as two iconoclastic young women confined to a mental institution.
Lifting the box office spirit Wednesday are three wildly anticipated films of different ilk. Taking care of the laugh department is director Milos Forman's "Man on the Moon," where funnyman Jim Carrey plays funnyman Andy Kaufman.
For those lamenting the absence of televised sports programming on Christmas, there's Oliver Stone's adrenaline-racing, testosterone-pumping "Any Given Sunday," a homage to the gritty underside of football starring Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid and Cameron Diaz.
And for the romantically inclined, check out "Snow Falling on Cedars," an entangled tale of past love and lingering emotion set in the Pacific Northwest starring Ethan Hawke and directed by Scott Hicks ("Shine").
Christmas Day will see two new wide releases: DreamWorks' family friendly comedy "Galaxy Quest" with Tim Allen playing a passe TV actor enlisted to fight aliens in real life and Paramount's much-lauded "The Talented Mr. Ripley." In the Patricia Highsmith adaptation, Matt Damon plays a gay man hired to track down wayward playboy Jude Law in Italy and ends up assuming his life.
The big names don't stop there, though. Making their debut in limited engagements are three potential award winners and potential hits for the year 2000. They are Paramount's "Angela's Ashes," Buena Vista's buddy boxing flick "Play It to the Bone" with Antonio Banderas and Woody Harrelson and Fox Searhlight's ensemble drama "Titus" starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange.
Here's a complete list of this week's releases.
Opening Tuesday, Dec. 21
"Girl, Interrupted" (Sony) -- "Copland" director James Mangold adapts Susanna Kaysen's best-selling autobiographical novel to the big screen. Based on the author's brief confinement to a psychiatric ward during her teens, the film follows the troubled detainee portrayed by Winona Ryder as the line between sanity and madness disintegrates. Angelina Jolie co-stars as a fellow patient.
Opening Wednesday, Dec. 22
"Any Given Sunday" (Warners) -- Al Pacino plays a head football coach facing the worst season of his career. With record losses and plunging attendance, his future with the Miami Sharks is further jeopardized by the injury of his aging star quarterback played by Dennis Quaid. Under pressure to win at any cost, the veteran struggles to maintain his integrity on and off the sidelines.
"Man on the Moon" -- (Universal) "The People vs. Larry Flynt" director Milos Forman returns with a biopic on late comedian Andy Kaufman, best known for his role in "Taxi." Jim Carrey stars as the versatile comedian as the film traces various stages in Kaufman's career. Danny DeVito co-stars as his longtime manager, and Courtney Love plays his girlfriend.
"Snow Falling on Cedars" (Universal) -- "Shine" director Scott Hicks returns with a tale of intrigue and love set in 1954 on an island in the Pacific Northwest. Ethan Hawke stars as a reporter assigned to cover the trial of a Japanese man accused of the murder of a local fisherman. Youki Kudoh co-stars as Hawke's childhood flame and the wife of the accused (Rick Yune). Based on the best seller by David Guterson.
"Onegin" (Samuel Goldwyn) -- Set in 1820s Russia, Ralph Fiennes stars as a dashing aristocrat who's brought to the countryside through his inheritance of a large estate. There, he acquaints a doting young woman (Liv Tyler) whose love he refuses. Six years later, the two meet again on vastly different terms -- he's fallen obsessively in love with Tyler while she's comfortably married to another man.
"42 Up" (First Run) -- In 1964, filmmaker Michael Apted began his marathon documentary series about the lives of a group of 7-year-olds in England, each from radically different socioeconomic backgrounds. Since then, the director has continued to chronicle the ups and downs of his subjects at 7-year intervals. The sixth installment is the latest update on these people at the crossroad of the big 42.
Opening Friday, Dec. 24
"Pink Narcissus" (Strand) -- First released in 1971, this erotic phantasmagoria returns to the screen with all its campy outrageousness intact. The cult classic follows a beautiful young man, played by Bobby Kendall, as he journeys through a series of sexual fantasies with total abandon. Throughout the experience, the youth is plagued by one great fear -- growing old and losing his looks.
Opening Saturday, Dec. 25
"Galaxy Quest" (DreamWorks) -- Tim Allen plays an over-the-hill television star in this spaced out comedy. He finds himself responsible for the fate of the planet when too-eager aliens mistake the erstwhile actor and his peers as the "Captain Peter Quincy Taggart" starship crew. Now the reluctant actors must go into space for an intergalactic showdown. Sigourney Weaver co-stars.
"The Talented Mr. Ripley" (Paramount) -- Based on the acclaimed novel by Patricia Highsmith, Matt Damon stars as the gay, chameleon-like Tom Ripley, who is commissioned to retrieve an errant playboy (Jude Law) from Italy. The simple errand turns deadly as Damon develops an unhealthy obsession with the expatriate and his girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow)."The English Patient" director Anthony Minghella writes and directs.
"Angela's Ashes" (Paramount) -- Adapted from Frank McCourt's Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, this film is a heartwarming document of the author's childhood in Ireland during the 1930s and '40s. Emily Watson ("Hilary & Jackie") and Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty") co-star as Frank's working class parents. Directed by Alan Parker.
"Play It to the Bone" (Buena Vista) -- Out-of-work boxing rivals and friends (Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas) get the chance of a lifetime to work together in Las Vegas. Strapped for time, they hit the road with their friend (Lolita Davidovich) at the wheel. A riotous road trip ensues as the boxers scramble to make it to their big showdown.
"Titus" (Fox Searchlight) -- In this epic tale of revenge, Anthony Hopkins stars as Titus Andonicus, the Roman general who sows the seeds of vengeance when he executes the son of the enemy queen, played by Jessica Lange. The repercussions of his action are revealed when the vindictive woman becomes the new wife of the Roman emperor. Alan Cumming co-stars.
"The Cider House Rules" (Miramax) -- Directed by Lasse Hallstrom ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape") and adapted from John Irving's best-selling novel, this coming-of-age story casts Tobey Maguire as a young man who has spent his entire youth in an orphanage. Hungry for experience, he sets out to explore the world outside. Charlize Theron, Paul Rudd and Michael Caine co-star.
"Cradle Will Rock" (Buena Vista) -- Based on true events in the cultural and art scenes of 1930s New York City, this film follows various cultural workers -- including Mexican artist Diego Rivera, theater director Orson Welles and propagandist Margherita Sarfatti -- as they defend their artistic expressions in the face of political paranoia and government censorship. John Cusack, Bill Murray and Susan Sarandon co-star.
"Tumbleweeds" (Fine Line) -- Leaving an abusive boyfriend behind, single mother Janet McTeer and daughter Kimberly J. Brown head for the sunny suburbs of San Diego to start anew. Once again, McTeer swif ly enters into a destructive relationship and is tempted to look for an easy way out. However, her headstrong daughter, tired of her rootless existence, refuses to abandon her newly established life.