Top Story: Britney Could Be Next Daisy Duke
Teen pop idol Britney Spears could be the next Daisy Duke--tiny shorts and all. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Spears has been mentioned as one possibility to play Daisy in Warner Bros.' big-screen version of The Dukes of Hazzard, based on the hit TV series that ran from 1979 through 1985. Other actors who have expressed interest in the project include Ashton Kutcher for the role of Bo Duke, Paul Walker as Luke Duke and Anthony Anderson as Boss Hogg. There is no word, however, on who might portray Roscoe P. Coltrane. Although there are no details on scribe Jonathan Davis's screenplay, reports say it will have Coltrane and his dog chasing 'dem Duke boys while Boss Hogg plots to get their land with a scheme involving out-of-town businessmen. Daisy, in her little shorts, will most likely serve as a distraction as the Dukes vindicate themselves--all in the name of moonshine.
Joaquin Phoenix Defends Buffalo Soldiers
Joaquin Phoenix said his latest movie, Buffalo Soldiers, has nothing to do with the conflict in Iraq. In the film, which has been criticized for its negative depiction of American soldiers, Phoenix stars as a battalion supply clerk stationed in Germany at the close of the Cold War who runs every racket imaginable at the base, including black marketing Mop & Glo and cooking dope. But Phoenix said he does not think the movie, written and directed by Australian Gregor Jordan, is a critique of the U.S. military. "It's more of a statement film and kind of a cynical statement at that," told the Boston Globe Sunday. "It explores the idea that war is inherent in man, and there's a seeming desire for conflict. It could be applied to any situation and any military."
Box Office Nose Dives in July
July proved a disappointing month for the North America box office as theater admissions fell below the $200 million mark for the first time since 1997. According to The Hollywood Reporter, estimated admissions for July were $194.1 million, down 4 percent from the $202.5 million tallied during the same time last year. Ticket sales were up slightly--2 percent--compared to last year, but the increase has been attributed to a rise in ticket prices rather than the number of tickets sold. Of July's 13 wide releases, as compared to 12 in July 2002, only two films grossed more than $100 million each as opposed to three in 2002.
"Iron Mike" Tyson Knocked Out by Finances
Boxing champ Mike Tyson, once estimated to be worth at least $300 million, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan Friday in an attempt to bring some order to his finances, Reuters reports. Tyson blames his financial woos on boxing promoter Don King and has a $100 million lawsuit pending against the ring promoter, claiming he was cheated out of millions when he went back to fighting for him after his release from prison in 1995. Last year, Tyson also claimed lack of funds prevented him from paying estranged wife Monica Turner Tyson $10 million in a divorce settlement.
Jackie Chan in TV Spot To Boost Hong Kong Tourism
Veteran action star Jackie Chan is starring in a TV commercial in a bid to revive tourism in Hong Kong after the SARS outbreak, The Associated Press reports. Hong Kong business leaders estimate the SARS outbreak earlier this year cost the city between $4-6 billion in retail trade and airline and hotel businesses. In the ad, to be broadcast in 30 cities around the world, the Hong Kong-born star will simply greet potential visitors in several languages. TV viewers in the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada as well as mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia will see Chan's commercial in the coming weeks.
Ex-Motley Crue Singer Charged with Battery
Former Motley Crue singer Vince Neil has been charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly attacking a prostitute at a brothel last month, the AP reports. According to the criminal complaint, the 42-year-old singer allegedly grabbed prostitute Andrea Terry by the throat and threw her against a wall July 10 at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch just east of Carson City, Nev. Brothel owner Dennis Hof told the New York Daily News that Neil and Terry got into an argument because he did not want to have sex with her. Neil had stopped by the brothel following a July 9 concert in Reno with 1980s metal bands Poison and Skid Row. If convicted, Neil could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Tupac's Hummer on eBay Auction Block
A woman who won a 1996 Hummer that belonged to the late rapper Tupac Shakur in a Black Entertainment Television sweepstakes will auction the vehicle on eBay.com. According to CNN.com, the black SUV is said to be in mint condition and loaded with Shakur's personal items including an invite addressed to him dated September 1, 1996. Shakur was killed following a drive by shooting on September 7, 1996. Bidding begins August 13 at $500,000 and is scheduled to end on August 23. The owner says she plans to use the money for an educational fund for her children.
Role Call: William Friedkin To Helm Skulls
The Exorcist director William Friedkin will helm The Book of Skulls for Paramount Pictures. According to Variety, the story, based on Robert Silverbur's novel, centers on a quartet of collegians who discover an ancient book containing the secret to eternal life and the high cost attached. Friedkin received an Oscar nom for directing the 1973 horror thriller The Exorcist--just two years after winning the Best Director Oscar for The French Connection.
Calvin Cambridge (played by Bow Wow) is a likeable 14-year-old kid who lives at the Chesterfield Group Home orphanage. He has two aspirations in life: One is to be adopted by a loving family modeled after the Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the other is to be a basketball player. Hope arrives in the form of an old pair of Nikes that Sister Theresa (played by Anne Meara) brings in a shipment of Salvation Army goodies adorned with the faded initials "M.J. " which Calvin assumes stands for basketball legend Michael Jordan. But the shoes go through an ordeal of their own before Calvin can get them on his feet: Bullies take the sneakers from him and throw them over some power lines where they are struck by lightning. Suddenly Calvin finds he is able to make 30-foot jump shots on the orphanage court. His newfound talent gets him recruited by the embattled Los Angeles Knights who see Calvin as a new gimmick to fill empty stadium seats. While Calvin is enamored by all the perks that come with playing for the NBA the sport cannot satisfy his need for a loving family.
The soft-spoken Bow Wow (All About the Benjamins) tugs at every heartstring in Like Mike with viewers subject to many close-ups of his tear-stained cheeks. His performance is mediocre--in some scenes you can almost see him taking orders from the director--but Bow Wow has enough character and sincerity to pull it off. He's content in the spotlight which is not surprising considering he has been practically preened for it since birth. Morris Chestnut (Two Can Play That Game) plays Tracey Reynolds a slick NBA player who is assigned to be Calvin's mentor. Morris is completely at ease playing the flashy athlete with a soft side and he gives the relationship between Tracey and Calvin a certain air of sweetness. Crispin Glover plays Calvin's evil guardian Stan Bittleman but his performance isn't up to par with his past roles including the time he almost kicked David Letterman in the head while taping Late Night. Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry Maguire) and Brenda Song (Requiem) play Calvin's loyal orphanage buds and they do so without being too smart-alecky. Cameo appearances by NBA stars Allen Iverson Gary Payton Vince Carter and Chris Webber (among others) add to the film's authenticity.
Like Mike plays out more like an after-school special than a feature film; it's formulaic and relies heavily on one gimmick after another. With the film light on laughs but heavy on sentiment director John Schultz (Drive Me Crazy) makes sure every bit of sap is extracted from scribe Michael Elliot's (Carmen: A Hip Hopera) script making the film less challenging for adult viewers. The kids for example live in a '50s-style orphanage where prospective parents file in and look for children to adopt like puppies in a store window. (They always pick the young ones the older children lament.) But children no doubt will feel for the 4-foot-8-inch Calvin as he slam-dunks the ball into the hoop and dangles from it his little legs flailing in the air. And this cutesy package of a film comes complete with a moral at the end of the story when the vertically challenged hero learns a valuable lesson about facing up to one's fears.