Former Spin City star Alexander Chaplin has been hit with a lawsuit over his allegedly vicious dog. Denise Shaw claims the actor, who played James Hobert in the hit U.S. TV sitcom, allowed his poodle mix Freddy to "approach, menace and attack" the 61 year old in New York City's Central Park back in August, 2011, and she has filed legal papers at the Manhattan Supreme Court seeking unspecified damages for injuries sustained during the incident, according to the New York Post.
Responding to news of the litigation, Chaplin says, "We're dealing with this. This is from two years ago. We're calling a lawyer."
Ready for some football?
America always is, especially when it comes to the Super Bowl. And that's bad news this weekend for Hollywood executives.
Even a possibly mismatched Super Bowl between the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots will keep millions away from theater movies on Sunday.
Take, for example, the last weekend in January for the past two years. In 2001, box office receipts stood at $96.2 million during that Super Bowl weekend, when the defensive-minded Baltimore Ravens defeated the New York Giants. Business jumped a whooping 35.6 percent last weekend, to $130.5 million, all because NFL officials delayed the Super Bowl by one week following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Accordingly, this weekend sees the release of two films that pose little threat to reigning box office champ Black Hawk Down.
Nicole Kidman's very public divorce last year from Tom Cruise did not hurt her standing with moviegoers. Birthday Girl arrives hot on the heels of Moulin Rouge and The Others, but the thriller is unlikely to capitalize to any great extent on their success. Birthday Girl opens at 1,000 theaters, or 2,000 theaters less than Black Hawk Down, a sign that Miramax does not have great confidence in this tale of Russian mail-order bride Kidman and her easily duped husband-to-be (Ben Chaplin).
Also, Birthday Girl is another in the long line of oft-delayed Miramax-related offerings that includes recent flops Texas Rangers and Impostor. Originally scheduled for a Sept. 15, 2000, release, Birthday Girl did not make its debut until one year later at the Venice International Film Festival. Also, making matters worst, is the Super Bowl debut of another tardy thriller, Eye of the Beholder, which somehow grabbed the No. 1 spot in 2000 with a miserable $5.9 million debut.
Slackers, this weekend's second new release, also sat on the shelf for more than one year. Original distributor Destination Films went belly up after releasing such one-word-titled flops as Bats, Beautiful and Whipped, so Sony Picture's Screen Gems rescued Slackers from direct-to-video hell. Unrelated to Richard Linklater's 1992 Gen-X classic Slacker, this college-set comedy stars up-and-coming stars Devon Sawa (Final Destination), Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore), James King (Pearl Harbor) and Laura Prepon (That '70s Show) as unmotivated students looking solely for a good time.
Aside from American Pie 2, R-rated teen comedies proved a messier proposition last year than a baked goods in Jason Briggs' lap. Tomcats, Say It Isn't So and Freddy Got Fingered tanked. Not Another Teen Movie barely crawled its way to $37.8 million during the holidays.
Also, the Super Bowl wasn't too kind to last year's teen comedy, the witless Sugar & Spice, which made a less-than-sweet $13.2 million. Slackers isn't going to overcome this indifference with any ease, especially with the PG-13 rated Orange County ($34 million through Sunday) likely to attract its fair share of teens not intrigued by the showdown in New Orleans.
Brotherhood of the Wolf expands this weekend after sinking its teeth into $1.6 million at 292 theaters. The slick and chilly French horror yarn has amassed a promising $4.2 million in three weeks, and could enjoy mainstream success among those thrilled by its Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-style martial arts antics. Beyond that, Brotherhood of the Wolf boasts too much gore and not enough romance to make anything close to $128 million that Ang Lee's Oscar-winning epic made during its record-breaking run.
This should leave Black Hawk Down with enough firepower to preside over the box office for a third and possibly final weekend before the Feb. 8 releases of Collateral Damage and Rollerball. Ridley Scott's bloody recount of a battle between U.S. troops and Somalia militia already has captured $62.7 million through Wednesday after two weeks in wide release. That firmly puts Black Hawk Down ahead of fellow leave-no-one-behind thrillers as Spy Game ($62.2 million) and Behind Enemy Lines ($57.4 million). Also, producer Jerry Bruckheimer can celebrate a second successful military campaign after his Pearl Harbor earned $198.5 million last summer.
Possible Oscar nominations could result in Scott securing his third consecutive $100 million following 2000's Gladiator and last year's Hannibal.
The release of five wide releases last weekend saw such holiday holdovers as Ocean's Eleven ($175.9 million through Sunday), Vanilla Sky ($96 million through Sunday), Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius ($76.2 million through Sunday) and Kate & Leopold ($45 million through Sunday) take big hits.
Mandy Moore fans turned out in surprising numbers to see the teen pop diva's A Walk to Remember, allowing the earnest disease-of-the-week drama to earn a tuneful $12.1 million opening. A Walk to Remember's debut now sets the bar for Britney Spears' Crossroads, which opens Feb. 15.
Homework and school curfews no doubt resulted in Moore's so-so midweek performance, with A Walk to Remember trailing behind fellow rookies The Count of Monte Cristo, The Mothman Prophecies and I Am Sam. Its total through Wednesday: $13.9 million.
A Walk to Remember should weather the Super Bowl better than any of last week's new releases. Films that skew heavily toward women tend to do well during the Super Bowl, given that men are very much glued to the game. The Wedding Planner captured the No. 1 spot last year with a $13.5 million opening, followed by Save the Last Dance's $9.7 million third weekend haul. In 1999, She's All That debuted with $16.1 million, still a record for a Super Bowl weekend opening.
The Mothman Prophecies appeared to have triumphed last weekend over The Count of Monte Cristo, but when the final figures came in, the umpteenth remake of the Alexander Dumas adventure beat Richard Gere's chiller by a doubloon or two.
Kevin Reynolds' The Count of Monte Cristo opened with $11.3 million, slightly better than September's $10.3 million opening of The Musketeer. Reynolds also enjoyed a strong midweek, with The Count of Monte Cristo earning an additional $2.5 million on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Its total through Wednesday is $13.8 million. The Musketeer experienced a fast fade in the wake of lousy reviews and the Sept. 11 attack, so The Count of Monte Cristo should have no trouble surpassing its gross of $27 million.
The Mothman Prophecies will likely get sacked this weekend now that word is spreading that it is nothing more than a bewildering sub-standard X-Files episode. It has $13.2 million through Wednesday, with $25 million to $30 million a likely total.
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist kicked up an OK $7 million opening, with $7.9 million in total through Wednesday. The martial arts parody's main selling point, that it comes from Steve Oedekerk, the director of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, isn't going to be enough to prevent it from taking a major sock in the jaw this weekend.
The Beatles continue to captivate audiences some 30 years after they went their separate ways. A soundtrack populated with Fab Four covers helped I Am Sam count up to $8.3 million in its first week in wide at 1,268 theaters. Its $6,558 per screen average was the highest in last week's Top 10. With $10.3 million through Wednesday, I Am Sam will likely emerge relatively unscathed this Super Bowl weekend given that football fans are not among its core audience.
Snow Dogs also should emerge as Super Bowl-proof. The family comedy, with Cuba Gooding Jr., dropped just 27 percent in its second weekend, from $17.8 million to $13 million. Its total through Wednesday: $40.3 million. Those cute and courageous dogs will no doubt continue to make kids smile this weekend and into mid-February.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, A Beautiful Mind and Gosford Park will likely take something of a hit this weekend but will regain their footing should they earn their shot at Oscar gold.
Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, now at $260.2 million, is about to challenge Shrek as the second-most popular 2001 release. Shrek ended its run with $267.7 million.
A Beautiful Mind, now at $95.3 million, will cross the $100 million barrier this weekend. This will mark Ron Howard's fifth $100 million hit, and his fourth in five tries.
Robert Altman, who surprised everyone by winning the Golden Globe for Best Director, celebrated his biggest hit in 10 years last weekend. With $16.7 million through Wednesday, Gosford Park surpassed with ease the $13 million taken in 2000 by Dr. T & the Women. Gosford Park will likely make more than The Player's $21.7 million total long before the Oscar nominations are announced Feb. 12.
Moviegoers and "Parents" should meet again in first place given the gloomy expectations for this weekend's new releases.
While most top level studio marketing and distribution executives were in Orlando this week for ShowEast, the annual convention of exhibitors and distributors, the handful of Hollywood handicappers left minding the store see the holdovers "Meet the Parents" and "Remember the Titans" as the films most likely to perform well.
Universal's PG-13-rated comedy "Meet the Parents," which opened to a sizzling $28.6 million last week, is a safe bet to hold on to the top spot. If it falls 25%, it will still do about $21.5 million. Even a 30% drop would give it a $20 million second weekend.
"It's kind of crystal-ballish, but based on what's out there, 'Meet the Parents' could very well be number one again," one insider volunteered while on the run between ShowEast receptions.
"Parents'" broad playability is clearly working in its favor, with younger moviegoers drawn by Ben Stiller and adults attracted by Robert De Niro.
Directed by Jay Roach, director of "Austin Powers" and its blockbuster sequel, "Parents" stars De Niro and Stiller.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG-rated football theme drama "Remember the Titans," which expanded last weekend and placed second with $19.2 million, should continue as the box office runner-up.
Although "Titans" was off only 8% last weekend, its drop was cushioned by adding 1,865 new runs. Its second weekend decline was about 20% in its original theaters. "Titans" should have good legs. If it slides by only another 20% or so, it should still tackle $15-16 million.
Directed by Boaz Yakin and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Chad Oman, "Titans" stars Denzel Washington.
Watch for a close race for third place between New Line's opening (at 1,970 theaters) of its R-rated horror thriller "Lost Souls," Artisan Entertainment's kick off (at 1,489 theaters) of its R-rated romantic comedy "Dr. T and the Women," and Paramount's launch (at 2,022 theaters) of its R-rated urban appeal comedy "The Ladies Man."
All three new titles are likely to wind up in the unexciting $7.5-10 million range. When the box office dust settles, they'll round out the Top Five.
Directed by Janusz Kaminski, "Souls" stars Winona Ryder and Ben Chaplin.
Directed by Robert Altman, "Dr. T" stars Richard Gere, Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett, Laura Dern, Shelley Long, Tara Reid, Kate Hudson and Liv Tyler.
Directed by Reginald Hudlin, "Ladies" stars Tim Meadows, Karyn Parsons and Billy Dee Wiliams.
The weekend's other wide opening, DreamWorks' R-rated political thriller "The Contender," could just miss the Top Five, despite good reviews.
Moviegoers' votes for "Contender," which is running at 1,516 theaters, could add up to $4.5-$5.5 million. But don't write it off yet. If the public likes "Contender" as much as critics have, good word of mouth could help it find its audience in the weeks ahead.
Written and directed by Rod Lurie, "Contender" stars Gary Oldman, Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges and Christian Slater.
Filling out lower rungs: "The Exorcist," "Get Carter," "Almost Famous" and "Urban Legends."
This weekend will also see Universal's opening in limited release of its critically-acclaimed, R-rated drama "Billy Elliot," the first title from the studio's new Universal Focus banner.
"Billy" will kick off at 10 theaters in six top markets (New York, L.A., Boston, Toronto, Chicago and San Francisco). Universal plans a slow roll out to enable word of mouth to build and favorable reviews to circulate.
Directed by Stephen Daldry, "Billy" stars Julie Walters, Gary Lewis, Jamie Bell, Jamie Draven and Adam Cooper.
Sony Pictures Classics' unrated comedy "Just Looking" opens exclusive engagements in New York and L.A.
Directed by Jason Alexander, "Looking" stars Gretchen Mol and Patti Lu Pone.