July 30, 2001 8:13am EST
It was a dino-might box office weekend driven by explosive openings for Jurassic Park III and America's Sweethearts.
Between them, Universal and Amblin's JP III and Revolution Studios and Columbia's Sweethearts grossed an extra sweet $81 million-plus. Distribution sources said Sunday morning that it set a record as the biggest combined total ever for two openings. They added, however, that combined total for Pearl Harbor's opening weekend and Shrek's second weekend for the three day weekend portion of this year's four day Memorial Day holiday period was an even larger $101.6 million.
Driven by the twin blockbuster openings, ticket sales reversed their recent downward pattern versus last year. Key films grossed nearly $140 million, up over 5 percent from this time a year ago.
The PG-13 rated action adventure fantasy sequel JP III kicked off to a sizzling ESTIMATED $50.27 million at 3,434 theaters ($14,640 per theater). Its cume after five days is approximately $80.9 million.
JP III is Universal's third high profile box office success story this summer. The studio began the summer season in early May with The Mummy Returns, which has grossed nearly $201 million after 12 weeks in theaters. The studio's mid-summer sleeper hit The Fast and the Furious has now grossed $125 million after five weeks in theaters.
Directed by Joe Johnston, JP III stars Sam Neill, William H Macy, Tea Leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, John Diehl and Bruce A. Young.
JP III's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
"It's extraordinary," Universal distribution president Nikki Rocco said Sunday morning. "Coming off of the Wednesday opening (of $19 million), everybody was surprised. Now that the weekend results are almost in, I think everybody continues to be surprised.
"It would have been a normal expectation for the picture to be flat between Friday and Saturday, but once again there's no way of reading this business. We did a lot of business and were up 24 percent on Saturday night. It's playing very broad, is what it means. All of my people that went to check theaters yesterday -- which we do when we have films like this in the marketplace to make sure we're in the right screens -- at one o'clock in the afternoon the big screens were (already) three-quarters filled in the megaplexes and with families."
Rocco also pointed to anecdotal evidence that JP III is already generating repeat business. "We had a theater manager that got some complaints from parents," she explained. "But you'll never guess what the complaints were -- the kids behind them kept on saying what the next scene was going to be because they'd seen it already!"
With nearly $81 million already in hand, where does it go? While it's clearly going to be huge, it's too early now to say how huge. "No one knows," Rocco observed.
It also was an outstanding weekend for Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures' PG-13 rated romantic comedy America's Sweethearts, which opened in second place to a very engaging ESTIMATED $31.0 million at 3,011 theaters ($10,296 per theater).
Directed by Joe Roth, it stars Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack.
"We're delighted. Those are all boxcar numbers in the world of romantic comedies," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning. "You look at films like Runaway Bride on July 30, 1999 with $35.0 million and a $152 million total (in domestic theaters). That was the biggest romantic comedy opening ever. In the world of romantic comedies, you've got Runaway Bride as the biggest and then What Women Want on Dec. 15, 2000 with $33.6 million and (a domestic theatrical) cume of $183 million.
"And we don't have to take a back seat after that to anybody. You've got Notting Hill, which opened May 28, 1999 to $27.6 million on a four day Memorial Day (holiday) weekend and (wound up doing) $116 million. You've got You've Got Mail, which opened Dec. 18, 1998 to $18.4 million and did $115 million. Certainly, as you go further back there's a great indication of romantic comedies that opened in the mid-to-high teens (in millions) and all went and did over $100 million -- like Jerry Maguire ($153.6 million) and Sleepless in Seattle ($126.7 million) and things like that."
Focusing on the huge combined business for JP III and Sweethearts, Blake observed, "It's certainly great for Jurassic Park and their franchise and it's great for us and what we're trying to do. And it's great for the market. This looks like a $140 million weekend and we're even up from last year. It had been going in the other direction (in terms of weekends being down from 2000), so I think this certainly revitalized the summer with two openings of this magnitude and, hopefully, it will be a great second half (of the summer)."
Blake pointed out that, "The hard part is to get a romantic comedy out there in a big way right from Day One. They certainly have -- better than any other genre -- a great track record of holding. That always has been the game plan. To get it open to as good a number as we could versus (what is) certainly different competition, but huge competition as turned out to be the case, and to be that summer movie that's going to hold for a while. I think the genre allows that and all indications are that that's what will happen to us here."
Asked who was on hand opening weekend to see Sweethearts, Blake replied, "We got our initial exit polls and it looks like about 55%-45% women to men. So slightly more women, but really a traditional date movie for the most part. It looks like about the same 55%-45% adults to younger people, using 25 as the cut-off. Certainly we've got something here for the first time this summer -- or one of the only pictures this summer -- that appeals to adults. But it also got the younger contingent, as well. Every indication is that it's playing great."
Looking ahead, Blake pointed out, "If you look at the competition coming up it's all big, but pretty male -- Planet of the Apes and Rush Hour 2, in particular. So I think we're in a very good spot. It's unusual for two pictures to open north of $30 million on the same weekend. I know it happened with The World Is Not Enough and Sleepy Hollow, but it's hard to think of many other examples where pictures got out there in as big a way as this."
While Bride still ranks as Roberts' biggest opening ever, Sweethearts' $31 million launch goes into the record books as her second biggest opening. It overtakes Erin Brockovich, which arrived to $28.1 million on Mar. 17, 2000 and went on to gross $125.5 million in domestic theaters.
In the face of the weekend's two blockbuster arrivals, MGM's PG-13 rated comedy hit Legally Blonde fell two pegs to third place in its second week with a still sexy ESTIMATED $11.05 million (-46%) at 2,695 theaters (+75 theaters; $4,100 per theater). Its cume is approximately $43.4 million, heading for $70-75 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Robert Luketic, the Marc Platt production stars Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson, Selma Blair, Matthew Davis, Victor Garber and Jennifer Coolidge with a special appearance by Raquel Welch.
"It held up great during the week and even held up well on Wednesday against the massive opening of Jurassic Park III," MGM worldwide theatrical marketing and distribution president Bob Levin said Sunday morning.
"As we look now at what happened this weekend, I think given the (blockbuster) opening of Jurassic Park III and the right on demographic target opening of America's Sweethearts, this kind of drop is totally acceptable and gives us a good feeling that we won't see anything this significant (in terms of a drop) in the future and that we'll be holding up pretty well."
Paramount's R rated crime drama The Score slid two rungs to fourth place in its second week with an okay ESTIMATED $10.75 million (-43%) at 2,160 theaters (+31 theaters; $4,977 per theater). Its cume is approximately $37.2 million.
Directed by Frank Oz, it stars Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando.
Cats & Dogs, the PG rated family appeal comedy from Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment dropped two notches to fifth place in its third week, still showing its teeth with an ESTIMATED $6.77 million (-44%) at 3,040 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,227 per theater). Its cume is approximately $72.4 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
"The picture performs like the weather report. It rained in the Miami area and the Jacksonville area and we were up 58 percent (on Saturday) from Friday. In Boston the weather was still fantastic and we were up (only) 19 percent," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "That's what happens with this movie. It's going to be around a very long time. Families like it. Kids like it. We're doing repeat business. It'll play a long time. There's nothing coming in that's going to hurt us."
Universal's PG-13 action drama The Fast and the Furious fell two laps to sixth place in its fifth week, still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $5.26 million (-35%) at 2,744 theaters (-155 theaters; $1,915 per theater). Fast, which cost a modest $38 million, has a cume of approximately $125.0 million.
Directed by Rob Cohen and produced by Neal H. Moritz, it stars Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster.
20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment's PG rated comedy sequel Dr. Dolittle 2, which was seventh last week, tied for seventh place in its fifth week with a quiet ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-42%) at 2,444 theaters (-385 theaters; $1,780 per theater). Its cume is approximately $93.2 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Steve Carr and produced by John Davis, it stars Eddie Murphy.
Dimension Films' R rated horror film spoof sequel Scary Movie 2, which was fifth last week, tied for seventh place in its third week with a mellow ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-54%) at 2,802 theaters (-418 theaters; $1,570 per theater). Its cume is approximately $61.7 million, heading for $70 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, it stars Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Anna Faris, Regina Hall, Christopher Masterson and Kathleen Robertson.
Columbia's release of Square Pictures' PG-13 rated computer animated sci-fi fantasy adventure Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within plunged five slots to ninth place in its second week with a dull ESTIMATED $3.5 million (-69%) at 2,649 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,321 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.7 million.
Square financed the film's production costs, which reportedly were about $115 million. For Sony Fantasy represents a distribution deal with Columbia in only for marketing and distribution costs.
Rounding out the Top Ten was 20th Century Fox's R rated action drama Kiss of the Dragon, down two rungs in its third week with a cold ESTIMATED $2.86 million (-52%) at 1,658 theaters (-442 theaters; $1,726 per theater). Its cume is approximately $29.6 million.
Directed by Chris Nahon, it stars Jet Li and Bridget Fonda.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Fine Line Features' R rated rock musical drama Hedwig and the Angry Inch to a very encouraging ESTIMATED $0.15 million at 9 theaters ($17,001 per theater).
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, who also wrote and adapted his hit Off-Broadway play to the screen, Hedwig stars Mitchell in its title role.
MGM's release of United Artists' R rated youth appeal comedy Ghost World materialized to a spirited ESTIMATED $0.1 million at 5 theaters ($20,174 per theater) in New York (two theaters), Los Angeles (two theaters) and Seattle (one theater).
Directed by Terry Swigoff, it stars Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas and Steve Buscemi.
"We have the highest screen average this week, which is great," MGM's Bob Levin said Sunday morning. "And looking back, it's a higher screen average over (hit specialized film) openings like Run Lola Run, Mighty Aphrodite, Hilary and Jackie or You Can Count On Me. We hold for a week and then expand into seven additional markets on Aug. 3. Based on this performance, I think we'll also be expanding within these first three markets.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front, this weekend saw Fox Searchlight's R rated critically acclaimed British crime thriller Sexy Beast continue to widen in its sixth week, still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $0.39 million (-22%) at 189 theaters (+10 theaters; $2,075 per theater). Its cume is approximately $4.5 million.
Directed by Jonathan Glazer, it stars Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley.
"I think we're going to end up with probably around $5.5-$6.0 million," Fox Searchlight distribution president Steven Gilula said Sunday morning. "We'll be real pleased with that. Right now, we're the third strongest limited release for the year after Memento and Amores Perros. I think we'll get past Amores Perros and be number two. And then it's a question of all these new (specialized) films and which ones will expand out and be able to penetrate the market. There's a lot of independent product opening now."
Miramax's R rated French comedy The Closet went wider in its fourth week with a still promising ESTIMATED $0.34 million (+8%) at 65 theaters (+22 theaters; $5,153 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.3 million.
Directed by Francis Veber, it stars Daniel Auteuil, Gerard Depardieu, Thierry Lhermitte and Michele Laroque.
Artisan's R rated comedy Made expanded in its second week with an encouraging ESTIMATED $0.27 million at 19 theaters (+16 theaters; $13,947 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.5 million.
Written and directed by Jon Favreau, it stars Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Sean Combs, Famke Janssen, Faizon Love and Peter Falk.
Fine Line Features' R rated comedy The Anniversary Party went wider in its seventh week with a quiet ESTIMATED $0.17 million (-36%) at 120 theaters (+2 theaters; $1,405 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.3 million.
Written/directed by and starring Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, its ensemble cast includes Jane Adams, Phoebe Cates, Kevin Kline, , Gwyneth Paltrow, Parker Posey and John C Reilly.
Lions Gate Films' PG-13 rated drama Songcatcher continued to widen in its sixth week with a weak ESTIMATED $0.16 million (-15%) at 91 theaters (+19 theaters; $1,800 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.2 million.
Directed by Maggie Greenwald, it stars Janet McTeer and Aidan Quinn.
Lions Gate Films' unrated erotic drama Lost and Delirious widened in its third week with a slow ESTIMATED $0.037 million at 18 theaters (+10 theaters; $2,050 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.14 million.
Directed by Lea Pool, it stars Piper Perabo.
Miramax's R rated comedy Everybody's Famous added a theater in its third week with a dull ESTIMATED $0.01 million at 11 theaters (+1 theater; $918 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.075 million.
Written and directed by Dominique Deruddere, it stars Josse De Pauw.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $139.68 million, up about 5.37% from the comparable weekend last year when key films grossed $132.55 million.
This weekend's key film gross was up about 19.6% from last weekend this year when key films took in $116.78 million.
Last year, DreamWorks' opening week of What Lies Beneath was first with $29.70 million at 2,813 theaters ($10,559 per theater); and Fox's second week of X-Men was second with $23.47 million at 3,112 theaters ($7,541 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $53.2 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $81.3 million.
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July 24, 2001 9:40am EST
A star-studded reading of the screenplay for David McClintock's Indecent Exposure took place at an annex of New York's Public Theatre Sunday, New York Post columnist Neal Travis reported Tuesday. The book by the former Wall Street Journal reporter detailed one of Hollywood's most notorious scandals, which began in 1977 when actor Cliff Robertson revealed that Columbia Studios President David Begelman had cashed a $10,000 check made out by the studio to Robertson by forging the actor's endorsement. Sunday's script readers, according to Travis, included James Gandolfini, playing Begelman, and, in other roles, James Woods, Sigourney Weaver, Melanie Griffith, Stanley Tucci, Ron Silver, Bob Balaban, Julianna Margulies, Steve Buscemi, Giovanni Ribisi, Christine Baranski and Burt Young. Travis reported that the production has long been delayed because producers were forced to raise money outside of the studio system.
July 12, 2001 11:10am EST
It's 2065. The earth has been taken over by phantom-like aliens against whom the dwindling human population is powerless save for a super-weapon that could destroy the entire planet. But Dr. Aki Ross (voiced by Ming-Na) and her mentor Dr. Sid (Donald Sutherland) are working fast to prove that "Gaia " or the spirit of the earth could be harnessed to wipe out the invaders by creating a spiritual "wave" using eight rare organic life forms. (Yeah we didn't really get it either.) Aki has found six of the eight but time is running out--so together they join ex-beau Captain Grey (Alec Baldwin) and his squad to find the remaining two life forms and complete the wave before a nefarious military official (James Woods) fires his super-weapon and damages Earth beyond repair.
All the amazing visual effects of this film couldn't save it from lame dialogue recited more stiffly than any other animated film in recent memory (couldn't they get the characters' mouths to move just a little?). With the most formlessly drawn face of the characters (she looks like she's 12) Aki demands a vivid personality--not supplied by a monotone Ming-Na who couldn't break a smile in her voice if her life depended on it. Grey (who looks weirdly like Ben Affleck on steroids) Woods and Ving Rhames Peri Gilpin and Steve Buscemi (as the requisite Black joker and chick squad members) are just as wooden but you hope to chalk it up to the stilted and cliché-sodden discourse. Sutherland is the standout as is Dr. Sid--his is the most fleshed-out character in concept delivery and appearance.
Director Hironobu Sakaguchi the video game's creator spent years on the much-touted photorealistic ("hyperReal") visuals which truly are jaw-dropping particularly in Aki's dream sequences and the attack scenes. (Ethereal and strangely beautiful the aliens are a sight to behold.) Some characters look so real you almost forget they aren't. But on the way to creating this masterpiece somebody forgot about the dialogue which is laughably insipid (did Sakaguchi think audiences would be so busy watching they'd forget to listen?). The film's pace is much slower than you'd expect with too little action too much storyline (which unfortunately requires more conversation). It's more inventive than say Tomb Raider but pay close attention or the blather of Mother Earth life forces and other New Age-y gobbledygook will waft past like so much phantasmagoria.
July 06, 2001 10:39am EST
The fifth day of the Sundance Film Festival saw studios picking up the pace in what has been an unusually sluggish purchasing climate.
New Regency Films was in final negotiations to pick up distribution rights for “K-19: The Widowmaker.” Starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, the drama is based on the true story of a Soviet submarine crew’s attempt to keep the payload on their vessel from a nuclear meltdown. The film begins production in February and is budgeted for $80 million.
Lions Gate Films has also paid $1 million for North American distribution rights to “Double Whammy.” Written by Tom DiCillo, the comic thriller stars Denis Leary as a New York City homicide detective who manages to straighten out both his back and his career -- with a little help from a voluptuous chiropractor (Elizabeth Hurley). Steve Buscemi, Chris Noth, Luis Guzman and Victor Argo round out the cast.
July 06, 2001 10:39am EST
So, what's it like when you sell your movie at Sundance? Like this: You drive through the streets whooping, yelling, cranking up the stereo and tossing black Adidas ski hats to the unwashed (and un-picked-up) masses.
The groovesters of "Groove" are, yes, grooving. A day after Sony Pictures Classic snapped up the low-budget slice-of-rave-life flick, the film's players were partying in the streets here this afternoon. And to hear one of its stars tell it -- this was situation normal, big-time movie deal or no.
"We've been partying since Day One of shooting and that's all it was, was 28 days in a warehouse, dancing 18 hours a day," actor Steve Van Mormer told Hollywood.com while dancing atop the SUV-anointed "Groove" Mobile. "And we haven't stopped since."
Not that the Sony deal hasn't made the day of even the most veteran party animals.
"It is unfathomable," said Van Wormer, who plays a club promoter in the flick. "It was always in the back of our minds, but it's a total, total dream. ... It's unbelievable. I don't even know what else to askfor."
Meanwhile, in other Park City happenings:
BIG "BUCK": "Chuck & Buck," a different kind of buddy film starring the directing-producing brothers behind 1999 summer smash "American Pie," was bought today -- reportedly for $1 million-plus -- by Artisan Entertainment, the distributor behind that other 1999 summersmash, "The Blair Witch Project." The deal was completed after the "Groove" one, leaving that film with the distinction of being the first Park City buy. "Chuck & Buck," with hot "Pie" sibs Chris and Paul Weitz, is the second feature from Miguel Arteta, who became a Sundance star with 1997's "Star Maps."
GOLDEN GLOBES? WHAT GOLDEN GLOBES? OK, so tonight's official Sundance party was billed as the DirecTV Golden Globes party -- except, like, it started at 9 p.m. local time (or roughly just as the award show was ending) and, like, nobody cared anyway.
Reports Hollywood.com's Gerry Katzman: "Fifty percent of the people there had very little concept that the Golden Globes were even going on." The other half were juiced that Alan Ball took a Globe for his screenplay for "American Beauty" (almost like an indie -- except for the DreamWorks part).
And then there was the matter of Barbra Streisand. (She picked up the Globe's lifetime achievement award.) The word that came up most often, Katzman says, in describing Streisand's acceptance speech was, um, "rambled."
MAYBE WE WERE AT THE WRONG PARTY: The big shindig in town tonight (perhaps the one that emptied the streets) was apparently the MGM-sponsored Globes bash. This one wasn't for journalist types -- it was for "the special people," in the words of a fellow journalist type (i.e., a nonspecial person).
THE ORIGINS OF BUZZ: "Oh, it's really good." -- A cell phone disciple on her way out of Saturday's premiere of boxing chick flick (and Dramatic Competition hopeful) "Girlfight" at the Park City LibraryCenter.
HOW TO PARK IN PARK CITY: Stop your SUV in the middle of Main Street -- and get out. (Leaving the engine running is optional, if not recommended. At least that's how three drivers -- two in one lane, one in the opposite -- did it at the same time here Sunday night, much to the delight of their fellow motorists.)
PARKING ASIDE, WE'RE A WELL-BEHAVED BUNCH: Park City police Sgt. Sherm Farnsworth told us today all has been pretty quiet in packed Park City -- flier controversy or no. The Slamdance types, as we reported earlier, have been complaining that their filmmakers are being hassled over handbills and threatened with $2,000 fines. Farnsworth said no actual citations had been issued through the weekend. He also denied that police were springing a new law on festivalgoers -- as Slamdance had suggested. ("Why they say that ... I have no idea," Farnsworth said.) The anti-flier ordinance has been on the books for a while, the official said, adding that police are just cracking down this year. In other civic news, Farnsworth estimated that the biggest Park City population crush is yet to come, with up to 30,000 expected to be milling about town Wednesday and Thursday. No word on how many will come bearing fliers.
WHO SAID MOVIE PEOPLE HAVE NO STANDARDS? "I can't just whip out a power schmooze -- 'How 'bout them Knicks?'" -- A conflicted guy overheard tonight on Main Street.
THE MOST WELL-INFORMED MALL IN AMERICA: Park City's Main Street Mall (home to the No Dance Festival), where the communal TV sets are inexplicably always tuned to CNN.
HOW TO ELIMINATE THE COMPETITION: New to Park City this year is the Independence Film Festival. It's the brainchild of filmmaker David Merwin, who has a very specific agenda: To screen his short, "The Regular Menu," as many as 100 times by Wednesday morning. "The Regular Menu," in fact, is the only film on the menu at the Independence Film Festival, based near Slamdance headquarters at the Treasure Mountain Inn. Said Merwin: "We could have hustled up some other entries, but I kind of liked the idea of being the guaranteed grand-prize winner thisyear."
MOVIES WE SAW:
1. "Songcatcher" (Sundance Dramatic Competition) -- We had to get up early to watch this stuff? Janet McTeer plays a 1920s musicologist who chooses to move to hillbilly country to live with her lesbian sister schoolteacher (Jane Adams) and discovers the joy of native folk songs. Unfortunately, almost every freakin' scene features dirty-faced mountainfolk breaking into song. It's both annoying and unrealistic -- as if the hillbilly lifestyle was not too divorced from that of a Broadway gypsy. A great performance by Aidan Quinn (as McTeer's love interest, a hillbilly with a heart of gold) and an unbelievable supporting turn by Pat Carroll ("The Little Mermaid") can't make up for the film's contrivances. (-- AnonymousSource)
2. "Double Parked" (Slamdance Competition Feature) "Tumbleweeds" (and/or "Anywhere But Here") with a New Yawk accent. Like those two wacky-mom/put-upon-kid flicks, "Double Parked" gives us a wacky single mom (who, in a twist, is as a tough-talkin' meter maid name of, ugh, Rita) and a put-upon kid (who, in a twist, is sickly). Though heartfelt, this is the kind of film that shows up on IFC or the Sundance Channel full of a self-congratulatory sense of entitlement that says, "We're indie. We're better than Hollywood because no cars were crashed to make this film." Well, no cars were crashed to make "Anywhere But Here," either, and it's just as cloying as that, so what's the point? (-- J.R.)
MOVIES WE WANTED TO SEE BUT COULDN'T GET TICKETS TO EVEN THOUGH WE WAITED OUT IN THE BITTER COLD FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF: "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" (Sundance Documentary Competition).
SPOTTED: Indie god Steve Buscemi ("Living in Oblivion") at today's "Songcatcher" screening at the Eccles Theatre; indie guru John Pierson (TV's "Split Screen"), animation icon Craig "Spike" Decker (of Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation) and James Woods ("Any Given Sunday") at the Independent Film Channel bash tonight at the Harry O's nightclub. We also thought we saw Kato Kaelin (The People vs. O.J. Simpson) at the IFC shindig, but upon further review it was determined it wasn't Kato, after all. (It was that kindof night.)
LOOKING AHEAD: The Jason Priestley-directed documentary "Barenaked in America" (about the pop band Barenaked Ladies), plays Slamdance on Monday; the buzz-a-rific "Happy Accidents" (with Marisa Tomei) unspools at Sundance; alternafest SlamDunk begins its run at Harry's O.
May 08, 2001 4:19am EST
Cate Blanchett is in negotiations to join co-star Kevin Spacey in Miramax's "The Shipping News," the film adaptation of Annie Proulx's 1994 Pulitzer prize-winning novel. The film is to be directed by Lasse Hallstrom ("Chocolat").
The story centers around a man (Spacey) who must rebuild his life after his wife runs off with his two daughters and sells them into prostitution. Blanchett will be playing the role of the ex-wife, Petal Bear.
Principal photography is scheduled to start before the potential strikes occur.
Blanchett, now being seen in the tense drama "The Gift," recently wrapped production on New Line's "Lord of the Rings."
A "DOMESTIC" BUSCEMI: Steve Buscemi ("Fargo") has signed to play a supporting role in Harold Becker's newest film, "Domestic Disturbance," for Paramount. Shooting started Monday in North Carolina.
Buscemi will join John Travolta and Vince Vaughn in a tale about a divorced dad (Travolta) who finds out unexpectedly that his 11-year old son's new stepfather (Vaughn) is not what he made himself out to be and must somehow save his son from the potential danger.
Buscemi most recently starred in "Double Whammy," which was picked up for domestic distribution at the recent Sundance Film Festival.
GRAHAM, TOMEI SEEK "SEX": Heather Graham ("Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me") and Marisa Tomei ("What Women Want") are in negotiations to star in director Daisy Mayer's comedy "The Guru of Sex," about a young man from India who comes to New York, seeking his fame and fortune. After a few hits and misses, he ends up becoming a guru for spiritual enlightenment through sex. Graham and Tomei will play two women instrumental in his rise to fame.
As a sidenote, Heather Graham may need a little real life sexual guidance. Seems ex-boyfriend, actor-director Edward Burns ("Saving Private Ryan"), who only broke off from Graham recently, is getting married to supermodel Christy Turlington, who recently broke up with actor, Jason Patric. Can we say rebound?
March 19, 2001 11:50am EST
Edward Furlong, the kid who first uttered legendary action-movie cliches such as "Hasta la vista, baby," "Eat me, dickwad" and "no problemo," is returning to his roots. Daily Variety says the 23-year-old actor will reprise his role as John Conner in the James Cameron-less "Terminator 3," which is now in the works.
Furlong -- at the fertile age of just 12 -- blasted into Hollywood in his maiden role in "Terminator 2: Judgement Day." With no previous acting experience whatsoever, the Southern California kid was literally plucked off the streets of Los Angeles and put in the 1991 sci-fi blockbuster.
Furlong now has 13 films under his belt, and he has been pretty indie-minded during his career, shunning big-budget beasts in favor of smaller projects such as campmeister John Waters' "Pecker" (1998), "American History X" (1998) and the 1970s proto-metal homage "Detroit Rock City" (1999).
"American History X" But even though Furlong hasn't exactly set the world on fire as an actor , he has nonetheless amassed a dedicated following. Ray Gun magazine says he's among the 20 actors "who matter" in the year 2000, and Vanity Fair bestowed a similar honor upon him in 1998.
Meanwhile, Furlong can be seen this year in "The Animal Factor," playing an inmate opposite Steve Buscemi and Willem Dafoe.
And for anyone who cares about the latest "T3" goings-on, it's been widely reported that Ah-nuld is all game and ready, even though directorJames Cameron has declined.
Linda Hamilton, who played Furlong's psycho-badass mom in the last film, won't reprise the part unless Cameron returns.
Slated for a 2002 release, "T3" is reportedly about the world's first battle with Skynet, the evil corporation responsible for the invention of the terminator cyborgs. There are rumors that Schwarzenegger will battle a female villain, but no other details of the plot are available yet.
But the burning question is: Will Furlong get a set of newly minted action-movie cliches to spout? We can only hope.
December 31, 1899 7:00pm EST
Brolin and Driver to wed
Jews are angry
Smile, Mrs. Dirty Harry
Moore birthday bash
Pryor turns street
Beastie Boys are back
Brando takes ill
Brolin and Driver to wed
Actor Josh Brolin (Hollowman, The Mod Squad) and actress Minnie Driver (Return To Me, Good Will Hunting) are engaged to be wed, People magazine reports.
This is the third wedding for Brolin, who was married previously to Deborah Adair. Brolin's first wife, Jane, died in 1995. Brolin has two children, Trevor, 12, and Eden, 8.
This will be the first trip down the aisle for Driver, who previously dated Matt Damon and John Cusack.
Brolin -- son of famed actor James Brolin and stepson of Barbra Streisand -- and Driver became romantically involved when they costarred in Slow Burn.
"It's obvious they are very much in love," Danny McKeever, Brolin's auto-racing instructor, told reporters.
No wedding date has been set yet, People reported.
Comic strip "BC" defames Jews, says Jewish group
The Simon Weisenthal Center, a nonprofit Jewish civil rights organization, is asking newspapers that carry the syndicated comic strip BC not to run Sunday's cartoon.
The strip portrays a Menorah, a Jewish symbol, in the first panel, under a quote by Jesus: "Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do." Succeeding panels then show the Menorah morphing into a cross, with more of Jesus' last words atop each panel. The final panel's quote, "Do this in remembrance of me," frames a picture of a cave, presumably Jesus' final resting place.
The founder and director of the Weisenthal Center, Rabbi Marvin Heir, said that newspapers have a duty not to run the strip, as it describes Judaism being "subsumed" or encompassed by Christianity, Reuters reported. The strip "will promote hatred rather than tolerance and diversity," Heir said.
A statement released by Johnny Hart, creator of BC, defends his work, saying that during a week that is holy for both Christians and Jews this year, he was trying to honor both.
The Simon Weisenthal Center, located in Los Angeles, is named in memory of Nazi hunter Simon Weisenthal.
Dirty Harry's wife on "Camera"
Smile, you're on Candid Camera.
Dina Ruiz Eastwood, wife of Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood, will be saying that more often, having joined Candid Camera's team as the show's co-host.
Starting with the new fall season, Eastwood will co-anchor the show with Peter Funt, The Associated Press reports. Eastwood will take over for Suzanne Sommers, former star of Three's Company.
The Eastwoods, who appeared together in True Crime, have been married since 1996. Prior to taking her new gig as Camera's co-host, Eastwood was a news anchor for KSBW-TV (NBC) in Salinas, Calif. Prior to taking the gig as Camera's co-host, Eastwood was a news anchor for KSBW-TV (NBC) in Salinas, Calif.
Candid Camera airs Sunday evenings on Pax TV.
Former "Survivor" contestant gives deposition
America hasn't heard the last from the first season's cast members of the TV hit Survivor.
As part of ex-cast member Stacy Stillman's $70,000 lawsuit against CBS, fellow South Pacific islander Dirk Been delivered a videotaped deposition -- six hours in length -- to lawyers, according to a report by People magazine. Been's deposition will remain under wraps due to confidentiality agreements that each cast member signs before taping begins.
Stillman contends that the TV series rigged the vote that kicked her off the island. Stillman reportedly asked the questions during Been's deposition.
"We're very pleased with what Dirk said today," Donald Yates, Stillman's lawyer, told the New York Post.
For its part, CBS filed a counter-suit against Stillman, claiming she broke her nondisclosure agreement when she brought her suit against Survivor last February.
Moore to celebrate birthday with TV bash
To celebrate Dudley Moore's 66th birthday, his family and friends are throwing him a small party -- at Carnegie Hall.
Michael Caine and Julie Andrews will chair the televised event, An All-Star Tribute To Dudley Moore, People magazine reports. Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Walters, Amy Irving, Lauren Bacall, Eric Idle, Chevy Chase, Jimmy Fallon and Bo Derek are scheduled to give praise in person, while Robin Williams and John Cleese have taped video messages for Moore.
Dudley Moore, star of such films as 10, Arthur, and the original Bedazzled, suffers from a rare brain disorder called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a relative of Parkinson's disease. The ailment has severely limited Moore's ability to work as Moore is confined to his wheelchair. Moore has curtailed his public appearances.
Net proceeds from the evening go to two of Moore's pet charities, Music for All Seasons and the Dudley Moore Research Fund for PSP. The tribute will take place on Monday.
Pryor's name to headline street sign in Illinois
Peoria, Ill., will try for the second time to honor hometown hero, comedian Richard Pryor, USA Today reports.
Peoria City Council members rejected on March 27 the renaming of South Sheridan Street in honor of Pryor, but that apparently did not sit well with certain council members. The proposal has reappeared on the docket, and the council will once again vote on the matter in two weeks.
Councilman Eric Turner said that the city has received a black eye for failing to honor Pryor. According to Turner, he and Pryor were childhood friends while growing up on the south side of Peoria.
Pryor is a controversial choice for such an honor, given his past penchant for profanity-filled routines and his well-documented battles with drugs. In 1980, Pryor nearly killed himself accidentally in a fire related to his freebasing cocaine.
Pryor, currently living in California, suffers from Multiple Sclerosis.
Beastie Boys' Grand Royal reappears
Out of print since 1997, the Beastie Boys' cult magazine Grand Royal has been licensed by Harper Collins to reappear in the guise of a coffee-table book. The book would comprise the best of the old magazines and incorporate fresh new articles, according to a story filed by online portal Yahoo!
The Beastie Boys produced just six editions of Grand Royal, from 1993 to 1997, which were all instant hits. The magazine, which linked skateboarding and politics and music and pop culture, sold out three of the six print runs. The magazine featured articles with then-obscure musicians, such as a Kid Rock interview in the fourth edition.
According to the report, Josh Behar, a senior editor at Harper Collins, said that the Beastie Boys "really love this project. Their dedication is amazing." Beastie Boy Mike D is working closely with Behar to finish the book. The book is scheduled to appear in bookstores in April 2002.
Actor Steve Buscemi reportedly knifed in fight
Actor Steve Buscemi has flown from the North Carolina set of Domestic Disturbance to his home in New York to recover from knife wounds, according to The Associated Press.
Police arrested a local man and will charge him for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill after allegedly stabbed Buscemi in the head, throat, and arms, AP said. Buscemi was released from a local hospital and flew home to recuperate.
The fight happened early Thursday at the Firebelly Lounge, a local bar, in Wilmington, N.C.
Domestic Disturbance costar Vince Vaughn also was arrested for his alleged involvement in the fight. AP said Vaughn was trying to come to the aid of Buscemi.
Buscemi's agents, the William Morris Agency, said they had no information at this time. Domestic Disturbance's studio, Paramount Pictures, refused to comment.
John Travolta and Teri Polo also star in the film.
Marlon Brando hospitalized
Screen legend Marlon Brando, 77, has reportedly been hospitalized for pneumonia, days before he was due to shoot the opening scene for the upcoming comedy Scary Movie 2 this week.
The actor is said to be undergoing treatment at a Los Angeles-area hospital. Neither Brando's agent, Dimension Films nor Scary Movie 2 producer Brillstein-Grey Entertainment have commented on details about his illness, or how long he is expected to be in the hospital.
The filmmakers still want Brandon to be in the film and, even though production wraps this month, his scenes could still be filmed after he recovers, according to Variety.
Scary Movie 2 is the sequel to last year's summer blockbuster directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans. It costars Chris Elliot, Tim Curry, Tori Spelling and Andy Richter.
The sequel, also directed by Wayans, is due in theaters for the July 4 holiday weekend.
Brando's next project is working alongside Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton in the crime drama The Score.
December 31, 1899 7:00pm EST
Oscar winners Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have joined Miramax Television and HBO in a project titled "Greenlight," in which an aspiring filmmaker will receive $1 million and the chance to direct his or her debut feature. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project will be chronicled by HBO and aired in a 13-episode, half-hour "reality" series on HBO, beginning with Damon and Affleck selecting the winner and ending with the director walking down a red carpet for the movie's premiere, Miramax Television President Billy Campbell said.
The filmmaker will also get to talk with directors, including Kevin Williamson and Kevin Smith, who found success with their debut projects.
Campbell said the contest will begin in the fall, and the movie is expected to be released in early 2002. Aspiring directors can submit screenplays to the "Greenlight" Web site www.projectgreenlight.com.
IN THE FAST LANE: Diane Lane, currently costarring in the blockbuster "The Perfect Storm," is in final talks to sign a perfect deal: two back-to-back films -- ``Hard Ball'' and "Criminal Conversation" -- for Paramount, Daily Variety reports. Lane’s current projects include Sony's "Glass House" opposite Stellan Skarsgard and Leelee Sobieski and "Hard Ball" opposite Keanu Reeves.
IN THE ZONE: Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, David Arquette, Natasha Lyonne and Steve Buscemi are in final talks to star in "The Gray Zone," a Holocaust drama slated to begin production Aug. 28. Variety reports that writer-director Tim Blake Nelson will helm the indie picture based on his award-winning Off Broadway play.
IN THE QUEEN’S COURT: "Friends"' co-star Matt LeBlanc has signed up to star in the $15 million indie comedy "All the Queen's Men," according to Variety. The World War II film, set to begin shooting Aug. 3 in Europe, centers on a team of British Special Forces agents that must in disguise infiltrate a female-run Enigma factory in Berlin and bring back a decoding device to end the war.
IN THE CLASSROOM: Mary Tyler Moore will attempt to teach a group of juveniles a lesson or two in "Cheaters," which goes before cameras for New Line Pictures on Wednesday in Vancouver, B.C., according to Variety.
IN "EPISODE II": Lucasfilm today announced the casting of horror-film star Christopher Lee in "Star Wars: Episode II." In an announcement posted on the Star Wars Web site www.starwars.com/episode-i/news/, Lucasfilm said that Lee will play a "charismatic separatist." Production is already under way on "Episode II" in Australia.