Top Story: Dixie Chicks Give Two Cents on Schwarzenegger
Must be something about being on tour in Europe that inspires the Dixie Chicks to spout off on politics. Rolling Stone reports the country trio had plenty to say about another high-profile Republican besides President Bush. "[Arnold Schwarzenegger] is a great film star," banjo player Emily Robison told a German newspaper, "but I find his run for governor absolutely insane." She added, "America should be governed by people who have a clue. I hope he doesn't win." Maybe bodybuilders will ban the country singers this time.
Schwarzenegger's Ex-Girlfriend Writes Memoirs
On the heels of controversy surrounding reports of Schwarzenegger's naughty behavior decades ago, now it seems his first girlfriend, Barbara Outland Baker, is writing a memoir of her relationship with the Austrian actor called Surviving Arnold, Reuters reports. Baker, now an English professor at a California community college, dated the then Mr. Universe from 1969 until 1974. "I'm trying to sell it as an insider's account of Mr. Schwarzenegger's early years…with over 100 never-before-published photographs of Arnold," her book agent told Reuters. "She's been writing it for years, but obviously now is an opportune time to try to sell it."
Farrell Wields a Mighty Pen, Diaz Does Not
Irish hunk Colin Farrell has been named "best signer" by Autograph Collector magazine in its 12th annual poll of celebrity autograph givers, The Associated Press reports. "Colin is extremely generous with fans and collectors, and goes out of his way to sign for everyone he can at his movie premieres. ... He just flat-out loves to sign autographs," contributing editor Jeffrey Woolf, who helped compile the annual Best and Worst Signers list, told AP. The worst celebrity to be approached for autographs, he says, is Cameron Diaz. "She might be an Angel for Charlie, but Cameron is nothing short of a witch when it comes to signing autographs," Woolf said. Some of the best included Kate Bosworth, Jennifer Love Hewitt, The Osbournes and Jennifer Garner, while some of the worst included Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Orlando Bloom, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Christina Aguilera.
FCC Rules Stern Is Legit Newsman
The Federal Communications Commission ruled shock jock Howard Stern's daily radio show is a legitimate news program, exempting it from federal equal time rules on political coverage, Reuters reports. The FCC decision opens the way for the show to book two of the sexier candidates for California governor: Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been slated to appear on Stern in August, and porn star Mary Carey. The Communications Act requires broadcasters to treat political candidates equally when selling or giving away air time, although exceptions are made for news programs. Media Access Project, a media watchdog group, plans to appeal the ruling, claiming it is a reversal of decades of U.S. media regulation designed to promote fairness in election coverage.
Simon and Garfunkel Return
The singing-songwriting duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel announced Tuesday their plans to put aside their longstanding differences and launch a U.S. tour together for the first time in 20 years, Reuters reports. The Old Friends tour will hit 32 cities, starting at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan Oct. 18.
ABC Scores Ratings Touchdown
The opener of the NFL football season between the New York Jets and Washington Redskins last Thursday gave ABC its first nightly win in many months in the Neilsen ratings for the week of Sept. 1-7, the AP reports. NBC won the week, averaging 8.3 million viewers followed by a tie between CBS (7.8 million) and ABC (also 7.8 million); Fox (6.3 million); UPN (3 million) and the WB (2.9 million). The top 10 shows were: NFL Monday Night Football: N.Y. Jets vs. Washington, ABC; 2003 NFL Showcase, ABC; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS; Law & Order, NBC; NFL Post-Game Show, Fox; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS; The King of Queens, CBS; Law & Order: Criminal Intent, NBC; and CSI: Miami, CBS.
Sales Galore at Toronto Film Fest
Films were snapped up left and right at the Toronto Int'l Film Festival Tuesday, Variety reports. Jim Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes was bought by United Artists for domestic distribution. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the Korean film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring, while Newmarket Films acquired the Danish flick The Green Butchers.
Role Call: Phantom To Appear On-Screen; J.Lo Produces Documentary
With an all-star cast including Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Ciaran Hinds, Simon Callow, James Fleet, Victor McGuire and Jennifer Ellison, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical extravaganza The Phantom of the Opera is coming to the big screen via Warner Bros. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it will be directed by Joel Schumacher and starts production Sept. 15 in the U.K…Jennifer Lopez will make her first foray into producing by making the documentary Los Quinces through her banner Nuyorican Prods., in association with HBO. Variety reports the film revolves around the coming-of-age ball that marks a Cuban girl's 15th birthday.
Call it the calm before the spinosauraus attack.
With Jurassic Park III opening Wednesday, this weekend's box office victor should not make itself too comfortable in the top spot. Next week, it's T-Rex chow.
Given its strong but hardly dazzling $21.6 million debut, the current No. 1 attraction, Cats and Dogs, will likely take a fall but still land on its legs.
Expect Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within to materialize at the top of the box office. The $100 million computer-generated animated epic faces little competition in the form of Legally Blonde, whose star Reese Witherspoon is threatening to become the next Alicia Silverstone, and The Score, a heist yarn teaming method masters Robert De Niro, Edward Norton and Marlon Brando.
Seemingly owing more to the blood-splattered Starship Troopers than the lifeless sci-fi jaunt Titan A.E., Final Fantasy represents Hollywood's latest attempt to turn a popular computer game into a potential film franchise. The summer's first such attempt, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, secured the top spot in mid-June with a $48 million opening but faded fast following lousy reviews. Tomb Raider's box office take sits at $117 million--impressive, but enough to warrant sending the buxom Ms. Croft on more globe-hopping escapades?
Most films based on computer games--or any games, for that matter--crash at the box office, with Tomb Raider and 1995's Mortal Kombat serving as exceptions to the rule. Double Dragon, Wing Commander and Street Fighter simply lacked the narrative drive to compel game players to tear themselves away from their joysticks.
Final Fantasy opened Wednesday with a strong $5 million, but its long-term success hinges on its ability to overcome generally mixed reviews that praise its CGI-created imagery but damn its lack of humanity.
The peroxide set may take a shine to Legally Blonde, which looks like Clueless Goes to Law School. It also may appeal to those who women who feel alienated by Scary Movie 2's somewhat heavy reliance upon all manners of bodily fluids for laughs.
Legally Blonde may well be MGM's sole summer bright spot after the disappointing What's the Worst That Could Happen?. The studio's oft-delayed Original Sin looks like an overheated romp under the Cuban sun courtesy of Barbara Cartland. The studio also just bumped Rollerball from August to sometime next year, a troubling sign if ever there was one. Still, MGM's upcoming Ghost World, based on the quirky serialized comic book by Daniel Clowes, does look like a possible arthouse hit.
The Score hits theaters just as Brando's on-the-set clashes with director Frank Oz have made headlines. If anything, the film should generate genuine interest because of its remarkable cast. It also marks Brando's first theatrical release since 1996's The Island of Dr. Moreau (though it should be noted that Brando was willing to spew vomit at the beginning of Scary Movie 2 had he not taken ill.) Unfortunately, The Score fails to live up to expectations, with De Niro, Brando and Norton sharing all but two unexceptional scenes.
De Niro's track record with thrillers also leaves little to be desired. Ronin, which featured one of the best car chases in years, hit the wall at $41.6 million; 15 Minutes lasted almost as long, earning just $24.3 million; and The Fan struck out with just $18.5 million. He's had better luck with comedies in recent years.
Precious few drops of blood are spilled during The Score, making it almost a perfect candidate for a PG-13 rating and thus a wider audience. Oddly, the film earns its R rating because of the somewhat liberal and superfluous use of a certain four-letter expletive.
Cats and Dogs and Scary Movie 2 maintained a bitter rivalry throughout the week, with the former winning by more than a whisker. Cats and Dogs has coughed up $44.3 million in the eight days since its July 4 release; Scary Movie 2 has generated $41.6 million during the same period.
In comparison, last year's Scary Movie made $42.3 million in its first weekend. Its hurried sequel is unlikely to surpass the original's box office take of $157 million, but it should hit $100 million with relative ease.
The same applies to Cats and Dogs, given that family audiences have almost had their fill of Shrek and have thoroughly rejected Atlantis.
A big question marks continues to surround Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Spielberg's adaptation of the long-cherished Stanley Kubrick project opened June 29 to a subdued $29 million and then tumbled a week later to $14 million. Its uninspired $63.7 million take indicates that the film has yet to find its true audience. What that audience happens to be has been the cause of much media speculation. It's clear that it is not a family film a la E.T., nor is it an effort by Spielberg to reach a mature audience as he did with Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan. That confusion likely will see A.I. prove one of the summer's major disappointments.
One milestone worth mentioning: The Mummy Returns may surpass $200 million this weekend, making it the second 2001 release to do so. Shrek remains the year's highest-grossing film with $242 million.
Rick Springfield, the 1980s pop star icon, came close to singing a new tune -- the blues. But he's off the hook now. The Australian-born singer will not be prosecuted for alleged spousal abuse, Reuters reports. Springfield, 51, was arrested last month after police were called to his Malibu, Calif., home and found swelling and scratch marks on his wife's face and arms.
But since then, his wife and sister, who originally pressed charges, have changed their story, so now the charges have been dropped because of insufficient evidence, the District Attorney's Office said Tuesday.
"The case is not provable because the only evidence that the victim was assaulted is the hearsay statement made to her sister. ... The victim is nondesirous of prosecution and refuses to be interviewed further," prosecutors said in a report.
Springfield on the night of his arrest told sheriffs that he grabbed his wife, Barbara, in self-defense after she allegedly hurled a jar at him.
Springfield is best known for the '80s hit single "Jessie's Girl" and his starring role in the soap opera "General Hospital."
NO MORE PHISH-ING? The rock band Phish is calling it quits, for now.
Right when the Burlington, Vt.-band was having the best year of its career, the members have simultaneously reached a point of exhaustion and want to spend time with their families, The New York Times reported the band's manager as saying.
There's no word on when they'll be back, either, but it doesn't look like it'll be anytime soon. At the moment, Phish has neither plans to record a new album nor any scheduled concerts. They performed their last concert Saturday in Mountain View, Calif. However, the band's manager, John Paluska, referred to the news split as "temporary."
The news came as quite a surprise since Phish is known for thriving at festival-type events such as their annual New Year's Eve shows and the summer concerts where tens of thousands of fans have been known to show up for their shows. The band members, however, had no comment on the announcement.