A billionaire TV producer (Robert Mammone) has a great idea for a reality show that he wants to put on the Internet and his goal is to beat the 40 million Super Bowl audience. He has compiled a crack team of young hip and immoral tech geeks directed by Goldman (Rick Hoffman) and puts cameras throughout a remote island where former prisoners are going to kill each other while audiences watch after shelling out the pay-per-view fee. The location is done on a remote secret island and the death row prisoners are bought from prisons around the world with the promise that the survivor gets to walk free. Among the contestants are a rogue Aussie named McStarley (Vinnie Jones) a martial arts expert (Masa Yamaguchi) a husband-and-wife team (Manu Bennett and Dasi Ruz) a monstrous killer who doesn't do much more than grunt (Nathan Jones) and others known only as The Italian The German and other monikers quickly forgotten. Enter the sole American Jack Conrad (Steve Austin) who's in a South American prison for some obscure reason and is recognized on TV by his wife (Madeleine West) who tries to save him. However it looks like Conrad is pretty good at helping himself. Don't expect the acting to be much more evolved than what could be seen among the World Wrestling Entertainment superstars especially since many of them were plucked from the ring to star in this morality tale. But Austin (who had in a strong cameo in Adam Sandler's Longest Yard) proves he has a sense of humor as well as strength. Vinnie Jones is ridiculously over-the-top as the Aussie who's the hand-picked winner of this game shown setting up alliances Survivor style only to turn on them later. The supporting cast are refreshingly entertaining but one-note caricatures both in the contest and running the contest. It's obvious that they aren't going to be around long but the actors do milk their tiny roles for every bit of attention they can get. Rick Hoffman as the brilliant camera mastermind of the project is both whiny sniveling and mean-spirited so when he joins some of the rest of the crew and suddenly develops a backbone and a conscience he ends up stealing the movie with his acerbic humor. But it's the understated American hero Conrad who holds a mirror up to the people who like to watch this stuff. Director Scott Wiper who co-wrote this story has also acted in similar movies like this (A Better Way to Die). It’s obvious he knows what he’s doing with The Condemned and develops a sense of voyeuristic angst like those of us who can't keep our eyes off a train wreck. Like the darkly subversive Belgian film Man Bites Dog the camera crew remains safely distant and remote until the reality directly involves them. Then the crew wonders "What the hell are we doing?" while the audience might be thinking "What the hell are we watching?" Much like Series 7: The Contenders Rollerball and other movies which show a dark and bloody near future this kind of reality doesn't seem too far away and maybe proves that movies which provide this type of gladiator spectacle target a certain segment of the human population who need to blow off steam.
Britney Spears' latest meltdown comes as no surprise to those who have known the pop superstar longest--they insist she has a long history of mind-bending drug use.
She was spotted with prescription pills during a night out with pals in November, sparking initial concerns her life was spiraling out of control, but now old friends have started to come forward with drug-use stories.
Amanda Alexander, the sister of Spears' first husband Jason, admits the singer's drug use dates back to 2003.
She tells In Touch magazine, "When I was around her, she took Ecstasy."
Alexander also tells the publication she witnessed Spears using cocaine during a night out in her hometown of Kentwood, Louisiana.
And another old pal, Kent Smith, who has known Spears for "at least 10 years," tells the magazine, "She does like to party... I've been there when she's done Ecstasy and cocaine."
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The sequel Superman Returns expectedly took the top spot at the North American box office this weekend with $52.1 million, lifting its five-day total since its debut Wednesday to $84.2 million.
The big opening puts the film ahead of last year’s Batman Begins, another Warner Bros. superhero revival, which took in $48.7 million over its opening weekend and $72.9 million in its first five days. But as superhero movies go, Superman Returns finished far behind Sony's Spider-Man 2, the record-holder for best five-day openings, with $152.4 million over Fourth of July weekend in 2004.
The weekend's other new wide release, The Devil Wears Prada, debuted stronger than expected, coming in second with $27 million. According to The Associated Press, industry analysts had expected the boss-from-hell movie, starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, to debut at less than $20 million.
The top 12 movies grossed $140.1 million, up 4.78 percent from last year’s draw of $133.7 and up 7.85 percent from last weekend, which took in $129.9 million.
The Top Three films at the box office this time last year were: Warner Bros. Batman Begins, which stayed at No. 1 for the second week in a row with $27.5 million in 3,858 theaters, averaging $7,151 per theater; Sony’s Bewitched, which opened in second place with $20.1 million in 3,174 theaters, averaging $6,343 per theaters; and 20th Century Fox’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which dropped to third place in its third week with $16.8 million in 3,265 theaters, averaging $5,153 per theaters (Click here to read last year's box office report).
BOX OFFICE TOP 10, ESTIMATES
(Source: Exhibitor Relations, Inc.)
No. 1: Superman Returns (Warner Bros., PG-13)
• Gross: $52.1 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 4,065
• Per-theater average: $13,321
• Cume to date: $84.2 million (opened Wednesday)
No. 2: The Devil Wears Prada (20th Century Fox, PG-13)
• Gross: $27 million
• Weeks opened: NEW!
• Theaters: 2,847
• Per-theater average: $9,484
No. 3: Click (Sony Pictures, PG-13)
• Gross: $19.4 million (-52%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 3,764 (+15)
• Per-theater average: $5,154
• Cume to date: $77.9 million
No. 4: Cars (Buena Vista, G)
• Gross: $14 million (-40%)
• Weeks opened: 4
• Theaters: 3,706 (-243)
• Per-theater average: $3,787
• Cume to date: $182 million
No. 5: Nacho Libre (Paramount Pictures, PG)
• Gross: $6.1 million (-51%)
• Weeks opened: 3
• Theaters: 3,082 (-1)
• Per-theater average: $2,007
• Cume to date: $64.9 million
No. 6: The Lake House (Warner Bros., PG)
• Gross: $4.5 million (-49%)
• Weeks opened: 3
• Theaters: 2,645 (unchanged)
• Per-theater average: $1,705
• Cume to date: $38.7 million
No. 7: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (Universal, PG-13)
• Gross: $4.4 million (-55%)
• Weeks opened: 3
• Theaters: 2,670 (-360)
• Per-theater average: $1,648
• Cume to date: $51.7 million
No. 8: Waist Deep (Focus/Rogue, R)
• Gross: $3.3 million (-65%)
• Weeks opened: 2
• Theaters: 1,006 (+2)
• Per-theater average: $3,292
• Cume to date: $15.1 million
No. 9: The Break-Up (Universal, PG-13)
• Gross: $2.8 million (-58%)
• Weeks opened: 5
• Theaters: 1,912 (-994)
• Per-theater average: $1,464
• Cume to date: $110.1 million
No. 10: The Da Vinci Code (Sony, PG-13)
• Gross: $2.3 million (-43%)
• Weeks opened: 7
• Theaters: 1,384 (-527)
• Per-theater average: $1,662
• Cume to date: $209.7 million
Top judges will decide the fate of Anna Nicole Smith's fortune after the buxom blonde broke down in court in Washington, D.C. yesterday.
The model/reality TV star faced the Supreme Court as part of her ongoing bid to inherit a portion of her late husband J. Howard Marshall's fortune. Wearing all black, Smith started weeping at one point in the proceedings as she sat quietly in the back row of the courthouse.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer expressed sympathy for her claim, referring to a U.S. district court's finding that her former son-in-law E. Pierce Marshall had altered and destroyed documents to keep the fortune out of the young widow's hands. Breyer also cited evidence that detectives were employed to keep Smith away from her bedside.
But Marshall's spokesman, David Margulies, was defiant on the courthouse steps as the hearing ended--he denied any wrongdoing by his client and portrayed Smith as a gold-digger, adding, "She was abusive to him (the late J. Howard Marshall). She was cruel to him."
But Smith's attorney, Kent Richland, was optimistic his client would win her day in court--and it would come sooner than expected. He told reporters outside the courthouse, "We're in it to win. We're here to resolve the legal issue. It's been 11 years, so it's become business as usual."
Smith's legal spat dates back to 1995 when 89-year-old oil tycoon Marshall died, leaving a fortune of nearly $2 billion behind. Smith was originally awarded $474 million by a federal bankruptcy judge, only to have the amount later reduced by a federal district judge.
Eventually, a federal appeals court threw out the entire case on jurisdictional grounds. The Supreme Court judges will now decide whether Smith can continue to seek a part of Marshall's fortune and whether the decision will be made by a state or federal court.
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Former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith will attend a hearing regarding her multi-million dollar inheritance case when it is argued in front of the US Supreme Court tomorrow.
The former exotic dancer has been in a decade-long court battle to inherit half of the $1.6 billion estate left by her late husband, Texas oil tycoon Howard Marshall.
Smith met Marshall at an adult club where she was a dancer and the couple married in 1994, when she was 26 and he was 89.
They were together for a year before Marshall died of cancer, leaving no mention of Smith in his will. Marshall's son, Pierce, has gone to great lengths to keep Smith from receiving any money.
According to Smith's lawyer, Kent Richland, "She is planning to attend. She's really sort of honored and awed that the court agreed to hear her case."
Out of respect for the somber location of the hearings, Richland noted, "She'll be demurely dressed."
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It's about time Steven Spielberg got his. Of the thousands of Walk of Fame stars dotting Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, you might think that by now at least two or three of them belonged to Spielberg. But no--not until today. Johnny Grant, the Walk of Fame chairman, told The Associated Press this was the first time the Oscar-winning director had made himself available to get a star. "We're just pleased that we finally got him," Grant said. "He could have been approved 20 years ago." Spielberg, whose latest film, Catch Me If You Can, is making a bundle at the box office, will be the first Hollywood-ite to receive the Walk of Fame honors in 2003.
AP reports Julianne Moore, currently being touted for Oscar glory for her stellar turns in Far From Heaven and The Hours, is finally marrying her longtime boyfriend, filmmaker Bart Freundlich. The couple met in 1997 on the film The Myth of Fingerprints and have two children, a 5-year-old son and a daughter born last April.
Persistent rumors are also swirling around actress Drew Barrymore, 27, claiming she may say "I do" for a third time to 22-year-old boyfriend Fabrizio Moretti, the drummer for rock band The Strokes, in an Italian villa owned by George Clooney. The actress' publicist, Toby Fleischman, told People.com, however, that there wasn't any truth to the rumors. Barrymore has been married twice before, most recently to comedian Tom Green for all of five months.
Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne summoned police to their Beverly Hills home during the Osbourne family New Year's Eve bash for an alleged robbery. Sharon claims a woman who won a diamond necklace in a raffle was not an invited guest and therefore was not eligible to win the necklace worth $15,000. People.com reports the woman, an agent at ICM, maintains she was the guest of a close friend of the Osbournes and won the expensive item in a fair manner. Police are investigating the matter although no arrests have been made.
Now back to more marriage news: Australian pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Daniel Johns of the grunge band Silverchair have confirmed their engagement, Reuters reports. "Daniel and Natalie have spent the holiday season together at home in Australia relaxing and celebrating," the statement said. "They have no immediate plans to marry."
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has reached $519 million in international ticket sales, Reuters reports. Add the $252 million in domestic box office grosses since its November debut and its worldwide total amounts to $771 million. The first Potter film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone garnered $968 million in worldwide grosses, second only to the highest grossing film of all time, Titanic, which brought in a $1.8 billion haul in worldwide ticket sales.
A cameraman was stabbed with filming the British reality TV series produced by Madonna's husband Guy Ritchie, Swag. The series incorporates hidden cameras to catch would-be car thieves being tempted into illegal acts, Reuters reports. One thief who broke into an expensive car spotted the cameraman and stabbed him in the leg with a screwdriver. He was not seriously injured.
Wesley Snipes will make a guest appearance on an upcoming episode of the Fox hit The Bernie Mac Show, just in time for February sweeps. Snipes will play the boss of Mac's wife Wanda (Kellita Smith) and will get into an altercation with Mac.
Former Superman Christopher Reeve will return to his roots, guest-starring on an upcoming episode of the WB's Smallville. Reeve will play a brilliant scientist who offers young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) some "revelatory insight into his superhero destiny," a WB spokesman told Reuters. He can do it, too.
David Lynch's Mulholland Drive was voted the best picture of 2001 by the New York Film Critics Circle. Robert Altman was named best director for his 1930s period piece Gosford Park, while Helen Mirren took the best supporting actress nod for her performance in the film. Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson were voted best actress and actor for their stunning work in Todd Field's In the Bedroom and Steve Buscemi won best supporting actor kudos for Ghost World. Rounding out the picks, the Chinese In the Mood for Love was chosen as best foreign-language film and Richard Linklater's Waking Life took top honors in the animation category.
Tom Hanks is DreamWorks' flavor of the month. Having already signed on to star in two new films for the studio, Terminal and The Road to Perdition, he is now in negotiations to star in DreamWorks' Comrade Rockstar based on the life of the late rocker Dean Reed.
"You talkin' to me?" Robert De Niro heads the list of the 100 greatest film actors of all time, at least according to a poll of 13,500 British movie channel FilmFour viewers. Al Pacino came in second, while Kevin Spacey and Jack Nicholson followed in the third and fourth spots. Jodie Foster was the highest ranking female star in 23rd place.
Supermodel Cindy Crawford is going to try her hand at acting once again. She'll be starring in the romantic drama The Simian Line with William Hurt, Lynn Redgrave, Eric Stoltz and Harry Connick Jr. Crawford's last movie, 1995's Fair Game, bombed at the box office.
The Wall Street Journal reports that NBC will be the first network to run advertisements for hard liquor in 50 years. In a deal with UK's Diageo, whose brands include Smirnoff vodka, Tanqueray gin and Johnnie Walker whiskies, NBC will run the ads during primetime hours (9 p.m. to 11 p.m.), as well as during late-night television. The first commercial for Smirnoff will run this weekend during Saturday Night Live.
The six-million dollar man, Steve Austin, is coming back--to the big screen. The 1972 Martin Caidin novel Cyborg, on which the hit '70s TV series The Six Million Dollar Man was based, is being developed as a feature by Dimension Films and Universal Pictures. Kevin Smith is being rumored to direct.
Fox's hit show Malcolm in the Middle will air a special one-hour post-Super Bowl episode Feb. 3, with guest stars Susan Sarandon, Bradley Whitford, Christina Ricci, Patrick Warburton, Stephen Root, Tom Green and Fox Sports personalities Howie Long and Terry Bradshaw.
The never-shy Elton John will promote lipstick for cosmetic company MAC, in an effort to raise money for AIDS. He'll be joining Mary J. Blige and Shirley Manson, lead singer of the band Garbage, in the ad campaign.
Chevy Chase and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels will be developing a new NBC series targeted for the 2002 fall season. A twist on the popular 1960s series My Three Sons, Chase will play a modern-day Fred MacMurray who is a single dad to three teenage daughters.
The Walt Disney Co. has paid $902,778 to settle claims that a subcontractor of Disney, who made beaded tiaras and wands for Disney, were paying their workers less than a quarter of the mandated minimum wage. A spokeswoman for the studio said they were unaware that labor laws were being violated.
Eagles guitarist and solo artist Joe Walsh will receive an honorary doctorate in music from Kent State University during a commencement ceremony on Saturday. Walsh has stated that he regrets having not graduated.