Arnold Schwarzenegger was reportedly saved embarrassment in the run-up to his
2003 California Governor campaign when American Media Inc. boss David Pecker
allegedly bought a 1983 Playboy video hosted by the Austrian movie star.
The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that it has been made
privy to AMI contracts which show Pecker paid Thomas Wells--the owner of the
Carnival In Rio video--a total of $2,000 to "provide AMI with
information regarding the Arnold Schwarzenegger tape" and to hand over his
The Californian newspaper says the video features footage of Schwarzenegger
dancing with scantily clad Brazilian women, and in one scene he is seen
grabbing one of the dancer's buttocks before she quickly removes his hand.
Schwarzenegger allegedly says to the camera, "You know something? After
watching the [dancers] shake it, I can absolutely understand why Brazil is
totally devoted to my favorite body part--the a**."
The Los Angeles Times reports that, unbeknownst to Pecker, the Playboy video
was already freely available on the Internet before he struck the deal with
Wells in 2003, and that just a few weeks earlier he had agreed a multi-million
dollar contract with Schwarzenegger to become executive editor of his Flex and
Muscle & Fitness magazines.
In 2001 a National Enquirer story, a magazine owned by Pecker, reported that
Schwarzenegger had enjoyed a seven-year affair with Gigi Goyette--and Pecker
is subsequently alleged to have paid her $20,000 to keep silent
during the actor's election campaign in 2003.
An AMI insider told the Los Angeles Times, "Pecker wanted to protect Arnold.
When we had embarrassing information about Arnold, we were to buy it up off the
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The original Seuss story is a wonderful--albeit simple
--children's tale about two bored kids left alone in their house on a cold wet day. They're visited by a six-foot-tall talking adventure-seeking feline who's looking for a little fun (OK maybe a lot of fun). Against the warnings of the children's seriously repressed pet goldfish the Cat (with the help of a couple of troll doll look-a-likes called Thing One and Thing Two) turns the house upside down then puts it all right-side-up again before the kids' mother gets home. The question for Hollywood is how to turn a story like this one that's left an indelible impression on millions of readers young and old since 1957 into a major motion picture? While the film thankfully keeps to this original's plot talking fish and all it obviously tries to flesh things out adding some new characters and tacking on a few life lessons. The kids now have very distinct personalities: Wild older brother Conrad (Spencer Breslin) plays fast and loose with the rules while sister Sally (Dakota Fanning) an uptight control freak has driven all her friends away with her rigidity. Their mother Joan (Kelly Preston) works at the town's real estate office run by the anal retentive Mr. Humberfloob (Sean Hayes) and she's dating the guy next door Quinn (Alec Baldwin) a superficial scumbag who wants to send Conrad to military school. On the particular cold wet day in question Joan leaves instructions not to mess up the house since she's having an important business meet-and-greet there later that night. When the Cat (Mike Myers) arrives he quickly assures Sally and Conrad they can have all the fun they want and nothing bad will happen. Ignoring vocal opposition from the Fish (voiced by Hayes) the Cat quickly puts into motion a series of events that will a) prove his point b) destroy the house and c) teach the kids a sugary-sweet but valuable lesson about being responsible while living life to the fullest.
Just as Jim Carrey immortalized the Grinch Mike Myers seems born to play the Cat in the oversized red-and-white striped hat--he has the sly slightly sarcastic wholly anarchistic thing down cold. Myers' impersonations of a redneck Cat mechanic (with requisite visible butt crack) an infomercial Cat host and a zany British Cat chef are outrageous as are the hilarious little asides he spouts although they'll probably go over kids' heads: "Well sure [the Fish] can talk but is he really saying anything? No not really." But even though Myers has some fun moments he just isn't the Barney type and when he turns on the come-on-kids-let's-have-fun charm and adopts a dopey laugh he seems uncomfortable. As for the kids Fanning and Breslin (Disney's The Kid) do a fine job reacting to the wackiness the Cat surrounds them with although Fanning basically plays the same uptight character she created in the recent Uptown Girls. Of the supporting players Baldwin has the most fun as the villainous Quinn a bad-guy role that while a little superfluous gives Baldwin plenty of opportunities to chew the scenery. Hayes is also good in his dual role; he stamps Humberfloob indelibly on our brains then kicks butt as the voice of the beleaguered Fish.
It must have been a no-brainer for producer Brian Grazer to do another Dr. Seuss adaptation after all the fun magic and profits the 2000 hit How the Grinch Stole Christmas generated. With Cat in the Hat however he didn't collaborate with his usual directing partner the Grinch's Ron Howard. Instead Grazer took a chance on first-time director Bo Welch who previously served as production designer on Tim Burton's Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands and has three Oscar nods to his credit for production design on other films. Welch certainly takes his quirky cue from Burton when it comes to the look of Cat in the Hat especially Sally and Conrad's suburban Southern California neighborhood with its lilac frames and blue roofs. The gadgets are cool too from the Cat's Super Luxurious Omnidirectional Whatchamajigger or S.L.O.W vehicle to the Dynamic Industrial Renovating Tractormajigger or D.I.R.T. mobile for cleaning up the house. When we enter the Cat's bizarre world though the film's Seussian look starts to have problems possibly because there's nothing of this place in the original book. Hidden within the feline's magical crate the Cat's world can produce "the mother of all messes " and in keeping with that purpose there's some effort at making it look like a fragmented Cubist painting. But it's more plastic than Picasso and in the end it's about as interesting as a Universal Theme Park ride (a fact the movie actually mentions).
Top Story: Will & Grace's Morrison Charged
Best known as the sharp-tongued maid Rosario on NBC's Will & Grace, actress Shelley Morrison, who was arrested April 23 for allegedly trying to steal costume jewelry valued at $446 from a Los Angeles department store, will not be charged with a felony, the L.A. County District Attorney told Reuters. Even though the amount is officially over the cutoff of $400, authorities have decided to charge the 66-year-old actress with a misdemeanor. Alleged theft amounts are "generally upwards to $1,000 before we start considering felony prosecution," District Attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons told Reuters. Morrison's lawyer, Donald Etra, told Reuters his client was "relieved and gratified that she is not being charged with a felony." He added: "At this point, she stands innocent." Morrison was released on $20,000 bail and her arraignment is set for May 14.
Tribeca Film Festival Picks Eclectic Group to Judge
The 2nd annual Tribeca Film Festival has decided to pick a varying group to judge their films in competition. According to The Associated Press, the list includes Queen Noor of Jordon; filmmaker Michael Moore; actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Candice Bergen; documentarian Barbara Kopple; Traffic screenwriter Stephen Gaghan; fashion designer Miuccia Prada; Sheila Nevins, vice president of HBO and Cinemax, and Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. The festival runs May 3-11.
AMPAS Honors Director Vincente Minnelli
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a program tonight in tribute to the late Vincente Minnelli, City News Service reports, to honor the centennial of the director's birth. Minnelli directed such classic musicals as Gigi and Meet Me in St. Louis and films such as the original Father of the Bride and Lust for Life. Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse and Kirk Douglas, each of whom starred in Minnelli's films, are scheduled to participate in the program.
Actor Conaway Sues Las Vegas Hotel
Actor Jeff Conaway, co-star of the hit '80s show Taxi, has sued the Las Vegas hotel Mandalay Bay, claiming security guards broke his arm in June 2002 when he was staying there. According to AP, Conaway had been gambling in the establishment but, after awhile, was repeatedly told he was not allowed to continue to gamble. When the 52-year-old actor asked to speak to a supervisor, he was surrounded by security guards who "viciously, and without provocation ... violently slammed him to the floor of the casino," AP reports the suit claims. Officials from the hotel had no comment.
Mr. T Wants Some Respect
In more legal news, Mr. T, aka Laurence Tureaud, slapped a lawsuit against Best Buy Co., Inc., claiming the nation's largest electronics company used a likeness of him in a print ad without his permission, AP reports. The suit claims the ads are devaluing a "unique persona that (he) developed for (more than) 20 years and is of great economic value to him." The 52-year-old actor of the hit '80s TV series The A-Team is seeking unspecified damages.
Michael Jackson's Home Videos a Ratings Dud
Apparently, no one wants to see Michael Jackson's attempts at being normal. According to AP, the Fox special Michael Jackson's Home Videos did poorly when it aired last Thursday, only snagging 7.8 million viewers. This pales in comparison to the 27.1 million people who tuned in last February to watch British journalist Martin Bashir's interview with the self-proclaimed King of Pop.
Great White Will Do Benefit Tour
Surviving members of the metal rock band Great White will do a nationwide tour to raise money for the families of the victims who died in a tragic club fire Feb. 20. "Their thoughts from the beginning have been, 'What are we going to do to help the victims?' And the only thing they do is perform," Great White's attorney Ed McPherson told AP. The band's guitarist Ty Longley was among the 99 people who were killed when pyrotechnics ignited the roof of the Rhode Island club.
Music Industry Continues Fight Against Piracy
The record industry continued their war against online piracy when an instant message went out Tuesday warning hundreds of thousands of users of the song-swapping Internet sites Grokster and Kazaa that they could be "easily" identified and face "legal penalties" for their actions, Reuters reports. Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America told Reuters millions more will get notices in coming weeks.
Role Call: Crow 4 on the Way, Dunst Gets Mushy at Wimbledon
Dimension Films has decided to resurrect the Crow franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, David Boreanaz, Edward Furlong, Dennis Hopper and Tara Reid will star in Wicked Prayer, the fourth installment of the supernatural series about the afterlife and retribution…On the lighter side, Kirsten Dunst and A Beautiful Mind's Paul Bettany will star in the romantic comedy Wimbledon. AP reports the film revolves around a nearly washed up British tennis player (Bettany), who gets into Wimbledon and falls for an up-and-coming American tennis player (Dunst).
Cradle 2 the Grave isn't going to be known as one of those action flicks that thrills you but also has a surprisingly interesting story to back it up. Still Cradle has enough credible plot points to keep things moving until the next fight sequence. The action begins with Tony Fait (Earl "DMX" Simmons) and his fiercely devoted crew--including the stunning Daria (Gabrielle Union) and comic relief Tommy (Anthony Anderson)--pulling off a complex jewelry heist and snagging a valuable cache of black diamonds. These diamonds aren't what they appear to be but are actually something much more powerful--and deadly. Su (Jet Li) working for the Taiwanese government as a secret agent must retrieve them before its too late. Fait would be happy to hand over the stones for the right price but word of their value has hit the street and they are stolen by a powerful crime lord (Chi McBride). Su and the crimelord end up being the least of Fait's problems however when Su's ex-partner Ling (Mark Dacascos) now a ruthless arms dealer enters the picture. He and his treacherous woman (Kelly Hu) will stop at nothing to get those black baubles including kidnapping Fait's daughter Vanessa (Paige Hurd). OK things just got personal. Fait Su and company have to work together to fight off the onslaught of nasties exact revenge stop possible world destruction and get back the only thing Fait cares about in the world--his daughter.
Is it me or is Jet Li just too damn cool for words? The whole martial arts arena has certainly been stepped up with the Jackie Chan's and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon's of the world but Li brings back that calm yet deadly demeanor the late Bruce Lee made so popular. Granted Li hasn't had the same success in the U.S. as Chan--save for maybe his American debut performance in the smokin' Romeo Must Die. But he sure is impressive on-screen kicking the bejesus outta someone without blinking an eye no matter what the asinine plot line. Hip-hop singer DMX who also appeared in Romeo Must Die (along with Anderson) holds his own as a tough nut über-thief but he finds a little difficulty emoting when the time comes. The hilarious Anderson and the oh-so-alluring Union are quickly becoming the "It" black actors (him: Kangaroo Jack Barbershop; her: Deliver Us From Eva the upcoming Bad Boys 2) while the forever-irritating Tom Arnold pops up as a demolition surplus dealer (but make sure to stay all the way through the credits to watch a hilarious exchange between him and Anderson). Hurd does an nice turn as the feisty Vanessa who is fairly resourceful for a kidnapped 10-year-old. It's easy to see the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Enough with all the superfluous plot lines and acting analysis--let's get down to real reason the movie exists. Action. High octane fist-flyin' action and as a self-proclaimed action junkie--and newly transformed martial arts fan--Cradle certainly doesn't disappoint. Director/cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak who worked with Li and DMX on Romeo Must Die knows how to frame the martial arts sequences while using the pounding hip-hop soundtrack and urban locale to full effect. One of the more fast-paced sequences has Fait outrunning police cars on a three-wheel ATV eventually jumping the bike from rooftop to rooftop while Su in another location is fighting off a dozen guys in a boxing pit including an aggressive midget who would like to smash Su's face in but ends becoming a device to fend off the rest. All while DMX is belting out a jammin' song. Great stuff. Of course you wait for the ultimate showdown between Su and his nemesis Ling and when it comes it's a jaw-clencher. The film is just a purely mindless roller-coaster ride.
Debbie Reynolds' obsession is good for Hollywood.
The legendary singer/actress and her foundation is negotiating a new home for her large collection of Hollywood costumes and set pieces with the TrizecHahn Corp., the company responsible for building the $500-million entertainment, dining and retail project currently in development on the historical Hollywood Boulevard.
The complex also will include the Kodak Theater, the new home for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science's Oscar presentation. The Reynolds collection would occupy the top floor.
Reynolds' collection has been in need of a permanent home since the 1997 shutdown of her Las Vegas casino and hotel. The collection includes Judy Garland's ruby slippers and gingham dress from The Wizard of Oz, and the white dress Marilyn Monroe wore in her famous subway scene in The Seven Year Itch.
Jack Illes, a spokesman for TrizecHahn, is excited about adding the collection to the project.
"We've got three beautiful old theaters around us, the Egyptian, the El Capitan and the Chinese and we're across the street from the Hollywood Roosevelt, where the first Academy were given out," he told Reuters. "This is really the touchstone of the motion picture industry in America."
The 20,000-square-foot Hollywood location represents "a dream come true," Reynolds, 69, told Reuters. "This is Hollywood's history. It's the only work I've known since I was 16. It's my family."
Reynolds' collection is worth millions of dollars, according to Todd Fisher, general manager of the foundation and Reynolds' son with crooner Eddie Fisher. She has amassed over 3,000 costumes from films from the Silent Era to the 1970s. Some other memorable collectibles are entire sets and costumes from the original Planet of the Apes (1968) and Gigi (1954), as well as her own classic film, Singin' in the Rain (1952).
When Reynolds displays her collection, it is in complete tableaus, as they appeared in the movies
"I didn't want to have just mannequins standing there," Reynolds said. "That would be boring."
The displays are often accompanied by video clips and voiceovers by Reynolds.
She can get pretty obsessive about tracking down items to complete the picture, Fisher told Reuters.
"It's no different from a collector of glasswork pieces or stamps," he said.
Well, not exactly.
Fisher did point out that his mother's "hobby" puts her through some financial difficulties, but it's a burden she has gladly endured.
"My mother goes in and out of being flush, depending on whether she's married or not," Fisher said. "If she hasn't been married for a while, she's pretty flush. But even if she's broke, she still has the ability to go out and earn $100,000 to $200,000 in a week."
And then there is the question of space. Even with the available 20,000 square foot, only 20% of the collection could be on display at any one time. The rest will need to go into storage.
She also has had little support from the Hollywood community, but does find donations here and there from unlikely sources. Elizabeth Taylor gave Reynolds a suit of armor that her late husband Richard Burton wore in Cleopatra. She also has joined the foundation board. Taylor, it should be noted, had a torrid relationship with Eddie Fisher when he was still married to Reynolds, and eventually stole him away. Clearly bygones are bygones.
If the deal goes through, Reynolds' collection would open at its new home on Nov. 8 and be known as the Hollywood Motion Picture Collection.