If you're planning to see Ocean's Eleven, prepare yourself for some deja vu come 2002, as George Clooney will make his directorial with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, starring Ocean's pals Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts. The film, set to begin shooting in January, is a comedic biopic about Gong Show host Chuck Barris.
The early list of presenters and performers at the upcoming American Music Awards--set to air January 9 on ABC--has been released. Presenters include Alicia Keys, Chris Klein, LeAnn Rimes, Frankie Muniz, Method Man, Niki Taylor, Tyrese and many more entertainment stars. Performers include Lenny Kravitz, Kid Rock, Brooks & Dunn and Cher.
William Jovanovich, chief executive and chairman of publishing house Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, died of a heart attack on Tuesday in his home in Point Loma, Calif., his family announced Thursday. He was 81.
Cast Away director Robert Zemeckis pulled a disappearing act of his own on Tuesday: he secretively eloped, marrying actress Leslie Harter in Venice, Italy. This is Zemeckis' second marriage.
A life-size bronze statue was dedicated to late actor Cary Grant on Friday in the British city of Bristol, his hometown. Grant's widow, Barbara Jaynes, unveiled the statue, which was paid for by the people of Bristol.
On Thursday, Robert De Niro announced that he plans to launch a new event called the Tribeca Film Festival in lower Manhattan's Tribeca neighborhood. The festival, to be held just north of "ground zero," the location of the World Trade Center collapse, will commence May 1, 2001 and last for five days, showcasing 40 films from around the world.
While CBS pulled off a victory in total primetime viewers in the November sweeps, the Eye Network also performed well in late-night ratings for the month, according to Nielsen Media Research. The Late Show with David Letterman had its best November since 1997, up 21% in viewers 18-49, while The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn shot up 25% in the same key demographic.
After three years on the hit NBC drama ER, actress Michael Michele--who plays Dr. Cleo Finch--is leaving the show due to physical duress caused by constant cross-country flights from New York to Los Angeles. Michele plays Will Smith's wife in the upcoming film Ali.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan taped an episode of Sesame Street on Thursday, The Associated Press reports. Annan will serve as a peacekeeper in the episode, teaching Elmo and the gang how to get along as friends.
Hot on the heels of the success of Harry Potter and the buzz surrounding The Lord of the Rings, Walden Media announced on Thursday that they have joined forces with The C.S. Lewis Co. to produce a live-action film based on the novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Walden Media, a newcomer on the studio scene, plans to produce all seven of Lewis' popular "Narnia" novels.
The mood was somber and celebrity little more than a means to an end when tonight's telethon, America: A Tribute to Heroes, was shown on every major network and most of the major cable channels. There was no audience applauding; there was no audience, period, except those at home. There were no introductions; that wasn't the point, as celebrity speakers made clear throughout the night by telling the stories of the many heroes who lost their lives and saved the lives of others.
To commemorate Sept. 11, a day that could easily be thought of as "the day the music died," talented and famous faces came together for an evening of songs, stories, and yes, the occasional call for contributions.
The speeches tonight came in all varieties, all impassioned, some tearful, others awkward. A clearly nervous Jim Carrey spoke of Winston Churchill, then told the story of heroes who saved a woman by carrying her down 68 flights of stairs. George Clooney spoke of John Perry, a New York City policeman who'd filed his retirement papers the morning of Sept. 11, but heard of the tragedy and went to help. He never came back, Clooney said.
Cameron Diaz told stories of teachers who saved children at schools near the World Trade Center. Robin Williams talked of a hero who'd saved lives in the 1993 bombing and again this time, only last Tuesday he didn't make it out himself. Jimmy Smits spoke of police heroes, "cops who are willing to sacrifice their lives in an instant, for people they do not know." Julia Roberts spoke tearfully of heroes at the Pentagon, and the flying of the flag and the applause that greeted it.
Kelsey Grammer, who lost a co-worker aboard one of the flights that crashed, quoted words of strength from John F. Kennedy. Clint Eastwood talked gruffly of a day that would live in infamy.
Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Calista Flockhart, Conan O'Brien, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ray Romano, Jane Kaczmarek, Sela Ward, Chris Rock and Dennis Franz also spoke.
With some of the biggest names in music on the bill, America: A Tribute to Heroes was bound to be good. Bruce Springsteen opened with a candlelit acoustic performance of "My City of Ruins." Willie Nelson closed the two-hour event with "God Bless America," backed by an all-star cast of celebs who had been manning the phones all night. Does it get any better than that? Cut the album; give the proceeds to charity. We're there.
Of course, there were those who pointed out the reason for the event in their songs. Stevie Wonder, who followed The Boss, sang, "Love's in Need of Love Today," with the rather pointed line, "Don't delay, send yours in right away." Wyclef Jean's version of "Redemption Song" was peppered with cries of "Brooklyn" and "New York City" and "we've got to full-fill that book," which he sang while pointing to the phone bank.
The much-maligned Mariah Carey sang the only song she could under the circumstances, "Hero," of which she said, "When I wrote this song," she said, "it had a lot of meaning for me, and tonight it has even more meaning." Well said.
U2 appeared from London. Billy Joel tossed off a powerful rendition of "New York State of Mind" with a firefighter's helmet perched atop the piano. Faith Hill, Enrique Iglasias, Alicia Keys, a bearded and shaggy Tom Petty (with requisite Heartbreakers), a cowboy-hatted Neil Young performed as well. The Dixie Chicks were spot on, and Dave Matthews did an impressive solo acoustic tune.
Jon Bon Jovi did "Living on a Prayer"; Sting dedicated his performance of "Fragile" to a friend who died in the attacks. Sheryl Crow performed, and Paul Simon sang "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, James Woods, Meg Ryan, Cuba Gooding Jr., Whoopi Goldberg, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Ben Stiller, Penelope Cruz, Danny DeVito, Halle Berry, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, Benicio Del Toro, Cindy Crawford, Sylvester Stallone, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Keaton, Brad Pitt, Sally Field and other famous faces were seen answering phones at the telethon bank or singing backing vocals on the finale of "God Bless America."
The stars also took the time to make a point about the evils of racism and hate. Several Arab children spoke of the tragedy and its affect on their lives, then Will Smith appeared on stage, with Muhammad Ali, whom he'll be portraying in the forthcoming Ali.
"It was hate, not religion that motivated the attacks," Smith said.
Then Ali spoke. "I'm here because of the troublin' thing that happened the other day. I'm a Muslim, and I've been a Muslim for 20 years…. I think people should know the real truth about Islam. You know me, I'm a boxer…and a man of truth, and I wouldn't be here defending Islam if it was really like the terrorists made it look…. Islam is peace."
Later in the show, Lucy Liu said "America's greatest enemy is hatred itself."
The telethon was Hollywood's effort to generate contributions for the September 11th Telethon Fund, which is administered by the United Way and guaranteed to be distributed 100% to the victims of the terrorist attacks on America last week and their families.
ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox confirmed reports Tuesday that they will jointly produce a two-hour, celebrity-studded telethon on Friday to benefit families of the victims of last week's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. The program will also be offered to the "fifth" networks, UPN and the WB, and to cable outlets, the Big 4 networks said. The program is scheduled to be carried live from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on the East Coast. It will be seen via tape-delay on the West Coast.
Titled America: A Tribute to Heroes, the program will feature performances by the Dixie Chicks, Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Tom Petty, Billy Joel, Faith Hill and Paul Simon. Celebrities including Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Will Smith, Robin Williams and Julia Roberts have also agreed to appear, but it was not clear how they will be integrated into the program.
From an artistic standpoint, it's easy to understand why Steven Spielberg declined to undertake a third trip to Jurassic Park.
He already let loose T-Rex on an unsuspecting San Diego at the end of 1997's The Lost World: Jurassic Park. What was left for Spielberg to tear apart?
So, he turned over the keys to Jurassic Park to director Joe Johnston, of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Jumanji fame.
Johnston, whose last film was 1999's criminally neglected October Sky, must be feeling some pressure. Trying to out-Spielberg Spielberg is hardly an enviable task. To an extent, Johnston succeeds. His Jurassic Park III is a slight improvement upon The Lost World--which is not exactly a compliment, considering that the rote Spielberg sequel failed to recapture Jurassic Park's sense of awe.
Thus far, all is well in Jurassic Park. The film opened Wednesday with a whopping $19 million. That's the second-largest Wednesday opening ever, behind Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace's $28.5 million in May 1999. It also ranks as the eighth largest first-day gross, and ranks favorably in comparison with The Lost World's $21.6 million opening day haul in May 1997.
It took another $11.5 million on Thursday, bringing its total to $30.6 million.
Still, Jurassic Park III has a lot to live up to. Jurassic Park grossed $357 million in 1993. The Lost World ranks as the No. 1 opener made $90.2 million during its four-day weekend. It eventually made $229 million, no mean feat even for a sequel to one of the high-grossing films of all time.
Despite the return of Jurassic Park's Sam Neill, and the introduction of a new adversary in the form of the spinosauraus, this second sequel is unlikely to scale the dizzying heights of its predecessors. It doesn't help that it faces stiff competition next week with the arrival of Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes remake. Still, Jurassic Park III should enjoy one of the summer's strongest openings--aided by its must-see factor and a speedy 90 minute running time--to rank as one of the year's mammoth hits.
Jurassic Park III's sole competition comes from Julia Roberts, who should have even more to smile about after this weekend. Her new romantic comedy America's Sweethearts, about two married movie stars trying to avoid a very public split during a press junket, represents a perfect alternative to watching dinosaurs feast on human flesh. Plus, Roberts' split from Benjamin Bratt should keep tongues wagging about art imitating life.
Roberts' 1999 Notting Hill --another film about a movie star's love life--proved irresistible to those who could not or did not want to see The Phantom Menace or The Mummy. Runaway Bride, Roberts' long-waited reunion with Pretty Woman costar Richard Gere and
director Garry Marshall, proved a late summer 1999 hit.
Audiences also might be eager for another Roberts romance, given her most recent departures from the lighthearted. Erin Brockovich managed to make a fortune and earn Roberts an Oscar in the process. This year's The Mexican teamed Roberts with Brad Pitt, but the pairing fizzled rather than sizzled. The Mexican stalled at $68.8 million, hindered by lousy reviews.
America's Sweethearts should benefit from the presence of Traffic star Catherine Zeta-Jones and her High Fidelity cohort John Cusack as the film's bickering couple. Billy Crystal, back in favor after 1999's Analyze This and this year's HBO offering 61*, wrote and co-stars. Given its star wattage, America's Sweethearts's could surpass Runaway Bride's $152 million gross.
The film could indicate whether former Disney chief Joe Roth's new company, Revolution Studios, is a force to be reckoned with. Its inaugural production, March's Tomcats, flopped. The Animal, another lowbrow comedy, managed to earn $54.4 million and solidified Rob Schneider's improbable status as a box office draw. But America's Sweethearts is Revolution's pedigree production, and its success or failure may speak volumes about the company's future. It also marks Roth's first time behind the camera since he directed 1990's Coupe de Ville, so no doubt he has more than a professional interest in the comedy's reception.
Expect Legally Blonde to put up something of a fight against America's Sweethearts, but it won't emerge the victor. Last weekend's surprising No. 1 film enjoyed a strong week, earning almost another $12 million from Monday through Thursday, bringing its seven-day total to $32.3 million.
The Reese Witherspoon comedy looks certain to be this summer's sleeper hit, just as the other bubbly teen offerings Clueless and Bring It On were in 1995 and 2000, respectively.
The thought of Robert De Niro, Edward Norton and Marlon Brando chewing the same scenery ensured that The Score opened strong. The heist thriller managed to gross $26.4 million through seven days. Though it will take a hit, The Score should enjoy another strong weekend
and wind up as one of De Niro's most successful non-comedic hits in years.
The same won't be true of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The $140 million CGI epic opened July 11 with a strong $5 million, but blasted into oblivion extremely quickly. Its total stands at a mediocre $23.1 million through nine days. Along with Evolution, Final Fantasy will surely rank as one of the summer's biggest flops.
Another major concern must be A.I. Artificial Intelligence. The Spielberg-directed version of Stanley Kubrick's futuristic Pinocchio project took a nasty tumble last weekend, dropping 63 percent to $5 million. Its total stood at $71.4 million through Tuesday. It is unlikely to hit $100 million.
Ironically, A.I. was pushed out of the Top 10 daily box office Wednesday by the Spielberg-produced Jurassic Park III. Though nowhere near a disaster on the scale of Always or Empire of the Sun, A.I.'s inability to connect with audiences--adult or children--must rank as a personal failure for Spielberg.
The disappointments continue to mount. Scary Movie 2 faded faster than expected. It had a second weekend of $9.5 million, dropping 53 percent. In comparison, Scary Movie did not drop to below $10 million until it's fourth weekend. Its total is now $57.3 million. Like A.I., Scary Movie 2 is unlikely to hit $100 million, but, given its modest $38 million budget, it should prove profitable.
Families, however, continued to find those fighting Cats and Dogs cute and cuddly. After two weeks, its total stands at $65.6 million. It has a distinct advantage of not facing any real competition until the Aug. 10 arrival of Osmosis Jones.
The release of Jurassic Park III comes at a time when Hollywood is facing the prospect of a long, hot and ugly summer. Many films, including Pearl Harbor, The Fast and the Furious and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, burn bright on the opening weekend, only to flame out almost immediately. Box office takings last weekend were $120.5 million, down from $153 million during the same period last year.
Jurassic Park III marks the start of four big weekends. Planet of the Apes--still reportedly unfinished, which is never a good sign--is the sole nationwide release on July 27. Whether Apes will render Jurassic Park III's dinosaurs extinct remains to be seen. Rush Hour 2 opens Aug. 3. A week later, Universal serves up American Pie 2.
The continuing success of the aforementioned is the only likely solution to Hollywood's long, hot and ugly summer.