Steven Spielberg's movie about a massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games, Munich, and blockbuster King Kong are among the American Film Institute's (AFI) top ten films of 2005.
Also acknowledged in the list are Brokeback Mountain, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Crash, A History of Violence, The Squid and the Whale, Good Night, and Good Luck, Syriana and Capote.
The top ten was voted by a jury of movie industry professionals. A similar panel voted 24, Battlestar Galactica, Grey's Anatomy, Deadwood, House, Lost, Rescue Me, Sleeper Cell, Sometimes in April and Veronica Mars as the top TV shows of 2005.
The teams behind each film and TV program will be honored at an awards ceremony on Jan. 13. AFI chief executive Jean Picker Firstenberg says, "AFI is proud to honor these 20 collaborative teams.
"As the institute recognizes and celebrates excellence across the century, they will be part of the record that documents America's enduring cultural legacy."
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Olsen twins promote McDonald's Happy Meals abroad
The Olsen twins' latest endorsement deal may leave a bad taste in your mouth. The Associated Press reports Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are promoting McDonald's Happy Meals in France, where the fast-food goliath has more than 1,000 outlets. A spokeswoman for McDonald's French division told the AP yesterday the Olsen Happy Meal campaign began Sept. 8. The meals come with the choice of a denim bag, a crayon box or a photo album, which bears the 18-year-old twins' photo. The promotion comes just two months after the Milk Processor Education Program pulled its "Got milk?" ads featuring the twins sporting trademark milk moustaches out of sensitivity to Mary-Kate, who was released from a treatment facility in July for an eating disorder. At the time the milk campaign was announced, Mary-Kate said in a statement, "We wanted to appear in this ad because we love the campaign and we want to help make sure our fans are healthy like us."
Drugs, heart attack contributed to Rick James' death
Funk musician Rick James, who died in his sleep Aug. 6 in his Los Angeles home, had nine drugs in his system including cocaine, methamphetamine, valium and vicodin, Retuers reports. The 56-year-old singer, who suffered from diabetes and had a pacemaker, had been in fragile health after a stroke in 1998. His family attributed his death to natural causes, but the L.A. County coroner took over the case because James had not seen a doctor in recent weeks. Toxicology tests were ordered when an autopsy failed to establish the cause of death. The report said although the drugs or drug combinations found in James' system were not at life-threatening levels, they likely contributed to his heart's failure. It gave the cause of death as a heart attack and ruled the death accidental.
Jackson appears in court today
Michael Jackson appeared in court today as his attorney questioned the mother of the teenage boy accusing the pop star of child molestation, Reuters reports. This was the first time Jackson has faced the woman since the accusations became public last November. The singer's attorneys called the accuser's mother, identified in court only as "Jane Doe," to testify in order to exclude from the trial evidence seized from the offices of private investigator Brad Miller. Jackson's defense say Miller had been hired by the singer's then-lawyer Mark Geragos, which violated the rights of attorneys and their clients to privileged information. Jackson's defense team wants Jane Doe to confirm she knew Miller was hired by Geragos and informed authorities. The 45-year-old singer is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 31 on a 10-count indictment that charges him with child molestation and conspiracy. He has pleaded not guilty.
Anderson denies any wrongdoing in sexual assault suit
Anthony Anderson, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman on the set of his TV show last year and is facing rape charges in Tennessee, released a statement Thursday denying any wrongdoing. A woman identified only as "Jane Doe" filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Anderson and Warner Bros. Television, producers of the now-defunct series All About the Andersons. The woman alleged she visited Anderson on the set of the comedy when she was assaulted Sept. 18, 2003. "Clearly, this is an attempt to exploit Anthony's perceived vulnerability because of the ridiculous rape charges pending against him in Memphis," said the statement released by Anderson's publicist. The 33-year-old comedian was charged in July with raping a Memphis woman who was an extra in the film Hustle and Flow, which is still in production. He is free on $20,000 bail.
CBS investigates fake documents
CBS News is fighting for its credibility after a week of questions about a report it aired on President Bush's National Guard service--which may or may not have come from fake documents, the AP reports. CBS News anchorman Dan Rather reported last week he had memos allegedly written by Bush's late squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, indicating he had been pressured to sugar coat Bush's performance and that the future president ignored an order to take a physical. The news division has acknowledged for the first time questions about the authenticity of documents used to support the story, and has promised a stepped-up effort to get at the truth. CBS has always maintained, however--with Rather repeating on 60 Minutes Wednesday--that no one has disputed the substance of the story.
Carrey to get AFI honor
Jim Carrey will receive the American Film Institute's Star Award at the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in February, the AP reports. "Jim Carrey is the rarest kind of actor," Jean Picker Firstenberg, chief executive officer of the American Film Institute, said in a statement. "Jim has proven he can do comedy or drama in films that are both creatively brilliant and reach audiences of all ages." The comedy festival will be held Feb. 9-13 in Aspen, Colo. Previous winners include Albert Brooks, Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, the Monty Python troupe, Steve Martin, Mike Myers and Diane Keaton.
French director defends film against critics
In the wake of bad reviews for his latest film Les Parisiens, director Claude Lelouch will offer free screenings "to allow the public to judge for themselves." According to the Hollywood Reporter, Parisiens, which is about the ephemeral nature of love in the face of fame, was slammed in the press after it opened the Deauville American Film Festival Sept. 3. "Faced with an unprecedented outcry in the press against my film, and to allow the public to form their own opinion, I offer a free screening of the film in the 400 theaters where the film opened Wednesday," Lelouch said in a statement Thursday.
Twain leases land in New Zealand
Shania Twain and her husband, music producer Robert "Mutt" Lange, won approval to lease 61,000 acres of farmland on New Zealand's South Island for 33 years with automatic renewal rights for the cost of $14.1 million, the AP reports. The terms of the lease were strict, since the country is tightening controls on land sales to overseas buyers amid fears foreigners are snapping up some of the nation's prime real estate. The musical couple, who will be living there "some months" each year, agreed to create a hiking track with huts and other facilities that will cross their land and is expected to form part of a nationwide trail. They will also invest $1 million in farm development over three years and farm their own merino sheep on 24,700 acres of the lower-lying land.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Top Story: AFI Tags Samurai, Nemo Year's Best
The American Film Institute has announced its top 10 choices for this year's best in film and television. In film, the top 10 AFI Awards were, in alphabetical order: American Splendor, Finding Nemo, The Human Stain, In America, The Last Samurai, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Monster and Mystic River. In television, the top 10 were: Alias, Angels in America, Arrested Development, Everybody Loves Raymond, Joan of Arcadia, Nip/Tuck, Playmakers, Soldier's Girl, 24 and The Wire. A 13-person jury of scholars, artists, critics and AFI trustees discuss, debate and determine the AFI's most outstanding achievements of the year. "We don't rank them because what we want to celebrate is the creative collaboration in front and behind the camera that made these stories possible," Jean Picker Firstenberg, AFI director and chief executive officer, told Reuters.
Hussein's Capture Covers Networks
The news of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's capture completely dominated cable and broadcast networks Sunday morning. Reuters reports CNN edged the competition by going on the air first at 5:03 a.m. after grabbing the Reuters story. CNN's reporter, Alphonso Van Marsh, was also with the unit that captured the former Iraqi dictator. CBS, NBC, Fox News and MSNBC followed in quick succession. ABC put Good Morning America's Charles Gibson on in the morning but flew anchor Peter Jennings from a stint in Los Angeles to New York to do the story on the evening's World News Tonight. CBS and NBC also ran special reports in the evening on 60 Minutes and Dateline, respectively.
Jackson on Verge of Being Charged
Michael Jackson could be charged this week in the child molestation case currently pending against him, The Associated Press reports. Law enforcement officials have yet to disclose their evidence against the pop singer, who was arrested Nov. 20, but former Santa Barbara County sheriff Jim Thomas, who has discussed the case with Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon, expects the charges to allege that Jackson molested one child repeatedly, probably over a period of more than a month, AP reports. "You will see allegations of multiple counts of child molestation on this particular child," Thomas said, despite the recent report about a confidential memo, leaked last week from a Los Angeles County child welfare office, which said there was no basis for allegations that Jackson had molested the boy. In the memo, which was written last February, Jackson's accuser, his brother and his mother all denied the boy had been molested, AP reports.
Bowie Kicks Flu Bug and Kicks Off Tour
After postponing several dates due to illness, David Bowie finally took the stage Saturday in Montreal to kick off his A Reality tour, Reuters reports. "I didn't know if I could do the show tonight; I felt really ill, to be honest with you," Bowie, 55, revealed near the end of his 110-minute set at the Bell Canada Center. But, in his words, the show turned out to be "really memorable" as he performed hits from all facets of a diversified career spanning almost 40 years, Reuters reports. It's his first concert tour in eight years.
Snoop's in tha Dogg House
Actress Doris Burns, who appeared in Snoop Dogg's MTV show Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, has sued the rapper, claiming she was unwittingly made to appear as if she were naked and engaging in sexual relations with another actor, AP reports. In a lawsuit filed Friday, Burns accuses Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, and MTV of breach of contract, fraud, invasion of privacy and defamation. She is seeking unspecified damages, AP reports.
Actress Crain Dies
Actress Jeanne Crain, best known for her Academy Award-nominated performance in the controversial 1949 classic Pinky, in which she played a black girl passing for white, died Sunday of a heart attack in Santa Barbara. She was 78.
Free Willy Whale Dies
Keiko, the 6-ton killer whale who portrayed Willy in the hit film Free Willy, died Friday in western Norway's Taknes Bay of pneumonia at the age of 27. Taken into captivity when he was two years old, the whale was rescued from horrid conditions at an aquarium to star in the film. After preparing him for several years, Keiko was released back into the wild in 2002 off the coast of Iceland where he was born, but he ended up swimming to the Norwegian bay to live.
Role Call: Idol's Frenchie Lands Gig
Frenchie Davis, the spirited second season American Idol contestant who got booted for allegedly appearing on an adult Web site, has landed a starring role in a Los Angeles production of the musical Dreamgirls, AP reports. "There are a lot of people who were on American Idol," Davis told AP. "But not all of them are getting lead roles."…ABC is bringing Stephen King's novel Desperation to the small screen in a three-hour adaptation, Variety reports. The story centers on a man who winds up in a bizarre mining town in Nevada named Desperation after being pulled over by the strange local sheriff. King, currently recuperating from a bout of pneumonia, wrote the screenplay.
Top Story: Naomi Campbell Sued
AP reports that Naomi Campbell is being sued by a former assistant who alleges that the British model attacked her two years ago in a Beverly Hills hotel. According to the lawsuit, Simone Craig, 29, claims Campbell grabbed her by the arms, threw her down onto a couch, and kept her prisoner in a room at the L'Hermitage Hotel, yelling, "You're going to stay here and do your job!" Campbell's lawyers have stated that the model completely denies the accusations. In February of 2000, Campbell pleaded guilty to an assault charge for beating an assistant in Canada while working on a film in 1998. After this incident however, she was released without punishment.
PETA Makes Fun of Clay Aiken
According to the Associated Press, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has delayed an ad campaign whose slogan is "Get Neutered, It Didn't Hurt Clay Aiken," stemming from an interview Aiken gave in the June issue of Rolling Stone, in which he made some negative comments about cats. The ad features Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a recurring puppet character from Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Angry letters from the pop singer's fans, as well as those applauding the ad slogan, have been flooding the animal rights organization. Matthews said that his organization sent a letter to Aiken after the Rolling Stone interview, but never received a response. If the issue goes unresolved, PETA will run their original ads next week. "If Clay Aiken intends on staying famous, he has to learn to take a joke," remarked Dan Matthews, vice president of PETA.
Robert Conrad Charged With DUI
On Tuesday, a judge ordered actor Robert Conrad to stand trial for driving under the influence of alcohol, AP reports. Back on March 31, Conrad crashed head on into another vehicle near his home in Calaveras County in northern California. According to police, his blood alcohol level at the time was nearly three times the legal limit, 0.22 percent. The television actor pleaded innocent to two felony counts of DUI. When Conrad failed to turn up on time for the preliminary hearing, a judge ordered that his lawyer find the former TV tough guy. Conrad later attributed his absence to physical therapy he has had to undergo. Kevin Burnett, the other driver in the accident, suffered a broken wrist and leg. He has filed a lawsuit against Conrad and his production company, Black Sheep Productions, seeking damages and compensation. The actor will be arraigned on Dec. 8.
Britney Fans Camp Out for CD; Critics Unimpressed
With the release of pop sensation Britney Spears' new album In the Zone, on Tuesday, hundreds of eager fans camped outside the Virgin Megastore in Times Square for the chance to have their copy of the CD signed by the young diva herself, Reuters reports. Though fans traveled across the country in some cases to meet Spears, many critics maintain that her fourth album is far from her best work. The New York Times described the CD as being "almost perversely devoid of personality." Other critics have pointed out that the pop star's vocals sound more like sex sounds than singing. The New York Times said that the 21-year-old singer "works hard to prove that she's hot blooded, although she sounds colder than ever."
Berry Feeling Better
Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry, 37, reports that she has recovered from the broken arm she suffered while filming Gothika, and is feeling better about her recent separation from husband Eric Benet, according to AP. The actress has a positive outlook about her romantic future. "I've made some bad choices in that area…I used to say that if there was a loser in town, I'd find him. But I don't say that anymore…I'm going to find the right man." Berry broke her arm in May while filming a scene for Gothika in which she struggles with a man who tries to sedate her. Because of the accident, filming for the new movie was delayed six weeks.
Eminem's Ex-Wife Finally in Court
On Tuesday, Kim Mathers, who was married to rap star Eminem until 2001, appeared in two Macomb County, Mich. courtrooms after missing two earlier scheduled hearings for drug charges. According to AP, a Macomb County Circuit judge ordered that Mathers be placed on an electronic tether that will alert authorities if she leaves her home, and that she undergo drug and alcohol testing, as well as attend Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Mathers was originally scheduled to attent a Nov. 4 hearing for violating the bond conditions of a St. Clair Shores, Mich. drug case. On Dec. 18, she is scheduled to attend a hearing regarding cocaine possession charges. Also on Tuesday, Mathers appeared before a Warren district court judge in connection with a separate drug charge.
AFI To Name 100 Greatest Movie Songs
The American Film Institute announced Tuesday that it will honor Hollywood's greatest movie songs in a June CBS special entitled, "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Songs: America's Greatest Music in the Movies," Reuters reports. AFI will enlist the help of some 1,500 directors, screenwriters, actors, editors, cinematographers, critics, and historians in making the final selections from a list of 400 nominated songs. Said AFI director and CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg, "Great songs are a personal and unforgettable part of the storytelling experience, so combining music and film this year will undoubtedly provoke impassioned, heated debate and discord among even the closest friends." Nominees range from The Wizard of Oz's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to 8 Mile's "Lose Yourself."
Role Call: Anthony Anderson May Find "King's Ransom"
Reuters reports that actor Anthony Anderson of Scary Movie 3 has entered talks to star in the upcoming New Line Cinema comedy King's Ransom. The project focuses on the exploits of a wealthy and cocky businessman who could lose half his money to the obnoxious wife he is trying to divorce, so he arranges his own kidnapping, unaware of a separate plot to nab and ransom him for real. If he takes the role, Anderson will be one busy guy--he is to appear in the upcoming films My Baby's Daddy
Another American Film Institute 100 Years countdown has come and gone--and with it, the realization that Hollywood's elite still prefer the films of yesteryear over the slick productions of today, even in the action/suspense genres.
AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills, the fourth installment in the countdown series, which has already rated the greatest films of all time, aired on CBS Tuesday night, hosted by action hero Harrison Ford. The show revealed the collective psyche of industry insiders: older is better.
Not surprisingly, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) scored the number-one spot. Rounding out the top ten were: Jaws (1975); The Exorcist (1973); North By Northwest (1959); The Silence of the Lambs (1991); Alien (1979); The Birds (1963); The French Connection (1971); Rosemary's Baby (1968); and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
How did 2000's Academy Award winner for Best Picture--Gladiator--fare in the top 100? It didn't make the list. What was the ranking for last year's martial arts masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Again, didn't make the cut.
Is the AFI's tally an accurate representation of America's true feelings toward great works of film? According to a separate AFI poll, published on their Web site at www.afionline.org, users, not insiders, were also given the chance to chose their top 10 list of thrillers, and the results skew much more recent.
While Psycho, Raiders, Jaws and The Exorcist landed on the public's list, online users gravitated more toward the blockbusters than the black-and-whites. The entire Star Wars trilogy shot to the top, followed by the entire Indiana Jones trilogy and the first Jurassic Park.
In total, the average year of production of the AFI's top 10 thrillers was 1968. The average year of production of online users' top 10 was 1980.
Is the AFI concerned about the overall validity of their rankings? According to AFI director CEO Jean Picker Firstenberg, not in the least.
"AFI hopes this new list will spark another national dialogue and send a new generation of moviegoers to see these heart-pounding movies,'' she told Reuters late Tuesday. "Creating a movie is the ultimate collaborative effort. When it all comes together, it is, in a word, thrilling."
For their official rankings, the AFI polled more than 1500 members of the American filmmaking community, including actors, directors, producers, writers and more. No word yet on upcoming AFI 100 Years specials, but CBS spokeswoman Kate Fisher has told Hollywood.com: "I believe CBS plans to continue this tradition in years to come."