Summer TV is a bit relaxed. There's a whole lot of disposable reality and a few nuggets of really great entertainment, but by the time we reach the end of August it's hard to remember where we've been. Blame it on the sweltering heat or too many days spent sunning ourselves at the beach, but I bet we're all in need of a bit of a refresher. So, here they are, the biggest moments from Summer TV.
Eric and Sookie Consummate Their Relationship in a Fairy Tale Forest
Finally. FINALLY. When Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) and Sookie (Anna Paquin) finally find themselves alone in a forest, it takes all but a few seconds for them to ravage each other but it was like we could all feel the blanket of collective vicarious sexual frustration lifted as True Blood fans everywhere got what they’d been waiting for seasons for. Of course, in full True Blood fashion, it looks like the euphoric couple is consummating their relationship in some idyllic forest our of a Disney movie which makes it all that much more depraved and delicious.
America Embraces a Man in a Dog Suit
Wait, so it’s a show about Elijah Wood and his best friend is a guy who wears a dog suit? Oh, the guy is a dog? But why is he wearing a dog suit? It’s all in Elijah Wood’s imagination? But how does that work? Aren’t people going to notice he’s talking to the dog like it’s a human? Wait, the dog smokes weed? What is going on? And that, my friends is how FX got their highest rated comedy premiere ever. This perplexing reincarnation of the successful Australian series, Wilfred, owes much of its humor and charm to its Australian lead, Justin Gann, and while it teeters on the brink of overly-gimmicky, continues to be an intriguing presence in the Summer lineup.
Lady Gaga is Brought to Tears on So You Think You Can Dance
It was the case for many seasons that choreographer Mia Michaels was the queen of crying on So You Think You Can Dance. The woman was consistently moved by touching performances again and again, so much so that even as a former dancer and current lover of the art form, I was starting to get a little tired of seeing the water works. But this season took the cake when Lady Gaga stopped by, and not to be outdone by anyone ever, completely broke down and balled her eyes out while watching one duo perform a contemporary routine to Jeff Buckley’s “I Know It’s Over.” Of course, she had some equally sappy commentary to add to her gushing tears.
Two Macho Shows Take Their Final Victory Laps
Both Rescue Me and Entourage began their final seasons this summer. Two pinnacles of manly arrogance will soon be relegated to Blu-ray and DVD collections – or Netflix instant in these times of gimme-what-I-want-right-now. Of course, while Rescue Me’s Denis Leary and Entourage’s Jeremy Piven may share their knacks for lovable arrogance, their characters couldn’t be more different. In these trying times, we watch Piven’s Ari Gold fight to make more money from the Taylor Lautners and the Vincent Chases of the world while dealing with the wrath of his soon-to-be ex wife. Leary’s Tommy Gavin however, is still dealing with the mental repercussions of his experiences on 9/11 and the season will end its run on Sept. 7, just a mere four days before the 10th anniversary of the horrific event, which is pretty powerful timing. Rescue Me: 1. Entourage: 0.
Bachelorette Ashley Hebert Finds True Love – For Real This Time, No, We’re Serious
The Bachelorette delivered her final rose in Fiji, and against her sister’s will, chose Long Island’s J.P. Rosenbaum over Ben Flajnik (who’ll get his second chance at love as the new Bachelor next season). When Ashley Hebert shared the happy news with Rosenbaum, he got down on one knee and proposed and at least so far this Summer, it’s smooth sailing for the happy couple. And it seems the couple has taken the media’s constant inquiry as a challenge to strengthen their relationship. “You make it through something like this together, you can make it through anything,” said the New York construction manager. Well, here’s hoping these two will be the only Bachelor series couple to land on the Trista and Ryan side of things.
Kim Kardashian X-Rays Her Butt
It was only a matter of time before this event graced our televisions, really. And it’s all our fault. If we the collective consumers of pop culture weren’t so enamored with Kim’s derierre, some of us wouldn’t have started to question its validity with entire websites devoted to proving its falsity with rumors of butt implants exploding on airplanes. Yes, someone actually wrote that up as a legitimate news post…on a blog about Kim’s butt. This oh-so classy occurrence was the straw that broke the camel’s back-end and Kim’s sisters marched her straight to the plastic surgeon so he could x-ray and analyze Kim’s rear end on Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I’m not sure which was more shocking – the fact that this happened and we watched it or the fact that the first people Kim showed the x-ray to were her mother and her step-dad. Strange folks, those Kardashian kids.
Nancy Botwin Switches Teams Momentarily
Weeds’ Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) has always been a highly sexual being. She’s managed to get married twice and get busy countless times with strangers played by Zac Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), drug dealers, DEA agents, CEOs of major corporations, you name it. Nancy is a bit of a freak. So it only makes sense that at some point – this point being the first episode of Season 7 – Nancy changes it up a bit and shares a passionate kiss with Zoya, her cellmate at the women’s prison. Of course it turns out this new love was all part of a scheme to get her hands on Zoya’s assets (and Zoya’s brother, hubba hubba) outside of the clink, but it was a monumental moment and the culmination of Nancy’s sexual exploration nonetheless.
Entourage Has a Serious Discussion About a Rubber Phallus
We’ve already mentioned that it’s Entourage’s final season and that its flimsy, glitzy plot is put to shame by the gravity and relevancy of Rescue Me’s concurrent final season, but this moment is enough by itself to merit an entire slot on this countdown. When Vince needs to take a drug test after witnessing an old friend’s suicide where copious amounts of cocaine was present, he panics because he smoked a joint a few days prior. Clearly the solution is for him for get a fake penis and fill it with someone else’s urine so he can pass his drug test. But we’re not here to talk about the penis or the fact that when Vince passes the drug test he and his friends throw it around like teenage girls at a pillow fight, we’re here to talk about the intense, all-too-serious discussion that goes down in the courthouse bathroom after Vince flashes E with the fake phallus. It’s sort of the epitome of this show; we encounter a discussion that brings up the longest running theme in the whole show but its credibility is cut down by the fact that the subject of the discussion is a rubber penis hanging out of Vince’s pants. So perfect, so Entourage.
Snooki and The Situation Try To Give Ronnie and Sam a Run For Their Money
Finally, right at the end of the summer, we find the return of Jersey Shore and this time, they’re in Italy. Of course, by now we’ve grown tired of Ronnie and Sammy constantly fighting and it seems they have too because instead of throwing furniture and stomping around, it seems that this season Sammy just walks outside and cries. Which is about as much as we can handle with these two. Of course, we need someone to be fighting, so luckily The Situation insists he has feelings for Snooki who’s got a long-term boyfriend back at home. And boom goes the dynamite. It’s really far more entertaining to see these two firecrackers fight because with Ronnie and Sam, fighting was what made them interesting, and with Mike and Snooks, they are already interesting which makes their fights that much better. Oh trashy television, how you fix us so.
The Hollywood actress is said to be in negotiations to re-team with her Mamma Mia! director Phyllida Lloyd for the 1982-set film, which will show Thatcher in the run-up to the Falklands War.
Moulin Rouge! actor Jim Broadbent has reportedly been lined up to play the former British leader's husband, Denis, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Thatcher led Britain for 11 years between 1979 and 1990. Her career famously waned prior to the conflict in the Falklands but she received a boost in popularity after the 72-day war, which saw her triumph in the U.K.'s 1983 election.
Top Story: James Brown Arrested for Spousal Abuse and Released
Legendary soul singer James Brown, best know for his hit I Feel Good back in the 60's, has once again run afoul of the law after being arrested Wednesday on charges of pushing his wife, 33-year-old Tomi Rae Brown, to the floor where she fell on luggage, Reuters reports. A police report said the incident happened at the couple's home in Beech Island, So. Carolina, and that Mrs. Brown had scratches and bruises on one arm and on her hip and was taken to a hospital for treatment. The 70-year-old singer appeared Thursday in an Aiken County, So. Carolina, court for a bond hearing and was released on personal recognizance, Aiken County Sheriff's Office spokesman Michael Frank confirmed. Brown, honored last month at the Kennedy Center, has had his troubles with the law in the past, serving three years for a chase with police that led them from South Carolina to Georgia. In 1998 Brown was given a two-year suspended sentence for weapons charges. If convicted on this domestic abuse charge, Brown faces a $500 fine and 30 days in jail.
Judge Orders Kelly To Avoid Jackson
A judge has ordered singer and accused child molester R Kelly to avoid Michael Jackson at this year's Grammy Awards, Associated Press reports. Kelly, who is accused of taping himself having sex with an underage girl, has produced two songs for Jackson, You Are Not Alone in 1995 and One More Chance last fall. He is nominated for two Grammys and will most likely attend the awards ceremony February 8; however, Jackson is not expected to attend as he is not nominated for an award. Kelly was arrested in June 2002 and has been free on bond awaiting trial. Prosecutors and Kelly's lawyers said they never raised the issue of a meeting between Jackson and Kelly during a hearing this week about Kelly's travel and said Cook County Circuit Judge Vincent Gaughan made the edict on his own. "What's the difference if someone makes an order not to see someone he didn't want to see in the first place?" Kelly's lawyer Edward Genson asked.
No Visit for Jackson Accuser's Dad, Judge Rules
In more Jacko news, the father of the boy at the center of the Michael Jackson child molestation case has been denied his request to see the boy, AP reports, although a hearing to hear any additional evidence showing why the father should be allowed to have contact with the boy has been scheduled for Feb. 24 . The boy's father, who was not named to protect the identity of the child, is barred from contact with his children after convictions for child cruelty and spousal abuse in 2002 and 2001, respectively. He requested to see the boy because of reports he is in ill health and requires a kidney transplant. The boy reportedly lost one kidney due to cancer surgery. Lawyers for the boy's mother declined to comment on the father's request.
Garfunkel Fights Marijuana Possession Charge
Singer Art Garfunkel, one half of the '60s duo Simon and Garfunkel, appears to be fighting a charge of marijuana possession rather than pay a $100 fine, AP reports. Michael Federoff, Garfunkel's attorney, appeared in court in Hurley in upstate New York on Wednesday. The judge in the case then set a Feb. 11 date for a hearing regarding the case. No further details were released. Garfunkel was cited for possession after his limo driver was pulled over for speeding in Hurley. The police officer smelled marijuana and searched Garfunkel, discovering six grams of the drug in his jacket pocket. Unless the offender has been convicted of a crime in the last three years, a $100 fine is all that is required to resolve the marijuana possession charge. Authorities won't say whether he has a prior record.
Stolen He Was--Yoda Statue Goes Missing
A statue of Yoda, the three-foot-tall Jedi master of the Star Wars films, has been stolen from the back of a truck in Pasadena, Calif., AP reports. The 170-pound statue was commissioned by Lucasfilm Ltd. as part of a series of works based on Star Wars characters. The artist, Lawrence Noble, was transporting the bronze statue from Artworks Foundry in Berkeley to Los Angeles where it was to be sold. The statue, valued at $20,000, was stolen from the truck sometime in the night. Noble is offering a $1,000 reward for its return.
Idol Reigns Supreme for Fox
American Idol pushed Fox to the top of the ratings heap with a stunning 29.6 million viewers watching Tuesday's episode--more than NBC, ABC, CBS, and UPN combined, Reuters reports. The talent show hit has consistently drawn high ratings for Fox during the past three seasons. More importantly, American Idol swept away the competition for the prized 18-49 demographic, gaining the highest ratings for a non-sports show this season. Due to the success of the first three episodes of Idol, Fox took the top spot in the Nielson ratings for the week.
Denis Leary To Star in FX Drama Series
Comedian Denis Leary has signed on for 13 episodes of a new FX series, Rescue Me, AP reports. The show will center on Leary's character, a New York City firefighter, and how he deals with anxiety over his profession in post-Sept. 11 New York. Says Leary about his decision to star in the show, "I am excited to portray a firefighter. I have many close friends and family members that are firefighters and many of the stories and characters will be drawn from them." The 46-year-old actor founded The Leary Firefighters in honor of his cousin who was killed in a Worchester warehouse fire in 1999 along with five other men.
Office Work in Carell's Future?
Sources at NBC revealed The Daily Show's Steve Carrell may be just the man to fill star Ricky Gervais' shoes in the American version of the Golden Globe-winning BBC comedy series The Office, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Though there is no official word whether or not Carrell will take on the role that won Gervais two Golden Globes this past Sunday (one for best comedy, the other for best actor in a television comedy), he
Moviegoers were still panicking this weekend, keeping Panic Room number one with $18.5 million.
High Crimes kicked off on a high note in second place with $15 million. Ice Age was third, melting only 21 percent with $14.3 million.
The Rookie was rounding the bases fast, down just 26 percent with $11.7 million in fourth place. National Lampoon's Van Wilder was partying in fifth place with $7.5 million.
The weekend's only other wide release Big Trouble was a troubled eighth with $3.7 million.
With no $30 million-plus openings, key films -- those grossing $500,000 or more -- did well, but fell short of the spectacular totals they'd achieved over the past three weeks. This weekend's $107.8 million total was down 14.5 percent from the prior weekend's $126 million. It was, however, up 19.6 percent from last year's $90.2 million.
THE TOP TEN
Columbia's R rated thriller Panic Room held on to the top spot in its second week with a still thrilling ESTIMATED $18.5 million (-38%) at 3,053 theaters (theater count unchanged; $6,060 per theater). Its cume is approximately $58.8 million, heading for $100 million in domestic theaters.
Panic is only the third film this year to enjoy a second week in first place. The others were New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which had two weeks atop the chart, and Revolution Studios and Columbia's Black Hawk Down, which reigned for three weeks.
Panic's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Directed by David Fincher, it stars Jodie Foster.
"We're down only 38 percent, which certainly in today's world of 3,000 run openings is about as good as it's been in a while," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
Asked where it's going, Blake replied, "I've got to admit, with this kind of great holding second week we're very optimistic that we just might make $100 million. That would certainly be a very exciting result on a $48 million negative picture -- which looks like it has great worldwide possibilities, as well."
Why is Panic doing so well? "We got a really nice adult bump on Saturday," Blake explained. "We were down only 26 percent and up 38 percent from Friday. That indicated, as we hoped, that this picture is really going to get widespread adult support. It is a great adult evening out, which certainly helps give a picture legs. Adults, as we all know, are a little harder to get and, perhaps, don't rush out the first weekend as much as you'd like.
"We are happy with the result that we are appealing young and old. We got the young audience we needed to open the movie to $30 million, but it looks like the adults are coming through to keep it holding."
Business, in general, continues to be strong. "Buoyant," Blake observed. "You've got four double digit films on top of the standings. There's no question about it, it's a great market and we're happy to be on top of it."
The strong March and early April box office should help generate interest in this summer's films, whose trailers are playing in theaters now. "Attached on Panic Room is the Jennifer Lopez thriller Enough, which opens May 24," Blake said. "There's no question about (that helping), just as Panic Room was attached to Black Hawk Down. We tend to get a little determined about (playing) trailers. There's no better way to get a company on a roll and keep them there and that's certainly what we hope to be on this year."
20th Century Fox and Regency Enterprises' PG-13 rated thriller High Crimes arrived in second place to an arresting ESTIMATED $15.02 million at 2,717 theaters ($5,526 per theater).
Directed by Carl Franklin, it stars Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman.
"We were hoping for $15 million," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday. "It's right where we'd like to be."
Asked who the film's audience was, Snyder replied, "58 percent female, 65 percent over 30. Adult female."
20th Century Fox's PG rated animated feature Ice Age fell one rung to third place in its fourth week with a still enviable ESTIMATED $14.32 million (-21%) at 3,200 theaters (-133 theaters; $4,473 per theater). Its cume is approximately $141.4 million, heading for $175 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Chris Wedge, it features the voices of Ray Romano, John Leguizamo and Denis Leary.
"Audiences love it ," Fox's Bruce Snyder said. "It seems to withstand (competition as other) family movies have come in behind it and Rookie being a pretty strong movie, also. But, at the end of the day, they just like Ice Age. The characters are great. It's fun."
Buena Vista/Disney's G rated family appeal baseball drama The Rookie slid one slot to fourth place in its second week, holding very well with an ESTIMATED $11.7 million (-26%) at 2,524 theaters (+13 theaters; $4,647 per theater). Its cume is approximately $35.0 million.
Directed by John Lee Hancock, it stars Dennis Quaid.
Artisan Entertainment's opening of its R rated youth appeal comedy National Lampoon's Van Wilder was celebrating in fifth place with an ESTIMATED $7.5 million at 2,022 theaters ($3,710 per theater).
Directed by Walt Becker, it stars Ryan Reynolds and Tara Reid.
"It's a very solid opening. We're very happy with it," Artisan domestic theatrical distribution president Steve Rothenberg said Sunday morning. "We did exit polls and it appears that people really liked the movie. It's a very funny comedy and we're very happy with the way the film opened.
"In the Top Two boxes we have 78 percent excellent and very good (which) is definitely above the norms. As far as definite recommend, we were at 70 percent and the norm is 45 percent. So we were above the norms on definite recommend, as well. That leads us to believe that we should have good word of mouth going into next week."
As for demographics, "it's about a 60-40 split male to female," Rothenberg said. "And the audience was almost entirely made up of 18-to-34 year olds, which is not surprising."
Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies' PG rated time travel adventure Clockstoppers dropped one peg to sixth place in its second week, showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $7.3 million (-28%) at 2,563 theaters (+23 theaters; $2,848 per theater). Its cume is approximately $22.5 million, heading for $40 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Jonathan Frakes, it stars Jesse Bradford, Paula Garces, French Stewart, Michael Biehn and Robin Thomas.
"A very nice hold, actually, coming off the Good Friday holiday last week (when many schools were closed)," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "We took a big hit on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday held up very well. Pictures of this genre have an extended life. You can play the matinees and weekends -- like Jimmy Neutron, it's still in a number of theaters playing matinees. We could be looking at $40 million on (Clockstoppers), I think, over its lifetime."
New Line Cinema's R rated vampire thriller Blade 2 fell three rungs to seventh place in its third week with a less scary ESTIMATED $7.18 million (-45%) at 2,561 theaters (-146 theaters; $2,802 per theater). Its cume is approximately $67.1 million, heading for $75 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, it stars Wesley Snipes.
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13 rated comedy Big Trouble opened in eighth place to a troublesome ESTIMATED $3.7 million at 1,961 theaters ($1,865 per theater).
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, it stars Tim Allen, Omar Epps, Dennis Farina, Ben Foster, Janeane Garofalo, Jason Lee, Rene Russo, Tom Sizemore and Stanley Tucci.
Universal's 20th year anniversary reissue of its PG rated sci-fi fantasy drama E.T. fell three pegs to ninth place with a dull ESTIMATED $3.31 million (-46%) at 2,472 theaters (-535 theaters; $1,340 per theater). Its reissue cume is approximately $30.5 million.
Directed by Steven Spielberg, it stars Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Drew Barrymore and Henry Thomas.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Universal, DreamWorks and Imagine Entertainment's PG-13 rated drama A Beautiful Mind--winner of four Oscars, including best picture -- down two notches in its 16th week with an okay ESTIMATED $2.76 million (-29%) at 1,451 theaters (-109 theaters; $1,905 per theater). Its cume is approximately $165.2 million.
Directed by Ron Howard, the Brian Grazer production stars Russell Crowe, Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly.
This weekend also saw the arrival via Warner Bros. of The Saul Zaentz Company's Amadeus: Director's Cut reissue with an encouraging ESTIMATED $93,000 at 18 theaters ($5,152 per theater).
Directed by Milos Forman, produced by Saul Zaentz and written by Peter Shaffer, it stars F Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce and Elizabeth Berridge.
Sony Pictures Classics' R rated comedy Crush opened to a hopeful ESTIMATED $47,000 at 10 theaters ($4,697 per theater).
Written and directed by John McKay, it stars Andie MacDowell.
United Artists' reissue of The Last Waltz kicked off via MGM on the right foot at one theater in San Francisco with an ESTIMATED $16,000.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, Waltz is a musical documentary about the final concert of The Band.
Waltz waltzes into theaters in New York and Los Angeles Friday (Apr. 12).
Paramount and Miramax's PG-13 rated comedy Lucky Break arrived to an unlucky ESTIMATED $8,000 at 6 theaters ($1,338 per theater).
Directed by Peter Cattaneo, it stars James Nesbitt and Olivia Williams.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend Lions Gate Films' R rated drama Monster's Ball went wider in its 15th week following Halle Berry's best actress Oscar victory with an okay ESTIMATED $1.56 million at 713 theaters (+37 theaters; $2,185 per theater). Its cume is approximately $25.3 million.
Directed by Marc Forster, it stars Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger and Peter Boyle.
IFC Films' unrated erotic drama Y Tu Mama Tambien went wider in its fourth week with a still arousing ESTIMATED $1.1 million at 179 theaters (+128 theaters; $6,145 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.9 million.
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, it stars Maribel Verdu, Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.
Fox Searchlight Pictures' R rated romantic comedy Kissing Jessica Stein expanded in its fourth week to a still tempting ESTIMATED $1.01 million (+40%) at 319 theaters (+188 theaters; $3,150 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.3 million.
Directed by Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, it stars Jennifer Westfeldt and Heather Juergensen.
"Jessica's done well," Fox Searchlight distribution president Stephen Gilula said Sunday morning. "We had a nice fourth weekend. We expanded to 319 theaters this week. We were pretty much across the country. It's a very successful limited release for us and we expect to be playing for quite a few more weeks because particularly in the cities that we've been open in for four weeks -- New York and L.A. and Chicago and Boston and so forth -- it's held extremely well.
"It's playing very, very well. The recent markets have opened up not as proportionally strong, but very solid. So we're very pleased with how it's playing across the country."
Asked where it's heading, Gilula replied that while it's still early to say for sure, "I think that we are certainly going to get to $6-or-$7 million, but each week tells us a little more of the story. We expect to be playing through the spring."
USA Films' R rated romantic comedy Monsoon Wedding added theaters in its seventh week with a still tasteful ESTIMATED $0.72 million (-10%) at 150 theaters (+10 theaters; $4,765 per theater). Its cume is approximately $5.3 million.
Directed by Mira Nair, it was produced by Nair and Caroline Baron.
Universal's international division reported Sunday morning that E.T. opened in 28 countries last weekend and has grossed $12 million to date.
The studio said E.T. is performing very well in Latin America, especially in Mexico where it ranked third in its second weekend. While results from Europe were mixed last weekend, midweek grosses there were strong thanks to school holidays.
E.T. arrives in Asia this week. It opens in Japan April 27.
Ali G Inda House, Universal's latest film from Working Title, is performing solidly in the U.K., grossing $11.3 million in 16 days on 394 playdates.
A Beautiful Mind, a Universal DreamWorks co-production that is being distributed by UIP for DreamWorks, got a big boost from winning four Oscars including Best Picture and has been up at the box office for the past two weeks.
Mind, which has been in release internationally for seven weeks, is still number one in Argentina. This weekend it ranked second in Brazil, third in Australia and Germany, fourth in Spain, fifth in Mexico and seventh in the U.K.
This weekend, Mind cracks $100 million at the international box office.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $107.8 million, up about 19.57 percent from last year when they totaled $90.15 million.
Key films this weekend were down about 14.45 percent from the previous weekend of this year's total of $126.0 million.
Last year, Dimension Films' second week of Spy Kids was first with $17.08 million at 3,133 theaters ($5,451 per theater); and Paramount's opening week of Along Came A Spider was second with $16.71 million at 2,530 theaters ($6,606 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $33.8 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $33.5 million.