The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
Top Story: Jennifer Aniston Settles Topless Photo Suit
Jennifer Aniston will receive $550,000 in the settlement of her lawsuit against a photographer who admitted to illegally distributing photos of her sunbathing topless, The Associated Press reports. Aniston settled a lawsuit in 2002 against two European magazines, Celebrity Skin and High Society, for publishing the photos in 1999. In the suits, Aniston, 34, had claimed a "stalkerazzi" snapped photos of her "reclining topless in her backyard." But in Thursday's settlement, Aniston accepted photographer Francois Navarre's contention that he was not the trespasser who scaled the wall of her home to shoot the photos with a high-powered telephoto lens. He apologized for transmitting the photographs to an Italian photo agent, who in turn sold them for publication in Italy, and agreed to pay the Friends star $100,000, while his insurance carrier will pay $450,000.
Phil Spector Pleads Innocent
Record producer Phil Spector pleaded innocent Thursday to murdering B-movie actress Lana Clarkson, Reuters reports. Clarkson, 40, was found lying in a pool of blood last February in the foyer of Spector's Alhambra, California, home. Spector, 63, was arrested soon after the shooting, but has remained free on $1 million bail. Represented by attorney Robert Shapiro, the producer has denied the allegations and was quoted as telling Esquire that "she kissed the gun.''
Paris Hilton Cancels Letterman Appearance
Socialite Paris Hilton, star of the upcoming Fox reality series The Simple Life, is pulling out of her Nov. 26 interview on David Letterman's Late Show. Hilton's spokesman told the AP Thursday the 22-year-old was canceling all planned media appearances promoting her upcoming TV show because of all the attention she's received from the erotic home video she made three years ago with then-boyfriend Rick Salomon. "All I want to say to Paris is you're being led down the wrong path," Letterman said while taping Thursday's show. "You come on this show, by god, we'll make you a hero."
Magazine Brands Eminem a Racist
The Source magazine is branding rapper Eminem a racist over a decade-old song in which calls black girls "dumb," the AP reports. The tape was provided to the magazine by "three white hip-hop fans from Detroit who were peers of Eminem in the early '90s, at the time of the recording," Source said in a press release Tuesday. The song features Eminem saying: "Black girls are dumb, and white girls are good chicks." There also is another brief song in which a rapper whom the magazine identifies as Eminem uses the n-word. Eminem acknowledged he made the song disparaging black women but said in a statement it was "something I made out of anger, stupidity and frustration when I was a teenager."
Judge Orders Trial Over Diaz Pics
A judge ruled Friday that Los Angeles photographer John Rutter must stand trial for allegedly using topless photos of Cameron Diaz in an attempt to extort $3.3 million from her. According to Reuters, Rutter is scheduled to be arraigned on felony charges of attempted extortion, attempted grand theft, forgery and perjury Dec. 8. Rutter claims he has a signed release and the right to sell the pictures, which were taken during a 1992 photo session, but Diaz said her signature was forged. "This wasn't simply a case of someone calling and saying, 'Hey, I just came across these photos from 11 years ago, do you want them?'" Superior Court Judge Michael Luros said. "This was someone saying, 'Pay me $3 million or else.'"
Charges Against Coldplay Singer Dropped
Australian authorities dropped malicious damages and property damages charges against Coldplay singer Chris Martin on Friday, Reuters reports. Martin had been charged with damaging a photographer's car windshield after having his picture taken in July while surfing near Byron Bay, where the British singer was performing at a music festival. Martin was in Australia at the time with his girlfriend, actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
David Spade To Guest Star on 8 Simple Rules
David Spade has signed on to do a multiple-episode guest shot on ABC's 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Spade will play a relative of the family at the center of the comedy. The show, which dealt with the death of John Ritter's character in an hour-long episode that aired earlier this month, is on hiatus until after Thanksgiving, but production on Spade's episodes will probably begin next month. A spokeswoman for producer Touchstone TV said Wednesday it is unclear when the episodes will air.
Bob Barker Celebrates 80th Birthday on TV
Bob Barker, host the of the longest-running game show in television will preside over The Price is Right Million Dollar Spectacular, a CBS special airing Dec. 13, at 8 p.m. EST--a day after Barker's 80th birthday. During the show, contestants will have a chance to spin the Big Wheel for $1 million and showcase showdown winner will win the largest amount in cash and prizes ever won by a single contestant in the The Price is Right's32-year history. According to the AP, the show will air videotaped greetings from CBS show stars, including Ray Romano, David James Elliott, Catherine Bell, Ted Danson and Charlie Sheen.
Role Call: Ang Lee To Helm Gay Western
As a follow-up to the Hollywood blockbuster The Hulk, director Ang Lee will helm Brokeback Mountain, a gay western about a ranch hand and a rodeo cowboy who find themselves unexpectedly falling in love in the plains of Wyoming and Texas in the 1960s. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is based on a story by Pulitzer prize-winning author E Annie Proulx.
Everybody Loves Raymond decides to return some of that love to its stars.
Quelling the recent storm that has been swirling around on the Emmy-winning CBS series, Patricia Heaton, Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts have each made deals to receive back-end profits from the sitcom, a sum which could generate upward of $500 million in its first five years of syndication, Variety reports.
Word is still out, however, on the fifth cast member Brad Garrett, who would receive the same back-end deal as his co-stars but who is still holding out for salary increase. Variety reports CBS reps have begun talking to the actor about a raise that could double his income for the coming season but nothing has been set.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that the Raymond cast were each granted a half-percentage point in the show, valued at $5-$7 million during the next few years, after existing participants agreed to collectively hand over a total of two percentage points in the show to divide among Heaton, Boyle, Roberts and Garrett. Those "existing participants" include CBS, HBO Independent Prods., Worldwide Pants, exec producers Phil Rosenthal and Ray Romano, who all agreed to give up some of their profits into order to spread the wealth.
The initial Raymond mutiny--where, in recent weeks, Heaton, Boyle and Roberts all mysteriously called in sick at various times delaying the production start for the eighth season, while Garrett flatly refused to return and was subsequently written out of the series' season premiere--seemed to stem from show creator Rosenthal and star Romano and their ambivalence towards doing a ninth season of the hit show. Both Rosenthal and Romano have been saying they want Raymond to go out on top and didn't want to fall into a rut of tired material.
But the other actors had already signed contracts with CBS that included a ninth season. Now, according to Variety, if the ninth season never happens, the co-stars will at least be guaranteed to make as much in back-end money as they would have made in salary for that ninth season. And if Romano and Rosenthal agree to do a ninth season, the back-end coin is gravy.
Attorney Bill Skrzyniarz, who negotiated Heaton's deal with attorney Jim Hornstein, told Variety Heaton was happy with her new deal.
"Patty and her reps are pleased that we, the network, the studio and many, many other parties were able to put our heads together and work out a mutually fair resolution to certain long-standing compensation issues, in particular, financial compensation in the show," Skrzyniarz said.
"The set continues to be a happy and productive one," he added. "It was a very complex situation, which normally would spell a lot more trouble. But since all parties believe so strongly in and so loved the show, it was always just a matter of talking things out, which has been accomplished."
The same cannot be said for Garrett. One industry insider familiar with the situation told Variety that CBS has offered the actor a deal that would pay him at least $10 million for the upcoming season of Raymond, including profit participation--more than two-and-a-half times the roughly $4 million Garrett is currently making. That would put him on the same level with Roberts and Boyle, but Garrett is said to be holding out for a deal equal to Heaton's salary.
Although production is moving forward on another episode of Raymond without the actor who plays Ray's brother Robert, Variety reports both sides continued to talk with some hope that a deal could be reached to get Garrett back on the show in time for taping of this week's episode, slated for Sept. 29.
Top Story: Raymond May Go On Without Romano
Even though there could be no more Ray in Everyone Loves Raymond, Variety reports CBS is still mulling over the idea of continuing the Emmy-winning show for a ninth season. Ray Romano and series creator Phil Rosenthal have made it clear that, as of now, the upcoming eighth season would be their last, citing a desire to go out when the sitcom is still on top of its game. CBS topper Leslie Moonves told Variety, however, "We're talking about all sorts of permutations," including a spin-off starring Brad Garrett's long-suffering character Robert. "It may very well be the last year for Raymond, but we hope not," Moonves said. "We're working on Ray's wife and kids."
Allen's Next Film Opens Venice Film Festival
Woody Allen's new film Anything Else will kick off the 60th Venice International Film Festival, with most of its stars--including Allen, Christina Ricci, Jason Biggs and Danny DeVito--expected to make an appearance, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In typical Allen fashion, the film has been kept tightly under wraps, but the trade paper reports the story revolves around a struggling New York artist (Allen) who gets sentimentally entangled with a younger girl (Ricci). Biggs plays Ricci's boyfriend and DeVito plays her father. "I'm looking forward to going to the festival," Allen told The Reporter. "Venice has been so generous and supportive to me, and I love it so much that it will be a great honor." The Venice fest runs Aug. 27-Sept. 7.
Joey May Spin Off
NBC and Warner Bros. TV are in talks with Friends star Matt LeBlanc to develop a spin-off sitcom revolving around Leblanc's alter ego, soap opera actor Joey Tribbiani. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that no deals have been made but negotiations are being stepped up, especially since LeBlanc just received his second consecutive Emmy nomination for his performance on the hit show.
CBS Won't Scrap Hillbillies
Despite a major backlash from politicians and organizations, CBS is still considering to go ahead with the new reality show based on The Beverly Hillbillies, Reuters reports. The show, which would transplant a Southern rural family to one of America's poshest cities--à la the hit 1960s sitcom--has been called a demeaning "hick hunt" by groups such as the United Steel Workers union. Reuters reports CBS executives in the past have promised the show would not be demeaning if it were to run.
Nolte Was Not in Violation of Probation
A judge ruled Friday that actor Nick Nolte did not violate his probation, even though an anonymous caller in January had told prosecutors they saw the actor leaving a liquor store while intoxicated, The Associated Press reports. An investigation into the alleged violation found Nolte only bought the liquor at the store and was driven away. "There was no confirmation that he was under the influence," AP reports Deputy District Attorney Lorraine Petersen told the judge. The probation stems from his arrest last December on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence of drugs in Malibu, Calif.
Coldplay Singer and Paparazzi Butt Heads
Chris Martin, leader singer of the band Coldplay and Gwyneth Paltrow's boyfriend, had a run-in with the paparazzi in Sydney, Australia Sunday, AP reports. According to Sydney paper The Daily Telegraph, freelance photographer Jon Lister followed the singer to the beach, where, upon emerging from the water, the furious Martin demanded Lister erase the photos from his digital camera, Lister told the paper. The popular British band played at a music festival in the northern New South Wales beach town of Byron Bay over the weekend.
Role Call: Bacon's Pet Project, Kennedy Holds Afterparty
Kevin Bacon and Tribeca Films are attached to a pet project for New Line Cinema. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the story revolves around a man seeking a better life who sees his wish to switch identities with his dog come true… Talk about originality. Jamie Kennedy is set to star in The Afterparty for Warner Bros, which, according to the Reporter, centers on the misadventures of a guy who gets really drunk at his bachelor party in Las Vegas and promptly forgets everything that happens. He soon gets a rude awakening as the strange characters he befriended during his drunken blackout turn up the week before his wedding. What, A Guy Thing II?