Kirk Douglas, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Steven Spielberg were among the mourners at former Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) President Jack Valenti's funeral in Washington, D.C., yesterday.
The Hollywood giants joined top politicians like John Kerry, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, among others, to pay tribute to the 85-year-old, who died last week after suffering complications from a stroke in March.
Valenti traversed the worlds of Hollywood and politics--before serving as MPAA President, he served as a leading White House publicist for John F. Kennedy and assistant to his presidential successor Lyndon B. Johnson.
He was partly responsible for handling the press during President John F. Kennedy's ill-fated trip to Dallas in 1963.
At yesterday's Cathedral of Saint Matthew the Apostle service, mourners read selections from Valenti's memoir, This Time, This Place, which will be published in June.
And Kirk Douglas, a fellow stroke victim, spoke fondly of his late friend.
The film veteran said, "If you were Jack's friend, your troubles became his troubles. When the time comes for me to be upstairs waiting for St. Peter to see me, I expect Jack to find me and bring me to the big man."
Valenti is to be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., next week.
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In The Sentinel the president (David Rasche) faces a whole new threat: the Secret Service. One of its most respected agents Pete Garrison (Michael Douglas) is assigned to take care of the first lady (Kim Basinger) and does he ever! He has an affair with her which while utterly absurd sets the real story in motion. He receives steamy photos of the two in a blackmail scheme that he learns is part of an assassination attempt on the Prez for which he’s being framed. The agent spearheading the investigation David Breckinridge (Kiefer Sutherland) grows skeptical of Garrison whom he thinks had an affair with his wife. Before long Garrison’s on the lam in true “it wasn’t me it was the one armed guy” fashion. He’ll stop at nothing to clear his name and bring the bad guy(s) to justice even if it means hooking up to the Internet from a gas station (?) via his Dell computer the tech brand apparently most trusted by the Secret Service. Michael Douglas is back and…the same as ever. He loves to play his roles safe and it doesn’t get safer for him than the urbane almost-over-the-hill pro who yells a lot. He has a stranglehold on baby boomers who’ve stuck with him through thick and Catherine Zeta-Jones and they won’t be disappointed. Sutherland--the son of over-actors if Douglas is the father thereof--acts like he was filming on his 24 set which will make his devoted fans just as happy. The actors engage in one shouting match and it’s as engrossing as it is hilarious surprisingly. There should’ve been more of that dynamic since it’s apparently why people like these two. Eva Longoria appears in her first big movie to date and while she shows promise she’s dug herself a deep (pigeon)hole with Desperate Housewives: Fans long for a scantily clad drama queen not a docile fully clothed rookie agent. Think Sandra Bullock’s first big film role: Demolition Man. For a brief moment The Sentinel entertains us with an interesting and perhaps topical notion that a Secret Service agent with clear access to the president could be plotting an assassination. But then that’s where all the “entertaining” parts of the movie ceases of course. S.W.A.T. director Clark Johnson is at the helm here and he does up Washington D.C. Hollywood-style (in addition to giving himself a brief but important role in the film). Johnson tries to insert Sentinel into his S.W.A.T. template but S.W.A.T. for starters was R-rated and Sentinel should’ve been. When it’s not tripping over its implausibility The Sentinel trips over its predictability thanks to all of its more original predecessors from which it pilfers. And there’s so much product placement that if the film doesn’t do well at the box office we could see a ripple effect throughout the entire economy.
Nicky Hilton's marriage to Todd Meister annulled
To think they had appeared so happy. Hotel heiress Nicky Hilton's flash-in-the-pan marriage is officially over--after less than three months. Hilton, 21, married New York hedge fund manager Todd Meister, 33, in an unexpected shotgun wedding in Las Vegas on August 15. Reuters reports a judge granted the annulment Monday. Representatives for the couple have been quoted as saying: "Both parties have ended their marriage amicably, and they remain good friends." Us Weekly reported first Hilton was seeking an annulment last month. The magazine quoted unnamed friends as saying Hilton thought she was too young to be married and her relationship with Meister had been essentially platonic. But in the November issue of Stuff magazine, Hilton claimed that her August wedding was planned and that her sister "Paris orchestrated everything."
Zellweger plans break from acting
Renee Zellweger, who stars in the upcoming Bridget Jones sequel, said she is taking an extended break from acting. Zellweger told Reuters in a recent interview she wants to step away from the limelight and learn what it is like to be just a regular person. "I don't see myself climbing into a makeup chair any time soon and taking another role. I feel like I need to take a minute and have a little bit of life experience," she said. The 35-year-old star, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar earlier this year for her role as farm girl Ruby Thewes in U.S. Civil War drama Cold Mountain, declined to say how long her break from filming would last. She next appears in Ron Howard's The Cinderella Man, which opens June 3, 2005.
Minnelli sues former chauffeur
Liza Minnelli filed a breach-of-contract suit Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court against her longtime personal assistant, Reuters reports. The lawsuit comes one month after M'hammed Soumayah, Minnelli's former chauffeur, reportedly accused the entertainer of beating him during alcohol-fueled rampages. Minnelli is seeking at least $250,000 in damages and a court order against Soumayah and accuses him of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Soumayah, 56, filed suit against Minnelli last month but the case that was immediately sealed by a judge.But according to media reports at the time, his attorney was quoted as saying Soumayah was repeatedly assaulted by Minnelli when she was drunk.
Cat Stevens receives apologies form Americans
Yusuf Islam, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, says he has received numerous apologies from Americans who are embarrassed the U.S. government deported him over potential terrorism links. "I have got more apologies from Americans since that time than you can count," Islam, 57, said in an interview with Reuters Wednesday. "So, I'm quite satisfied with the spirit of most people and probably it was a mistake." Islam, who received a peace award in Rome from a group of Nobel Prize winners, was traveling on a commercial plane from London to Washington when it was diverted to Bangor, Maine. U.S. Homeland Security deported him after his name turned up on U.S. "no fly" lists because of activities they said could be potentially linked to terrorism.
ABC looking good in TV sweeps
Backed by Desperate Housewives, Lost and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ABC won the coveted 18-49 year old demographic in the first ratings "sweeps" month of the new season, the AP reports. CBS won the week, averaging 12.9 million viewers followed by NBC (11.3 million); ABC (11 million); Fox (6.3 million); the WB (4.1 million); and UPN (3.6 million). The top 10 shows were: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS; Desperate Housewives, ABC; Without a Trace, CBS; Survivor: Vanuatu, CBS; Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ABC; Lost, ABC; Cold Case, CBS; 60 Minutes, CBS; ER, NBC; The Apprentice 2, NBC.
Douglas, Lewis earn medal for blacklist fight
Their courageous stand against the Hollywood blacklist has earned veteran actor Kirk Douglas and producer Edward Lewis the Freedom of Expression Medal from the Institute of Modern Letters. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the pair received a standing ovation Monday when they accepted the honor in recognition of their decision to let blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo use his real name in the screenplay credits for Spartacus in 1960, which, at the time, was a serious risk for Douglas, who starred in the film and helped produce it with Lewis. "The most precious thing in our land is freedom," Douglas told a receptive audience at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television.
Patty Duke recovering from heart surgery
Actress Patty Duke, who won a best-supporting Oscar in 1963 for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, was released from an Idaho hospital after undergoing single heart bypass surgery earlier this month, the AP reports. Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Johnson said Duke, 57, was released on Tuesday--six days after the Nov. 3 surgery. "She's looking forward to recuperating at home for a few weeks," a message posted on Duke's Web site said. Duke, who was married to John Astin from 1973 to 1985, is the mother of Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Top Story: J.Lo Proclaims Her Faithfulness
Jennifer Lopez wants the world to know that she didn't sleep with fiancé Ben Affleck until she separated from her then-husband, dancer Cris Judd. Lopez told Reader's Digest in an interview released Thursday that she was, in fact, "a very faithful person." Lopez and Affleck, arguably Hollywood's most-talked-about couple, met in 2001 on the set of the upcoming comedy Gigli, but the 32-year-old singer/actress said she and Judd were already having problems at that point in their marriage. Lopez filed for divorce from Judd in July 2002--after less than a year of marriage--and became engaged to Affleck, 30, four months later. Lopez said that after two failed marriages, she was working hard at her new relationship. "We talk about everything (with) brutal honesty ... And when you do that nothing's left to chance," she said. Gigli opens nationwide Aug. 1.
OK! Says Zeta-Jones Photos Flopped
The former editor of celebrity rag OK! says sales of its issue covering the wedding of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas fell well short of expectations after rival magazine Hello! printed unauthorized photos of the nuptials, The Associated Press reports. Martin Townsend said OK!, which paid the couple $1.62 million for the exclusive pics, sold 836,000 copies of the edition--just a quarter of the July 1999 issue covering David and Victoria Beckham's wedding. A judge ruled in April that Hello! breached the couple's commercial confidence by printing photos of elaborate wedding at New York's Plaza Hotel in November 2000. Zeta-Jones and Douglas are seeking $800,000 from the magazine.
Jerry Lee Lewis and Sixth Wife Split
There's a whole lotta shakin' going on for Jerry Lee Lewis and his sixth wife, Kerrie McCarver Lewis. According to the AP, the two are suing each other for divorce. Lewis, 67, filed a divorce petition April 16 while the 40-year-old McCarver, president of Lewis' JKL Enterprises Inc. fan club, sued in May, asking for an injunction ordering Lewis to pay unspecified child support, temporary alimony and all medical bills. She also seeks to bar him from any transfer or disposing of assets until a full accounting is made. The two were married in 1984 and have a 16-year-old son, Jerry Lee Lewis III.
Asian-American Group Protests Fox's Banzai
Some 20 members of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans protested Thursday Fox's airing of Banzai, saying it demeans and stereotypes Asian people, Reuters reports. The show is a parody of a Japanese game show and features an off-screen announcer speaking in a spoofed Japanese accent,
phony Japanese language symbols, and a karate-chopping Asian host known as Mr. Banzai. "It's just all the backward images of Asian-American people," the group's co-founder, Guy Aoki, told Reuters. "This is like an Asian
minstrel show. Can you imagine the black version of Banzai?" The program, which first ran on Channel 4 in Britain, debuted to strong ratings last Sunday.
NBC Airs Racy Promos for Coupling
Threesomes and bisexuality? Over the weekend, NBC aired promos for the racy new sitcom Coupling, an Americanized version of the racy British show of the name set to bow Sept. 25 following Will & Grace. One of the five comedy-driven ads for the show--which revolves around the dating lives of six thirtysomethings--even featured the word (gasp) erection. But the show's racy content hasn't scared off advertisers. AdWeek.com reports that Procter & Gamble, Revlon, Pfizer, Pepsi, Pizza Hut, Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, Mazda and Unilever have commitments to the show.
Metallica Lawsuit Ruse Floods Web, Radio
Radio stations and Web sites were flooded yesterday with news that Metallica was supposedly suing a Canadian band called Unfaith for trademark infringement over the use of "Metallica-branded" chords E and F. The story, however, turned out to be a joke concocted by 29-year-old Erik Ashley. According to Courttv.com, the scam sent users to an MTV.com story about the suit, which included a link to a fictional response from the band. "We're not saying we own those two chords, individually," said drummer Lars Ulrich in Ashley's spoof. "We're just saying that in that specific order, people have grown to associate E, F with our music." Ashley told Courttv.com that he never expected the ruse to catch on. "Would people go so far as to believe that something this extraordinary, this outlandish, could conceivably be true?"
Role Call: Jimmy Fallon Takes Taxi With Queen Latifah
Saturday Night Live anchor Jimmy Fallon will make his starring debut in director Tim Story's Taxi for 20th Century Fox. The film, produced by Luc Besson, is remake of the French comedy a harried detective trying to thwart a group of bank robbers. Queen Latifah will costar as a cabbie who chauffeurs him around. Shooting is set to begin in New York in September.
Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his small hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend and remembers the fateful summer in 1960 when his whole world changed. The story flashes back to when 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his best friends Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully-John (Will Rothhaar) capture the pure joy of youthfulness. When a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves upstairs and starts to pay attention to Bobby the boy suddenly realizes what's truly missing from his life--the love of a parent. Bobby's mother Liz (Hope Davis) is embittered by the death of Bobby's father and shows little compassion for her son's growing needs. Ted fills a void with the boy opening his eyes to the world around him and helps Bobby come to terms with his real feelings for Carol--and his mother. But Ted also has some deep dark secrets of his own and Bobby tries hard to stop danger from reaching the old man.
The performances make the film especially in the genuine camaraderie of the kids. Yelchin Boorem and Rothhaar never deliver a false move with an easiness that makes us believe we are simply watching three 11-year-old children grow up together. Yelchin in particular is able to get right to the heart of this young boy who misses his father and clings to the only adult who will listen. And his scenes with Boorem simply break your heart. (Davis) does an admirable job playing a part none too sympathetic. She manages to show a woman whose been beaten down but who does truly love her son in her own way. Morse too is one of those character actors you can plug in any movie and get a performance worth noting. In Hearts you want to see more of him. Of course the film shines brightest when Hopkins is on the screen. It may not be an Oscar-caliber performance but the actor is unparalleled in bringing a character to life--showing the subtleties of an old man looking for some peace in his life.
If you are expecting the Stephen King novel you may be disappointed. Screenwriter William Goldman and director Scott Hicks (Shine) deftly extracted the King formula of telling a story through a child's eye and explaining how the relationships formed as a child shaped the adult later. Hicks did an amazing job with his young actors especially Yelchin and Boorem. But where the novel continued into a supernatural theme explaining Brautigan's fear of being captured by "low men in yellow coats" (a reference to King's The Dark Tower series) the movie downplayed the mystical elements instead giving real explanations for Brautigan's man-on-the-run. That was the one problem with Hearts--we needed more danger. Introducing men from another dimension may not have been the way to go but had there been more tension the film would have resonated more especially when Bobby risked his own safety to save Ted.