Twentieth Century Fox has set the domestic release of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones for Thursday, May 16, one day earlier than expected. "Around the world, many territories open on Thursdays," Bruce Snyder, Fox's president of domestic distribution, told Reuters. "And because Star Wars is such an international phenomenon, it seemed to make sense to go out on a standard date in as many places as possible." Many foreign markets, like Japan and South America, will have to wait until June or July to see the second prequel to George Lucas' franchise.
Alicia Keys leads this year's American Music Awards with five nominations, including best female artist, new artist and best album for the year, The Associated Press reports. Among other nominees are Janet Jackson's All For You (best R&B album of the year); Lenny Kravitz (best male artist) and Dave Matthews Band, 'N Sync, and U2 (best band, duo or group). The 29th annual American Music Awards will be broadcast live on ABC on Jan.9 from Los Angeles.
R&B singer Usher has been forced to delay the start of his U.S. tour for three months after he underwent surgery on Monday in a Los Angeles hospital for a shoulder injury sustained during tour rehearsal, his publicist told AP on Tuesday. The tour, scheduled to kick off on Dec. 6 in Minneapolis, will now begin in April.
Record producer Phil Spector was ordered to pay $3 million to The Ronettes, the 1960s trio he discovered, managed, and allegedly cheated after the trio was paid next to nothing while Spector earned millions, AP reports. Justice Paula Omansky of the New York State Supreme Court's Appellate Division ruled Tuesday that Spector violated his 1963 contract with the trio after keeping the rights to all Ronnettes recordings. Spector sold the recordings for use as background music in movies, videos and advertising.
Michael Jackson is reportedly heading to Canada next year to co-direct a low-budget flick about an 8-year-old orphan boy called Home of the Angels, the Toronto Star reports. Jackson, who is also financing the film, has chosen former Canadian child star Bryan Michael Stoller to co-direct the picture.
The CBS reality show Survivor doesn't seem to be pleasing many of its fans-it's no longer at the top of the ratings every week, Reuters reports. According to Nielsen Media Research reports, Survivor Africa averages between 20.7 million viewers per episode and 10.8 million among advertiser-coveted 18- to 49-year-olds. That is almost a 30 percent decrease from last spring's Survivor: The Australian Outback, which averaged 29.8 million total viewers and 16 million during its run.
Dan Rather found himself working up a sweat on Monday after the American Airlines crash in Queens forced area airports to close and his flight from Texas to La Guardia airport was diverted to Philadelphia. Rather, who desperately wanted to get to New York to cover the story, slipped $100 to a Philadelphia cab driver to get him from the airport to the railroad station in a flash. "In the rear window you'll find sweat from the back of my head," Rather told the Philadelphia Enquirer about his speedy ride to the train station.
CBS execs are pleased enough with the direction of The Ellen Show to pick it up for a full season, Reuters reports. Although its Sept. 24 premiere was low rated, the show did record ratings on Nov. 9th; its first airing since the Emmys. The episode averaged 6.9 million viewers and a 2.5 rating among 18- 49-year-olds, the sitcom's best showing in its regular time period.
Jami Gertz will portray the late comedian Gilda Radner in ABC's upcoming biopic of the Saturday Night Live star tentatively titled It's Always Something: The Gilda Radner Story. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Janet Brownell wrote the script for the film based on Radner's autobiography of the same name. Merv Griffin Entertainment and Winsome Entertainment, in association with Jaffe/ Braunstein Films Prods., will produce the film, which will begin shooting next January in Toronto.
Fans of the ABC sudser General Hospital will be able to view the memorable 1981 wedding of its characters Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis) on Nov. 16, People magazine reports. Although GH's favorite couple is now divorced, Geary's character will flash back to his wedding vows on his 20th anniversary date. In related news, the wedding, which the magazine says remains the most-watched soap event in history, will be shown in its entirety on the SoapNet cable channel on Nov. 23, when it airs a 12-hour Luke and Laura marathon including highlights of their two-decade relationship.
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.