Top Story: Scholars Find Inaccuracies in Gibson's Passion
To add more fuel to the fire burning over Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, scholars say the film has more than a few historical errors, Reuters reports. Some of these inaccuracies include hairstyles ("The Jewish texts ridiculed long hair as something Roman or Greek," New York University's Lawrence Schiffman told Reuters, yet Jesus has continually been pictured with long hair, as he is in Passion), languages (historians say Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew were spoken in Jerusalem during Jesus' time, not strictly Latin and Aramaic as depicted in the film) as well as overall historical context. Brushing off such criticism, Gibson has said he consulted with various experts before making the film and often times found contradictory opinions. "Since the experts canceled each other out, I was thrown back on my own resources to weigh the different arguments and decide for myself," Reuters reports Gibson said in one interview.
Rings Hits Billion-Dollar Mark
The Oscar-nominated The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King crossed the $1 billion box-office mark worldwide after only 10 weeks in release, setting a new record, Reuters reports. The third and final installment J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy trilogy now ranks as the second-highest grossing film of all time after the 1997 iceberg romance Titanic, which floated to $1.8 billion worldwide. "The holding power and longevity at the box office I think is a real testament to the artistry and vision of Peter Jackson and his cast and crew," New Line worldwide marketing prez Rolf Mittweg told Reuters.
Hilton Ran the [Sex] Show
Seattle-based Marvad Corp.--currently being sued by Rick Salomon for releasing clips from the infamous video of Salomon and ex-girlfriend Paris Hilton having sex--filed papers Monday claiming Hilton directed and helped shoot the video and therefore owns rights to the video, Reuters reports. Salomon claims to be the sole copyright holder of the video and has sued Marvad for violating those rights when it distributed clips on its Web site sexbrat.com. In the filing, however, Marvad has countered Salomon's claim, saying Hilton has rights over the video as well and therefore Salomon's suit should be dismissed. "Salomon's failure to identify Ms. Hilton as a co-author on the application for copyright registration renders the certificate of registration invalid and fraudulent," the Marvad filing said.
Goldberg Pens Kiddie Book
Whoopi Goldberg is following Madonna's lead into kiddie publishing, The Associated Press reports. The actress-comedian has agreed to a multibook deal with publishing company Hyperion's Jump at the Sun series. "If I can give kids and their parents something that'll make them smile and maybe teaches them a little something about living with one another on our planet, it makes me a happy granny," Goldberg said in a statement Monday. The first of several expected books is scheduled for 2005.
Super Millionaire Racks Up Ratings
Regis is back! Super Millionaire, a revamp of the defunct game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, premiered Sunday night on ABC with huge results, drawing in 17.5 million viewers, AP reports. Super Millionaire offers hefty prizes of up to $10 million, or 10 times the jackpot of the old show, and a handful of new lifelines.
Crooner Vinton Collapses Onstage
Singer Bobby Vinton collapsed onstage Sunday night while performing at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster, Penn., AP reports. About an hour into the show, Vinton sat down beside the piano player and dropped his head toward the keys. "The piano player caught him, and Bobby said the show was over for the night," audience member Don Eves of Washington Boro, who said Vinton had been heavily perspiring. Jim Herr, a supervisor with Lancaster County Communications, confirmed to AP early Monday that the ambulance service had been called to the theater about Vinton. He did not know details of the singer's condition, but said he was not transported for treatment.
Eminem Sues Apple
Rapper Eminem has filed a copyright infringement suit against Apple Computer, Inc., claiming the computer company used his song "Lose Yourself" in a television commercial without his permission, AP reports. The ad for Apple's iTunes pay-per-download music software shows a 10-year-old singing the rapper's award-winning song. AP reports the suit claims that Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs personally called Joel Martin, manager of Eight Mile Style, and asked Martin and Eminem to "rethink their position" about using the Grammy-winning song. Eminem responded by ending discussions with Apple, according to the suit.
Combs Wins in Court
A jury found in Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' favor Monday in a lawsuit filed by a TV talk show host who claimed the hip-hop mogul's entourage roughed him up during an interview, AP reports. Roger Mills said members of Combs' entourage also stole the tape of the 1999 interview--breaking a camera in the process--after he asked Combs to comment on allegations he contributed to the death of rapper Notorious B.I.G. Combs testified last week he couldn't remember the incident.
Analyze This Actor Dies
Joe Viterelli, a character actor best known for playing wiseguys in films including Analyze This and Bullets Over Broadway, died Jan. 29 in Las Vegas from heart surgery complications. He was 66.
Role Call: Cusack, Bellucci and Thornton To Reap Harvest
John Cusack, Monica Bellucci and Billy Bob Thornton will star in the comedic thriller Ice Harvest directed by Harold Ramis. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film is set on Christmas Eve in a snowbound town, where a not-so-bright lawyer (Cusack) is about to embezzle money from his mob superiors. Bellucci plays a strip bar owner who is in cahoots with Thornton's character, who is using the lawyer to swindle the mob and plans to double-cross him.
Analyze That starts off with mob boss Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) nearing the end of his prison term in Sing Sing. When he realizes that a rival family has put a hit on him he fakes craziness as a way out of the slammer. Vitti does this by singing the entire score to West Side Story over and over belting out tunes such as "Tonight tonight won't be just any night " in the middle of a riot in the prison cafeteria. With his parole date just a few weeks away Vitti is released to his longtime shrink Dr. Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal) whose father has just died. The film then follows Vitti as he tries to go the straight and narrow route rather than hitting people over the head with a baseball bat. Vitti ends up taking a token job as a consultant on a popular TV mob drama Little Caesars the perfect cover for him to get back into the business. Dr. Sobel meanwhile thinks he can cure Vitti of his organized crime affliction.
As Paul Vitti De Niro gets to play a dangerous and charismatic character--something he is great at--but also gets to show off his comedic side. The musical sequences in Analyze That with De Niro singing songs like "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story are by far some of the best moments in the film. It brings a nice dimension to his otherwise tough character. De Niro's Vitti is also a great counterbalance to Crystal's Dr. Sobel a rather touchy-feely kind of guy. The two seasoned actors have spontaneity on screen that is hard to match. Friends star Lisa Kudrow resumes her role here as Laura Sobel Dr. Sobel's wife but her character is extremely untapped. She plays the ever-disapproving spouse at the beginning of the film but seems to disappear halfway through with the exception of a few lines peppered here and there. Joe Viterelli is also back as Vitti's driver Jelly. Viterelli does a wonderful job turning his typical thug character into a loveable badass who can still hustle considering he is a little old and a tad out of shape.
Analyze That was written and directed by Harold Ramis the comic genius behind Analyze This Groundhog Day National Lampoon's Vacation and Caddyshack. This second helping of Mafia comedy has just as many funny moments as the first if not more thanks in part to Crystal and De Niro. It's a shame Ramis didn't go further with De Niro's reincarnation of Tony from West Side Story. The story itself is a bit uninspired. In order to lead a Syndicate-free life Vitti devises a plan to rob a federal gold depository truck and frame the city's two rival families. It's a good concept but it is executed in a just a few scenes in the film's final moments. You get the impression someone came to the "darn it's time to wrap the film" realization three-quarters of the way in. The mob theme also feels unoriginal because HBO has already exploited it to its fullest extent with The Sopranos. Ramis however succeeds in making Analyze That an authentic New York-based tale by shooting the film entirely in NYC.