Brian Heidik is $1 million richer.
The 34-year-old car salesman and part-time actor from Quartz Hill, Calif., was the big winner on Survivor: Thailand, the fifth installment of the reality show that started it all. Heidik beat out Clay Jordan, a 46-year-old restaurateur from Monroe, La., with a 4-3 vote.
Heidik outlasted 15 contestants as they fought for survival on an island off the southern coast of Thailand. His acting credits include appearances on show such as Baywatch Nights, Doogie Howser M.D. and the soap opera Days of Our Lives. It was also revealed on the Internet site TheSmokingGun.com that Heidik was a former soft-core porn star.
This Survivor installment received the lowest ratings thus far for the series, tying for seventh place with CSI: Miami in the Nielsen ratings.
Sticking to Stevenson's text works well and by setting the story in the future the Disney animators have free reign to create some pretty wild characters. The story begins with 15-year-old Jim Hawkins (voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) a young man who dreams of space exploration but resents being stuck on his planet especially after his father abandons him and his mother (voiced by Laurie Metcalf). Things change however when he stumbles upon a dying pirate's solar map that shows the exact coordinates of Treasure Planet--a legendary place where there are said to be untold riches. He is also warned by the pirate to watch out for "the cyborg" (half man half machine) who'll stop at nothing to get the map. Warning or not this is Jim's chance. He and family friend Dr. Doppler (voiced by David Hyde Pierce) commission a sparkling galleon and its motley alien crew to find the planet. Onboard Hawkins meets the cook John Silver (voiced by Brian Murray) a cyborg who takes the young man under his wing and shows him a thing or two about space travel. Jim is at first wary of Silver but soon trusts the charming rogue. That is until Jim finds out Silver is indeed the mutinous cyborg he was warned about hell-bent on getting the treasure for himself and his crew. Betrayed once again Jim must face down the mutineers and ends up discovering a greater treasure than he ever imagined.
The vocal lineup for Planet is surely impressive. Gordon-Levitt (3rd Rock From the Sun) does a nice job bringing Hawkins to life and the animators have fun incorporating the young actor's physicality floppy hair and all. As well Murray (a Tony-nominated stage actor) mixes the right amount of pirate-y behavior with tenderness when he begins to care about the boy. But in typical Disney fashion the actors who seem to have the most fun are the secondary characters. Emma Thompson (yes the Oscar-winning actress of such grand period pieces as Howard's End and Sense and Sensibility) voices Captain Amelia the tough-as-nails alien leader of the ship and Thompson relishes her every utterance. Hyde-Pierce does as well voicing the dog-like high-falutin' Doppler. The title for biggest ham however belongs to Martin Short who voices B.E.N. a short-circuited robot whom Hawkins and company encounter on Treasure Planet. It's a great part because the robot has more than a few screws loose--hence the brilliant casting of Short.
Whether intended or not Treasure Planet takes a lot of its inspiration from the Star Wars series. Jim is very much like Luke Skywalker a daredevil who longs desperately for adventure. Plus there are a myriad of alien races in Planet. In fact it seems the Disney animators of Lilo & Stitch didn't get enough quality alien time and decided to expand their horizons. The array of aliens is a marvel to watch as are the spectacular vistas--from the alien spaceport to Treasure Planet itself. The combination of digital and traditional hand-drawn animation gives amazing textures. Aside from this the sunny and bright squeaky-clean Disney version of Stevenson's novel keeps things copacetic for the kiddies but somehow misses the impact of the sometimes very dark original story. In the book Jim becomes attached to Silver because he needs a father but the relationship is seriously twisted. Disney gives it a typical warm glow in the end which is a shame. They should go out on a limb every once in awhile.
Taken from the pages of Thomas Harris' terrifying first novel in the trilogy Red Dragon is certainly a twisted psychological encounter of the best kind. The pacing of the film is unstoppable racing from one scene to the next in hopes of trying to stop a serial killer. Ex-FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) known for his expertise in delving into the minds of the madmen he is trying to catch quits the Bureau after a messy run-in with a supposed ally who turns out to be the mother of all serial killers--Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). Years later living a quiet existence with his wife Molly (Mary-Louise Parker) and son in Florida Will is sought after once again by his former boss Agent Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel). Seems there's a new serial killer in town known as The Tooth Fairy for his gruesome use of teeth in killing two families. The Tooth Fairy is really a quiet man named Francis Dolarhyde (Ralph Fiennes) who has a cleft palate a dilapidated mansion and thinks he is a reincarnated William Blake painting called The Red Dragon. (Don't we all?) Graham gets sucked in easily (as he is wont to do) but ultimately needs a little help from his now-incarcerated old friend. Obviously Graham is more than reluctant to have to confront the man who tried to kill him but his desire to catch Dolarhyde is greater. And Lecter is one of the best forensic psychiatrists there is. Let the psychotic cat and mouse game begin.
Each actor hits the nail on the head but honestly with a cast like this one it would be very hard to go wrong. Starting with Norton as Graham the actor infuses his character with the right amount of intellect charm and fear without ever overplaying one of those attributes. Of course we mustn't forget Norton's own skill at playing the psychotic in Primal Fear earning him an Oscar nomination. He is an actor of amazing talent. Fiennes also steps up to the plate as Dolarhyde but it isn't the rantings of a crazy man that grabs your attention. It's the quiet tender moments he has with his girlfriend (and we say "girlfriend" loosely because it's as close as to one as this freak can get). Played exquisitely by Emily Watson she's blind and cannot see what Dolarhyde has become so playing God with her is useless to him. The two stage-trained actors get to the heart of the relationship without a hint of effort. Instead Dolarhyde can just be with her and she almost makes him want to stop his insane going-ons. Almost. Then there's Hopkins. Winning an Oscar for portraying Lecter in Silence of the Lambs Hopkins simply is Lecter. There isn't anyone else who can play him. But what more can an actor do with a character he's played three times? Plenty as Hopkins proves in Dragon. This time it's the relationship he has with Graham that gives a new twist to Lecter. We see in Hopkins' eyes he may not like Will as much as he did Clarice Starling (come on everyone knows he was in love with her) but he respects Will. That's the difference and handled subtly by the British actor. Still now that the trilogy is done perhaps Hopkins may be able to put aside those cannibalistic impulses for good.
Fans of this Harris novel should feel comfortable with this rendition. Directed by Brett Ratner and adapted by Oscar-winning screenwriter Ted Tally (who won an Academy Award for Silence of the Lambs) it's a taut psychological roller coaster ride. Luckily Dragon is more about mind games and less about the gore than Hannibal. Ratner knows his stuff and delivers a powerful film. There have been other movie incarnations of Harris' novel particularly the 1985 Michael Mann version Manhunter but many fans felt Mann's film didn't truly capture the book even if it was well-made. Of course Mann also didn't have Hopkins playing his Lecter (although British actor Brian Cox did a heck of a good job). This is one of the keys to making Red Dragon great but it's also what keeps it from being better than Lambs. The story is different granted but it's territory we've seen covered before. Lecter in Lambs simply horrified us and the film was chilling all the way through. Dragon actually has more heart and is much more about relationships than about cold-blooded killing. The journey Ratner takes us on through serial-killer land is certainly terrifying but maybe it would have been a little different and even more intriguing to concentrate even more on its emotional aspects.
Judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson will reunite with old pal Simon Cowell for the second round of Fox's American Idol. The producers of the show have also announced they will bring in a fourth judge who will "add a different and unique perspective" to the group, Variety reports. Ryan Seacrest will return as host and most likely be paired with a female co-host, after Idol's original co-host Brian Dunkleman announced he wouldn't be returning.
Easy Rider star Peter Fonda, riding a custom-built Harley-Davidson motorcycle, led a parade of about 200 bikers Tuesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to help promote the Santa Fe Film Festival, which runs Dec. 4-8. Fonda, 62, who will receive a festival award, is familiar with the surroundings since the cult classic was filmed in the Taos area 33 years ago.
Tony Soprano may not want to get involved in drugs but the guy who plays him once did. James Gandolfini, star of HBO's The Sopranos, admits he once struggled with drugs and alcohol abuse, Dan Klores, Gandolfini's spokesman, confirmed to the Associated Press. The actor's past substance abuse problems have been brought up in the divorce proceedings with his wife of three years. "To bring it up now, as an attempt to gain leverage and a better settlement during the divorce, is just reprehensible," Klores said.
Along with many X-Files fans, David Duchovny would like to see a second X-Files film made. "I think we're all kind of excited to go back and have a reunion, even though we haven't been apart for that long," Duchovny told AP. The actor left the now-defunct series in 2001 to pursue an career in movies. No word yet on whether a X-Files sequel will actually happen.
Let's all rest easy now. Miramax has finally picked Dec. 20 as the release date for Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Leonardo DiCaprio. The film, whose release date has been bounced around since late last year, was to hit the theaters this Christmas Day but would have competed against another DiCaprio film Catch Me If You Can.
Director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson--the masterminds behind the Scream franchise--are reteaming on a new film Cursed. Set in Los Angeles, the film will be a hip, modern twist on the classic werewolf tale. Production is slated to be immediately.
Diego Luna, the hot, young star of Y Tu Mama Tambien, has been cast as the male lead in Havana Nights, the sequel to Dirty Dancing. The story follows a 17-year-old girl who moves with her family to revolution-era Cuba. While there, she goes against her family's wishes and falls for a young Cuban dancer (Luna), who helps her discover herself and the world beyond her sheltered existence.
Roseanne is returning to television--but not how you'd expect. The comedian has set a deal with her old pals at ABC to develop a reality-based comedy, setting Roseanne in a workplace environment, either a talk or cooking show. Maybe she can get Anna Nicole Smith and Ozzy Osbourne as guests to make it complete.
Celine Dion has begun the rehearsal process in Bousval, Belgium, for her return to center stage. She is preparing for her appearance at the new $100 million Colosseum theater at Las Vegas' Caesars Palace next March.
As expected, Variety reports Rosie O'Donnell has countersued the magazine publisher Gruner+Jahr in response to a suit the publishers filed Tuesday, alleging O'Donnell's "unilateral and wholly unjustified abandonment" of her magazine, Rosie. They are asking for $100 million in damages. O'Donnell's suit claims it was G+J who breached their contract and forced her to leave the magazine that bears her name and brand. O'Donnell's attorney Mary Jo White told Variety, "When all the facts come out in the course of litigation, we're confident that a court will find that Rosie's decision to terminate the agreement with G+J was justified by G+J's misconduct, and that the court will award her significant monetary relief."
In an effort to boost himself back up to the A-list, Nicolas Cage has dumped his longtime Brillstein-Gray manager Gerry Harrington. Cage's films of late (i.e., Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Windtalkers) have tanked at the box office. "While I appreciate the friendship, support and professional guidance that Gerry has provided me for the past 12 years, I have made the decision to continue without management," Cage told Variety. Smart move, Nic.
Spider-Man's Kirsten Dunst will join Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a new film from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich). Variety reports the film will once again explore the recesses of the brain as a man (Carrey) tries to have a steamy ex-relationship erased completely from his mind. Dunst will play a receptionist who gets caught up in the memory elimination process.
Antonio Banderas will star as Pancho Villa in the HBO Films production And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself, focusing on a real-life incident in 1914 when Villa sold the rights to his life story to the movie industry to help raise funds for the 1910-1917 Mexican Revolution. U.S. filmmakers shot actual battles for the silent film The Life of Pancho Villa.
British director Ken Loach is encouraging teenagers to break the law to see his movie. He told London's Daily Telegraph that the "18" rating he received from the British Board of Film Classification for his new film Sweet Sixteen is completely unjustified. The rating bars those under 18 from seeing the film, which uses graphic language in its realistic depiction of a teenager who gets involved in the Glasgow, Scotland, crime and drug culture.
American Idol co-host Brian Dunkleman will not be returning for a second season of the hit reality series. The stand-up comic's reps had been talking to Fox about a deal but Dunkleman's spokeswoman told Variety he has decided to pursue other opportunities. The other co-host, Ryan Seacrest, will be returning for more Idol fun as will judge Simon Cowell.
James Brown may lose his $400,000 home and property on Beech Island off the coast of South Carolina. In a lawsuit won by SouthTrust Bank, the Godfather of Soul has been ordered to repay a $900,000 loan he borrowed to buy a building in Augusta, Ga., in 10 days or the bank will cash in on Brown's assets, including his house. The singer can, however, stop the process if he sells the building for the same amount as the debt.
MTV News reports the 9/11 benefit single "What More Can I Give," which was recorded a year ago by Michael Jackson (with Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and others) is finally getting airplay--even though its not supposed to. New York station WKTU-FM has been playing the song for a week, even though Sony Music Entertainment has never released it. WKTU's programming director refuses to say how the station got the song.
Les Miserables is leaving the Great White Way after a 16-year run. Get the full story at our sister site, www.broadway.com.
The Associated Press reports Robert De Niro has filed a $1 million lawsuit Monday over a photo taken of him and actor Sean Penn blowing out birthday candles at a private party last year. The actors share the same birthday--Aug. 17--and were celebrating last year at a rooftop party in New York's TriBeCa area when the photo was taken. Celebrity Vibe photo agency offered the photo for sale, and it has appeared in one newspaper and one national magazine, De Niro's lawyer told AP. The suit, which names Celebrity Vibe in the filing, claims someone sneaked into the party, while Celebrity Vibe maintains its photographer was invited.
The London Evening Standard reports Friends star Matt LeBlanc has announced plans to marry his girlfriend, Melissa McKnight, at Christmas. The pair have been engaged since November 1998.
Actor Jason Priestley remained in serious but stable condition Monday after undergoing six hours of surgery last Wednesday, People.com reports. The actor fractured both feet and his spine Aug. 11 when his race car hit a wall at 180 mph, but his doctors have said the 32-year-old racing enthusiast is expected to make a full recovery and could start rehabilitation as early as this week. That just sounds painful, doesn't it?
Lot 47 Films President Jeff Lipsky has resigned from the independent film distribution company he co-founded with his brother three years ago. Lot 47 has released films such as L.I.E., Scotland, PA and The Fast Runner. Variety reports he is leaving for "personal reasons," but will remain on the company's board.
Thanks to the success of Scooby-Doo, now there's going to be Hong Kong Phooey. Director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour 2) will adapt the 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoon about a clumsy dog detective who uses kung fu to stop the bad guys. It'll be a smash, no doubt.
American Idol producers are worried "power dialers"--so-called computer nerds with high-powered Internet connections and autodialing software--have been slamming the show's voting system with thousands of votes, making it difficult for individuals redialing manually to get their votes through. "We know who these people are and we're tracking them, and if it gets to a point where they're starting to support a specific person over another, then there are steps that we have discussed that we may take at that time," Michael Eaton, vice president of home entertainment for Freemantle Media, the show's London-based producer, told CNN.com.
A porn star on the next Survivor? This could be interesting. CBS producers are defending their decision to allow porn actor Brian Heidik, who also had a guest stint on Days of Our Lives, to join the upcoming Survivor: Thailand edition.Said the network in a statement, "CBS was aware of his past film credits, but all of our survivors ultimately have the option to decide what elements of their background they do and don't want written in their bios. Brian Heidik is certainly not the first actor to omit certain credits from his biography. While this is a part of his past, he is now a successful used-car salesman raising a family in the suburbs, and we feel he definitely brings something to the show." What that something is, exactly, remains to be seen.
Attorneys for Courtney Love are expected to ask for another extension on Tuesday in the singer's court dispute with her record label, Universal Music Group, as both sides continue talks to settle the case. Universal claims Love owes the company several more albums, while Love counters that the long contract terms are unrealistic.
There'll be a new Osbourne to watch in the second season of the highly popular MTV series The Osbournes. No, Sharon and Ozzy aren't having a baby; they've adopted 18-year-old Robert Marcato, a friend of their daughters Kelly and Aimee, whose mother died of colon cancer--the same type of cancer Sharon is currently battling. On the show, Marcato will be known as "Baby Osbourne." "We're moving him in as part of the family," Sharon told The New York Post. The Osbournes also will pay for the young man's college education.
Leonardo DiCaprio wants President George Bush to get more involved in protecting the Earth's environment. The Associated Press reports that at a rally organized by Global Green USA in Los Angeles on Monday, DiCaprio called the United States the world's biggest polluter and asked the president to attend the Earth Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, later this month. "Mr. Bush, we're asking for your support, to be the president that looks towards the future," DiCaprio stated.
According to an AP report, 'N Sync boy Lance Bass missed the deadline to pay the $20 million fee to shoot him into space. The AP reports Tuesday was the deadline, although Russian officials wouldn't confirm that. Russian Aerospace Agency spokesman Konstantin Kreidenko would say only, "We have a contract, but we don't have any money." Television producer David Krieff told the AP, however, that the space trip plan was going forward. Krieff is planning to produce a TV series documenting Bass' space adventure and said he has several investors already committed to sponsoring the trip.
Variety reports Miramax is looking to remake the Sam Peckinpah film Straw Dogs, which drew controversy over a graphic rape scene when it was released in 1971. The new version of the film, Fear Itself, will follow the same premise, focusing on a husband and wife who are dealing with a random act of violence. When they move from New York to Maine to escape, they realize they can't run away from the threat of violence. John Polson (Swimfan) is attached to direct.
X-Men 2's cast list is shaping up. Joining the returning crew, including Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Halle Berry (Storm) and Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), British actor Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity) will play the villain William Stryker. Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King) will take on the role as his villainous co-hort Anne. Alan Cumming will play Nightcrawler, a new mutant superhero.
Two former members of the metal band Megadeth have teamed up with singer Steve Richards to record the long-lost, unfinished Buddy Holly song "That Makes It Tough"--40 years after the rockabilly singer's death. Holly's widow, Maria Elena Holly, told Arizona's newspaper the Tribune that she gave the thumbs-up when she heard Richards sing. Wait, did we just say Megadeth? Should give the song an edge, to say the least.
Flamboyant '80s pop singer Adam Ant pleaded guilty Tuesday to brandishing a pistol and brawling in a northern London pub Jan. 12 after pub customers laughed at his clothes. The singer, once known as "the dandy highwayman," reportedly threatened the patrons with a starting gun after they mocked his cowboy attire, then flung a car alternator through the pub's window. The 47-year-old singer, whose real name is Stuart Goddard, was released on bail until Oct. 2 for sentencing.
FBI agent Terry McCaleb (Clint Eastwood) is one of the bureau's top profilers. He is tracking a particularly nasty serial killer who likes to challenge the agent to come find him with the personalized messages and encoded clues he leaves behind. After investigating a gruesome crime scene McCaleb spots the killer in the crowd and runs after him but suffers a near-fatal heart attack during the chase. Cut to two years later--a now-retired McCaleb has a new lease on life having received a heart transplant from someone with his rare blood type. Now here comes the twist--his new heart belonged to a woman who was shot in cold blood in a convenience store and the murdered woman's sister Graciela (Wanda De Jesus) wants McCaleb to find her killer. Feelings of guilt wash over him as he begins to uncover the truth and with the help of his neighbor Buddy (Jeff Daniels) he follows a trail of blood work that leads to the bad guy. The script's flaw is in the predictable ending which coming after an interesting and somewhat intelligent build-up seems flat and anticlimactic.
OK for all his familiar grimacing and badass attitude Eastwood is finally showing his age. This isn't to say the 72-year-old actor/director is not a commanding presence on screen but at least he knows he can't be Dirty Harry forever. The fact that McCaleb is handicapped from the beginning gives his tough-cop persona an element of vulnerability especially when he undergoes painful hospital tests (with Anjelica Huston as his doctor no less). But of course Eastwood isn't going play the old man completely and still manages to shoot guns run around and even get a little action between the sheets. The women in the film are also a refreshing change of pace for a cop thriller. De Jesus plays Graciela with a quiet determination and mature sensuality and it seems natural she and McCaleb would get together. Also quite good is Tina Lifford as Detective Jaye Winston someone from McCaleb's past who helps him solve the crime. You can see she and McCaleb once had a history together and she too seems to naturally fit into her role. And then there's Jeff Daniels--so good to see him again. He does a nice job as Buddy who has the outwardly appearance of being a shiftless loser but is hiding something a little darker. The one annoying performance comes from comedian Paul Rodriguez as a local police officer who hates McCaleb for some reason. He throws in lot of funny one-liners but he seems to have no real purpose in the film other than comic relief.
Based on a novel by Michael Connelly the screenplay is nicely crafted by Oscar-winning screenwriter Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) and for the most part Blood Work works like a giant but fairly uncomplicated puzzle. Much like his persona on screen Eastwood's a straightforward director--no pussyfooting around. He's never cared much for fancy camera work or finding the perfect shot and this film goes by the numbers as far as its pacing and camerawork. Blood Work is a simple film--all the pieces are carefully laid out for you step by step until it's time to put it together though it becomes a tad predictable in the end. Eastwood surrounds himself with good talent and in this case brings out some realistic performances from his female co-stars. Although there are probably many out there who think Eastwood is getting a little too old to keep making these movies he obviously could care less. He knows he'll draw in diehard fans who want to see a more classic cop whodunit. But as far as attracting any of the younger audiences it isn't going to happen.
Ron Howard may remember The Alamo, but he isn't going to direct a movie about the famed Texas battle.
Director Howard, hot off his multiple Oscar wins for A Beautiful Mind, was looking at the Disney project for his next venture. The studio, however, is having difficulty jump starting the production, and Howard has decided to move on. He and partner Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment will most likely still be Alamo's producers.
Howard never officially signed an agreement with Disney, but Variety reports that insiders believed it was a done deal when the word was out the director was scouting locations in Texas.
Disney is now reportedly scrambling to find a new director so it can keep the high-profile cast already attached, including Russell Crowe and Ethan Hawke, as well as keep a late-year start date in place.
Howard has now turned his eye toward other projects, including Cinderella Man--about the Depression-era boxer and folk hero Jim Braddock, which may also reteam him with Crowe--andThe Burial, a film about a lawyer's fight for a funeral parlor owner, with Denzel Washington.
Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubliee concert, also known as the Party in the Palace, attracted well over a million people to Buckingham Palace Monday night.
The Queen herself -- celebrating 50 years on the throne of England with numerous Golden Jubilee events throughout the year -- showed up shortly before 10 p.m., Ananova.com reports, wearing a set of ear plugs in case the music got a little too loud.
Sir Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Ozzy Osbourne, The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson, Tony Bennett and numerous other artists were on hand to serenade the Queen.
McCartney sang one of George Harrison's songs, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," accompanied by Clapton. For the finale, The Beatles classic "All You Need Is Love" brought all the performers on stage.