Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
Top Story: Jackson's Former Bedmate Defends Singer
Australian entertainer Wade Robson, 21, said he shared a bed with Michael Jackson when he was a kid, but that nothing "strange" ever happened. In an interview with Sydney's The Daily Telegraph, Reuters reports Robson--who met Jackson in 1987 after winning a dance impersonation contest and was later cast in three of the singer's music videos--said he did not think it was "weird" for a grown man to share the same bed as a child. "Everything in life is so complex, [Jackson] just wanted something around that was simple--to hang out with kids," also adding that the pop star had no concept of reality. "He is on one level a genius, a creative artist, an intellectual man. But on the other hand, he is still a kid because he has never lived through regular things that men go through, that people go through in growing up," Robson said.
Country Star Campbell Apologizes
After being released from jail on suspicion of extreme drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident, country singer Glen Campbell offered an apology Tuesday, Reuters reports. "Yesterday, I was arrested and put in jail," Campbell said in a brief statement released through his Los Angeles-based publicist. "Even at my age, I learned a valuable lesson. I apologize to my wife, my family, my friends, and my fans." Campbell, 67, allegedly hit another vehicle Monday at a Phoenix, Ariz., intersection and when he didn't stop, a witness followed him to his home and alerted authorities. They arrived and arrested the singer, who had a blood alcohol level of .20, two-and-half times above the legal limit in Arizona.
Topless Diaz Photos Banned
Los Angeles photographer John Rutter has been barred from selling topless photos he took of actress Cameron Diaz before she was famous. Reuters reports Rutter was issued a permanent court injunction Tuesday that also prevents him from publicizing the photos in any way or keeping them in his possession. The photographer has been charged with attempted extortion for allegedly demanding $3.3 million from the Charlie's Angels star, as well as forging her signature on the model release.
Rocker Neil Charged With Battery
A trial date was set for former Motley Crue singer Vince Neil, who was charged with misdemeanor battery in July after allegedly grabbing a prostitute by the neck and throwing her against a wall, The Associated Press reports. Neil had gone to the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada after a concert in Reno with Poison and Skid Row and, according to the criminal complaint filed, used "force and violence" on one of the girls named Terry, aka TrixXxie Blue. The 42-year-old singer posted $1,000 bail and will enter a plea before the trial starts next April.
Penn May Join Press Corps in Iraq
Actor Sean Penn, who made a controversial visit to Iraq last winter and wrote some unpublished accounts of his experiences there, is seriously contemplating going back to the war-torn area and reporting his experiences for the San Francisco Chronicle, Reuters reports. "He brings a very keen director's and actor's eye to slices of life in Baghdad," Phil Bronstein, the paper's editor and an old friend of Penn's told Reuters. Bronstein said the arrangement with Penn remains informal, and adds the actor's writings would probably focus on everyday life more than scenes of violence. Bronstein, who read Penn's earlier dispatches from Iraq, described them as "short vignettes that caught moments in people's lives and what they were doing--kind of like a reporter's notebook."
CBS Pulls Out on Top in November Sweeps
Although the network had to scrap some higher profile programs, including TV-movie The Reagans and the Michael Jackson special, CBS claimed its best November sweeps ratings since 1980. For the week of Nov. 17-23, CBS averaged 14.2 million viewers followed by NBC with 11.6 million; ABC (10.7 million); Fox (6.8 million); UPN (4.4 million) and the WB (4.4 million). The top 10 shows included: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS; ER, NBC; Friends, NBC; Friends, NBC; Survivor: Pearl Islands, CBS; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS; CSI: Miami, CBS; The Bachelor, ABC; 60 Minutes, CBS; Law & Order, NBC.
Warner Bros. Crosses $1 Billion Mark
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. Pictures will gross more than $1 billion for the domestic box office for a third consecutive year, as well as the fourth time in the company's history. The recent Halle Berry starrer Gothika helped matters by opening strongly last weekend while The Matrix Revolutions is still in the top 10. Also included in the billion dollar haul was Matrix Reloaded, which took in $281.5 million and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which chipped in $150.4 million.