Top Story: "Chicago" Becomes Miramax's Top Grossing Pic
Miramax Films announced Tuesday that Chicago, which last month picked up six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, is now the highest domestic grossing film in the studio's history. The hit musical's box office take reach the $157.1 million mark Monday night, passing previous record holder Scary Movie, which grossed $157 million in 2000 and was distributed by Miramax's genre arm, Dimension Films. Prior to that, Miramax's top grosser was Good Will Hunting, which took in $139 million in 1997. Chicago, directed by Rob Marshall, stars Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.
Bob Hope's 100th Birthday Bash
Celebs, including Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Miller, showed up at the first of several events to celebrate Bob Hope's 100th birthday next month, but the legendary entertainer himself was in poor health and was not able to attend. Hope's birthday is May 29, but Hollywood got a head start with Universal Studios Home Video release of The Bob Hope 100th Birthday Tribute Collection, the NBC special 100 Years of Hope and Humor and the unveiling of a plaque on one of the actor's four Walk of Fame stars, Reuters reports.
Steve Bing Wins Libel Damages
Film producer Steve Bing won libel damages Wednesday against the UK tabloid Daily Mail over an article claiming he had tried to tarnish the reputation of his former lover, actress Elizabeth Hurley, Reuters reports. The article, titled "Private eyes and sexual slurs--how Bing is trying to destroy Liz," said the producer and his co-claimant, Los Angeles lawyer Martin Singer, had "orchestrated a vicious campaign" to destroy Hurley's reputation. The Mail apologized for the embarrassment and distress it caused and agreed to pay substantial but undisclosed damages to British children's charities chosen by Bing.
Melissa Ethridge To Wed Girlfriend
Rocker Melissa Ethridge plans to marry her companion of two years, actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, at the end of this year, The Associated Press reports. Etheridge's publicist, Marcel Pariseau, declined to reveal plans for the ceremony but said it would take place in Los Angeles. Ethridge and her former partner Julie Cypher share custody of their two children. The two revealed in 2000 that musician David Crosby was the sperm donor for their children.
More Money for "Will & Grace" Cast
Will & Grace stars Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes will stay on board the NBC comedy at least through the 2004-05 season under a new salary pact. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the stars are due for hefty salary bumps under the deal that will carry them through the show's seventh season. McCormack and Messing will reportedly increase the $250,000-$275,000 they earn per episode for the current season to about $400,000 per episode by the seventh season. Mullally and Hayes are set to receive only slightly less than the two leads under their revised deals.
TNN Rebrands Itself
Viacom will call the TNN network Spike TV beginning June 16. The move reflects the cable channel's intent to recast itself as a programming source for young men. TNN president Albie Hecht told the The Hollywood Reporter that adopting the male name Spike is intended to evoke the aggressive, irreverent tone the network is taking on. The network will launch a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign that will encompass on-air, outdoor and print to spread awareness for the name change and the channel's new logo, currently in the works.
Zahn Out of CNN's "American Morning"
Paula Zahn, anchor of CNN's American Morning With Paula Zahn, is getting the boot to primetime, Reuters reports. The network is moving Zahn in a 7-9 p.m. ET show titled American Evening With Paula Zahn, the time slot formerly belonging to Connie Chung's tabloid-style interview program. CNN did not name a morning replacement for Zahn but sources confirmed reports that CNN has interviewed CBS News' Jane Clayson for Zahn's slot. For the time being, Bill Hemmer will anchor the show by himself
The Dead, Dylan, Hit the Road
Bob Dylan will co-headline the second leg of The Dead and Summer Getaway Tour, set to kick off July 29 in a yet-to-be-announced location, Billboard.com reports. The two last hit the road together in 1987 on a co-headlining stadium tour that spawned the critically acclaimed 1989 live album Dylan & the Dead, which featured collaborative versions of such Dylan classics as "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and "All Along the Watchtower."
Role Call: Scorsese Embarks on Western Epic, Aniston Joins Dark Comedy
Martin Scorsese will direct the feature adaptation of Thomas Eidson's Western epic St. Agnes' Stand for DreamWorks. The novel, which revolves around a reluctant hero who saves a nun and a group of children from Apache Indians in the 1860s, will adapted by Life of David Gale scribe Charles Randolph ... Jennifer Aniston is set to star and produce a dark comedy for New Line Cinema. The Friends star would play the wife of a wealthy politician who is confronted with her past when the 10-year-old son she gave up for adoption resurfaces in her life.
December 18, 2002 7:52am EST
The New York Film Critics Circle Monday chose Focus Features' Far From Heaven as the year's best film, and named its director Todd Haynes best director.
"Far From Heaven is a distinct and personal vision from Todd Haynes," NYFCC chair Marshall Fine told The Hollywood Reporter. "I think it was one of the most complete and fulfilling films of the year."
The announcements come on the heels of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's year-end accolades, which honored New Line Cinema's About Schmidt for best picture and director. It also received awards for best supporting actor (Dennis Quaid), best supporting actress (Patricia Clarkson) and best cinematography (Edward Lachman).
Julianne Moore, who was on a winning streak after being named best actress by the National Film Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, lost her reigning seat in New York, however. Moore was defeated in the best actress category by Diane Lane for her role in 20th Century Fox's Unfaithful, directed by Adrian Lyne.
"That was the most surprising vote of the day," Fine said. "(Lane's) performance obviously really spoke to the voter this year."
Daniel Day-Lewis took best actor for his portrayal of the villainous Bill the Butcher in Miramax Films' Gangs of New York, directed by Martin Scorsese.
Scribe Charlie Kaufman won best screenplay for Sony Pictures' Adaptation, which stars Nicolas Cage as Kaufman and his twin Donald.
Artisan Entertainment's Standing in the Shadows of Motown was the group's choice for best documentary. The studio's Roger Dodger also took home best first film for its writer-director Dylan Kidd.
Buena Vista Pictures' dark film Spirited Away from Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki was chosen as best animated feature. It was Japan's top grossing film in 2001.
IFC Films' Mexican hit Y Tu Mama Tambien won for foreign language film.
The New York Film Critics Circle, founded in 1935, is composed of 34 New York-based newspaper and magazine writers. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the group's awards have predicted the Oscars' best picture with a historical success rate of 43 percent.
It was bound to happen. Hot off her box-office hit America's Sweethearts, Catherine Zeta-Jones is set to begin work this fall on a new project with none other than hubby Michael Douglas. The project, slated for release in 2002, will be the first time moviegoers will get to see the real-life couple together on the big screen.
Though the two appeared in Steven Soderbergh's Traffic, they had no scenes together, so it will be interesting to watch the chemistry between them. It will be even more interesting to see whether the film does well or flops like so many other husband-and-wife pics do. Remember Far and Away with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman?
The Douglas/Zeta-Jones vehicle will be the Miramax period thriller Smoke and Mirrors, a story loosely based on the life of French illusionist Jean-Robert-Houdin who, with his lovely female cohort, was sent to Algeria in 1856 by Napoleon III to expose a religious sorcerer who was inciting attacks on French colonials. Douglas will play Houdin, the man considered to be the father of modern magic, and Zeta-Jones will play Collette, his young assistant and lover.
But Smoke and Mirrors will be more than just the first collaboration between husband and wife; it would also be a first for Douglas and his father, Kirk Douglas. Papa Douglas will make a cameo appearance as Bou-Allem, but details of the role are still sketchy.
Keeping it all in the family, Variety columnist Army Archerd reported in April that Michael's older brother Joel Douglas, who's producing Smoke and Mirrors along with Zeta-Jones' brother David Jones, was heading out to exotic Morocco, Tunisia and Israel to scout locations for the film. Also sharing producer credits will be Joel's future brother-in-law Kevin Brodie (A Dog of Flanders).
It seems the only kin left out of the negotiations is baby Dylan.
The original script, which was penned by Batman Forever writing team Lee and Janet Scott Batchler almost seven years ago, caught the attention of several studio honchos, including Steven Spielberg, who bid on the script. Disney's Cinergi Pictures ended up buying the screenplay at a $1 million gavel price.
Several big names have since been attached to the picture, including Aussie Mel Gibson and ex-secret agent Sean Connery. But like many projects in development, plans fell through and deals were never inked. Too bad--the resemblance between Connery and the real Houdin is uncanny.
As for a director, producer Frank Marshall (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Sixth Sense) was originally set to direct, but had to pass because he was under contract by Paramount to direct the jungle adventure flick Congo.
Plagued with casting problems, the project was eventually shelved until last year, when Initial Entertainment Group (where Zeta-Jones' brother David happens to be vice president) acquired Smoke and Mirrors from Cinergi Pictures for an undisclosed price. The script was dusted off and rewritten by Leslie Dixon (Pay it Forward), and it seems that the little screenplay that never was made the leap out of development.
With a fresh script and new funding, director John McTiernan was recruited to direct the magical thriller. However, McTiernan bailed on the Smoke and Mirrors project last month, citing "insurmountable business differences."
Both Miramax and IEG declined to comment on the falling out, and there's still no word on who will direct the picture.
Regardless of who directs, the star power alone is sure to draw a crowd. People have been waiting for a Douglas father and son pairing for quite some time. And if the Zeta-Jones/Douglas marriage survives the pressures of Hollywood from now until the film's release date, fans will undoubtedly want to see them on screen.
Looks like Catherine Zeta-Jones will get to find out first hand the pressure her character Gwen faces in America's Sweethearts. Will this be a case of life imitating art imitating life? Stay tuned!