News Roundup: Dec. 27

Top Story

Ali, starring Will Smith as the legendary heavyweight, broke the Christmas Day box office record with a healthy $10.2 million take-in, Columbia Pictures reports. Unfortunately, it wasn’t able to topple the reigning king Lord of the Rings, which kept steady at No. 1, raking in another $11.5 million and bringing the film’s total to $94 million since its release Dec. 19. The Meg Ryan/Hugh Jackman romantic comedy Kate & Leopold came in third with a paltry $2.6 million in ticket sales for the day. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone crept past DreamWorks’ Shrek as the top grossing film this year, at approx. $268 million.

In General

Oh, boy! We’re finally going to see Michael Jackson‘s duet with Britney Spears of his 1987 hit “The Way You Make Me Feel” when CBS rebroadcasts Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration on Jan. 9. The duet was originally left out of the original broadcast on Nov. 13 due to strict exclusivity agreements the networks are placing on top musical acts.

Kate & Leopold star Hugh Jackman got a few lessons in etiquette and in horseback riding, in order to portray an English gentleman from the 19th century. “I had to go to England and find out what it’s like really to be aristocratic,” Jackman said.

Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler have decided to enroll in Anger Management classes, with Peter Segal (Nutty Professor II: The Klumps) attached to direct. The story revolves around a timid businessman (Sandler) who is sent to an anger management program by mistake and has his life turned upside down by its hyper instructor (Nicholson).

Geraldo Rivera has said he made an “honest mistake” in reporting on a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan for Fox News Channel. While witnessing the aftermath of a bombing in Tora Bora where two Afghans were killed, Rivera reportedly confused the site with another friendly fire episode that happened in Kandahar, where U.S. bombs killed three Americans. Fox News accepted Rivera’s explanation of confusion, and plans no action against Rivera.

Downtown Minneapolis is going to “make it, after all.” The cable channel TV Land has commissioned a $55,000 bronze statue for the city of Mary Tyler Moore‘s alter-ego, TV producer Mary Richards from the hugely popular ’70s TV show The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The show was based in the famed city.

Stephen Bing’s problems just won’t quit. First, Liz Hurley claims he’s the father of her unborn baby. Now he is suing London’s The Mirror for printing his phone number and asking readers to call and berate him, after he came out saying he was unsure if he indeed is the father. Bing is asking for $10 million in damages, citing libel and invasion of privacy.

Germany has finally seen fit to honor one of its best known celebrities–Marlene Dietrich. Dietrich was shunned in the 1940s when she sided with the Allies during WWII. Now, in celebration of Dietrich‘s 100th birthday a tribute will take place in Berlin, hosted by President Johannes Rau, who will also issue a formal apology for treating Dietrich as a traitor.

A number of NBC-owned stations are looking to launch a daily reality-based TV show for women, amidst the slew of talk shows, soap operas and games shows that populate daytime television. Called Life Moments, the show will center on women and their day-to-day lives, from working to having a baby to going on a date.

British pop band Steps, known for their disco renditions and cool dance moves, has decided to split up after “an incredible five years” together, leaving their fans in a state of shock. One fan on the Steps official Web site message board says, “I’ve only just started crying. Before I was shaking like a leaf…”