News Roundup: Nov. 30

Top Story

With the tremendous success of their film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Warner Bros. may reach $1 billion this year in total box office grosses, making it the second time the studio has reached that mark in three years. Potter has grossed approximately $176 million in two weeks and along with the other three top Warner grosses this year–Cats & Dogs ($93.4 million), Steven Spielberg‘s A.I. Artificial Intelligence ($78.6 million) and Training Day ($75 million)–helped drive the studio’s 2001 total domestic take to $960 million. If the trend continues to the end of the year, especially with the release of The Majestic with Jim Carrey and Steven Soderbergh‘s Ocean’s Eleven, Warner Bros. may beat the single-year distributor record of $1.26 billion set by Sony in 1997.


Author John Knowles, best known for his 1959 novel A Separate Peace, died Thursday in a convalescent home in a Fort Lauderdale suburb. He was 75. The novel, a moving story about adolescence, is considered an American literary classic. Sisters Dorothy Maxwell, Marjorie Johnson and a brother, James Knowles, survive Knowles.


Spanish actor Antonio Banderas will receive the first Anthony Quinn Achievement Award at the 10th Annual Latin American Film Festival. The event will take place next April in Providence, Rhode Island, the final resting place of Quinn, who died in June at the age of 86.

Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian, an exiled Chinese writer, playwright and painter, received an honorary literature doctorate at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Thursday, with no acknowledgment from the local officials. Gao, whose works are banned in China, left the country in 1987 and renounced his membership to the Communist Party after the Tiananmen Square conflict in 1989.

In General

Anglophile Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie have booked the same Scottish estate, Skibo Castle, where they were married for their first wedding anniversary, London’s tabloid The Sun reports. They invited close friends to relive the moment with them and have taken every room in the enchanted castle to ensure their privacy.

Book guru Oprah Winfrey has chosen the award-winning novel A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry for this month’s coveted Oprah Book Club logo. This new choice comes after her controversial pick of Jonathan Franzen’s novel The Corrections in September, which Franzen pooh-poohed. Still, her endorsement virtually guarantees hundreds of thousands in sales for any book she chooses.

Regis Philbin, the mainstay host of the once popular Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, may bow out of his primetime responsibilities to join the new syndicated version of the game slated for launch in the fall. Philbin predicted the game show, which has taken some hard hits in the ratings of late, would be pulled out of primetime and “then [ABC] will bring it back with a comedian…They want it to become a comedy show.”

The entertainment industry is bracing themselves for the release of the Federal Trade Commission’s report card next week on the industry’s efforts to curb the marketing of violence to children. It’s expected the film industry will pull in some top marks, while the music industry may once again get slammed.

Actress Pia Zadora has filed for divorce from her second husband, writer-director Jonathan Kaufer, citing irreconcilable differences. Zadora, 46, is seeking full custody of the couple’s 4-year-old son.