Wizard watchers, the moment has arrived. The big-screen "Lord of the Rings" is slated to make its debut here at ShoWest.
Whoops. Did we fail to mention that we meant the trailer, not the film?
"Lord of the Rings" Well, in case you didn't already know, ShoWest is no Sundance. The most buzz-worthy screenings are about three minutes long -- snippets, teasers, coming attractions.
In addition to the much-awaited "Lord of the Rings" footage (being unveiled at the New Line luncheon Tuesday), the coming days will feature previews of Sony's Mel Gibson epic "The Patriot" and clips from the ultimate summer chick flick "Charlie's Angels."
Fox's also pulling out its arsenal of (would-be) summer hits. Films to be sneak peeked include Jim Carrey's new comedy "Me, Myself and Irene" and the comic-book-come-to-life "X-Men."
The first installment of the planned "Lord of the Rings" trilogy (aka, "The Fellowship of the Ring" installment) stars Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett and Liv Tyler.
In other ShoWest happenings:
WHO DAT? With 10,000 ShoWest participants (8,000 of whom look exactly the same), it's not easy trying to figure out who's who in the sea of convention conformity. And around these parts, it's not the face that people recognize but the color of your convention badge. Here's the color-coded stratification of ShoWest:
-- RED: Press -- BLACK: Delegates and ambassadors -- YELLOW: Trade exhibitors -- BEIGE: Guests
Your typical ShoWest day, then, works like this: The pack-oriented black-badged people talk to their black-badged colleagues; the yellow-badged mucky-mucks stick to the trade shows; and the folks with red badges -- those loners in spirit -- scatter about, walking around aimlessly looking for something to do or somebody (preferably somebody with a black or yellow badge) to talk to.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VARIETY, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER AND LOCAL- TOUR BOOKLETS: None. Besides being free of charge at the ShoWest venues, the Hollywood trade papers are also among the most picked-up (and discarded) items strewn about Vegas this week.
MAKING CONVERSATION: Ever been invited to a huge party where no one knows anyone else? Simply put, that's exactly what today's Columbia-TriStar International Reception felt like.
"Mission: Impossible 2" No helpful studio reps. No introductory comments. The reception was just one huge ballroom filled with food, booze and lots of space for theater owners and delegates to make small talk.
And so we did.
When discussing what they think the next big, bad American film will be, representatives from Taiwan, Japan, Iceland and Mexico all unanimously agreed on "Mission: Impossible 2" with the gritty-looking Tom Cruise, leaving global box-office champ "Titanic's" Leonardo DiCaprio in seeming obscurity.
TYPICAL VEGAS REACTION TO THE PHRASE, "SHOWEST": "ShoWhat?!" Followed by blank stare.
TODAY'S STAR SIGHTINGS: Er ... none.
TUESDAY'S EXPECTED STAR SIGHTINGS:Sandra Bullock, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Matt Damon, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore (You know, Charlie's Angels).
OOPS: "Well, it's OK, I guess. But it seems sort of blurry though," exclaimed one baffled enthusiast at the Digital Cinema Demonstration after watching a demo of four digitally projected film clips. Well, so much for that supposed better picture quality of digital projection.
END OF AN ERA? The buzz around here is that the days of the 25-screen multiplexes might be coming to an end. Today's Hollywood Reporter reported that the oversaturation of new multiplexes and increasingly competitive field (galvanized by new technologies and the Internet) might start putting the squeeze on film exhibitors.
GRIPE: As one ticked-off convention participant put it (in regard to the free e-mail kiosks set up throughout the ShoWest areas): "There should be a freakin' sign keeping people from hogging the e-mail booths. I mean, there're people here waiting." Word!
FILMS WE ACTUALLY SAW IN FULL: "Passion of Mind" (Paramount Classics) -- In what must be a desperate effort to capitalize on the phenomenon of "The Sixth Sense" by way of "The Double Life of Veronique," the schlock "Passion of Mind" has managed to make travesty of both films. In it, Demi Moore does double duty by playing a woman with a split personality -- one an expatriated, widowed New York Times reviewer living bucolically with her daughters in France; and the other, a cutthroat literary agent grinding down the successful single woman life in New York City. Her dilemma starts off as a philosophical one, but after much dime-store psychoanalysis, maudlin romance and cheap symbolism, the whole thing devolves into meaningless sentimentality.
"Where the Money Is" (USA) -- Paul Newman is an aged convict passing as a stroke victim in an elderly hospice, laying in wait for a chance to break free. Linda Fiorentino is a bored hospice nurse paralyzed by the inertia of small-town life with her complacent husband (Dermot Mulroney). Before you know it, the two, along with Fiorentino's reluctant hubby, are planning to pull off a heist. There's a remarkable chemistry between Newman and Fiorentino right from the get-go. So tight is their fit that no one bothers with common sense stuff such as to, you know, why she'd want to be a felony all of a sudden. But even if the story doesn't make sense, there's still a vicarious fun in watching these truants get away with it all. Oh, and one more thing: Paul Newman rules.