If you've been following the world of horse racing, you might have been on the bandwagon of I'll Have Another, the thoroughbred who looked to be the first Triple Crown winner in 34 years. Unfortunately, TMZ reports that I'll Have Another has suffered an injury, and as a result must pull out of Saturday's Belmont Stakes — a turn of events as shocking as it is heartbreaking, considering the horse might never be able to run again.
But of course, this brings to mind some of the other great shocking exits in pop culture history. People pulling out of movies, television shows, celebrity relationships, small business ventures, rehab — famous people are not always the most reliable bunch, so there's a lot to choose from. Here's a list of some of the most surprising leaves of absence that you might remember:
Frank Darabont Gets Fired from The Walking Dead
Although the idea of television programs losing their show runners has become a bit of a pandemic lately, it was a huge surprise way back when The Walking Dead's ingenious creator and show runner was fired by AMC for being allegedly difficult to work with. The post-Darabont years have served fans well, but one wonders just how amazing Season 2 might have been with the big man on board.
Heidi Klum and Seal End Their Marriage
It was a dark, cold day when supermodel Heidi Klum and singer/songwriter Seal announced the end of their seven-year marriage. Nobody saw it coming. The fashion icon and her silver-tongued, rose-kissing husband had seemed like the perfect couple throughout their years in the spotlight. The end of days is truly near.
Shannen Doherty Leaves Beverly Hills, 90210
It didn't seem like the Peach Pit could maintain without the "good girl"-turned-rebel Brenda; when it was revealed that Doherty would not be returning to Beverly Hills, 90210 for its fifth season, fans of the Fox hit were stunned. One Priestley alone does not a Walsh family make.
Chris Daughtry Gets Kicked Off American Idol
Throughout the fifth season of American Idol, one name stayed on the mouths of fans: Chris Daughtry. The talented North Carolinian rock singer was expected to go all the way to the end that fateful year, but instead only took home the title of fourth place. Some people are still protesting the decision.
Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries End Their Marriage
This might not have been the big out-of-nowhere moment that came along with Heidi and Seal, but it was still an eye-widening moment. Mostly for the "Are these people serious?" factor. The truth is, many people assumed that Kim and Kris would eventually split up. But it was the immediacy of the event that makes it worthy of the list.
Michael Pitt Gets Killed Off on Boardwalk Empire
Boardwalk Empire is one of those shows where no character is safe. Except, logically, the big guys at the center: Nucky Thompson and Jimmy Darmody. After all, how could the show go on if either of these two leading players were killed off? Well, fans will find out come the upcoming third season, as the Season 2 finale gave Michael Pitt's Jimmy the axe. No one saw it coming. And if they tell you otherwise, you know they're just trying to show off.
Ali Fedotowsky Walking Off The Bachelor
Usually on The Bachelor, the competing women wait until they're told to leave before they hit the road. But back on Season 14, the future Bachelorette Ali Fedotowsky took it upon herself to voluntarily exit the reality program on the sixth episode. Needless to say, the series' focal star, airline pilot Jake Pavelka, was floored.
Adele Quits Music
She was the biggest thing in the music world for quite some time. Following her vocal hemorrhage in late 2011, the pop sensation announced that she would be taking a break from her singing career, possibly for four or five years, save for a one-off performance at the 2012 Brit Awards. The world awaits the next big Adele hit, but wishes her well in the meantime.
Ned Stark Loses His Head on Game of Thrones
Granted, everyone who read the books beforehand probably saw this coming. And yes, the world should have been tipped off by the fact that Stark was played by Sean Bean — the man has almost never survived a role. But still, watching the main character of the HBO hit Game of Thrones get his head chopped off in the penultimate episode of Season 1... it sparked lots of questions.
EVERYONE Leaves Django Unchained
The forthcoming Quentin Tarantino movie can't seem to hold onto any of its cast members. Since shooting began, the film has amounted, and then lost, a number of formidable players. Among them: Kevin Costner, Sacha Baron Cohen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Kurt Russell. Good thing Leonardo DiCaprio stayed on board... he looks terrific in the role.
[Photo Credit: FayesVision/WENN]
'Wonder Years' Star Danica McKellar Files for Divorce
Do You Think Morrissey Is Really Going to Retire?
Bill Murray's Hologram Makes Its Television Debut — VIDEO
The story of the most dominant racehorse of all time does not easily fit into the standard inspirational sports flick mold. Such films typically require its protagonists to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles be they competitive (Hoosiers) personal (The Natural) societal (Ali) or some combination of all three (Remember the Titans). But by all accounts the greatest challenges to Secretariat capturing of the 1973 Triple Crown were not rival horses — indeed Secretariat had no true rival — but a pair of slow starts and an abscess. And abscesses — apologies to dermatologists — simply aren’t all that effective as dramatic devices.
Lacking most of the vital ingredients of the traditional underdog movie formula Disney’s Secretariat is forced to synthesize them. Its screenplay written by Mike Rich and based rather loosely on the book Secretariat: The Making of a Champion by William Nack adopts a conventional save-the-farm framework: When her parents pass away within months of each other Denver housewife Penny Tweedy (Diane Lane) is advised to sell off her family’s Virginia-based Meadow Stables a beautiful but unprofitable horse-breeding enterprise in order to pay the onerous inheritance taxes levied by the state. But Penny her deceased father’s hackneyed horse-inspired counsel fresh in her mind (“You’ve got to run your own race ” etc. etc.) is loath to depart with such a cherished heirloom. So she concocts a scheme just idiotic enough to work betting the farm — literally — that her new horse Big Red in whom she has an almost Messianic faith will win the Kentucky Derby Preakness and Belmont races in succession.
Of course Big Red under the stage name Secretariat goes on to do just that but only after the film subjects us to nearly two hours of manufactured melodrama. Lane grasping all-too conspicuously for awards consideration treats every line as if it were the St. Crispin’s Day speech. Her character Penny exhibits a hair-trigger sensitivity to the sounds of skeptics and naysayers bursting forth with a polite rebuke and a stern sermon for anyone who dares doubt her crusade from the trash-talking owner of a rival horse to her annoyingly pragmatic husband (Dylan Walsh).
Lane isn’t alone in her grandiosity. The entire production reeks of it as director Randall Wallace lines the story with fetid chunks of overwrought Oscar bait like so many droppings in an untended stable even using Old Testament quotations and gospel music to endow Penny’s quest with biblical significance. John Malkovich is kind enough to inject some mirth into the heavy-handed proceedings hamming it up as Secretariat’s trainer Lucien Laurin a French-Canadian curmudgeon with an odd sartorial palette. It’s not enough however to alleviate the discomfort of witnessing the film's quasi-Sambo depiction of Secretariat’s famed groom Eddie Sweat (Nelsan Ellis) which reaches its cringeworthy zenith when Sweat runs out to the track on the eve of the Belmont Stakes and exclaims to no one in particular that “Big Red done eat his breakfast this mornin’!!!” Bagger Vance would be proud. Whether or not Ellis’ portrayal of Sweat’s cadence and mannerisms is accurate (and for all I know it may well be) the character is too thinly drawn to register as anything more than an amiable simple-minded servant.
Animal lovers will be happy to know that the horses in Secretariat come off looking far better than their human counterparts and not just because they’re alloted the best dialogue. In the training and racing sequences Wallace effectively conveys the strength and majesty of the fearsome animals drawing us into the action and creating a strong element of suspense even though the final result is a fait accompli. It's too bad the rest of the film never makes it out of the gate.
The sum of all grosses for The Sum Of All Fears was $18.7 million, enough to keep it in first place over a generally blah box office weekend.
Moviegoers said yeah-yeah to Ya-Ya, launching the summer's first chick flick, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, in second place to $16.4 million.
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones slid 34 percent to third place with $13.9 million. Bad Company opened fourth to a not-so-good $10.5 million. Spider-Man dropped 30 percent to fifth with $10 million.
Hollywood suffered across the board from the combination of beautiful East Coast weather, major sports competition -- including Friday's NBA basketball finals and Saturday's Stanley Cup hockey finals, Belmont Stakes horse race and Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson heavyweight championship fight -- and the absence of any new high profile event movie openings.
But even with the weekend's lackluster grosses, ticket sales were still nearly 9 percent ahead of this weekend last year. Key films -- those grossing $500,000 or more -- took in about $103 million versus last year's $94.4 million.
THE TOP TEN
Paramount's PG-13 rated thriller The Sum Of All Fears held on to the top spot in its second weekend with a still powerful ESTIMATED $18.7 million (-40%) at 3,218 theaters (+35 theaters; $5,811 per theater). Its cume is approximately $61.8 million.
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson and produced by Mace Neufeld, it stars Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman.
"It didn't hold as well as I had hoped it would hold," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning, noting that the overall marketplace was "extremely soft yesterday."
Asked where Fears is heading, Lewellen replied, "I think it gets to $100 million and a little over, but we certainly had anticipated based on the opening level and the playability of the film that it would go far beyond that. So it's somewhat disappointing. But that's not to say that it can't come back."
What accounted for this weekend's softness across the board? "The quickest thing that jumps out is the fight last night," Lewellen said. "Then, of course, they had the hockey playoff that went into triple overtime. Do I believe that that's what all of this is (about)? No, I don't. I know that the East Coast had extraordinary weather yesterday. It was like 70 degrees and beautiful skies -- one of those '10' New York days, you know. And that always has an impact on you there. But I still find it difficult (to believe) the market is this far below where we had projected it even after we had the Friday figures."
Industry projections circulating Saturday morning had all of this weekend's top films doing considerably better than is reflected in their Sunday estimates. "I had us at $20.5 million yesterday," Lewellen explained, adding that he also had the other Top Five films doing better than they're reporting today.
Warner Bros. and Gaylord Films' PG-13 rated drama Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood kicked off in second place to a cheerful ESTIMATED $16.35 million at 2,507 theaters ($6,522 per theater).
Directed by Callie Khouri, it stars Sandra Bullock, Ellen Burstyn, Fionnula Flanagan, James Garner, Ashley Judd, Shirley Knight, Angus MacFadyen and Maggie Smith.
Ya-Ya's average per theater was the highest for any film playing this weekend.
"We're pleased with Ya-Ya. It's a solid opening," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "It performed better than we expected. We were looking at somewhere in the $15-16 million range."
Moviegoers liked the movie and, as a result, it should have favorable word of mouth. "Its CinemaScores and the exit polls that we conducted were great," Fellman said. "All the CinemaScores were A -- even for men. The audience was predominantly younger and older females, but the male response was very, very favorable. With good word of mouth, I think we'll be around for a long time.
"Callie Khouri did a great job. This opening becomes the personal best for Sandy Bullock, whose previous best opening was $14.8 million (for the weekend of July 26-28, 1996) on A Time To Kill."
20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm's PG rated franchise installment Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones dropped one notch to third place in its fourth week, holding well with an ESTIMATED $13.88 million (-34%) at 3,161 theaters (theater count unchanged; $4,391 per theater). Its cume is approximately $255.0 millio n, heading for $300 million or slightly more in domestic theaters.
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace took in $431.1 million in domestic theaters. Its worldwide total (domestic plus international) was $923 million.
Directed by George Lucas, it stars Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen.
Buena Vista/Touchstone and Jerry Bruckheimer Films' PG-13 rated action film Bad Company, whose plot involves CIA efforts to keep terrorists from obtaining a nuclear device, opened in fourth place to a disappointing ESTIMATED $10.5 million at 2,944 theaters ($3,553 per theater).
Directed by Joel Schumacher, it stars Anthony Hopkins and Chris Rock.
"We had great talent and great filmmakers and they worked their butts off," Buena Vista Distribution president Chuck Viane said Sunday morning. "Unfortunately, as you know, in our business there are no guarantees. Kind of like yesterday's (Belmont Stakes) race where we all thought War Emblem (was the favorite) and he ends up finishing out of the money. Unfortunately, it looks like that happened to us. The good news is that it's a long summer and the CinemaScores were decent so we should be around for a while."
Asked if he thought the male appeal Company was hurt, for example, by the televised NBA finals, Viane replied, "I think it's a combination of things and when you add them all up they mean something, but to point to one item, I just don't know."
Columbia's PG-13 sci-fi fantasy blockbuster Spider-Man slid two pegs to fifth in its sixth week, still showing decent legs with an ESTIMATED $10.0 million (-30%) at 3,235 theaters (-411 theaters; $3,091 per theater). Its cume is approximately $370.1 million heading for $420 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Sam Raimi, it stars Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Cliff Robertson and Rosemary Harris.
"It's its sixth weekend in double digits," Sony spokesman Steve Elzer said Sunday morning. "Actually, it's its fifth weekend in double digits. One weekend was in triple digits."
DreamWorks' G rated animated feature Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron dropped one slot to sixth place in its third week, holding well with an ESTIMATED $9.4 million (-17%) at 3,362 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,805 per theater). Its cume is approximately $53.8 million. Spirit's decline of 17 percent was the smallest drop for any film in the Top Ten this weekend.
Directed by Kelly Asbury and Lorna Cook, it was produced by Mireille Soria and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Universal and Imagine Entertainment's PG-13 rated urban appeal comedy Undercover Brother skidded three pegs to seventh place in its second weekend to an unexciting ESTIMATED $7.31 million (-39%) at 2,169 theaters (+2 theaters; $3,370 per theater). Its cume is approximately $23.6 million.
Directed by Malcom D. Lee, it stars Eddie Griffin, Chris Kattan and Denise Richards. Its producers are Brian Grazer, Michael Jenkinson and Damon Lee.
Alcon Entertainment's R rated thriller Insomnia fell two rungs to eighth place in its third week via Warner Bros. with a less thrilling ESTIMATED $5.89 million (-41%) at 2,458 theaters (-152 theaters; $2,396 per theater). Its cume is approximately $51.8 million.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, it stars Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank.
Columbia's PG-13 rated thriller Enough slipped two slots to ninth place in its third week with a dull ESTIMATED $3.6 million (-47%) at 2,388 theaters (-235 theaters; $1,508 per theater). Its cume is approximately $33.6 million.
Directed by Michael Apted, it stars Jennifer Lopez.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Universal and Studio Canal's PG-13 rated romantic comedy drama About A Boy, from Tribeca and Working Title, down two slots in its fourth weekend with a quiet ESTIMATED $2.74 million (-33%) at 1,619 theaters (-137 theaters; $1,685 per theater). Boy, which only cost $27 million, has a cume of approximately $32.5 million.
Directed by Paul Weitz & Chris Weitz, it stars Hugh Grant, Rachel Weisz and Toni Collette.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Fine Line Features' R rated drama Cherish to an uneventful ESTIMATED $40,000 at 6 theaters ($6,667 per theater). Written and directed by Finn Taylor, it stars Robin Tunney.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend IFC Films' PG rated romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding went wider in its eighth week with a solid ESTIMATED $1.6 million at 444 theaters (+208 theaters; $3,670 per theater). Its cume is approximately $10.9 million.
Directed by Joel Zwick, it stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $102.73 million, up 8.86 percent from last year when they totaled $94.37 million.
Key films were down 12.87 percent from the previous weekend of this year when they grossed $117.91 million.
Last year, Warner Bros.' opening week of Swordfish was first with $18.15 million at 2,678 theaters ($6,776 per theater); and DreamWorks' fourth week of Shrek was second with $16.52 million at 3,715 theaters ($4,447 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $34.6 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $35.1 million.