News for 12/12/2005


Weekend Boxoffice

'Narnia,' 'Syriana' Knock Out Boy Wizard

By DAVID GERMAIN
The Associated Press


LOS ANGELES -- Another fantasy world has joined Hollywood's instant-blockbuster club. Disney's "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" -- adapted from C.S. Lewis' tale of enchantment, epic battles and talking animals -- debuted as the weekend's top movie with $67.1 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Expanding nationwide after two weekends in limited release, the Warner Bros. thriller "Syriana," an oil-industry saga whose ensemble cast includes George Clooney and Matt Damon, ran second with $12 million.

Warner's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," the No. 1 film the previous two weekends, slipped to third with $10.3 million, raising its domestic total to $244.1 million.

"Chronicles of Narnia" kicked off what is likely to be a strong finish for Hollywood after a box-office slump that has lingered most of the year, leaving attendance down 7 percent compared to 2004.

The top 12 movies took in $117.8 million, up 17 percent from the same weekend last year.

Right behind "Chronicles of Narnia" comes Peter Jackson's remake of "King Kong," expected to open to huge audiences Wednesday.

"We've never needed two films like this more than we do now," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "It's the knockout punch that Hollywood needs."

"Chronicles of Narnia" follows the "Harry Potter" and "The Lord of the Rings" films as the latest fantasy franchise making the leap from book to screen courtesy of dazzling computer animation.

The three "Lord of the Rings" movies had respective debuts of $47.2 million, $62 million and $72.6 million. The first three "Harry Potter" flicks each opened in the $90 million range, with the fourth film, "Goblet of Fire," debuting in November with $102 million.

"Chronicles of Narnia" follows four siblings who cross into an alternate world, where they join unicorns, centaurs, a talking lion and other beasts to battle an evil witch.

Though Universal's "King Kong" will compete for much of the same audience, distributor Disney expects business to remain strong for "Chronicles of Narnia."

"I think there's more than enough room for two major hits in a season, and because of the length of the holidays, both films are going to be here for a long, long time," said Chuck Viane, Disney head of distribution.

In limited release, Academy Awards hopefuls "Brokeback Mountain" and "Memoirs of a Geisha" had stellar debuts.

Focus Features' "Brokeback Mountain," starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as sheepherders who share a summer of love then conceal an ongoing affair from their families, took in $544,549 in just five theaters. On Saturday, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association picked "Brokeback Mountain" as the year's best movie.

Sony's "Memoirs of a Geisha," starring Ziyi Zhang as a woman born into poverty who becomes a queen bee in the last days of Japan's tradition-bound geisha houses, grossed $674,000 in eight theaters.

Both films go into more theaters Friday and continue to expand through awards season.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," $67.1 million.
2. "Syriana," $12 million.
3. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," $10.3 million.
4. "Walk the Line," $5.75 million.
5. "Yours, Mine & Ours," $5.15 million.
6. "Aeon Flux," $4.6 million.
7. "Just Friends," $3.9 million.
8. "Pride & Prejudice," $2.5 million.
9. "Chicken Little," $2.3 million.
10. "Rent," $2 million.



Terrence Howard seeking justice in 'Crusaders'

By Borys Kit


LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Terrence Howard is in talks to play Thurgood Marshall in a feature about the early legal career of the first black Supreme Court justice.

"The Crusaders" is the true story of Marshall as seen through the eyes of Jack Greenberg, a dedicated young lawyer who became the only white member of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and who fought side by side with Marshall in the courts to destroy segregation. When he worked for the NAACP, Marshall won 29 of the 32 cases he argued before the Supreme Court.

Brad Silberling ("Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events") is in negotiations to direct the New Line Cinema project from a script by "The West Wing" alumni Lawrence O'Donnell and Paul Redford.

Howard is coming off a breakout year that included performances in "Hustle & Flow," "Crash," "Four Brothers," "Lackawanna Blues" and "Get Rich or Die Tryin."'



Director Singleton driving 'Convoy'

By Tatiana Siegel


"Four Brothers" director John Singleton is in negotiations to take the wheel of "Convoy," an action-adventure set in Afghanistan.

The Paramount Pictures project revolves around a group of U.S. truck drivers who make a one-year commitment to drive goods for U.S. contractors through the Afghan war zone because of financial hardships back home.

Singleton, whose credits include "2 Fast 2 Furious" and "Baby Boy," was nominated for an Academy Award for his directorial debut, "Boyz N the Hood." The sleeper summer hit "Four Brothers," also set up at Paramount, grossed nearly $75 million.



FX Sees 'Black. White.' with Ice Cube


Remember that old "Saturday Night Live" sketch where Eddie Murphy goes "undercover" as a white man? Imagine that happening in real life, and you have a sense of an upcoming documentary series on FX.

Filmmaker R.J. Cutler ("30 Days," "The War Room") and actor/hip-hop eminence Ice Cube are teaming up to produce "Black. White.," a six-episode series in which an African-American family becomes white and a Caucasian family becomes black through detailed makeup work. They then go out into the world and see what life is like in another person's skin.

"I'm really excited to be a part of a show that explores race in America," Ice Cube says. "'Black. White.' will force people to challenge themselves and really examine where we stand in terms of race in this country."

The Sparks family of Atlanta, who are African American, and the Wurgel family of Santa Monica, Calif., who are white, shared a home in L.A.'s Tarzana area for the duration of the six-week filming period last summer. After several hours in the makeup chair each day, the family members experienced life as a member of a different race.

"This series is an example of how television can be an extremely powerful and useful medium," Cutler says. "I believe the Sparks and Wurgels took a big chance but are better people for having done so."

Cutler and Ice Cube are executive producing the show along with Matt Alvarez. Keith VanderLaan, an Oscar nominee for his makeup on "The Passion of the Christ," was in charge of the families' transformations. The show is scheduled for a March premiere.



News for 12/6/2005


Weekend Boxoffice

'Harry Potter' Retains Box-Office Fire


LOS ANGELES (AP) - "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" stayed hot at the weekend box office, taking in $19.9 million. "Aeon Flux" debuted at No. 2 with $12.7 million.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:

1. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," Warner Bros., $19,878,136, 3,858 locations, $5,152 average, $229,266,716, three weeks.

2. "Aeon Flux," Paramount, $12,661,112, 2,608 locations, $4,855, $12,661,112, one week.

3. "Walk the Line," 20th Century Fox, $9,532,166, 3,160 locations, $3,017 average, $68,298,646, three weeks.

4. "Yours, Mine & Ours," Paramount, $8,258,472, 3,210 locations, $2,573 average, $34,423,307, two weeks.

5. "Just Friends," New Line, $5,601,132, 2,505 locations, $2,236 average, $21,109,390, two weeks.

6. "Pride & Prejudice," Focus, $4,624,412, 1,327 locations, $3,485 average, $22,632,716, four weeks.

7. "Rent," Sony, $4,441,633, 2,437 locations, $1,823 average, $23,743,498, two weeks.

8. "Chicken Little," Disney, $4,406,418, 3,021 locations, $1,459 average, $124,118,837, five weeks.

9. "Derailed," Weinstein Co., $2,300,550, 1,702 locations, $1,352 average, $32,711,697, four weeks.

10. "In the Mix," Lions Gate, $1,867,971, 1,608 locations, $1,162 average, $8,625,445, two weeks.

11. "The Ice Harvest," Focus Features, $1,712,528, 1,555 locations, $1,101 average, $7,736,295, two weeks.

12. "Zathura," Sony, $1,211,177, 1,791 locations, $676 average, $27,475,171, four weeks.

13. "Jarhead," Universal, $1,115,170, 1,246 locations, $895 average, $61,122,435, five weeks.

14. "Good Night, and Good Luck," Warner Independent, $1,053,466, 631 locations, $1,670 average, $21,031,448, nine weeks.

15. "Saw II," Lions Gate, $936,788, 926 locations, $1,012 average, $85,743,451, six weeks.

16. "Get Rich Or Die Tryin'," Paramount, $925,593, 906 locations, $1,022 average, $29,821,986, four weeks.

17. "The Polar Express," Warner Bros., $838,029, 66 locations, $12,697 average, $165,287,348, second week in IMAX rerelease.

18. "Capote," Sony Pictures Classics, $547,617, 247 locations, $2,217 average, $9,827,054, 10 weeks.

19. "Syriana," Warner Bros., $521,420, nine locations, $57,936 average, $1,271,259, two weeks.

20. "First Descent," Universal, $438,615, 243 locations, $1,805 average, $438,615, one week.



Blige Plays Simone for MTV Films


LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)- Mary J. Blige is in place to star in an untitled biopic of Nina Simone, currently set up at MTV Films.

The film will be produced by Jimmy Iovine, chairman at Interscope Geffen A&M. Also on board as producers are Paul Rosenberg, Gene Kirkwood and Lauren Lloyd ("Cellular"), who brought Simone's life rights to Iovine.

Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in 1933 in North Carolina. A classically trained pianist, she got her start singing in nightclubs on the east coast, particularly in Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Making her name recording jazz, blues and soul ballads, Simone became vocal in the 1960s civil rights movement, with songs like "Mississippi Goddam" "Why? The King of Love Is Dead." Frustrated with the social and political climate in the United States, she left the country in 1973 and rarely returned. She died in France in 2003 after a long illness.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, TV scribe Cynthia Mort ("Will & Grace") has been brought in to write the screenplay, which will focus (to some degree) on Simone's rise to fame and her relationship with Clifton Henderson, her Paris-based manager.

Blige broke out with her 1991 debut "What's the 411?" Subsequent albums have included "My Life," "Share My World" and "No More Drama." She's also made soundtrack contributions to films including "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" and "Waiting to Exhale."



Brandy, Logue Back in Pilot Game


Pop star Brandy and "Grounded for Life" star Donal Logue, both absent from TV for varying lengths of time, are plotting their returns to the small screen in projects at The WB and ABC.

Brandy has signed on to star in a pilot written by "Girlfriends" creator Mara Brock Akil, about a 25-year-old woman who leaves her life-long home in New York to work in Los Angeles. Logue, meanwhile, is set to star in a comedy from "Ed" creators Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman about a group of guys who plan to rob a celebrity, the showbiz trade papers report.

Burnett and Beckerman originally titled their script "I Want to Rob Jeff Goldblum." They were apparently unable to convince Goldblum to take part in the show, however, so another celeb will become the target of Logue's character and his pals.

In addition to "Grounded for Life," which ran on FOX and The WB for five seasons, Logue has starred in the indie films "Tennis, Anyone?" (which he also co-wrote and directed) and "The Tao of Steve" and appeared in "Just Like Heaven," "Confidence" and "American Splendor." He'll serve as a producer on the pilot; Burnett and Beckerman are executive producing with David Letterman, through his Worldwide Pants company.

The Brandy project represents a reunion for the singer-actress and Akil, who worked as a writer on "Moesha" before creating "Girlfriends." Akil will executive produce the pilot with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("Chicago," "The Reagans"), who also worked with Brandy on ABC's "Cinderella" in 1997.

Zadan and Meron are also producing a FOX pilot in which "Hairspray" Tony winner Harvey Fierstein would play a blue-collar mom in the mold of "Roseanne." Fierstein is co-writing the script with David Richardson ("Malcolm in the Middle," "Married to the Kellys").



Universal Hands Foxx Keys to 'The Kingdom'


LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)- Oscar winner Jamie Foxx has officially signed on to topline "The Kingdom" for Universal Pictures, which is a good thing, because the actor's been talking about doing the project for months.

The political thriller will be directed by Foxx's "Collateral" co-star Peter Berg ("Friday Night Lights"), with Michael Mann (also "Collateral") producing along with Scott Stuber. Berg and Mann devised the story, which will be written by Matthew Michal Carnahan.

According to the industry trade papers, the plot revolves around a counter-terrorism operative who goes to a mysterious Middle Eastern kingdom to investigate a terrorist action. Working with a local police officer, the Americans learn some important lessons about, well, the world and whatnot.

In an ideal world (for Universal), "The Kingdom" would begin shooting in May. That would give the "Ray" star the chance to complete work on "Dreamgirls" for DreamWorks. Foxx's next film is Mann's new "Miami Vice," another Universal joint (like Foxx's recently released "Jarhead").



Smith's Gonna Make it Right 'Tonight'


LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)- Will Smith is in place to play a disgruntled superhero in Columbia Pictures' somewhat unfortunately titled "Tonight, He Comes."

With Jonathan Mostow ("Terminator 3") on board to direct, Sony hopes to have "Tonight" going in front of cameras by next summer. That would, perhaps, let Smith perform his usual Fourth of July magic in 2007.

The original script came courtesy of Vincent Ngo, but Variety reports that Vince Gilligan has done a rewrite. Specifics on the plot -- superhero undergoes a midlife crisis -- are vague, but Columbia snagged the script after a bidding war. Akiva Goldsman and Michael Mann will produce along with Smith and James Lassiter, the actor's partner in Overbrook Entertainment.

Smith has just completed work on "The Pursuit of Happyness" (seriously, the guy needs to look into the titles of his movies), a drama for Columbia. He had a big hit earlier in the year with "Hitch."

It's expected that "Tonight" will put several Mostow projects on at least temporary hold, including a remake of "Swiss Family Robinson."



Robinson Boards Dreamgirls Adaptation

Source: The Hollywood Reporter


Keith Robinson (Fat Albert, Over There, American Dreams) has been set to play the composer C.C., brother of the pivotal character of Effie, in DreamWorks' and Paramount's Dreamgirls. Filming will start in January, says The Hollywood Reporter.
Set in the turbulent late 1960s and early '70s, the film follows the rise of a trio of women -- Effie (Jennifer Hudson), Deena (Beyonce Knowles) and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose) -- who have formed a promising girl group called The Dreamettes. At a talent competition, they are discovered by an ambitious manager named Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx), who offers them the opportunity of a lifetime: to become the back-up singers for headliner James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy). Curtis gradually takes control of the girls' look and sound, eventually giving them their own shot in the spotlight as The Dreams. That spotlight, however, begins to narrow in on Deena, finally pushing the less attractive Effie out altogether. Though the Dreams become a cross-over phenomenon, they soon realize that the cost of fame and fortune may be higher than they ever imagined.

Dreamgirls is being directed by Bill Condon from a screenplay he adapted from the stage musical's original book by Tom Eyen.



Morgan Reteams with Fey at NBC


Comedian Tracy Morgan is joining up once again with his former "Saturday Night Live" castmate Tina Fey to star in a pilot Fey is writing for NBC.

Morgan, last seen in the remake of "The Longest Yard" earlier this year, will play the star of a show-within-the-show in the project, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The show, a single-camera comedy currently working without a title, goes behind the scenes of a comedy show not unlike "SNL," for which Fey is the head writer.

The pilot has been on NBC's development roster since last spring. It was first set to film in June, following the end of "Saturday Night Live's" season, but has been pushed back. In addition to her duties on "SNL," Fey is also a new mother, having given birth to daughter Alice in September.

In the meantime, NBC has ordered a pilot for a similar project from "The West Wing" creator Aaron Sorkin. That project, an-hour-long show called "Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip," also looks behind the scenes at a late-night comedy show.

Morgan joined "SNL" in 1996, a year before Fey became part of the writing staff. He was with the show through the 2002-03 season, doing characters that ranged from Oprah Winfrey to Mike Tyson. He also had a short-lived sitcom, "The Tracy Morgan" show, on NBC in the 2003-04 season.

"Saturday Night Live" chief Lorne Michaels is executive producing the Fey pilot along with Fey, JoAnn Alfano and David Miner.



Daddy's Girl on The Rock's Plate

Source: Empire Online


The Rock talked to Empire Online about his upcoming projects, including a new family comedy.

"In all likelihood, I will do a movie called 'Daddy's Girl,' with Disney, that I'm really excited about," he said.

He added that he would play "a star quarterback on an NFL team, very brash and cocky, but not in the way of Tyrell Owens in the States but in the way of a Brett Favre who is so respected and everybody loves, but who has been single all of his life. His life gets turned upside down when his little daughter comes into his life, who's six years old."

He said that Miracle and The Rookie producers Gordon Gray and Mark Giardi are developing the project.



News for 11/28/2005


Williamson, Lindo 'Kidnapped' by NBC


Former "Boomtown" star Mykelti Williamson is getting "Kidnapped" at NBC, signing on to the network's "24"-style pilot about a teenager's abduction.

Williamson will be joined in the pilot by Carmen Ejogo ("Lackawanna Blues") and Boris McGiver ("The Pink Panther"). Additionally, Delroy Lindo ("The Cider House Rules," "Sahara") and Linus Roache ("Batman Begins") are in talks to join the cast, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Kidnapped" will chronicle the events surrounding the abduction of a wealthy New York family's 15-year-old son. The story will shift between the family, the law-enforcement types working the case, the victim and his kidnappers. Roles for the five actors haven't been spelled out yet.

Jason Smilovic ("Karen Sisco") is writing the pilot, and TV veteran Michael Dinner ("The Wonder Years," "Chicago Hope") will direct it. They'll also executive produce with Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly.

Williamson played Detective Bobby "Fearless" Smith on "Boomtown," which lasted a little over a season on NBC in 2002-03. His movie credits include "Ali" and "After the Sunset."

Lindo was recently seen in "Domino" and, like Ejogo, appeared on HBO's "Lackawanna Blues." If it's picked up, "Kidnapped" will mark his first regular role on a TV series. Roache played Thomas Wayne in "Batman Begins" and the title role in FX's movie "RFK." He co-stars in the ABC miniseries "The Ten Commandments," due next year.



News for 11/27/2005


Weekend Boxoffice

Harry's 'Goblet' Nets $54.9M at Box Office

By DAVID GERMAIN
AP Movie Writer


LOS ANGELES (AP) - A boy wizard and a country-music legend outclassed a flurry of box-office newcomers over Thanksgiving. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" took in $54.9 million over the three-day weekend to remain the top movie, while the Johnny Cash film biography "Walk the Line" stayed in second place with $19.7 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

For the whole five-day Thanksgiving period, "Goblet of Fire" grossed $81.3 million to lift its 10-day total to $201.1 million, while "Walk the Line" took in $27.6 million, raising its 10-day total to $54.7 million.

The two films paced Hollywood to a healthy holiday weekend. If estimates hold when final numbers are released Monday, it would be the second-highest gross ever for the five-day Thanksgiving period at $218.3 million, beating last year's haul by 3 percent but finishing behind 2000's record $232.1 million.

That was a boost for the slumping movie business, which has had attendance running 8 percent behind last year's.

"You've got to look at 'Harry Potter' as being the savior of the box office right now," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "Who would have thought in a year we're having this down box office that we'd have the second-biggest Thanksgiving ever?"

Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo's family flick "Yours, Mine & Ours" overcame bad reviews to lead the new movies, finishing third with $17.5 million. The movie's five-day total since opening Wednesday was $24.5 million.

The animated tale "Chicken Little" held up strongly at No. 4 with $12.4 million, lifting its four-week total to $118.2 million.

"Rent," featuring Taye Diggs and Rosario Dawson in an adaptation of the Broadway musical sensation, debuted in fifth with a three-day total of $10.7 million and $18.1 million since opening Wednesday.

Premiering at No. 6 was Ryan Reynolds' romantic comedy "Just Friends" with $9.3 million from Friday to Sunday and $13.6 million since Wednesday.

R&B singer Usher's first starring role with the mob romance "In the Mix" opened at No. 9 with $4.5 million for the weekend and $6.2 million since Wednesday. John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton's crime caper "The Ice Harvest" debuted at No. 10 with $3.7 million Friday to Sunday and $5.1 million since Wednesday.

"Goblet of Fire" shot past $200 million domestically in just 10 days, the fastest of the four "Harry Potter" movies to cross that mark. The fastest-grossing of the previous movies was the first, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which took in $186 million in 10 days.

"Goblet of Fire" could be on track to beat the $317.6 million domestic gross of "Sorcerer's Stone," the franchise's most successful installment.

"Goblet of Fire" has disproved speculation that its PG-13 rating _ the first of the franchise to carry that tag, after PG ratings for the first three _ might hurt the film by scaring off younger fans.

"We've learned the audience has grown older with the movies, so the PG-13 rating just played into the core of the audience," said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., which releases the "Harry Potter" films.

Warner Bros. also had terrific results for its limited-release debut of "Syriana," whose ensemble cast includes George Clooney and Matt Damon in a thriller centered on the oil industry. The film took in a whopping $372,147 in five theaters over the weekend and $553,372 since Wednesday. "Syriana" goes into nationwide release Dec. 9.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," $54.9 million.
2. "Walk the Line," $19.7 million.
3. "Yours, Mine & Ours," $17.5 million.
4. "Chicken Little," $12.4 million.
5. "Rent," $10.7 million.
6. "Just Friends," $9.3 million.
7. "Pride & Prejudice," $7 million.
8. "Derailed," $4.7 million.
9. "In the Mix," $4.5 million.
10. "The Ice Harvest," $3.7 million.



Jones Opens the 'Reading Room' Door

By Kate O'Hare


Generations ago, James Earl Jones' great-great-grandmother, an Irish indentured servant, taught his great-great-grandfather, an African slave, how to read.

"Of course," Jones says, "it was forbidden. Slaves weren't allowed to read because they might get some wisdom about what was wrong with their lives and why slavery was not right. To cut down on the rebellion and the enlightenment, there were laws passed so that slaves couldn't read.

"And I find it an irony that it's so hard to convince generations of young black people of the importance of reading. In other words, something that was forbidden before, now it's highly encouraged, but some people, on their own, reject it, not just reading but learning and education."

Emphasizing he's neither a sociologist nor an activist, Jones has taken the best route available to an actor to discuss an important subject - he did a movie about it.

"I wouldn't call it activism," Jones says. "That's called influence. The reason I didn't become active politically is I thought, being an actor, I would be able to affect thought -- if not change -- the way people feel about things. I was very grateful to have that access to resort to."

Airing Saturday, Nov. 26, on the Hallmark Channel, "The Reading Room" -- endorsed by the National Center for Family Literacy -- features Jones as William Campbell, a retired businessman who has just lost his beloved wife Helen (Lynne Moody). After the guests leave the memorial service, he plays a video recorded during her last days, in which she asks him to use their money and personal library to open a community reading room in a storefront business he owns in his former inner-city neighborhood.

While opening the reading room isn't that difficult, keeping it open proves to be a formidable challenge.

"I had to keep the mission clear in my head doing the movie," Jones says, "that this was not his idea. It was his wife's idea. The focus was to take the books out of the library where you would never use them and put them someplace where they can be used. That's the whole mission. His only virtue is that he's very stubborn about it.

"Being mugged doesn't chase him out; being threatened doesn't chase him out; being discouraged doesn't chase him out. He's bent on achieving that mission. That's probably why he was successful as a businessman."

Along the way, Campbell reaches out to a young thief (Douglas Spain) by offering him a job as a security guard, and to a bright 8-year-old (Gabby Soleil), who asks for help learning to read so she can then help her literacy-challenged mother.

Ironically, one of Campbell's biggest challenges comes from local clergyman, the Rev. Rashid Rahim (Georg Stanford Brown, who also directs). Rahim questions Campbell's motives and his book collection, saying he needs more titles that are relevant to the community's ethnic makeup. Always arriving accompanied by big men in suits, Rahim is a menacing character.

"I told Georg I would not do the movie unless he did the reverend," Jones explains. "I said, 'I'm not coming near it unless you are the other guy,' and I'm very happy that he did it, because he was able to bring all the colors to that character, the good and the bad.

"It's a little Mafia, a little Nation of Islam. It was patterned after a lot of movements that have been going on in our lifetime."

"The Reading Room" also features Tim Reid ("Frank's Place"), Joanna Cassidy ("Six Feet Under") and Kathryne Dora Brown, daughter of the film's director and actress Tyne Daly.

Obviously, a movie such as "The Reading Room" is meant to encourage reading and literacy, but Jones feels that, ultimately, what you take away from the film is related to what you bring to it.

"In my years of being an actor," he says, "I learned not to have an agenda about the message. My job is to figure out the essential statement that the story makes, but beyond that statement, it cannot be a message. A message means that it reaches somebody's ear and affects them. That's the job of the receiver more than the sender.

"It's not that I don't have any hope, I don't like to prejudge what somebody will get out of a movie. There are messages, but they're made up of the questions that the audience brings to it themselves. Most of us have questions that we have never voiced, but we all have questions. You see a movie, and the message we get is the one that answers the questions we have innately.

"To pretend that you have something that will bypass that -- I don't believe that. I don't like to declare that there's a message."

For example, Jones remembers being affected by something he saw in the 1952 movie "Viva Zapata!" a biography of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata (Marlon Brando).

"On his wedding night," Jones recalls, "he can't sleep. He's also become the leader of a nation. His wife asks him 'What's wrong?' 'I can't read.' And he said it with such anguish.

"My [then preschool-age] son did that one day. We made a habit of reading to him, and one day he said, 'I can't read, Dad. I wish I could read. I want to be able to look at the book and see what it says myself, instead of having you tell me.'

"I had a problem in my own childhood, being a stutterer. While I was not illiterate, I was practically illiterate, because I couldn't share. I couldn't get the words out because it was shattered, broken, stuttering and stammering."



News for 11/21/2005


Weekend Boxoffice

'Harry Potter' Dominates Box Office

By ALICIA CHANG
Associated Press Writer


LOS ANGELES (AP) - The bespectacled boy wizard has worked his biggest box-office magic to date. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" grossed $101.4 million in its debut weekend, the best results yet for the franchise, according to studio estimates released Sunday.

The latest Potter movie led a lineup that helped reverse the Hollywood box-office slump, with the top 12 films raking in $171 million, up 19 percent from the same weekend last year when "National Treasure" was No. 1 with $35.1 million.

"Goblet of Fire" was the fourth-best, three-day opening weekend ever, behind "Spider-Man" at $114.8 million in 2002 and "Star Wars: Episode III _ Revenge of the Sith" and "Shrek 2," at $108 million apiece.

The fourth installment of the adventures of Harry and his curious classmates at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is the first Potter film to earn a PG-13 rating for its fantasy violence and special effects. But that did not deter audiences.

"The Potter franchise is just irresistible to moviegoers," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "The combination of the Potter books and the love audiences have for the movies conspired a big opening weekend."

Debuting in second place was the Johnny Cash film biopic "Walk the Line," which took in $22.4 million. The film chronicles the early musical career of Cash, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and also stars Reese Witherspoon as Cash's lifelong love, June Carter. Phoenix and Witherspoon do their own singing.

Disney's computer-animated film "Chicken Little," which held the top spot last week, slipped to No. 3 with $14.8 million. Jennifer Anniston's thriller "Derailed" ranked fourth with $6.5 million and the sci-fi fantasy "Zathura: A Space Adventure" rounded out the top five with $5.1 million.

Based on the best-selling books by J.K. Rowling, "Goblet of Fire" follows 14-year-old Harry, who unwillingly competes against three older wizards in a dangerous Triwizard Tournament. The movie features a dramatic face-off between Harry and Lord Voldemort _ He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named _ the dark warlock who killed Harry's parents and who tried to kill him when he was a baby.

Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner Bros., which released "Goblet of Fire," said the results exceeded the studio's expectations. The third Potter film, "Prisoner of Azkaban," premiered last year at $93.7 million.

"As the audience has gotten older in time, faithful readers of the Potter books will remain faithful to the movies," Fellman said.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," $101.4 million
2. "Walk the Line," $22.4 million
3. "Chicken Little," $14.8 million
4. "Derailed," $6.5 million
5. "Zathura," $5.1 million
6. "Jarhead," $4.8 million
7. "Get Rich or Die Tryin," $4.4 million
8. "Saw II," $3.9 million
9. "Legend of Zorro," $2.3 million
10. "Pride and Prejudice," $2.1 million



'Practice' Star Harris In on 'Heist'


NBC's "Ocean's 11"-esque pilot "Heist" has added three more people to its band of thieves, including two-time Emmy nominee Steve Harris ("The Practice").

Billy Gardell and Michele Hicks have also signed on to the show, which will chronicle a master thief's (Dougray Scott, "Dark Water") plan to rob three Beverly Hills jewelry stores simultaneously. NBC has given a pilot order to the project and also asked for additional scripts, suggesting "Heist" could be considered for a midseason spot.

Harris, who played principled defense lawyer Eugene Young on "The Practice," will be somewhat less upstanding in "Heist," as he's set to play Scott's partner in crime, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It would be his first regular TV work since the ABC series ended its run in 2004.

His movie credits include this year's surprise hit "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Minority Report." He also does voice work for the Kids WB series "The Batman."

Hicks has had a recurring part on FX's "The Shield" as Mara, the wife of cop Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins). Gardell co-starred in "Lucky" -- which was created by "Heist" writers Mark and Robb Cullen -- and has had a recurring part on "Yes, Dear."



Sandler, Cheadle May Topline 9/11 Film


LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)- Once the floodgates opened for films about the tragedy of 9/11, it was only a matter of time before Adam Sandler took his crack at the subject.

According to Variety, Sandler and Don Cheadle are circling "Reign O'er Me," a script from writer-director Mike Binder ("The Upside of Anger"). The drama has drawn interest from Sony and could be made next year at a budget of under $20 million if the pieces all fall together.

Sandler would star as a man still trying to cope with losing his family in the terrorist attacks. Cheadle would play the Robin Williams role as Sandler's former college roommate, now a doctor, who helps his friends come to terms with the unimaginable.

If the production can gel in time, "Reign" would probably be lined up as the third major studio offering to tackle 9/11. Oliver Stone is currently in production on a Paramount-based World Trade Center project starring Nicolas Cage, while Paul Greengrass is making "Flight 93" at Universal.

Cheadle earned his first Oscar nomination last year for "Hotel Rwanda" and is considered a candidate this year for his work in "Crash."

"Reign" would find Sandler in his "Punch Drunk Love"/"Spanglish" mode, nestled around the financial windfalls of "The Longest Yard" and the upcoming "Click."



'Dreamgirls' Role Goes to 'Idol' Vet Hudson


LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)- In the third season of "American Idol," Fantasia Barrino defeated fellow diva rivals Latoya London and Jennifer Hudson to capture the crown. It appears that Hudson has had the last laugh, snagging a coveted movie role out from under Fantasia's nose.

Media reports and sources close to the production say that Hudson has been cast as Effie in the DreamWorks adaptation of the hit Broadway musical "Dreamgirls." The film, based loosely around the rise of the Supremes, will be directed by Oscar winner Bill Condon. Beyonce Knowles is in place as Deena (the Diana Ross role), with Tony winner Anika Noni Rose, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy also on board.

Fantasia's candidacy for the part got a big boost this summer from an audition tape that apparently blew the filmmakers away, but the actual casting process remained stalled. Last month, Foxx took time out from promoting "Jarhead" to endorse Fantasia for Effie, the lead singer of the show's main girl group.

"I think if Fantasia does it, it's outta here," Foxx said. "If Fantasia does the movie it's completely in the stratosphere. It's nuts."

Ultimately, though, producers opted to go with Fantasia's big-voiced "Idol" rival Hudson, whose 2004 vote-off prompted voting controversy and fueled accusations of racism levied against the popular FOX television show.

"I don't think it was based on talent," Hudson said after a Barry Manilow theme night led to her "Idol" demise. "If we're gonna base it on talent, I know I was robbed. I don't think... I don't know exactly what it was based on, but I don't think it was talent at all."

Production on "Dreamgirls" is still expected to begin in January.



News for 11/15/2005


Weekend Boxoffice

'Chicken Little' Stays Atop Box Office


LOS ANGELES (AP) - Disney's animated "Chicken Little" stayed atop the box office pecking order, pulling in more than $31 million during the weekend.

The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:

1. "Chicken Little," Disney, $31,653,590, 3,658 locations, $8,653 average, $80,401,485, two weeks.

2. "Zathura," Sony, $13,427,872, 3,223 locations, $4,166 average, $13,427,872, one week.

3. "Derailed," Weinstein Co., $12,211,986, 2,443 locations, $4,999 average, $12,211,986, one week.

4. "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," Paramount, $12,020,807, 1,652 locations, $7,277 average, $17,723,544, one week.

5. "Jarhead," Universal, $11,738,160, 2,448 locations, $4,795 average, $46,539,505, two weeks.

6. "Saw II," Lions Gate, $9,125,604, 2,949 locations, $3,094 average, $73,876,511, three weeks.

7. "The Legend of Zorro," Sony, $6,381,648, 3,053 locations, $2,090 average, $39,270,385, three weeks.

8. "Prime," Universal, $3,874,375, 1,781 locations, $2,175 average, $18,918,950, three weeks.

9. "Dreamer: Inspired By a True Story," DreamWorks, $3,728,510, 2,735 locations, $1,363 average, $28,853,998, four weeks.

10. "Pride and Prejudice," Focus, $2,865,017, 215 locations, $13,326 average, $2,865,017, one week.

11. "Good Night, and Good Luck.," Warner Independent, $2,501,496, 668 locations, $3,745 average, $14,489,880, six weeks.

12. "Shopgirl," Disney, $1,802,032, 493 locations, $3,655 average, $6,118,672, four weeks.

13. "The Weather Man," Paramount, $1,754,301, 1,250 locations, $1,403 average, $11,377,751, three weeks.

14. "Flightplan," Disney, $1,585,755, 1,041 locations, $1,523 average, $86,650,911, eight weeks.

15. "Capote," Sony Pictures Classics, $1,190,112, 264 locations, $4,508 average, $6,517,371, seven weeks.

16. "Wallace & Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit," DreamWorks, $959,813, 1,012 locations, $948 average, $54,298,093, six weeks.

17. "North Country," Warner Bros., $933,009, 1,044 locations, $894 average, $17,350,237, four weeks.

18. "The Fog," Sony Screen Gems, $823,143, 787 locations, $1,046 average, $29,212,109, five weeks.

19. "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang," Warner Bros., $785,842, 169 locations, $4,650 average, $2,107,243, four weeks.

20. "Elizabethtown," Paramount, $702,592, 730 locations, $962 average, $26,360,263, five weeks.



Tracie Thoms on 'Cold Case' for CBS

By Nellie Andreeva
The Hollywood Reporter

Tracie Thoms has joined the cast of CBS' crime drama "Cold Case" as a regular.

She will play Kat Miller, a streetwise young narcotics detective who joins the Philadelphia homicide squad after assisting in solving a case from 1973. She will make her debut on the show in the episode slated to air Sunday.

Thoms will next be seen in Chris Columbus' upcoming feature adaptation of the musical "Rent."



Haysbert Opts for 'Breach' Berth


LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)- AllState pitchman and once-and-future President Palmer Dennis Haysbert has signed on for "Breach," a true life thriller set up at Universal Pictures from Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.

Ryan Phillippe and Chris Cooper have already committed to topline the project, which is written and directed by Billy Ray ("Shattered Glass").

"Breach" focuses on the mostly true story of an aspiring FBI agent (Phillippe) who gets recruited into a new department entrusted with protecting classified FBI intelligence. He's working under a respected operative, Robert Hanssen (Cooper), who may actually be working for the other side. Given that in real life, Hanssen was arrested in 2001 after more than a decade of providing information to the KGB, he's almost certainly working for the other side.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Haysbert will join Laura Linney as an investigating agent.

The film will reunite Haysbert with his "Jarhead" co-star Cooper. In addition to his long run on FOX's "24," Haysbert's credits include the features "Far From Heaven" and "Love & Basketball." He's also one of the stars of CBS' "The Unit," a midseason drama from David Mamet and Shawn Ryan ("The Shield").



Sykes, Wilson join Reitman's 'Super' cast

By Tatiana Siegel
The Hollywood Reporter


Wanda Sykes and Rainn Wilson have joined the cast of "Super Ex," a superhero comedy starring Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson.

Directed by Ivan Reitman, the Regency Enterprises project centers on a man (Luke Wilson) who learns that his girlfriend (Thurman) is a superhero and breaks up with her when she becomes too controlling and neurotic. She then uses her powers to torment and embarrass him.

Sykes will play the boss of Luke Wilson's character, while Rainn Wilson will play the best friend.

The film is shooting in New York.

Sykes' credits include "Monster-in-Law" and HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Rainn Wilson's credits include "Sahara," NBC's "The Office" and HBO's "Six Feet Under."



Snipes & Van Peebles Reunite on Luck

Source: The Hollywood Reporter


The Hollywood Reporter says Wesley Snipes and Mario Van Peebles, who teamed for 1991's New Jack City, are reuniting for Hard Luck.

Cybill Shepherd is joining Snipes, who is in final negotiations to topline the pulpy thriller, which Van Peebles is directing. Brad Wyman (Monster) is producing along with Van Peebles.

Hard Luck is described as a quirky thriller following three converging story lines involving bootleggers, a serial killer and drug dealers.

Snipes will play a former drug dealer who is trying to go straight but comes across a stash of stolen drugs. Shepherd will play Cass, a middle-aged suburban housewife who hides a sadistic and vicious streak.



News for 11/8/2005


'Desperate Housewives' Actor Fired

By LYNN ELBER
AP Television Writer


Page Kennedy, who plays a fugitive from the law on "Desperate Housewives," was fired from the hit ABC drama for improper conduct, a series spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Kennedy, who joined the show this season, was let go Friday after a "thorough investigation by the studio" of the allegations against him, publicist Janet Daily said. "Desperate Housewives" is produced by Touchstone Television, part of The Walt Disney Co.

Details of the allegations were unavailable, Daily said. A call by The Associated Press to Kennedy's agent for comment wasn't immediately returned Tuesday.

The alleged misconduct didn't involve another cast member, a source close to the production said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Kennedy played Caleb, a character shrouded in mystery and seen only briefly as he was held captive in the basement of Wisteria Lane newcomer Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard). In the Oct. 23 episode, it was revealed that Caleb may be responsible for a teenager's murder in Chicago.

The role of Caleb is being recast, Daily said. Kennedy's final appearance on the ABC series is Sunday.

In an Associated Press interview last month, Kennedy, 28, said the "Desperate Housewives" role represented the chance of "making a name for myself."

He was so intent on joining the show, he said, that he passed on other jobs, including a recurring role on Showtime's "Barber Shop" and parts on WB's upcoming Rebecca Romijn series, "Pepper Dennis," and on UPN's "Love, Inc."

"I needed this opportunity to play this kind of character," Kennedy said. "It isn't the kind that comes around often and it's usually played by a name (actor). This is an opportunity for me to showcase all the years of training I've had."

The Detroit native had appeared in the HBO series "Six Feet Under" as a football player who died of heat stroke and made his film debut as a bad guy in 2003's "S.W.A.T." He's in the movie "In the Mix," which is set to open on his birthday, Nov. 23.

"Desperate Housewives," among the top-rated series with about 25 million viewers weekly, represents "the biggest exposure I'll have gotten," Kennedy told the AP. He lauded Woodard as his favorite actress, and said the rest of the cast "has been so sweet and nice to me."



Three Actors Stay 'Awake' with Alba, Christensen


LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)- The psychological thriller "Awake" is fleshing out its ensemble with Lena Olin, Terrence Howard and Sam Robards.

Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba are already in place as the stars of the project, which comes from GreeneStreet Films and the Weinstein Co. Writer Joby Harold is making his directing debut on the film, which began shooting at the end of last month in New York.

Details remain sketchy about the film. Christensen plays a man who suffers from "anesthetic awareness" during surgery. It's unclear what that does to him or how it changes his life. Alba plays his wife. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Robards and Olin will play his parents and Howard will appear as the surgeon who leads his operation.

It's been a busy year for Howard. The veteran character actor starred in "Hustle & Flow" and has been seen in "Four Brothers," "Crash" and the upcoming "Get Rich or Die Tryin'."

An Emmy nominee for "Alias" and an Oscar nominee for "Enemies: A Love Story," Olin's next screen appearance is in the winter comedy "Casanova."

Credits for Robards include "A.I." and "Catch that Kid."



Akinnuoye-Agbaje Is 'Lost' Mystery Man

By Daniel Fienberg


LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) Following in the storied tradition of "Gilligan's Island," where cosmonauts and Globetrotters would wash up with some regularity, ABC's "Lost" keeps adding regular cast members to a deserted island getaway that seems much less exclusive than your basic club med. Viewers have been washing up in larger audiences than ever, thanks in part to the show's new blood, mysterious characters like Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Mr. Eko.

London-born Akinnuoye-Agbaje would be on the verge of becoming a household name this winter expect very few households are going to find it easy to pronounce his unique name. The son of Nigerian immigrants, the 38-year-old actor progressed from stereotypical African roles in films like "Congo" and "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" to a memorable turn as the Simon Adebisi, the baddest of the bad on HBO's "Oz." His mainstream visibility is only increasing with his role as charismatic drug dealer Majestic in "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" and his "Lost" gig, which he took immediately afterwards as something of a vacation.

"Working in Hawaii, being out there, it's different, man," Akinnuoye-Agbaje says. "It's a trip. You're on a rock and you work and all the locals know you and it's quite a trip. I took it after 'Get Rich or Die Trying' just to cleanse me out. It was nice to wash that out and go to a beautiful environment."

So far, viewers have learned very little about Akinnuoye-Agbaje's Mr. Eko. The character hasn't had more than a dozen lines of dialogue and while his presence was initially threatening, it certainly appears that he was part of the second group of plane crash survivors, a clan that also has introduced Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros to the cast. Akinnuoye-Agbaje says he had no concerns about being dropped into the insular "Lost" community that has been bonding in Hawaii for well over a year.

"I didn't really have time to even consider it, I went straight to work," he says of the tight switch from "Get Rich." "In hindsight, they're a very tight bunch of actors. Obviously, when you're very far from home you kind of club together. And it's genuine. There's a really nice sense of camaraderie there. Every Wednesday a different actor is showing the episode in their house and they gather there to watch it. It's nice it's a nice posse to work with."

Although he's only been shooting for a few months, Akinnuoye-Agbaje has already contracted that particular disease that afflicts all "Lost" thespians, a condition characterized by vagaries and ambiguity.

"I've been really pleasantly surprised," he hints of the direction that Mr. Eko will take in the weeks to come. "I think you're going to like it. I don't think you've seen this kind of dimension of character or the culture illuminated on network TV in a long time, like in primetime."

Hmmm... That may not necessarily say much. Has he been paying attention to any of the wildly spreading speculation about his character?

"No," he laughs. "Just get on with the work, man."

And how many episodes will Mr. Eko be around for?

"What do I say? I'm down, let's put it that way. I'm down unless the vicissitudes of life change."

And when will we learn more about his the soft-spoken shirtless giant?

"You'll see... In the next two weeks, it's about to get funky."

That's enough for us. "Lost" returns with new episodes this Wednesday (Nov. 9). "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" opens the same day.



News for 11/6/2005


Weekend Boxoffice

'Chicken Little' Can't Save Box Office

By DAVID GERMAIN
AP Movie Writer


LOS ANGELES (AP) - The sky is still falling in Hollywood, even though Chicken Little and the Marines have landed.

The box office tumbled again despite solid weekends for the animated "Chicken Little," which debuted with $40.1 million, and the Desert Storm drama "Jarhead," which opened with $28.8 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The films paced Hollywood to a healthy weekend, with the top 12 movies grossing $121.2 million. Yet that was down 10 percent from the same weekend in 2004, when "The Incredibles" premiered with $70.5 million. This year's movie attendance is running 8 percent behind last year's.

"Chicken Little" and "Jarhead" each came in as much as $10 million ahead of industry expectations, a sign audiences are getting into the holiday moviegoing spirit. Upcoming releases include "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "King Kong" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

"Immediately after Halloween, whatever it is, people's mind-set turns to movies," said Chuck Viane, head of distribution for Disney, which released "Chicken Little." "There's such anticipation for `Potter, `Narnia' and `Kong.' There are some monstrously big openings ahead of us."

A strong finish for Hollywood could indicate the slump resulted from a weak crop of movies earlier this year, rather than analysts' speculation that audiences were skipping movies in favor of home-entertainment options.

"I hope you get into the high-profile film season and they say, `I want to see that,'" said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal, which released "Jarhead," starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jamie Foxx as Marines in the Gulf War. "That would prove they just weren't happy with the product lineup."

"Chicken Little," with Zach Braff providing the voice of the fairy-tale fowl that proclaimed the sky was falling, is Disney's first fully computer-animated movie. It was Disney's second-best animated opening ever, behind "The Lion King" with $40.9 million.

The debut includes $2.1 million from 84 theaters showing a 3-D version of "Chicken Little."

Disney's deal to distribute Pixar's computer-animated films ("The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo") expires with next summer's "Cars." Though negotiations on a new deal continue, the strong opening for "Chicken Little" is a good start for Disney in computer animation if the studio permanently parts ways with Pixar.

Still, "Chicken Little" received so-so reviews, with some critics saying its an undernourished story compared to hits made by Pixar or rival DreamWorks (the "Shrek" films, "Madagascar").

Along with Pixar's string of hits, DreamWorks cartoons have opened to bigger numbers, including this year's "Madagascar," which grossed $61 million in its first weekend and went on to a $193.1 million domestic total.

But the debut of "Chicken Little" was in line with openings for 20th Century Fox's "Robots" ($36 million) last spring and DreamWorks' "Shark Tale" ($47.6 million) a year ago.

"This is right on the money in terms of animated openings," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "This debut on `Chicken Little' says they can do it, and they can bring in an audience."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. Final figures will be released Monday.

1. "Chicken Little," $40.1 million.
2. "Jarhead," $28.8 million.
3. "Saw II," $17.2 million.
4. "The Legend of Zorro," $10 million.
5. "Prime," $5.3 million.
6. "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story," $4.8 million.
7. "Good Night, and Good Luck," $3.1 million.
8. "The Weather Man," $2.9 million.
9. "Shopgirl," $2.5 million.
10. "Flightplan," $2.3 million.



'Freedomland' Exits Oscar Realm


LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)- Sony Pictures' Oscar promotion choices just keep getting easier. Less than two weeks after the studio pushed "All the King's Men" back to an undetermined 2006 release date, Revolution's "Freedomland" has been lifted from a one-week Oscar qualifying run in December.

Rather than opening in limited release for Academy eligibility and going wide on Jan. 13, the Richard Price adaptation will now be held back to Feb. 17 to take advantage of Presidents Day weekend, according to media reports.

Samuel L. Jackson, Julianne Moore and Edie Falco star, with Revolution bigwig Joe Roth ("Christmas with the Kranks") directing. The 1998 Price novel focused on a white single mother who stirs up racial tensions in a New Jersey project by claiming that a black man kidnapped her son.

With "Freedomland" and "King's Men" off the books, Sony's Oscar slate consists mostly of Rob Marshall's "Memoirs of a Geisha" and Chris Columbus' "Rent."