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EMMYS: What Was NBC/Conan Thinking?

By | Sunday August 27, 2006 @ 5:25pm PDT

The very idea that tonight’s Emmy showcast on NBC was so scripted-in-stone that neither the network nor host Conan O’Brien could change a word of the broadcast opener, or decide not to show it altogether and substitute another skit crafted at the last minute, is absurd. After all, isn’t that the reason Hollywood pays writers for these awards shows? C’mon, couldn’t one executive or producer, much less Conan or the television academy that puts on the Emmys, pipe up and say, “Uh, maybe starting with a plane crash comedy skit on the same day there was an actual plane crash might be in poor taste? Let’s rewrite.” But, noooooooooo. Now the NBC affiliate general manager at the Lexington, Kentucky, site of today’s tragedy says he was ”horrified” by NBC’s callousness. “We wish somebody had thought this through. It’s somewhere between ignorance and incompetence.” So I ask: Will someone get fired for this? Host Conan riffed off the ABC’s series Lost which was all-but-ignored by the Emmies by starting the ceremony with a filmed comedy bit in which O’Brien was seen sipping champagne aboard a jetliner. “What could possibly go wrong tonight?” he says — before the plane crashes onto an island resembling the one in ABC’s drama. Today, in Lexington, Kentucky, commuter jet Delta Comair Flight 5191 mistakenly trying to take off on a runway that was too short crashed into a field Sunday and burst into flames, according to media reports, killing 49 people and leaving the lone survivor — a co-pilot — in critical condition. Really, is … Read More »

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Well, This Explains Hollywood Moguls…

By | Sunday August 27, 2006 @ 3:08pm PDT

We all know that Hollywood’s executive suites are populated by Hollywood’s Napoleons. Long on ego, short on stature. So now the latest working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that tall people are smarter than their height-challenged peers. ”As early as age three — before schooling has had a chance to play a role — and throughout childhood, taller children perform significantly better on cognitive tests,” wrote Anne Case and Christina Paxson of Princeton University in the paper published by the NBER. To read the study, click here. Which reminds me, back in 1999 when court testimony in the Disney v Katzenberg lawsuit brought out that tall Michael Eisner called short Jeffrey a “midget,” I penned this little brief about Hollywood’s Napoleons for New York magazine. Enjoy.

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Oops! Brad Grey Now Has No Deniability

By | Sunday August 27, 2006 @ 9:53am PDT

Here’s yet one more reason why rival Hollywood studios are salivating to use the newly branded Brad Grey Wimp Factor to get a leg up on Paramount with talent. Newsweek just ensured that Paramount boss Brad Grey has no deniability in the Viacom vs Cruise cock-up. “Critics saw it as evidence that Paramount chairman Brad Grey and his boss, Tom Freston, were powerless. Redstone says that’s false. ‘We were all in agreement about ending Tom Cruise’s production deal,’ Redstone tells Newsweek. ‘I have complete faith in Tom and Brad, and they are clearly running the business.’ Last Friday, Grey spoke directly about the matter to Newsweek: ‘Sumner is a maverick. He said what he felt, and that’s his prerogative. He certainly didn’t ask my permission, and I’m certain, knowing Sumner as I do, that he felt no obligation to. He built the place.” What I find most disturbing here is that Grey is so pussy-whipped that he couldn’t even get permission from Redstone to at least disagree about a public diss of a star who’s made $3 billion in box office gross for the studio. At best, Grey offered this weak kiss-ass. “I still admire Tom Cruise,” Brad told Newsweek. “He’s a huge movie star, and a great actor, and I’m sure we’ll work together in the future.’” So let’s analyze: Sumner says everyone agreed to dump Cruise’s production deal, including Brad; but Brad implies Sumner did it on his … Read More »

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Outkast’s ‘Idlewild’: Hip-Hop 2′s Demise?

By | Sunday August 27, 2006 @ 9:12am PDT

All of Hollywood had their eyes on the box office of popular hip hop group Outkast’s Idlewild from Universal this weekend since, historically, musicians who try to crossover into film rarely have luck although rap and hip hop artists have had a better time of it than most. (Eminem’s 8 Mile…) Playing in just 973 theaters, the Universal movie did $2.1 mil Friday and $2.2 mil Saturday which puts its weekend opening total at $5.9 mil. I, for one, wish Outkast had done something more contemporary than this tired Harlem Nights retread (and that movie killed Eddie Murphy’s film career, for awhile). But its per-screen average was a jazzy $6,055 despite mixed reviews. Meanwhile, MSNBC.com provides some compelling yes-and-no answers to the eternally asked question, Is Outkast breaking up? (Please, god, no. I love these guys…)

Argument: OutKast is over… The Idlewild soundtrack stinks! The movie stinks too! It’s a rap musical set in the 30s — that’s just stupid (some say). Andre “3000″ Patton’s tough-guy speakeasy owner and Antwan “Big Boi” Benjamin’s tortured piano player are two-dimensional, and neither has the acting chops to make up for it. Director Bryan Barber comes from music videos, and his nausea-inducing jump cuts make it show. Plus, all the female characters are either harpies or hos. André only wants to sing and be weird. They haven’t really worked together for six years. All their outside interests keep them from the hip-hop. Benjamin is developing a clothing line and working on … Read More »

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U.S. Loves Sports! Pro Football Film ‘Invincible’ #1; NASCAR Spoof ‘Talladega Nights’ #2; ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ #3; Outkast’s ‘Idlewild’ Best Per-Screen $$$

By | Saturday August 26, 2006 @ 8:18am PDT

SUNDAY UPDATE: U.S. moviegoers made sports films #1 and #2 at the box office this weekend. There’s nothing more predictable, as the NFL returns to television, than a movie about a down-on-his-luck guy who attempts an against-the-odds shot at making a pro football team. So I’m told Disney’s formulaic Invincible starring Mark Wahlberg opened in 2,917 theaters with so-so numbers that were still better than expected — earning $5.4 million Friday but up 30% Saturday with $6.7 million so that makes for a $17.2 mil weekend. (Weekend figures include Sunday estimates.) The Warner Bros’ lame comedy Beerfest staggered into 2,964 theaters Friday with just $2.7 mil, and -13% less for $2.2 mil Saturday, for what is a weak $6.7 mil opening — extending that studio’s cold streak this very hot summer. Meanwhile, Warner Communications’ sister studio, New Line, continues to be embarrassed by the utter collapse of Snakes on a Plane, down an ugly 72% its second weekend for what is only a $6.1 mil weekend. And, to top it off, New Line’s new entry How to Eat Fried Worms can’t even wiggle its way into the top 10, earning on Friday just $1.3 mil for what’s only a $4.1 mil weekend. But Sony’s hot comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby finished No. 2 by revving another $2.4 mil Friday and $3.3 mil Saturday for an $8 mil weekend. The biggest surprise was No. 3, Fox Searchlight’s Little Miss Sunshine, one of the best-reviewed movies of the summer. After lighting up with $2 mil Friday and $3.0 mil Saturday, it’s posting a $7.2 mil weekend. Universal’s Accepted did $2.1 … Read More »

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Guv Arnold Settles Groping, Smearing Lawsuit; That’s Some Fab Friend You Have, Steven/Jeffrey/Haim

By | Friday August 25, 2006 @ 3:54pm PDT

So this is the fab Republican “friend” whom Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Haim Saban and some other so-called Hollywood Democrats are financially and politically supporting in this November’s California gubernatorial election? Media reports today say Arnold Schwarzenegger has finally settled that lawsuit brought by Anna Richardson, the British TV host who accused the actor of groping her and two of his top political aides of later smearing her reputation because she came after him. Let’s not forget that one of those aides, Sean Walsh, played a pivotal role in that horrible mess involving Los Angeleno stuntwoman Rhonda Miller who also dared to come forward before 2003′s recall election and accuse Schwarzenegger of groping her. Here’s my 2003 LA Weekly “Deadline Hollywood” column with the details about it, Arnold’s True Lies. As everyone knows, the burden to prove libel is lower in the British courts than in U.S. courts. Miller wasn’t as successful with her libel lawsuit: it was dismissed by a Los Angeles judge.

Previous: What? Spielberg, Katzenberg & Saban Supporting ‘Friend’ Arnold

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I Was Sent This (Fake) WMA Email

By | Thursday August 24, 2006 @ 5:49pm PDT

No, I didn’t write this: I received this in my email and found it amusing. In the interest of fairness, send me fake trade articles, emails or internal memos for CAA or ICM or Endeavor or United Talent, and I’ll post the best one for each agency. Labor Day lazy days, right?

WMA To Open Dubai Office

by Colom Asiseeum, Variety International

In what many in Hollywood are calling a surprising move, the venerable ten percentery, William Morris Agency, announced today that later this fall it would open the first branch office of an American based talent agency in the Arab world. “Times are changing,” said Morris’ COO Irv Weintraub. “1.2 billion Muslims want to be entertained and we are in a unique position to make that happen. After all, we once represented Omar Sharif, Maria ”Midnight at the Oasis” Muldaur, Sabu and Arthur Sarkissian. No other Hollywood agency has the plethora of experience in the region that we do.” “Things are already jumping.” Weintraub went on to say. ”We are bringing Stanley Donen out of retirement to direct an all-women-in-burqas production of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” at the Magic Carpet Dinner Theater in Riyadh which will star David Hasselhoff. Hasselhoff is huge in the Arab world.” After a brief pause Weintraub corrected himself saying, “Actually in Germany but many Germans vacation in the region and that is important too.” Additionally Weintraub says Read More »

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Viacom vs Cruise: Brian Grazer Mouthtrap

By | Thursday August 24, 2006 @ 3:16pm PDT

What a convenient time for Brian Grazer to be off vacationing with family and out of touch with his office and reporters. But not out of touch with his Hollywood pals, thankfully. I’m told that the Imagine uber-producer is disputing to friends ever “making a congratulatory call” to Viacom Inc Chairman Sumner Redstone for dumping Tom Cruise’s Paramount production deal, as the octogenarian claimed to the media. I’ve learned that Grazer is quietly explaining that he simply called Redstone “to ask what’s going on.” Redstone is now in a lot of hot water with Grazer for putting the producer in a lot of hot water with talent. As one Grazer intimate told me today, “anyone would be shocked to see a private phone call ever discussed publicly, much less reported in The New York Times.” (The Los Angeles Times also had this.) It does seem a little counter-intuitive for Grazer to be lovin’ Sumner’s cost-cuttin’ — especially when Grazer himself makes studio perks a priority. On the other hand, let’s not forget that Cruise’s Far and Away was a big-budget box office failure for Imagine. Oh, and in case you were wondering whether David Geffen also disputes making a congratulatory call to Redstone, as the media also quoted Sumner claiming. In fact, Geffen, whose Interview With The Vampire starred Cruise and whose Dreamworks is now based at Viacom’s Paramount, has been siding with Sumner in every heated Hollywood discussion about Redstone’s are-you-shitting-me trashing of Tom.

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Viacom vs Cruise: LA Edition Of NY Times Missing Bert Fields’ Holy Crap Quote

By | Thursday August 24, 2006 @ 2:18pm PDT

BertF.jpgLos Angeles subscribers to The New York Times still don’t realize they are missing the “money quote” from Tom Cruise’s attorney Bert Fields today in the newspaper’s coverage of the Viacom vs Cruise war of the words. In the edition they received, the article’s final paragraph has the actor’s co-producer Paula Wagner claiming there are plans for that $100 million equity financing deal from a pair of hedge funds, and ends with this inocuous sentence: “But Mr. Fields, who has been out of the country, said he was unaware of those plans.” But, after the reporters on the story jumped up and down in protest about the missing words, Bert’s quote was restored online and in the NYC area late edition — and boy, is it a doozie!

“But Mr. Fields said he was unaware of those plans. ‘I don’t think Tom has raised $100 million in a hedge fund,’ he said. ‘And I know nothing about any such thing. I think that’s just talk.’” Let me reiterate: Bert is Tom’s lawyer, not Sumner’s. This is exactly why people respect Fields so much — because he knows the truth hurts.

Remember what Viacom’s mouthpiece told the NYT yesterday? “A spokesman for Mr. Redstone, Carl Folta, scoffed at Ms. Wagner’s talk of new financial backers. ‘Did they give you a name?” he said.’” Isn’t this just getting better and better?

Previous: … Read More »

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Viacom vs Cruise: The Truth About Lying

By | Thursday August 24, 2006 @ 1:24pm PDT

The Los Angeles Times had this angle today, but screenwriter/columnist Bruce Feirstein said it first and funnier on LAObserved.com: ”As anyone who’s ever worked in Hollywood will tell you, the basic social contract (“Local Law #1”) is that nobody ever tells the truth, about anything…So after decades of polite lies, I can’t help but wonder if my friend Sumner is going to start a trend here. Consider the following:
“Oldspeak: ‘She was suffering from exhaustion.’
“Newspeak: ‘She’s a drug-addled maniac.’

“Oldspeak: ‘He left the project because of creative differences.’
“Newspeak: ‘He demanded final cut, his ego was out of control, and he refused to meet the budget.’

“Oldspeak: ‘He decided that in order to best serve his clients, he’s leaving the agency to set up a management company.’
“Newspeak: ‘He was charging hookers and private jets to Vegas to the agency, so we booted him.’

“Oldspeak: ‘He’s leaving the studio to pursue his original dream, which was making movies.’
“Newspeak: ‘He couldn’t pick a winner if Steven Spielberg himself came in and pitched Jaws. So we threw his ass out of here.’

“Oldspeak: ‘We love the pitch, but we have something just like it in development.’
“Newspeak: ‘You’re an overpriced hack.’

“Oldspeak: ‘You were terrific in the audition, but they decided to go in a different direction.’
“Newspeak: ‘You have no talent. But in the meantime, I’ll have the swordfish, grilled, no butter, with a small salad, and the dressing on the side.’

“Oldspeak: ‘They loved … Read More »

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Viacom vs Cruise: Who Ya Gonna Call?

By | Thursday August 24, 2006 @ 11:01am PDT

Just thought I’d point out that Rogers & Cowan is having a helluva summer in terms of celeb crises. The PR agency represents not only Mel Gibson but also Tom Cruise. (Well, the good news for Gibson is that Cruise’s bad news gets Mel off media minds.) No wonder Tom’s latest flack Paul Bloch called around town yesterday asking the power players about Viacom vs Cruise, “Whaddaya think?” The overwhelming response was a thumbs-up for Tom’s career. ”He looks like a victim,” one studio mogul told Bloch. Only in Hollywood PR-think is that a good thing.

Previous: Who’s Crazier: Viacom or Tom Cruise?

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Michael Eisner Loves Jet Blue. Seriously.

By | Thursday August 24, 2006 @ 8:59am PDT

OK, I’ve heard the stories about how cheap Michael Eisner is. How he asks for change back when he slips a fiver to the valet parking attendant. And so on, ad nauseum. Still, it came as a huge surprise to me when TMZ.com, the Internet gossip site, reported that the ex-Disney honcho and wife Jane flew Jet Blue from LA’s Burbank Airport to NYC yesterday. But now I’m told that Eisner, even though he’s worth a cool half-billion dollars easy, loves Jet Blue and flies it all the time because he considers it safe and efficient. Frankly, I just don’t get this; not when he can afford to timeshare a Gulfstream or at least fly commercial First Class. (Tip to Mikey: if you want to save $$$, then fly United’s LAX-JFK Business Class Premium Service, which is nicer than first class and offers amazing legroom and edible food.) Could it be that Eisner is either a Jet Blue shareholder, or channelling cheapskate investor Warren Buffett, or angling for an endorsement contract? One thing I do know: Eisner was not heading to tape his no-rated talk show for CNBC, for which GE Travel routinely books all NBC worker bees on the lowest-priced flights available. Even so, talent usually negotiates first class into their contracts. According to the report, Eisner and his wife showed up at Burbank Airport and bided their time in the terminal with iced coffees, which Eisner fetched himself. Then they boarded with everyone else and settled in 12th row seats. Next: the couple lining up for Barney’s Santa Monica … Read More »

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Evidence Why Project Runway Rules…

By | Thursday August 24, 2006 @ 7:39am PDT

Best Fashion One-Liner Ever: On Bravo’s Project Runway 3 last night, designer/judge Michael Kors (why don’t they describe him by that ridiculous ‘jet set’ moniker anymore?) said about Los Angeles contestant Jeffrey’s plus-size sack: “That looks like Comme des Garçons goes to the Amish country.”

What To Dread This Season: Exactly how the Weinstein Brothers, who coproduce the show, will slip in a not-so-subtle tie-in to one of their forthcoming films. Remember Season 1 when shoo-in designer Kara Saun based her entire collection on the bros’ The Aviator — and lost the grand prize because of unoriginality? My best guess is that this season’s inspiration will be Quentin Tarantino’s Killshot coming from The Weinstein Co. this fall. (I don’t see much retro chic in their Miss Potter, about the life of Beatrix Potter, author of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”.) Far be it from Harvey to miss any opportunity for crass and inappropriate marketing.

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DHD Update: 3 Million Page Views

By | Wednesday August 23, 2006 @ 11:10pm PDT

Today, DHD passed 3,000,000 page views. Thank you so much.

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Who’s Crazier: Viacom or Tom Cruise?

By | Tuesday August 22, 2006 @ 3:45pm PDT

If there’s suddenly a litmus test for insanity to be administered by the owners of Hollywood movie studios, then start with the executive suites. That’s my reaction to the are-you-shitting-me pronouncement by Viacom Inc. chairman Sumner Redstone today that his Paramount Pictures is terminating its 14-year relationship with Tom “Crazy” Cruise’s production company because the actor’s controversial and erratic off-screen behavior hurt the theatrical grosses of “Mission Impossible 3. Of course, the studio’s publicity department worked overtime all summer to dispel just that notion whenever entertainment business reporters questioned whether Cruise’s loony tunes might affect his appeal. “As much as we like him personally, we thought it was wrong to renew his deal,” Mr. Redstone said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.”

Granted Redstone was on a Rocky Mountain high, making his remarks in the thin air of Aspen Summit 2006 where his company was presenting before the digital world. And, granted, the octogenarian was seen wandering dazed and confused into the kitchen of The Grill in Beverly Hills not long ago. But, for the moment, I’ll assume he had all his mental faculties intact when he made his statement to the Journal. So, if I were a Viacom shareholder, I’d be asking Ol’ Sumner right now: Are you nuts? Fine, don’t do business anymore with the … Read More »

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‘Snakes On A Plane’ Flakes For #2; ‘Talladega Nights’ Holds #1 for 3rd Week; ‘World Trade Center’ A Surprising #3; ‘Pirates 2′ Crosses $400 Mil for U.S.

By | Saturday August 19, 2006 @ 7:53am PDT

SUNDAY UPDATE: After all the Hollywood hype, New Line’s Snakes on a Plane flakes. I’m told that, despite a long pre-release marketing campaign that sent some Internet showbiz blogs into a writhing frenzy of anticipation, the Samuel Jackson-starring horror flick came up short for its opening. It wound up the No. 2 pic with New Line saying it took in $15.2 million for the weekend. But rival studios claim that included $1.4 million from Thursday night’s 10 p.m. screenings – which technically shouldn’t be included in the weekend numbers — so the tally is really only $13.8 mil. (A desperate Warner Bros. pulled a similar stunt to inflate the figures for its Superman Returns this summer ) That’s not anywhere close to the $25+ mil opening (and Variety even put forth a $30 mil guess-timate) that the studio was anticipating for the slither flick because of its huge manufactured buzz. But it seems only the bloggers cared about this pic. As a result, Sony’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby is still the No. 1 movie in the U.S. for the third straight weekend. The NASCAR spoof did $14.1 mil for its Friday-Saturday-Sunday total for a cume of a whopping $114.6 mil. (As always, Sunday figures are estimated…) But all that fades in comparison as Disney reports that its juggernaut Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest, crosses the magic $400 million mark today. Officially, the pic’s domestic cume will be $401 mil. Internationally, the Johnny … Read More »

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Character Actor Bruno Kirby Dies

By | Tuesday August 15, 2006 @ 9:01pm PDT

From AP: Bruno Kirby, the veteran character actor who co-starred in When Harry Met Sally and City Slickers has died at age 57 in Los Angeles from complications related to leukemia, according to a statement today from his wife, Lynn Sellers. He had recently been diagnosed with the disease. “We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from Bruno’s fans and colleagues who have admired and respected his work over the past 30 years,” his wife said. “Bruno’s spirit will continue to live on not only in his rich body of film and television work but also through the lives of individuals he has touched throughout his life.”

Born Bruno Giovanni Quidaciolu Jr. in New York City, his first movie was The Harrad Experiment. My favorite Bruno performance was the 1977 film Between the Lines directed by Joan Macklin Silver about the behind-the-scenes of an underground newspaper in Boston. Kirby’s other major film credits included This Is Spinal Tap, Tin Men, The Freshman, Good Morning, Vietnam, The Godfather: Part II and Donnie Brasco. More recently, he played Phil Rubenstein on the HBO series Entourage.

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‘Pirates’ Sequel No. 1 Overseas For 6th Straight Week; #11 All-Time Worldwide

By | Sunday August 13, 2006 @ 10:57am PDT

I’m told that, in addition to its $392.4 million U.S. box office gross, Disney’s blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest is No. 1 internationally for six straight weeks. The Johnny Depp starrer did $44 million this weekend bringing the overseas total to $463 million. So worldwide the total is a whopping $855 million — making it the 11th highest grossing movie of all time. That’s many spots higher than Sony’s The Da Vinci Code which is logging $752 mil worldwide for 21st place. This weekend, Disney added one new territory, Spain, and it surged to the biggest opening of all time there stealing 75% of all ticket sales. (The all-time No. 1 is still Titanic with $1.8 billion.) Meanwhile, Depp is consitently leading Internet search lists for celebrities. So he’ll end the summer as the biggest star in the world.

Previous:Go Johnny GoIs Johnny Depp Our Biggest Movie Star?

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Word Of Mouth Helps ‘WTC’ Box Office; U.S. Moviegoers Seeking Escapism Make ‘Talladega Nights’ #1 & ‘Step Up’ #2

By | Saturday August 12, 2006 @ 8:04am PDT

SUNDAY: I’m told attendance for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center was up a surprising 26% Saturday compared to Friday. It was the clearest indication yet that positive word of mouth was beginning to spread about the well-reviewed Paramount movie whose ticket sales have been slow. Though WTC is expected to end the weekend only No. 3 with $19 mil, its 5-day opening cume will be $26.8 million (including $7.2 mil for Saturday). Despite opening with weak per-screen averages and amid breaking terror plot news, the emotional film is starting to attract an audience because of its hot button (and heart-wrenching) subject matter. Still, America spent the weekend continuing this summer’s clear pattern of seeking escapism at the box office. Sony’s NASCAR spoof Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby sped back into No. 1 and a cume of $91.2 mil by increasing attendance 20% Saturday from Friday for $8.6 mil. That includes a terrific $23 mil (-51%) for its first 10 days on the track. Disney/Touchstone’s Step Up faded Saturday, down 23% for $6.6 mil, but muscled enough energy to dance into 2nd place with a surprisingly good opening weekend take of $21 mil. (Weekend figures include Sunday estimates). Paramount’s kiddie fare Barnyard moo’ed up $10 mil its second weekend out for 4th place, while The Weinstein Co. / Dimension’s horror flick Pulse scared up $8.5 mil for 5th. Disney’s blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest hauled in another $7.2 mil for a total domestic b.o. of $392.4 mil — so it should reach $400 mil domestically next weekend out. Finally, … Read More »

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