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News from the entertainment capital

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   Nov. 5, 2001 at 4:20 PM   |   Comments

NBC, HBO SHARE EMMY BRAGGING RIGHTS

NBC's "The West Wing" may have thumped HBO's "The Sopranos" at this year's Emmys -- winning eight trophies to four -- but the two networks ended the TV awards season tied for Emmy supremacy with 16 awards each.

Besides winning for outstanding drama, "The West Wing" also won for supporting actor and actress, for outstanding directing and for four creative and technical awards. "The Sopranos" won for outstanding lead actor and actress -- James Gandolfini and Edie Falco -- for outstanding writing for a drama series, and one creative-technical award.

At that, the mob family drama had to settle for a tie for third most wins by a show. ABC's "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows" won five Emmys.

"The Sopranos'" four was equaled by "Barbra Streisand: Timeless." The singer's special helped Fox win 15 Emmys overall -- the best showing ever for that network.

ABC won 10 Emmys, CBS won eight, and PBS and UPN won five each.


MONSTROUS BUSINESS

They're trading high fives in Monstropolis today, following a record opening for the new Disney-Pixar animated feature, "Monsters, Inc.," which took in an estimated $63.5 million over the weekend.

It was the sixth-biggest opening of all time and the biggest ever for an animated picture. The previous best for an animated movie was $57.4 million, rung up in 1999 by the last Disney-Pixar collaboration, "Toy Story 2."

The new Jet Li movie, "The One," finished a distant second with an estimated $20 million -- but that would have been good enough for first place in any of the past several weeks. Prior to this weekend, the last movie to gross more than $20 million was Denzel Washington's "Training Day," over the first weekend in October.

John Travolta's new thriller, "Domestic Disturbance," opened at No. 3 with $14.5 million. "K-PAX" -- starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges" -- finished fourth with $10.7 million.

Grosses for the top 10 movies this weekend amounted to $133.5 million -- almost twice the numbers turned in the previous weekend.


LOSSES TO THE BOSSES

It's tough all around, but the third quarter has been especially harsh for ABC, CBS and NBC.

Daily Variety reports that the three networks lost a record $880 million in advertising revenues for the third quarter -- down 28.6 percent from the same period in 2000.

The Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association compiled the figures.

BCFM President and CEO Buz Buzogany said the losses were due in large part to the slump in the ad market, but the percentage figure was also inflated to some degree because ad revenues were a bit higher in the third quarter last year thanks to the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney.

Buzogany said the fourth quarter is also looking down for ad revenues, but there appeared to be some bright spots in the BCFM report.

Primetime ad revenues were up 10.14 percent in the third quarter and late-night revenues were up 9.94 percent.

However, Buzogany said the increase was based on primetime and late-night revenues that were somewhat deflated in 2000, as Olympics coverage at other times of day pulled a significant of ad money out of entertainment programming in those dayparts.

The BCFM analysis uses actual dollar figures supplied by the networks. Buzogany told Variety that Fox, WB and UPN do not furnish their revenue numbers for the association's analysis.


HANKS' TAKES ON JOHN ADAMS

According to a report in Daily Variety, Tom Hanks and HBO have optioned the rights to the best-selling biography, "John Adams," by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David McCullough.

Hanks and HBO have had a fruitful relationship in the miniseries business.

The "Cast Away" and "Forrest Gump" star produced the 12-part series, "From the Earth to the Moon" for the cable network. The project won the Emmy in 1998 for outstanding miniseries.

Hanks and Steven Spielberg collaborated to produce the 10-part miniseries, "Band of Brothers," a critical and commercial success currently running on HBO. "Band of Brothers" is based on the book of the same name by historian Stephen E. Ambrose.

HBO previously turned out an adaptation of "Truman," the book for which McCullough won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. "Truman" won the Emmy for outstanding made-for-TV movie in 1996.


THE 'SEINFELD' CURSE?

Now that ABC has canceled Jason Alexander's comedy, "Bob Patterson," after just five episodes, there is talk in Hollywood of a "'Seinfeld' curse."

It's a reference to the fact that two members of the cast of the long-running, Emmy-winning comedy, "Seinfeld," have now failed to score with their own comedies. Michael Richards' self-titled show lasted just eight weeks on NBC's primetime schedule last season.

"Bob Patterson" featured Alexander as America's No. 3 motivational speaker, but Alexander and company couldn't motivate viewers to tune in -- at least not in numbers sufficient to keep the show going. In the latest Nielsen ratings, "Patterson" was the 73rd most watched show in primetime.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus will be the third "Seinfeld" cast member to take a whack at post-"Seinfeld" success in primetime when her new comedy shows up on NBC later this season. Louis-Dreyfus will play a nightclub singer-voiceover artist in Los Angeles.


NEW ANIMATED FEATURE OSCAR STILL NOT A SURE THING

Officials at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have received 13 entries for the new Oscar category, for best animated feature, but they still aren't sure an Academy Award will be handed out in the category when Oscars are presented next March.

The entries, submitted prior to last Thursday's deadline, need to be evaluated now to see if they meet the criteria for the new category. To qualify for the new Oscar, animated features must be "primarily animated" and have running times of at least 70 minutes, among other things.

When the Academy announced the new category earlier this year, officials said there would be no award if there were not at least eight qualified entries. The Academy is scheduled to announce on Dec. 11 whether a feature animation Oscar will be awarded this year.

Nominations for the 74th Annual Academy Awards will be announced Feb. 12. The Oscars will be presented on March 24.


MELISSA GILBERT ELECTED SAG PRESIDENT

The Screen Actors Guild has elected Melissa Gilbert to succeed William Daniels as president of the union.

Daniels was elected in 1999 and declined to run for a second term.

Gilbert -- best known as the star of the long-running NBC family drama, "Little House on the Prairie" -- easily defeated another high-profile candidate, Valerie Harper, who played Rhoda Morgenstern on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "Rhoda."

Gilbert received 45 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Harper. The other candidates for the post, Eugene Boggs and Angel Tompkins, received 9 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Mike Farrell -- who formerly starred in the TV series "M*A*S*H" and currently stars in "Providence" -- was elected first vice president. Elliott Gould -- who starred in the movie, "M*A*S*H," and appears in the upcoming movie, "Ocean's Eleven" -- was elected recording secretary.

Kent McCord -- best known as Officer Jim Reed on the TV series, "Adam-12" -- was elected treasurer.

SAG voters also elected 11 members to three-year terms on the union's national board of directors -- Richard Dreyfuss, Shelly Fabares, Esai Morales, Diane Ladd, Seymour Cassel, Richard Herd, Peter Onorati, Renee Taylor, Karen Austin, Farrell and McCord.


BUSH FETES USO

At ceremonies in Washington Friday, President Bush gave a White House sendoff to performers heading overseas to entertain troops as part of the newest USO tour -- extending a tradition best exemplified by Bob Hope's traditional Christmas shows at military installations around the world.

Congratulating Las Vegas legend Wayne Newton for his recent appointment as first chairman of the USO Celebrity Circle, the president recalled Hope's long service to the USO.

"I don't know whether you spent much time with Bob before you took this assignment," Bush told Newton, "but this job's got a 60-year term limit to it."

But seriously, the president told Newton and the other USO performers he wanted them to deliver a message to the troops.

"You can tell them they're greatly missed back home," said Bush, "and you can tell them the president and the American people greatly appreciate their services."


TALK ABOUT YOUR ENDORPHIN RUSHES

Like many bodybuilders before him, Will Smith is feeling very good about himself after getting buff to play the title role in the upcoming movie, "Ali."

In the December Playboy interview, Smith said he thinks he was born to play The Greatest, and taunted fellow A-list stars by suggesting that his goal is to get the best movie roles and leave the scraps for Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks.

Now, Smith tells Premiere magazine that all that work in the gym really paid off in the bedroom.

"Jada was lovin' it," Smith said, referring to his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. She plays Ali's first wife, Sonji Roi, in the movie, scheduled for a Christmas release.

Smith said that working himself into tip-top shape has turned him into "a sexual machine ... raring to go every second of the day." If that wasn't enough to make the point, Smith said: "I'm human Viagra. I am Will-agra."

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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