'ALI' PLAYING TO MIXED REVIEWS
Despite its all-star cast and talk of an Oscar for actor Jon Voight for his portrayal of flamboyant TV sportscaster Howard Cosell, the movie "Ali" is playing to rather mixed reviews. A sampling of those reviews, as relayed by movie.com, yields the following good, bad and the non-committal comments.
On the plus side are words from The Boston Globe: " ... gets the big things right ... commands respect." The New York Times calls "Ali" a "breakthrough for its director." The Seattle Times says the film is "a knockout."
Reviewers not really liking the movie include one for the Chicago Sun-Times, who noted that the movie is "long, flat, curiously muted ... " The New York Post says it's "overlong and sketchy ... "
Straddling the fence are the Hollywood Reporter which compared the movie to Ali's boxing style, "elusive and showy ... " USA Today says it "isn't the greatest."
Greatest or not, it's already taken in nearly $11 million in its first week of release.
ZEMECKIS AND SPIELBERG PARTING COMPANY?
If the split fully comes to fruition it could be one of Hollywood's least-anticipated divorces of 2001 ... the ending of the business partnership between Oscar-winning moviemakers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis. Variety says that the production company owned by Zemeckis, but based at Spielberg's Dreamworks for four years, may be moved to Warners.
The two first met in the mid 1970s when Zemeckis was a film student at UCLA.
It has been evident that Warner Bros. has wanted Zemeckis under its tents since as far back as 1997.
SON IN EARLY REALITY SHOW DIES
When the recent generation of "reality shows" burst onto the scene -- including the several that were filmed with hand-held cameras in the homes of young people living in various American cities -- many in the baby boom generation wondered what all the hoopla was about. For some reason, many of today's "lets follow people around with a life camera and see what they do" show seem nearly scripted at times, as if the "real people" are playing to the audience and not to each other. But that was not the case in the early 1970s when PBS invented the concept, sending a film crew into the home of a "typical American family" ... the Loud family. And, yes, on some shows they lived up to their name.
The resulting prime time, 12-part series was a national hit. The family admitted that after a while many of them forgot the cameras were rolling. Maybe that's why the eldest son of the family, Lance Loud, had no problem coming out of the closet on national TV.
Now, according to the Los Angeles Times, Lance Loud has died of complications from hepatitis C. Several members of his family were at his bedside when he died in a Los Angeles hospice. Lance Loud was only 50.
STARS SWEAT FOR SOME ROLES
It's no secret that if you have money and rely on looking good to make that money, you'll go to extremes to stay in great shape. In its latest on-line edition, People magazine looks as some of the lengths some stars have gone to prepare for recent roles.
Ben Affleck worked out for eight weeks to prepare for his role as a fighter pilot in the summertime blockbuster "Pearl Harbor." Much of the training was with free weights and a treadmill.
Holly Hunter is another fan of treadmills. She used one to get ready to play tennis icon Billy Jean King in a recent project.
John Travolta, now in his late 40s, was able to drop nearly a pound for every year of his age for his role this year in "Swordfish." He tells the publication he did it by "cutting my portions in half."
'RINGS' CONTINUES TO TOP BOX OFFICE
The first movie of the new Tolkien series, "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings," continues to lead the American box office. The previous biggie, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," has fallen to No. 5 in the weekly take.
"Rings" has taken in nearly $50 million in its initial days of release -- across Christmas -- grossing an average of about $20,000 at each theater at which it's playing.
The second film on the list is "Ocean's Eleven." Not doing as well as some had hoped, but a solid second with a gross of about $15 million during it's three weeks of general release.
"Ali," as mentioned, getting a mixed bag of reviews," follows "Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius" and "Vanilla Sky."
On the down side is the new Jim Carrey film "The Majestic." This movie, looking at a man in search for his roots in 1950's America, is in eighth place and has only grossed a little under $5 million since its opening day.