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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   May 21, 2002 at 3:55 PM   |   Comments

'GANGS' PREVIEWS AT CANNES

"Gangs of New York" is causing a big sensation at the Cannes Film Festival.

According to Daily Variety, the new Martin Scorsese movie drew an enthusiastic response from an audience that saw a 20-minute montage of clips from the movie -- and attracted huge crowds outside the theater to catch a glimpse of Scorsese and the film's stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz.

The audience in the theater whistled and cheered -- and gave Scorsese a standing ovation -- before they even saw the clips.

"The majority of the story takes place between 1846 and 1863 in New York," said Scorsese as he introduced the montage, "and it encompasses the American Civil War and also the first great wave of immigration -- the Irish -- and the film ultimately ends during the worst riots in history -- the draft riots of the 1860s in New York. Ultimately this picture asks the question: What is America and what is an American?"

Scorsese began shooting "Gangs" in August 2000. The movie has taken so long to make that a whisper campaign has begun to emerge suggesting that it is a troubled production.

The director told Variety he is feeling the pressure. Currently he is editing the picture -- but he isn't finished shooting just yet, either.

He said he shot two days of close-ups and pickups with DiCaprio, Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis last week, and plans to do another two days of insert photography after the Cannes festival. It's not unusual for films to go through last-minute shoots and re-shoots, but Scorsese told Variety he is concerned about public perception.

"But it's because when you edit the stuff, you discover things you needed," he said. "(Miramax producer) Harvey Weinstein was good enough in the final analysis to turn around and say, 'Listen, you need two days for some pickup shoots, go ahead and shoot -- get what you need.'"

"Gangs" is scheduled to be released in the United States on Dec. 25 -- more than a year after its original target of Dec. 21, 2001.


'SURVIVOR' WINS RATINGS GAME

On a night that some TV writers called "Bloody Sunday" -- because the competition was so extreme -- "Survivor: Marquesas" made a winner out of CBS Sunday night.

The fourth installment of the series beat "The Cosby Show Reunion" on NBC, the two-hour series finale of "The X-Files" on Fox and the two-hour season finale of "The Practice" on ABC. An average of 25.4 million viewers tuned in between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. to see Portland, Ore. office manager Vecepia "Vee" Towery win the $1 million prize.

"The Cosby Show Reunion" drew an estimated 18 million viewers, while "The X-Files" and "The Practice" each attracted about 13 million viewers.


HISTORY CHANNEL ADDS ORIGINAL SERIES

The History Channel has announced that it will add five original series and six new miniseries and specials to its primetime schedule for 2002-03.

One series, "Secret Passages," will show viewers what the cable channel called "history's greatest hideouts." Another, "Mail Call," will feature actor R. Lee Ermey ("Toy Story," "Dead Man Walking") answering mail with the help of video clips.

"Basic Training" is described as a reality-based series following six military recruits. "Conquest" is a survey of martial competition through the years.

A four-hour special, "TR & and Birth of a Superpower," will examine the life and presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. A special called "The Ship" will chronicle the travels of 18th century explorer Capt. James Cook.


MOVING RIGHT ALONG

The box-office success of "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" and "Spider-Man" is rubbing off on other areas of the movie distribution business -- including the relatively new field of Internet ticket sales.

The online ticketing company Fandango reported that it broke all of its own sales records, selling $5.5 million in "Clones" tickets during the movie's opening weekend. That represented 5 percent of the movie's Thursday-to-Sunday box-office take.

"'Star Wars' is a watershed event in online ticketing," said Fandango President and Chief Executive Officer Art Levitt. "Even before we began selling tickets for the movie, hundreds of customers emailed us wanting to buy tickets. A record number of those fans bought tickets in advance from Fandango, and we broke records for monthly, weekly, daily and hourly sales."

Levitt said buying tickets in advance is "the new ritual" for moviegoers. There were times on Friday and Saturday when Fandango was selling more than 14,000 tickets per hour -- nearly four tickets per second.

© 2002 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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