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Entertainment Today: Showbiz news

By United Press International   |   June 3, 2002 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

'MILLIE'S' BIG NIGHT

"Thoroughly Modern Millie" was the big winner at the 56th annual Tony Awards Sunday, taking home six trophies including best musical and best actress in a musical for Sutton Foster.

The flapper-era musical based on the 1967 movie starring Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore had been nominated for 11 Tonys. In addition to best musical and best actress, it also won for featured actress in a musical, choreography, costume design and orchestrations.

"The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?" a provocative play about bestiality by Edward Albee, won the Tony for best play. Albee thanked his producers for having "outrageous faith that Broadway was ready for a play about love."

Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" won for best revival of a musical, and Noel Coward's "Private Lives" won for best revival of a play.

Elaine Stritch won for special theatrical event for her one-woman show "Elaine Stritch at Liberty," but she was crying as she told reporters backstage that the evening was spoiled for her when CBS cut her acceptance speech short -- something like two minutes after she began. Winners had been asked to confine their speeches to 45 seconds.

"To be cut down like that has spoiled it for me," she said. "I know CBS can't let people give the Gettysburg Address, but it's pretty emotional for a woman my age to win a Tony, especially for a show like mine. I was anxious to tell the audience how I felt and they brought the curtain down."

The awards ceremony -- televised live from Radio City Music Hall by CBS -- brought the curtain down on a Broadway season in which the box office suffered following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but was showing signs of recovery as the season came to a close.


A $31.2 MILLION 'SUM'

One weekend after scaling new heights, the U.S. box office was back down to earth over the weekend, led by the opening of spy thriller "The Sum of All Fears" with an estimated $31.2 million.

Starring Ben Affleck as Tom Clancy's super spy, "Sum" opened bigger than the three previous Jack Ryan pictures. "Clear and Present Danger" (1994) opened with $20.3 million; "Patriot Games" (1992)) opened with $18.5 million; and "The Hunt For Red October" (1990) opened with $17.2 million.

In its third weekend, "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of Clones" lost 57 percent of its second-weekend figure, adding $20.7 million to its take. George Lucas' fifth "Star Wars" entry has now grossed $232 million after 18 days, making it the 28th biggest domestic grosser after "Cast Away" -- but some analysts were wondering whether it will reach $300 million.

"Spider-Man" grossed $14.5 million in its fifth weekend, running its 31-day total to $354 million. Another $3 million and Spidey will pass "Jurassic Park" for No. 5 on the all-time list of biggest U.S. blockbusters.

The new comedy "Undercover Brother" finished fourth with $12.1 million. "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" was No. 5 with $10.7 million, and now stands at $38.2 million after 10 days.

"Insomnia" ($9.8 million), "Enough" ($6.8 million), "About a Boy" ($4.1 million), "Unfaithful" ($3 million) and "The New Guy" ($1.5 million) rounded out the rest of the top 10.

Overall, the top 10 took in $114 million. The same weekend in 2001 took in $120 million, led by "Pearl Harbor" with $29 million in its second weekend. Year-to-date, the U.S. box office has grossed $3.6 billion -- about 20 percent ahead of the pace set in 2001.


TV BUSINESS IS LOOKING UP

There are signs that advertisers are willing to pay higher rates than they did last year for the TV network's fall shows, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

The paper reported that NBC is leading the way, and ad rates for some networks are up between 9 percent and 15 percent.

"There's a lot of money out there," said Jessica Reif Cohen, media analyst for Merrill Lynch. "It's clear that the market is getting healthier.... This is at the top end of what we were predicting."

The paper said that movie studios and auto makers were among the first to snap up commercial time, and NBC had sold nearly half its advertising inventory on Thursday and Friday. At that point, advertisers started buying time on ABC, CBS, Fox, UPN and the WB.

Upfront sales -- when advertisers can get lower rates for buying well ahead of the fall season -- were sluggish last year, falling more than 15 percent from the high-flying days of 2000, when advertisers spent a record $8.1 billion on advanced ads.

Wall Street analysts were projecting that this year, with an improved economy, the combined ad revenue for the six major networks would increase 3 percent to 6 percent. Now analysts think the increase could be even more than that.

Sources told the Times that NBC, which ended the 2001-02 season with the most viewers and the highest-rated programs, was getting ad rate increases on the order of 7 percent to 9 percent.


'FRIENDS' BREAKING UP?

In eight seasons as a critical and commercial success on NBC, the cast of "Friends" has always taken a "one for all and all for one" approach to the Emmy Awards game -- preferring to submit their names for consideration as best supporting actor and actress, but not for best actor or actress in a comedy series.

This year, for the first time, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox-Arquette, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer have decided to submit their names for consideration as lead actor and actress contenders.

There actually was one year in which Perry was submitted for lead actor consideration, but that was blamed on a mistake by his publicist -- and Perry took himself out of the running.


CHRIS ROCK TAKING ON MARION BARRY?

According to a report in the Washington Post, Chris Rock will executive-produce an HBO movie about former Washington Mayor Marion Barry -- who was busted for drugs after getting caught smoking crack cocaine in a Washington hotel room in 1990.

The paper reported that Jamie Foxx ("Ali," "The Jamie Foxx Show") will play the title role in "Livin' for the City: The Marion Barry Story," scheduled to start shooting this fall in the D.C.-Baltimore area.

Barry apparently is not too pleased with the script. The Post reported that a spokesman for the former mayor called the script "outrageous and disrespectful." The spokesman, Raymone Bain, said Barry was concerned because there are "many inaccuracies" in the screenplay.

"(Barry) feels there needs to be a major rewrite," said Bain, "and Chris Rock should want to do that for his own credibility's sake."

The paper said an HBO publicist confirmed that Rock is working in the project.

© 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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