It's hard to say whether the spreading scandal involving Roman Catholic priests will hurt or help the new Jodie Foster movie, "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys," scheduled to open Friday.
On the one hand, movie fans might avoid the title, associating it with the growing number of molestation accusations against members of the clergy. On the other hand, it is conceivable that blanket news coverage of the scandal might actually promote interest in the movie.
Either way, fans would be off-base, said Foster -- since the movie has nothing to do with the subject of the scandal.
The two-time Oscar-winning actress told TV Guide Online that the movie title is the same as the title of the book it is based on. It was written by Chris Fuhrman, who died of cancer before it was published.
"A lot of people really love Chris Fuhrman," said Foster. "He died shortly after writing the book, and we would never consider changing the title. I really hope people don't come to the movie thinking it's about pederasty or avoid the movie because (of that).
"But it is an interesting time for the Catholic Church," she said. "Honestly, five years ago, if you'd said to me, 'You know, there's molestation in the Catholic Church,' I would have said, 'Yeah? Like we don't know that?'
"So, I'm a little confused," said Foster, "not that people are shocked, but the level of surprise is really, really confusing to me."
Foster plays Sister Assumpta, a strict nun at a Catholic school, in a story about a group of school chums who get caught drawing obscene comics, then plan a heist intended to make them local legends.
MOST ROMANTIC MOVIE?
Handicapper Danny Sheridan is out with his predictions for the top finishers in the American Film Institute's latest rating of top American movie moments -- "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Passions."
The AFI will reveal its 100 greatest cinematic love stories on a CBS-TV special Tuesday night.
Of the 400 nominated movies, Sheridan has picked "Gone with the Wind" to finish on top, followed by "Casablanca," "Love Story," "The Way We Were" and "My Fair Lady."
Sheridan figures the rest of the top 10 finishers will be "Ghost," "An Affair to Remember," "Pretty Woman," Doctor Zhivago" and "Titanic."
WHO'S WRITING 'SPIDER-MAN' SEQUEL?
According to a report in Daily Variety, a web of intrigue is surrounding the question of who will write the screenplay for the sequel to this year's box-office smash "Spider-Man."
David Koepp -- who received sole screen credit for the Tobey Maguire-Kirsten Dunst movie -- had previously said he would not be involved in "Spider-Man 2," but Variety reported that Koepp is back in the picture with a new idea for the story.
That prompts the question: What will happen to earlier plans involving writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar ("Shanghai Noon," "Smallville")?
When Sony Pictures Entertainment announced in April that it would put the sequel on the fast track, executives said Gough and Millar would write the screenplay. Columbia Pictures Chairwoman Amy Pascal told Variety that the pair has only been replaced temporarily, and they are still on the project.
"David had an idea and agreed to take some time off from (another project) to write the first draft," she said. "Gough and Millar will then take his first draft and start working from there."
ANOTHER TIDY 'SUM'
"The Sum of All Fears" held on to the top spot at the U.S. box office over the weekend, grossing $16.8 million in its second weekend in release and running its 10-day total to $61.8 million.
In its opening weekend, the new Ellen Burstyn-Sandra Bullock movie "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" took in $16.4 million, followed in third place by "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones," which added $13.9 million for a four-week total of $255 million.
The new Anthony Hopkins-Chris Rock action comedy "Bad Company" opened in fourth place with $10.5 million, followed by the sixth week of "Spider-Man," which grossed $10 million and has now reached $370.1 million. "Spider-Man" passed "Jurassic Park" to become the fifth-biggest blockbuster in U.S. history, and needs $29.7 million more to overtake "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial" for the fourth spot on the all-time list.
The rest of the Top 10 this weekend were: "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron," "Undercover Brother," "Insomnia," "Enough" and "About a Boy."
A REAL BADGE FOR CLINT
Clint Eastwood -- who has carried his share of prop badges in the movies -- has a real badge in his pocket now, after being sworn in Saturday as a California state parks commissioner.
The Oscar-winning star was administered the oath of office at the beginning of a centennial celebration for Big Basin Redwood State Park, the oldest state park in California. The former mayor of Carmel challenged conservationists to "put your money where your mouth is" and said his top priority will be park maintenance.
He also urged the public to use the park.
"You're paying for it," he said. "Your tax dollars are paying for it. So I want you to come and enjoy it."
Eastwood got a laugh when he pulled his badge in a goof on those attending the swearing-in ceremony.
"You're all under arrest," he joked.
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