BOND WINS BOX OFFICE BATTLE
Preliminary box office receipts have been counted, laying to rest the debate of who would top the box office this week: Boy wizard Harry Potter or his countryman James Bond? The answer is Bond. James Bond.
"Die Another Day," the 20th installment of the super-spy franchise, opened this weekend in first place with $47 million in revenue, while "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" earned $42.2 million in its second week. Warner Brothers needn't be saddened that "Chamber" slipped to No. 2 -- its initial 10-day take was $148.5 million.
Coming in third was the Ice Cube comedy "Friday After Next," which earned $13.1 million when it debuted this weekend. Rounding out the top five were "The Santa Clause 2" with $10.3 million and "8 Mile" with $8.7 million. The semi-autobiographical Eminem vehicle was the only film at the top of the box office that was not a sequel.
PRODUCER DISCUSSES 'JENNY FROM THE BLOCK' OR J.LO
Discussing how the singer/actress first got involved in her new romantic comedy, "Maid in Manhattan," the head of New York operations for Revolution Studios said there are definite parallels between Lopez and the endearing character she plays in the film -- namely that they both come from working-class Bronx families and dreamed of better lives for themselves.
"Around (the time I read the original script), Jennifer was staying at my house because she used to stay there in the old days," Goldsmith-Thomas recalled. "She never stays there anymore, but she used to stay. We were just hanging out and talking and she said, 'Why don't you set it in the Bronx?' and we talked about what it feels like to be on the outside of something and we talked about the fact that Manhattan is an island and all these people are in boroughs surrounding Manhattan and we talked about how maybe it was us -- all these people with their noses pressed against the glass that are working in a city that they couldn't afford to live in. And I understood it because I was from (California's) deep Valley and for me it wasn't a borough, it was over the hill, and I just wanted to get there and she just wanted to get here."
Filmed inside Gotham's posh Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, "Maid in Manhattan" is the tale of an ambitious maid who falls in love with a handsome aspiring senator, played by Ralph Fiennes. The movie opens Dec. 13.
PEREZ, PANTOLIANO B'WAY'S NEW 'FRANKIE AND JOHNNY'
The Sopranos are keeping "Frankie and Johnny" in the family.
Fans of the hit HBO mob drama "The Sopranos" will appreciate the inspired casting of "Frankie and Johnny." Falco plays Soprano first lady Carmela on the cable TV show, while Pantoliano played Ralph Cifaretto, the gangster Carmela's husband, Tony, whacked on the series a few weeks back.
In addition to "The Sopranos," Pantoliano has also had memorable supporting roles in "Memento," "The Matrix," "The Fugitive" and "Bound." His first stage role was in 1972 when he played Billy Bibbit in the national touring company of "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." He worked in regional theater and has appeared in more than 40 Off-Broadway productions.
Pantoliano is the latest in a long line of "Sopranos" cast members to find work on the Great White Way. Lorraine Bracco (Dr. Melfi,) Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow,) Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior) and Saundra Santiago have all recently been moonlighting on Broadway.
Rosie Perez, who will be taking over Falco's role, made her screen debut in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing." She also appeared in Jim Jarmusch's "Night on Earth," "White Men Can't Jump" and "Fearless," for which she earned an Oscar nomination in 1993.
Directed by Joe Mantello, Terrence McNally's "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune" opened on August 8 at the Belasco Theatre and has recouped its $1.5 million capitalization, say the show's producers.
KIDMAN TO AUDIENCES: READ, READ, READ!
Nicole Kidman says she loves acting in films adapted from books.
"I'm a huge fan of literature," the actress told reporters in New York recently.
"That's why I became an actor. So it's good at this stage of my life that I get to work on 'Cold Mountain.' I get to work on a book like 'The Human Stain' and 'The Hours' -- the three really great American writers and so diverse, between Charles Frazier and Michael Cunningham and Philip Roth, so diverse and brilliant in their own right. We just had Charles Frazier on the set of 'Cold Mountain,' and then Philip Roth visited the set of 'The Human Stain' and Michael Cunningham on the set of 'The Hours.' I would love to do something of Toni Morrison. I just adore her. I'd love to do a reading of one of her works," said the 35-year-old "Moulin Rouge" star.
Asked what she thought about the early Oscar buzz surrounding "The Hours," the film in which she plays doomed writer Virginia Woolf, Kidman said: "For a movie like this it is what you dream of because this movie needs help. And I think it's an important film because of what it says about so many things. It goes into creativity, madness, the effect of great writing. We just don't read enough anymore, so to see a film like this, to show how writing can affect peoples' lives -- Meryl (Streep)'s character, Julianne (Moore)'s character -- in such profound ways. I hope it says: 'Read. Read everybody.' In the terms of blame and way in which we take on blame and not being too harsh in judging other people's choices. There are so many issues that are relevant."
"The Hours" opens Dec. 27.