Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Dec. 9, 2002 at 3:00 AM

BOND NO. 1 AT BOX OFFICE

An international super-spy and a mobster seeking analysis knocked boy wizard Harry Potter from his perch atop the box office to the No. 3 spot this weekend.

"Die Another Day," the 20th installment of the James Bond franchise, took in another $13 million and came in No. 1 during its third weekend. Strong-arming its way into second place with $11.3 million was the Robert De Niro/Billy Crystal mob comedy, "Analyze That," the follow-up to the 1999 hit, "Analyze This," while "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," also a sequel, earned $10 million this weekend, bring the film's three-week total to nearly $214 million.

Rounding out the weekend's top five were John Leguizamo's new gangster drama, "Empire," which racked up $6.3 million in ticket sales its first weekend in limited release, and the Disney animated adventure, "Treasure Planet," which made $5.7 million, according to preliminary studio estimates.


BANDERAS, GRIFFITH SEPARATE

Hollywood sweethearts Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith are reportedly on a break.

Word from London's Daily Mail is Banderas suggested a trial separation because he is fed up with his wife's jealousy and paranoia.

Married in 1996, Banderas and Griffith have one daughter, Stella. Friends are hoping the separation is just temporary and that the pair will reconcile after taking a short breather.

Griffith's publicist has denied the reports, stating, "Melanie and Antonio are still very much together and very much married."


FANS BRACE FOR 'SOPRANOS' SEASON FINALE

Fans of the hit HBO drama, "The Sopranos," are bracing for tonight's season finale.

The 75-minute episode airs Monday night and caps a season many critics have described as lukewarm at best.

The series' third season focused on New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano's personal relationships with his family, psychiatrist and criminal underlings, with a main character either dying or disappearing from the small screen in nearly every episode.

With Ralphie decapitated, Dr. Melfi fired, Christopher in rehab and Furio in Italy, fans are wondering who will help Tony fight his nemesis, New York mob kingpin Johnny Sack.

The New York Post begged Edie Falco, the actress who plays Tony's wife, Carmela, for some insider information, but she refused to flip. "I can't say," Falco said, zipping her lips.

"Sworn to secrecy," said Tony Sirico, who plays Paulie Walnuts on the show.

Lorraine "Dr. Melfi" Bracco also refused to squeal, replying, "Oh, come on," when interrogated by a reporter.

Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who plays Tony's daughter, Meadow, told The Post she won't be able to watch tonight because she'll be busy playing Belle in "Beauty and the Beast" on Broadway.

She wouldn't reveal what she knows, but promised, "Absolutely the fans will be excited. It's something that people didn't expect to happen."


LIV RECORDS SONG FOR 'KING' SOUNDTRACK

It looks like actress Liv Tyler is following in her dad's platform bootsteps.

The daughter of outrageous Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler has recorded a song for the soundtrack of the third "Lord of the Rings" film, "The Return of the King," due out next year.

In New York to promote the second "Rings" film, "The Two Towers," Tyler told United Press International she recorded "Arwen's Song" a while ago and even previewed it for her dad. The actress, who plays an elfish princess in the spectacular fantasy trilogy, says director Peter Jackson hadn't told her in which of the three simultaneously filmed movies her song would appear.

"I think it's going to be in the third movie," she said. "You never know with these movies... Peter, when he was editing things, felt ... for me, certain scenes were nicer as a finale in the third film."

Tyler wouldn't say much about the song other than it is in English, not one of Tolkien's made-up languages.

Asked to speculate why aging rockers like her dad, Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones are still doing so well after decades in the business, Tyler replied: "For me, it's in my genes. I can't comment on the rest of the world, but I just grew up listening to that kind of music. My mom would put Iggy Pop on when I was a little girl, and probably not very many little girls' mothers would do that. So that's what's kind of normal to me."

Tyler says she is as amazed as anyone to see what verve her 54-year-old father shows in his concerts.

"He has got an enormous amount of energy," she explained. "It's rubbed off on me. It's in the genes too, unfortunately, the workaholic gene. He has always been like that. I think it's really incredible. When I see him perform, I definitely am taken aback by it. I'm really impressed by it."

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