'MAID' PICKS UP NO. 1 AT U.S BOX OFFICE
Jennifer Lopez's new romantic comedy "Maid in Manhattan" edged "Star Trek: Nemesis" for No. 1 at the U.S. box office with an estimated $19 million.
It was the second-biggest opening ever for Lopez. "Star Trek: Nemesis" opened with $18.8 million -- well below the expectations of box-office analysts.
"Drumline" -- a comedy-drama set in the world of college marching bands -- opened with $13.1 million and took the third spot, followed by the fourth weekend of the latest James Bond movie, "Die Another Day," which took in $7.5 million and ran its overall gross to "$131.6 million. That makes it the top-grossing Bond movie ever at U.S. theaters.
"Analyze That" was seventh with $5.3 million, and "The Santa Clause 2" was No. 8 with $4 million -- and a running total of $125.4 million. "Treasure Planet" and "Empire" rounded out the Top 10.
The Top 10 took in $87 million, slightly more than the same weekend in 2001. Year-to-date, the U.S. box-office has taken in more than $8.4 billion and is still running 12 percent ahead of last year's pace.
Exhibitors will post bigger numbers this week -- starting Wednesday -- when "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" opens. On Friday, "Gangs of New York" opens, along with the animated comedy "The Wild Thornberrys" and the romantic comedy "Two Weeks Notice."
L.A. FILM CRITICS LIKE 'ABOUT SCHMIDT'
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has named the dark comedy "About Schmidt" and its star, Jack Nicholson, best movie and best actor of 2002.
Chris Cooper was named best supporting actor for "Adaptation," and Edie Falco was named best supporting actress for "Sunshine State." Alfonso Cuarón's "Y tu mamá también" was named best foreign film and "The Cockettes" won for best documentary.
The award for best animation went to "Miyazaki's Spirited Away," and Dante Ferretti won for best production design for "Gangs of New York." Elmer Bernstein and Ed Lachman won for their score and cinematography, respectively, for "Far from Heaven."
The L.A. film critics also announced they will present a career achievement award to director Arthur Penn. The 28th annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards will be presented on Jan. 15 in ceremonies in Santa Monica, Calif.
BOSTON CRITICS LIKE 'THE PIANIST'
The Boston Society of Film Critics has named Roman Polanski's "The Pianist" best picture of 2002.
The story of a Jewish musician in the Warsaw Ghetto won three top prizes in all from the Boston critics, including best director for Polanski and best actor for Adrien Brody. Maggie Gyllenhaal won for best actress for "Secretary."
"Y tu mamá también" (Mexico) won for best foreign-language film. Honors for best documentary prize went to "The Kid Stays in the Picture," the movie based on movie producer Robert Evans' autobiography of the same name.
"Adaptation" won for best screenplay and Edward Lachman took the cinematography prize for "Far from Heaven."
GORE LEAVES 'EM LAUGHING ON 'SNL'
Former Vice President Al Gore showed a knack, if not a flair, for comedy when he hosted "Saturday Night Live" over the weekend.
Gore made fun of himself and other inside-the-Beltway types, in sketches featuring a 2-minute soul kiss with his wife Tipper and a short film in which he gets to sit at the president's desk on the set of "The West Wing" and shows an apparently unhealthy unwillingness to leave even the fake Oval Office. The former vice president did an impression of Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., in a parody of the cable news-talk show "Hardball" in which he portrayed Lott as too insensitive to his own racism to realize he is racist.
He also turned the tables on Democrats in a sketch based on the ABC series "The Bachelor" -- with him as the bachelor choosing from among potential running mates. The highlight of that one was a bare-chested Gore sitting in a hot tub and sharing a champagne toast with "SNL" regular Chris Parnell playing Gore's real 2000 running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. -- after the two realize that their political "marriage" was made in heaven.
Gore's performance was creditable enough, but not so strong as to make it advisable for him to quit his day job. Yet, that's what he did a day later, telling CBS' "60 Minutes" he has decided not to run for president in 2004 -- virtually bringing his political career to an end.
FOX SQUISHES 'FIREFLY'
Fox has canceled the sci-fi series "Firefly," but Daily Variety reported that series creator Joss Whedon will try to get the show on another network.
Fox plans to show the series' 2-hour pilot this Friday, and then drop the show from its prime-time schedule. The network has given Whedon -- the creator of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" -- permission to shop the series about.
According to Variety, Whedon unloaded on Fox's decision in a posting on a fan Web site.
"I think it has been mistreated shamefully," Whedon said. "I proudly take my place beside (other Fox series that were canceled despite good reviews) 'Profit,' 'The Ben Stiller Show,' 'The Tick' and 'Action.'"
Whedon conceded that it will not be easy to get the show -- about a futuristic band of space travelers trying to survive -- on another network.
"But I will do everything in my power, as always, to keep this bird in the air," he said. "I won't rest until I've found safe harbor for this vessel."