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Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Jan. 6, 2003 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

'RINGS' STILL LORD OF THE BOX OFFICE

"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" is still king of the box office.

Studio estimates released Sunday show the second installment of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy earned $25.65 million in ticket sales, securing the top spot at the box office for the third weekend in a row.

Leonardo DiCaprio's films also continued to perform well. His action-comedy, "Catch Me If You Can," took the No. 2 place with $21.3 million, while his sweeping epic, "Gangs of New York" came in sixth with $7.4 million.

The third and fourth positions were filled with a pair of romantic comedies. The Sandra Bullock-Hugh Grant charmer, "Two Weeks Notice," made $11.6 million and was followed by that other perky American-rich Brit combo, Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes, in "Maid in Manhattan," taking $9 million at the box office.

Rounding out the top five was the black comedy, "About Schmidt," starring Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates, which earned $8.75 million its first weekend in wide release.


ACTOR DISCUSSES GROUND ZERO SCENE

When filming a scene featuring an image of Ground Zero in Spike Lee's new drama "25th Hour," actor Philip Seymour Hoffman says he recalled his own memories of Sept. 11, 2001.

"I live here and I was here when it happened," Hoffman told reporters in New York. "So, it was based on my own personal experience... For everyone, it will be their own personal experience with that day... Other than just the metaphorical reasons why it's in the story... I think that it grounds the movie in a reality that will transcend just movie-watching. I think that the goal is that everyone will be in the movie with us... It's just another bunch of people in that city, and so, that was happening while we were shooting... I think that it's a really smart, humane, respectful, reality-grounding, short decision for Spike to make... hoping that everyone will settle into their seats and watch this movie and make a connection to that."

"25th Hour" is the story of how a New York drug dealer spends his last day before starting a seven-year jail sentence. Filmed in Manhattan from May to July, 2002, the movie features images of people working at the site where the World Trade Center once stood.


ZELLWEGER: 'BRIDGET 2' REPORTS PREMATURE

Actress Renee Zellweger insists reports of a "Bridget Jones 2" film are premature.

Although she has not ruled out reprising her role, Zellweger recently told United Press International she also has not committed to making a sequel to last year's hit "Bridget Jones's Diary."

"If it's really, really, really good, and if we have the time to do it right (I'll consider it) because I cherish that character and am very protective of that experience," she explained.

British actors Hugh Grant and James Broadbent also have recently denied news reports a sequel is in the bag.

"Bridget Jones's Diary" is based on Helen Fielding's hit novel of the same name. A sequel to the book, "Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason," continues the outrageous spinster's adventures.


SPIELBERG GLAD KIDS CAN WATCH 'CATCH ME'

"Catch Me If You Can" director Steven Spielberg is delighted his new con-artist comedy flick is a film he can actually take his children to see.

"('Catch Me') is the first movie I get to let my kids see in 10 years," Spielberg told reporters in New York recently. "I wouldn't let them see 'Schindler's List' or 'Saving Private Ryan' or 'Amistad' because of the Middle Passage and the beginning. They were too afraid to see 'A.I.' and it was too traumatic for my young kids to see a mom abandoning a child in the middle of the forest and I didn't show 'Minority Report' because it was too intense. The only film they saw was 'Lost World' and only the older kids saw it. The younger kids, it was too scary for them."

Of course, now they'll know how to forge checks...

© 2003 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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