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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   April 7, 2003 at 3:03 PM
BUILDING BUZZ FOR 'THE MATRIX' SEQUEL

"The Matrix Reloaded" should add considerably to its pre-release buzz this week, with high-profile airings of its trailer on TV.

The syndicated show "Access Hollywood" begins showing footage of the trailer on Monday, and NBC Sports will air the entire two-and-a-half minute trailer next Sunday during telecasts of Arena Football League games.

Warner Bros. has made an exclusive arrangement with NBC Sports to debut the trailer on TV during telecasts originating in Los Angeles (Los Angeles Avengers vs. Arizona Rattlers), Indianapolis (Indiana Firebirds vs. Dallas Desperadoes) and Denver (Colorado Crush vs. Chicago Rush). The trailer will be shown simultaneously on the network and on big screens at Staples Center, Conseco Fieldhouse and Pepsi Center.

NBC Sports spokeswoman Cameron Blanchard said the network will show the trailer at no charge to Warner Bros. She said the network wanted to show the trailer because the target demographic for the movie is "very much similar" to the target audience for the Arena Football League -- young males.

"We knew that 'The Matrix Reloaded' movie was coming out in May, and that the trailer was due to hit movie theaters," said Blanchard, "and there is an insatiable appetite out there among 'Matrix' fans for all things 'Matrix.'"

Blanchard said the movie promo will air sometime during the second half of the telecasts.

"Matrix" fans who simply cannot wait until Sunday can see the trailer as early as Friday, when it shows up in theaters -- attached to the new Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson comedy "Anger Management."

"The Matrix Reloaded" opens on May 15.


'PHONE BOOTH' RINGS UP NO. 1

"Phone Booth" connected with U.S. moviegoers, ringing up an estimated $15 million in its to finish first in another lackluster box-office session.

The new Amanda Bynes comedy "What a Girl Wants" finished second with an estimated $12.1 million, followed by the new Vin Diesel action picture "A Man Apart," which came in third with $11.2 million.

The Chris Rock comedy "Head of State" fell from No. 1 to No. 4, grossing $8.8 million in its second week in release. "The Core" -- a loose remake of "Journey to the Center of the Earth" -- came in at No. 6 with $6.3 million in its second weekend, and the John Travolta-Samuel L. Jackson thriller "Basic" was No. 7 with $5.4 million.

The top box-office attractions managed just $100 million in total grosses -- down 10 percent from the same weekend of 2002. Analysts -- noting that the box-office has been relatively weak for the past three weekends -- said the movie business is taking a hit from the public's preoccupation with the war in Iraq.

War or no war, business is expected to pick up next weekend when Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson open in the highly anticipated comedy "Anger Management."


FIERSTEIN GOING IN DRAG AGAIN?

Harvey Fierstein, who is a hit on Broadway as Edna Turnblad in "Hairspray," reportedly will play another mom in a TV comedy for ABC.

The Hollywood Reporter said Monday that the project is being developed by producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron -- two of the driving forces behind the Oscar-winning "Chicago," and the TV movies "The Music Man," "Annie," and Me and My Shadows: Life with Judy Garland."

Fierstein will not only star in the project, he will also co-executive produce it with Zadan and Meron.

The Reporter said the plan is for Fierstein to play the role in the tradition of strong mother characters such as "Roseanne" -- not as a campy drag queen.


CASTING NOTES

Tim Allen will play a man in a decidedly woman's world when he stars as a Mary Kay cosmetics salesman in the upcoming comedy "In the Pink."

Allen -- who is also in line to star in a movie version of the classic TV comedy "Father Knows Best" will play a man who turns to selling cosmetics after he loses his big-money corporate job. Like Mel Gibson in "What Women Want," the character unlocks the key to understanding women and becomes a star Mary Kay sales performer.

Seth Green ("Austin Powers," "Rat Race") will join Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardellini in the cast of "Scooby 2," the upcoming sequel to last year's comedy hit "Scooby-Doo." Green will play the shady curator of the Coolsonian Criminology Museum.

John Lithgow ("Shrek," "Footloose") will play writer-director Blake Edwards and Stanley Tucci will play legendary director Stanley Kubrick in the upcoming HBO movie "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers." Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush ("Shine") stars in the movie, based on the life and work of Sellers -- best-known as the star of Blake's "Pink Panther" comedies and Kubrick's classic anti-war movie "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."

Emily Watson ("Hillary and Jackie") is also in the cast, as Sellers' first wife Anne Howe. Charlize Theron ("The Cider House Rules") stars as Sellers' second wife, Britt Ekland.

© 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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