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Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   April 14, 2003 at 3:00 AM
SANDLER/NICHOLSON COMEDY BOX OFFICE RAGE

The new Jack Nicholson-Adam Sandler comedy, "Anger Management," caused a fury at the box office this weekend, earning a staggering $44.5 million.

The mental health comedy disconnected the Joel Schumacher thriller, "Phone Booth," which opened last weekend in the No. 1 spot. Starring Irish hunk Colin Farrell, "Phone Booth" dropped to second place this weekend, earning another $7.5 million.

Coming in third place was the teen comedy, "What A Girl Wants," which made $6.7 million its second weekend in release.

Still performing well after more than a month, the Queen Latifah-Steve Martin comedy "Bringing Down the House" earned $4.6 million and the No. 4 spot at the box office this weekend, while the Vin Diesel actioner "A Man Apart" took in another $4.45 million its second weekend in release and rounded out the top five.


PRODUCERS EXTEND 'NINE' RUN

Enthusiastic audiences and rave reviews encouraged the producers of "Nine" to extend the musical revival's run until Aug. 10.

The Roundabout Theater Company's production of "Nine," starring Antonio Banderas in his Broadway debut, Laura Benanti, Jane Krakowski, Mary Stuart Masterson and Chita Rivera, opened April 10 at Broadway's Eugene O'Neill Theater.

"Anyone who cares about the progress of the Broadway musical has to see 'Nine'!" is what the New York Times had to say about the Fellini-inspired musical.

Based on the classic film "8 1/2," "Nine" went on to win five 1982 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

"Nine" is the story of Guido Contini, a film director of the Fellini mold. Having just suffered several box-office flops, Guido attempts to write and direct a new film, but is unable to come up with a suitable plot. Drifting toward a nervous breakdown, Guido finds himself examining his past flawed relationships with the many women who have come through his life and struggling to act his mature age of 40 as opposed to 9.


MAC WANTED TO PLAY IN THE 'BIG LEAGUES'

Comedian Bernie Mac had no interest in a series for the WB or UPN, saying he wanted to hold out for a major network offer.

"We pitched this show to NBC, ABC, CBS and the WB," the star of FOX's sit-com "The Bernie Mac Show" recently recalled. "I didn't want the WB. I went in there just for a pitch... I didn't want UPN or the WB. I felt that was an insult. People always say, 'If you're going to do TV, do it.' And no disrespect to UPN or the WB, I just didn't want to play in the minor league. I wanted to play in the majors."

Explaining he has been practicing comedy since he was 5 years old, Mac said he doesn't mind that it took him awhile to hit it big.

"You take your time," Mac said. "I've got the patience of Job. I'm not in it for superficial reasons. It took me awhile to get here. I'm so glad... I take every minute and all the scripts they give me. There's no such thing as 'little' to me. Other people say, 'I have no lines.' 'I ain't got that much to say.' Harpo Marx made you laugh without saying a word. Jack Benny just looked at you, but he said a lot. I get a kick out of that. To bring something different is a beautiful thing, to make you all laugh -- that's an honor."

Mac can be seen in "The Bernie Mac Show" on FOX and in the hit big-screen comedy "Head of State," in theaters now.


DIESEL LEARNING TO RIDE AN ELEPHANT

When Vin Diesel isn't at work making blockbusters, he usually can be found playing chess, working out and riding elephants.

Yes, that's right. Elephants.

"What I do for fun is film," said the star of the new hit "A Man Apart" and the upcoming, third-century epic, "Hannibal."

"Do I play ball? Yeah. Do I love chess? Yes," he admitted. "But it always feels like whatever I'm doing, I'd rather go back to somehow developing a project. Whether it's creating creature characteristics and attributes for the 'Chronicles of Riddick' that you won't see until scene two or scene three... I built a Hannibal tent in the back of my yard. And I ride elephants and I go elephant training. But, it's very odd, for a New Yorker it's like the only thing I ever rode was the A Train. So, riding the largest elephant in the country is a weird feeling."

So, where does one find the largest elephant in the country?

"There's a place that has the largest African elephant in America. It's two hours outside of L.A.," explained the "XXX" and "The Fast and Furious" star.

"I just go up there and practice riding this elephant," he said. "It's really bizarre because no one knows this, but elephants have killed more animal trainers than any other animal. So, it's just me and this one cat, and I'm riding this elephant back and forth. And I'm looking at this guy going, 'You can do nothing if he decides to flip over.' And he's got his trunk all in my face. A beautiful experience. But even the hobbies somehow relate to the greater hobby, which is film."

© 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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