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Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   May 19, 2003 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

'MATRIX' SEQUEL BREAKS RECORDS

The sci-fi flick, "The Matrix Reloaded," won the top spot at the box office this weekend.

It also broke the records for best opening day and highest-grossing debut of an R-rated film.

Starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne, the "Matrix" sequel earned a staggering $135 million since it was officially released Thursday. The total also includes about $5 million in ticket receipts taken in during sneak previews Wednesday.

Studio estimates released Sunday show Eddie Murphy's family comedy "Daddy Day Care" held the No. 2 place for the second weekend in a row, earning $19.2 million.

Coming in third place for the weekend was "X2: X-Men United," the No. 1 movie for the past two weeks, taking in $17.1 million in ticket sales, followed by the 1960s-style romantic comedy "Down With Love," which opened this weekend and earned $7.6 million.

Rounding out the top five was the tweener chick flick "The Lizzie McGuire Movie," which earned $4.5 million its third weekend in theaters.


HITLER DRAMA AIRS ON CBS

The first part of the controversial mini-series "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" aired on CBS Sunday night.

Although many television reviewers have praised the made-for-television film, the star-studded, fact-based mini-series drew some early criticism from people who feared the movie might sympathize with the dictator by attempting to explain how he developed his grossly distorted view of the world. After the initial controversy, however, several well-respected scholars declared the program accurate.

Starring Robert Carlyle as Adolf Hitler and co-starring Stockard Channing, Julianna Margulies, Matthew Modine, Peter O'Toole and Liev Schreiber, the second part of the film airs Tuesday.


WINSLET, GANDOLFINI TO STAR IN FILM MUSICAL

Gorgeous "Titanic" heroine Kate Winslet reportedly will star in a new big-screen musical opposite "Sopranos" godfather James Gandolfini.

Word from the British news Web-site Ananova.com is that Winslet and Gandolfini will star in an all-singing, all-dancing spectacular called "Romance And Cigarettes." Billed as a "savage, passionate and darkly comic" tale of one man's infidelity and redemption, the film will be directed by John Turturro and produced by the Coen brothers. Susan Sarandon will co-star.

"Romance And Cigarettes" is the latest in a long line of movie musicals planned after the enormous successes of "Moulin Rouge" and "Chicago."


HAMILL, McCLANAHAN TO STAR IN NEW B'WAY COMEDY

"Star Wars" actor Mark Hamill and "Golden Girls" star Rue McLanahan have signed on to star in a new Broadway comedy this fall.

Directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman, Richard Alfieri's new play "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" is scheduled to open on Broadway at a theater to be announced, following a sold-out engagement at the Coconut Grove Playhouse.

In the play, McClanahan portrays Lily Harrison, a formidable Florida retiree, who hires a dance instructor for six weeks, but is dismayed when he turns out to be acerbic transplanted New Yorker, Michael Minetti (Hamill). After a rocky start, Michael and Lily soon learn they have more in common than either could have imagined. A smart comedy about the nature of friendship, "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks" invites us to cherish the partners we choose, say the show's producers.


ROUNDABOUT TO USE ASL IN 'BIG RIVER' REVIVAL

An American Sign Language adaptation of the musical "Big River, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is heading to Broadway.

Adapted from Mark Twain's novel, this new production of "Big River" will be directed and choreographed by Jeff Calhoun.

A collaboration of Roundabout Theater Co., Deaf West Theater and the Mark Taper Forum, the musical will include deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing actors performing with both spoken English and American Sign Language, interweaving music, voice, sign language, dance and storytelling techniques from both hearing and deaf cultures into a unique theatrical event.

"Big River" is a tale of adventure and self-discovery, which begins on a raft on the Mississippi River in the 1840s, where Huck, escaping from his drunken father, meets up with Jim, a runaway slave. The story of their journey downstream is an American classic that captures the rhythms, sounds and spirit of life on the big river. Musical numbers include "Do You Want to Go To Heaven," "Waiting for the Light To Shine," "Hand for the Hog," "Muddy Water," "When the Sun Goes Down in the South" and "Worlds Apart."

Previews begin at Broadway's American Airlines Theatre on July 1, with an official opening of July 24.

The original Broadway production of "Big River" opened on April 25, 1985, at the Eugene O'Neill Theater. Directed by Des McAnuff, the production won seven 1985 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score.

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