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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   May 23, 2003 at 2:31 PM   |   Comments

BOX-OFFICE PREVIEW

The U.S. box-office is in a for a highly competitive Memorial Day weekend with two new releases and three holdovers that are still going strong.

Last week's undisputed No. 1, "The Matrix Reloaded," could hold on to the top spot in its second weekend, but it is expected to take heavy flak from the new Jim Carrey comedy "Bruce Almighty." Movie critics are virtually unanimous in reporting that the movie features the over-the-top approach to comedy that Carrey rode to stardom in pictures like "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" and "Liar Liar."

The new Michael Douglas-Albert Brooks comedy "The In-Laws" is getting mixed reviews, and might struggle to crack the top five in its opening weekend.

"X2: X-Men United" and the Eddie Murphy comedy "Daddy Day Care" are expected to continue posting good numbers -- and box-office analysts think this will be the biggest weekend of the year so far. On the other hand, few expect this weekend to match the numbers posted over the comparable weekend last year, when "Spider-Man" was still racking up much huger numbers than "Reloaded" is expected to put up over Memorial Day.


ROBBIE WILLIAMS EXPLAINS

Robbie Williams wants to make it perfectly clear he is straight, even if he did tell a gay magazine he thinks The Rock is hot.

An interviewer for The Advocate asked the British pop star if he thought Dwayne Johnson ("The Scorpion King") was hot, and Williams said he did. On Thursday, Williams told "Access Hollywood" he doesn't actually feel that way about Johnson -- he was just fooling around with his image as a rock 'n' roll ladies' man.

"I just thought it would be interesting to see the reaction it got from the guy who was interviewing me," said Williams. "There are a few pop stars out there, or rock stars, whatever, that pretend to be straight, but are actually gay. I'm championing the cause for straight pop stars to act gay, or at least say gay things."

Williams said he is straight and has "never gotten down and dirty" with a man.

"If the fancy takes me, I probably would," he said, "but it just doesn't."

Also for the record, Williams said he has a huge -- "bad actually, it's quite bad" -- crush on Cameron Diaz.


HONORS FOR GRACIE ALLEN WINNERS

American Women in Radio and Television will present its 2003 National Gracie Allen Award at a celebrity gala in New York on June 26.

The event will feature performances by Grammy-winning singer Roseanne Cash and Emmy-nominated actor Frank Gorshin -- currently starring on Broadway as George Burns in the Tony-nominated "Say Goodnight Gracie."

The Gracie Allen Awards are named for the comedienne who partnered with Burns in vaudeville, radio, movies and TV from 1922 until her death in 1964. The awards -- also known as the Gracies -- are presented to recognize "exemplary programming created for women, by women and about women" in broadcasting, cable and new media.

Gracies are being presented this year to CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour and actress Cheryl Hines ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"). The AWRT will also honor the "Ricki Lake Teen Pregnancy Prevention PSA Campaign" and the Disney Channel series "Lizzie McGuire."


A FIRST FOR THE PEABODYS

The 62nd Annual George Foster Peabody Awards will be televised nationally on Sunday, for the first time in the history of the prestigious honor.

The event -- hosted by ABC's Charles Gibson -- will air on the A&E Network at 4 p.m. (EDT). The awards were presented in ceremonies in New York last Monday.

HBO and Thirteen/WNET New York took three awards each. HBO was honored for the life-and-death drama "Six Feet Under," the Emmy-winning mini-series "The Gathering Storm" and the celebration of contemporary poetry "Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam." Thirteen/WNET New York received Peabody Awards for three fine arts shows -- "Egg: The Arts Show"; "Beckett on Film," an installment of "Stage on Screen"; and "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow," an examination of post-slavery racism in America.

In all, the Peabody Board rewarded 31 radio and TV programs for excellence -- including the CNN special "Terror on Tape," in which reporter Nic Robertson presented videotapes made by al-Qaida on how train terrorists.

The NBC police drama "Boomtown" was honored for its novel take on the police procedural genre, and the Fox drama "Boston Public" was singled out for an episode examining what happens when people use a highly charged racial epithet in a high school classroom.

ABC's "Nightline," CBS-TV and National Public Radio all won Peabodys for programs related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack. "Nightline" was also honored for "Heart of Darkness," anchor Ted Koppel's weeklong examination of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

© 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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