Late news from Tinseltown

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter  |  Nov. 1, 2001 at 6:03 PM
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"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" doesn't even open in the United States until Nov. 16, but according to a report in USA Today, ticket sales may already be heading towards box-office record territory.

"There is Harry Potter mania everywhere," said John Singh, spokesman for movie-ticketing company Fandango. It is selling "Harry Potter" tickets online at a faster pace than they did for any previous film, Singh said.

"It's (15) days before the movie opens," said Singh, "and we're seeing the kind of volume we would normally see one day before a blockbuster opens."

Some theater chains have been selling advance tickets this week.

United Artists has been selling tickets at selected locations since Wednesday, and the Cinemark chain has been selling them online since Oct. 25. The paper said most other chains will be selling tickets online or at theaters beginning Thursday.

Singh said there is some anxiety mixed with the euphoria at Fandango.

"The reactions here range from giddiness to concern about the demands that this is going to put on our system on Thursday and Friday," he said.

Over at Moviefone, a Fandango competitor, Tommy McGloin, senior vice president and general manager, told the paper that "Harry Potter" could turn into the biggest box-office hit of all time. For the record, Moviefone is owned by AOL Time Warner -- which also owns Warner Bros., which made the "Harry Potter" movie.


Brad Pitt fans might want to mark Nov. 22 on their calendar.

Besides being Thanksgiving, it's also the scheduled date for Pitt's guest appearance on "Friends" -- the NBC comedy program where his wife, Jennifer Aniston, plays Rachel Green.

According to People magazine, Pitt's role will be that of a guy whom Rachel used to mock in high school. When he shows up in her life -- he looks like -- well, he looks like Brad Pitt. On top of that, he still holds a grudge over the way Rachel used to treat him.


Three-time Oscar-winning actor Jack Nicholson was a surprise visitor at "Ground Zero" in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday.

The New York Post reports that Nicholson shook hands, signed autographs and posed for photos for three hours with crews working amid the rubble of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in terror attacks Sept. 11.

Nicholson flew to New York from Los Angeles to attend the World Series.

The paper said Nicholson used his famous smile to get past security checkpoints, and workers at the WTC were stunned that he didn't have a bodyguard with him.

"They found four bodies that day, so morale was pretty low," the paper quoted a witness. "But energy levels rose a thousand percent when they saw who it was."


While Jim Carrey fans await the December arrival of his new movie, "The Majestic," there's word that Carrey will hook up with writer-director Gary Ross ("Pleasantville," "Dave") for a comedy that should be ready to open around Christmas 2002.

Carrey will star as a New York City widower who falls in love with a woman much younger than he is -- and is then visited by the ghost of his late wife.

"It's a rich, lush romantic comedy about renewal and rebirth," Ross told Daily Variety, "and setting it in New York and getting to shoot it there was important to us for obvious reasons."

Ross said he doesn't normally write parts specifically for actors, but he has become close with Carrey and can't see anyone else in the part.

"He's as brilliant a comedian as he is a gifted actor," said Ross. "This comedy is tonally similar to other films I've written, and the hope is to be both funny and poignant. Jim's depth makes all that possible."


Steve Martin has reportedly signed on to join Queen Latifah in the cast of the romantic comedy "In the Houze" -- described as the story of a man looking for love on the Internet.

He finds someone he thinks might just work out, but she turns out to be a prison inmate with a tendency to make up stories about her past. When she gets out of jail, she shows up at the guy's house and upsets his life. reports that filming should begin by the end of the year.


At CBS two freshman dramas, "The Agency" and "The Education of Max Bickford" are in -- but "Citizen Baines" is out.

The network has ordered a full season of shows for the spy drama "The Agency" and the Richard Dreyfus drama, "The Education of Max Bickford," but canceled the political drama, "Citizen Baines."

The show starred Oscar-nominated actor James Cromwell ("Babe," "L.A. Confidential") as a former U.S. senator starting a new life after being turned out of office by his state's voters.


Dick Clark -- still billed as the world's oldest living teenager, even though he has three grown children -- announced Thursday that he is pregnant.

And if that isn't shocking enough -- he's due next Monday!

Clark made the announcement on his syndicated TV talk show, "The Other Half," which he co-hosts with Danny Bonaduce, Mario Lopez and Dr. Jan Adams. The show is designed to offer a male viewpoint on issues primarily of interest to women.


George Christy -- who wrote a long-running column in The Hollywood Reporter before being suspended in May in the swirl of an ethics controversy -- has resigned from the paper.

The 74-year-old Christy had become something of an institution in Hollywood -- to the point where some movies even included inside jokes about the value of being mentioned in his column. "The Great Life" chronicled movie premieres, awards ceremonies and the endless parties that filmmakers and TV people throw for themselves in promoting themselves and their projects.

Christy was suspended on May 25, several weeks after three members of the paper's staff resigned to protest the refusal of the publisher and editor in chief, Robert J. Dowling, to run a story that one of them had written about Christy's professional behavior.

Dowling said the separation agreement with Christy prohibited him from talking about the terms of the deal.

An attorney for Christy, John Gatti, told the Los Angeles Times that Christy's departure "has nothing to do with any purported allegations against him. It was just time to move on."

Labor reporter David Robb's story later appeared online at -- alleging that Christy had a cozy relationship with some producers, and that he had been given free use of desirable office space by a production company.

Robb reported that the Screen Actors Guild -Producers Pension & Health Plans was conducting an "audit inspection" into claims that Christy improperly qualified for benefits as a performer in movies in which he did not actually appear. A federal grand jury investigation into the matter is also under way.

Long before this year's controversy, Christy was a lightning rod for criticism from studio executives and colleagues who said he routinely engaged in unethical practices and threw his weight around -- insisting on receiving expensive gifts from producers and publicists, eating for free in restaurants and staying for free in hotels.

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