News from the entertainment capital

PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter


It turns out the official three-day box-office take for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" was $90.3 million -- not as much as initial estimates had indicated, but still a new record movie opening.


In fact, that three-day total was slightly bigger -- by about $133,000 -- than the four-day total of $90.1 million racked up by "Jurassic Park: The Lost World" when it opened over Memorial Day weekend in 1997.

Box-office analysts figure "Harry Potter" will keep drawing big crowds through the rest of the holiday season -- largely because there are no other kid movies due in theaters until Christmas, when "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius" and "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" show up.

When the actual numbers came out late Monday, it also turned out that "Harry Potter" did not, in fact, ring up the largest three single-day box-office results ever -- just the top two.

The picture grossed $33.5 million on Saturday, for the biggest single-day gross in history, and $32.3 million on Friday, for the second biggest. Sunday's gross, $24.5 million, fell short of the $28.5 million that "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace" took in on its first day in theaters in 1999.


Some analysts think "Potter" has a realistic chance of reaching $200 million by the end of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, after just 10 days in release. "Phantom Menace" reached $200 million faster than any other film, doing it in 13 days.

"Potter" is considered a threat to smash "Toy Story 2's" record of $80.7 million for the five-day Thanksgiving holiday.


According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, about 100 students at the Agassiz Middle School in Fargo, N.D., were all set for a field trip last Friday to see "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" when the trip was called off due to protests by a handful of parents and a local radio announcer.

The objectors said the movie's depiction of witchcraft made it an inappropriate activity for a public school to sanction. Since many people regard witchcraft as a religion, they reasoned, the trip would violate the separation of church and state.

It was not reported whether the objecting parents or the radio personality had actually seen the movie before deciding what was in it, but the suggestion reportedly was made that if the school went through with the field trip it might have been on the receiving end of legal action.


"It's a little bizarre," said Fargo School Superintendent David Flowers. "We believe we were on firm ground. But (the school) made the decision ... that they would just as soon not be embroiled in a controversy."


Hundreds of viewers have reportedly complained to the Federal Communications Commission that last week's ABC-TV special -- "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" -- crossed the line of decency, with its parade of sexy models wearing the latest in next-to-nothing lingerie fashions.

The major complaint was that the supermodels showed too much skin during the 9 p.m. hour -- a time when kids are likely to be watching TV. Some viewers complained that it was tough to tell where the entertainment portion of the show ended and the commercials began, since so many of the ads on the show were for Victoria's Secret.

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said he has asked the commission's enforcement bureau to look into the matter.

The show was a ratings hit for ABC, drawing 12.4 million viewers overall. It was most-watched show in its time period among 18-40-year-old viewers.

ABC said the show had the all clear from its standards and practices division. The network also said it clearly posted advisories to viewers about the "mature nature" of the show's content.


Victoria's Secret told the New York Daily News it was satisfied with the ratings, but a media watchdog Patrick Trueman -- of the American Family Association in Washington, D.C. -- told the paper he is concerned that there will be more supermodel skin in America's network TV future after this.

"I think the FCC either will decline an investigation, or else investigate and find the show wasn't indecent," said Trueman. "If that happens, then Disney/ABC has opened the door for this style of TV and it'll become merely standard fare."


According to a report in Daily Variety, George Clooney is planning to work for a third time with director Steven Soderbergh -- this time on a sci-fi thriller called "Solaris," the story of an astronaut sent to rescue scientists on a space station, who finds the scientists either dead or insane because of what they've seen there.

Clooney currently stars -- with Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and an all-star cast -- in Soderbergh's remake of the 1960 caper comedy, "Ocean's Eleven." Clooney and Soderbergh also collaborated on the 1998 film adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel, "Out of Sight."


Variety also reports that Martin Lawrence is in talks on a $20 million deal to star in "The Bomb" -- described as a loose remake of the 1979 comedy, "10," starring Dudley Moore, Julie Andrews and Bo Derek.

Lawrence shows up in theaters Wednesday with his new comedy, "The Black Knight."


Tuesday is officially "Grinch Day" in Los Angeles.

Director Ron Howard and members of the cast of "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" were scheduled to help the city light a 50-foot "Grinchmas" tree and send off a Toys for Tots/Grinch semi-truck on a 17-city trip to collect toys for needy children.

Jeffrey Tambor (Mayor Who) and Taylor Momsen (Cindy Lou-Who) were set to join Oscar-winning makeup artist Rick Baker for the lighting ceremony at the new Hollywood & Highland entertainment complex in Hollywood.

Universal Studios Home Video has pledged to match the number of unwrapped toys collected on "The Grinch's Heart Just Got Bigger/Toys for Tots" tour. The toys will be donated to children and families in New York and Washington, D.C. affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.



Online balloting is now under way for the public to select its favorite musical artist of 2001, as part of the 29th annual "American Music Awards."

The nominees -- as determined by a blue ribbon panel -- are Destiny's Child, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Tim McGraw, Shaggy and U2.

Keys led all nominees with five American Music Awards nominations when the nominees were announced last week.

Fans can vote at or for their favorite artist. The awards will be presented on Jan. 9 in ceremonies in Los Angeles, to be televised over ABC-TV.

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