Box-office analysts expect big things from "Spider-Man" when it opens this weekend in 3,615 theaters on as many as 7,500 screens.
The screen adaptation of the Marvel Comics classic is expected to break the record for biggest opening over the first weekend in May -- set last year when "The Mummy Returns" grossed $68.1 million in its opening weekend. "Spider-Man" is not expected to challenge "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" for the all-time biggest opening over a three-day weekend -- $90.3 million.
SAG LAUNCHES GLOBAL RULE ONE
The Screen Actors Guild has begun global enforcement of Rule One -- a long-standing prohibition on union actors working on non-union productions.
At a rally in Los Angeles Wednesday, SAG president Melissa Gilbert and a group of high-profile actors including Kevin Spacey, Tony Danza, Ed Harris and Eriq La Salle urged union members not to work on overseas productions without a SAG contract.
"While travel is a part of doing business in a global economy," said Gilbert, "SAG members rightly expect all the protections of our union contracts to follow us when we work out of the country."
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America have endorsed SAG's decision to enforce Global Rule One, but the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTA) has demanded that the actors' union cease and desist -- because requiring SAG contracts will drive up the cost of producing movies and TV shows outside the United States.
Spacey said producers will have to deal with it.
"We expect the studios to honor this or they simply won't be able to hire us," he said.
SAG claimed that 60 feature films and 160 TV projects exhibited in America in 2001 were made overseas without union contracts, including "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Mummy Returns." The union estimates that the offshore work has cost its pension and health plan $23 million in the past five years.
Union officials said foreign shoots would cost 2 percent to 3 percent more under SAG contracts, but AMPTA said the new SAG policy would add as much as 20 percent to the budget for actors on projects shot in Canada -- and lead to a loss of job opportunities for actors.
STUDIOS BIDDING FOR GLOBAL WARMING SCRIPT
According to a report in Daily Variety, three major studios are angling for screen rights to a new screenplay about a world ravaged by global warming.
Universal, Fox and Paramount are said to be the frontrunners in the bidding battle for "The Day After Tomorrow" -- written by Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day," "Godzilla") and Jeffrey Nachmanoff, who directed the features "Hollywood Palms" and "The Big Gig."
NEW GIG FOR TRACY MORGAN
Tracy Morgan -- known for his impressions of Mike Tyson, Della Reese, Busta Rhymes and Maya Angelou on "Saturday Night Live" -- is returning to his stand-up roots for "Comic Groove," a new series on Comedy Central.
The show will premiere on Aug. 26, then run for six consecutive Mondays after that. "Comic Groove" will be taped at The Supper Club in Times Square.
MTV AWARDS: SAME TOWN, DIFFERENT DAY
MTV's Video Music Awards -- normally presented on the first Thursday in September -- will be handed out one week ahead of time this year.
MTV chief Van Toffler said in a statement that the calendar change was intended as a sign of respect for the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"By bringing together artists, fans and the city's creative community for MTV's biggest night of the year," said Toffler, "we hope to show our love and support for the place we truly call home every day."
The show will happen on Aug. 29. It will still be in New York -- but this year it is being moved to Radio City Music Hall from the Metropolitan Opera House.
WHAT HE REALLY WANTS TO DO?
According to a report in The Hollywood Reporter, Michael Jackson is planning to direct his first feature -- an adaptation of Jennings Michael Burch's book "They Cage the Animals at Night."
The book is based on Burch's experience in a succession of orphanages and foster homes, and his struggle to find friendship and love as he grew into adulthood. Jackson may not be entirely on his own in his feature directorial debut -- he reportedly will work with a co-director, Bryan Michael Stoller ("Undercover Angel," "Tales From the Darkside").
Former President Bill Clinton met with NBC executives Wednesday in Los Angeles to talk about hosting a TV talk show, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.
Citing several sources, the paper said the talks were just preliminary. One source, however, said Clinton is seriously interested in the prospect -- and was demanding $50 million a year.
TV industry sources told the Times Clinton might cool to the idea once he fully understands what's involved in hosting a talk show. The paper said Clinton has told some Hollywood executives who have asked about a potential TV career that the rumors are untrue.
There has been speculation that Clinton was meeting with CBS, but the head of that network said the company has not met with Clinton about doing a show and said the very idea is ridiculous.