Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International
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Al Pacino's new CIA thriller, "The Recruit," has commandeered the No. 1 spot at the box office from last weekend's top film, "Darkness Falls."


Studio estimates released Sunday show "The Recruit" earned $16.5 million in ticket sales when it debuted this weekend.

Coming in second in the box office race was "Final Destination 2." The sequel to the hit 2000 horror flick, "Final Destination," it sold $16.2 million in tickets its first weekend in theaters.

The new motorcycle myth, "Biker Boyz," nabbed $10.1 million and third place, while Jerry O'Connell's Outback comedy, "Kangaroo Jack," stuffed another $9 million in its pouch and hopped to the No. 4 spot. "Darkness Falls," last weekend's top player, tumbled to the No. 5 spot with $7.5 million.


Reportedly fearing its Grammy after-party might end in bloodshed, Universal Music has canceled its traditional post-ceremony bash.


The New York Post reports Universal executives decided Friday to cancel the Feb. 23 event because they were afraid it would turn into a shootout between rival rappers.

Universal is the world's largest music company and its artists garnered 157 Grammy nominations this year, the most in the business. The Post quotes sources close to the situation as saying recent violence triggered by rap star 50 Cent's shunning of a record deal with Universal's Murder Inc. label has suits on edge.

"It's the first time in history they've caved to this stuff," a source tells the tabloid.

The source noted that even during the 1990s -- when Puff Daddy and Biggie Smalls on the East Coast battled with the West Coast's Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight -- Universal always held its party.

Shakur and Smalls were two of the most famous victims of the so-called "rap wars." Neither homicide has been solved.

In November, Jam Master Jay, of the pioneering hip-hop group Run-DMC, was slain in his Queens studio, a shooting authorities say may be linked to 50 Cent signing a deal with Eminem's Shady Records instead of Murder Inc.


Later, in mid-January, the Midtown office of 50 Cent's manager was shot up in a hail of gunfire.

A rep for the company denies that the cancellation has anything to do with fears about a gangsta-style gunfight, insisting it was called off over economic reasons. The party was expected to cost about $3 million.


Tony Soprano better watch out -- there's a new don on the block.

"Kingpin," NBC's new mob drama and the series some critics describe as the heir to "The Sopranos," debuted Sunday night.

The new series follows the adventures of drug czar Miguel Cadena (Yancey Arias) as he struggles with the morality and challenges of his work.

"We all love 'The Sopranos,' but 'Kingpin' is more like 'The Godfather' meets 'Traffic' with a little bit of Shakespeare added," Arias told TV Guide Online. "It's a different show altogether.

"When you first met Tony Soprano," he continues, "he was a very dark character, and through therapy he found some goodness inside of him that started to (impact) the decisions he made. Miguel, on the other hand, starts off a very good character, but throughout each episode, you realize that whatever goodness is inside of him is starting to decay. You really root for him to hold onto it if he can."



Two-time Tony Award-winner Bernadette Peters will star in the Broadway revival of "Gypsy" this spring.

Directed by Sam Mendes ("American Beauty," "Cabaret,") the musical begins performances May 1 at the Shubert Theatre. Previews begin March 31.

Suggested by the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee, the legendary musical features the book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. Set during the vaudeville era, "Gypsy" is about a relentless stage mother, Rose (Peters), traveling the country with her two daughters, June (Kate Reinders) and Louise (Tammy Blanchard), and their manager, Herbie (John Dossett). While June and Louise wish their mother would settle down and marry Herbie, Rose continues to pursue dreams of stardom for her girls. When June deserts the act, Rose turns her attention to the shy Louise, whom she hopes to fashion into a star. When the act is booked into a burlesque house by mistake, Louise is forced into the spotlight and Gypsy Rose Lee is born.

Produced by David Merrick and Leland Heyward, the original Broadway production of "Gypsy," directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, opened May 21, 1959, at the Broadway Theatre, starring Ethel Merman in one of the greatest roles of her career. "Gypsy" played for 702 performances, and was filmed by Warner Brothers in 1962, starring Rosalind Russell as Rose and Natalie Wood as Louise.


"Gypsy" has returned to Broadway in two other productions, both directed by Arthur Laurents, with Tony Award-winning performances by Angela Lansbury (1974) and Tyne Daly (1989.)


Irish actor Colin Farrell says working with screen legend Al Pacino on the new thriller, "The Recruit," was a dream come true.

"I was grateful," Farrell told reporters in Los Angeles. "Just grateful. It kind of speaks for itself, you know, working with Al Pacino. I never thought I'd see myself on a set with an actor of his scale and his powers. My former knowledge of him -- he's a legend, a living icon, all of those things people say he is. And I grew up on his films -- 'Scarface,' 'The Godfather,' 'Dog Day Afternoon,' you name it. So, when I found out that he was going to be in the film, I couldn't believe it, I couldn't believe it. And then the first day on the set with him, I nearly s--- myself, I was so nervous. But he was great. From day one, he was great to be around."

"The Recruit" is in theaters now.


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