Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   March 17, 2003 at 3:00 AM
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Best-selling author Howard Fast died at his home in Old Greenwich, Conn., Book magazine reports.

Fast, who died March 12, was 88. A writer of works whose themes included freedom and human rights, Fast wrote "Citizen Tom Paine," "Freedom Road" and "Spartacus," among others.

"Since I believe that a person's philosophical point of view has little meaning if it is not matched by being and action, I found myself willingly wed to an endless series of unpopular causes, experiences which I feel enriched my writing as much as they depleted other aspects of my life," he said in a 1972 interview.

Fast was blacklisted in the 1950s after word got out about his involvement with the Communist Party and he served three months in a federal prison in 1950 for contempt of Congress, the magazine said.


For the second weekend in a row, Queen Latifah and Steve Martin's comedy, "Bringing Down the House," topped the nation's box office.

"House" earned an estimated $22.4 million this weekend and joined "Daredevil" as the only 2003 films to repeat as weekend leaders, studio sources said Sunday.

Finishing a distant but respectable second was MGM's opening of teen-spy comedy "Agent Cody Banks," starring Frankie Muniz, with $15 million. Paramount's debut of "The Hunted," a thriller starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio Del Toro, followed with $13.5 million at 2,519 theaters.

Sony's second weekend of "Tears of the Sun" finished fourth with $8.8 million, falling 48 percent from its opening, followed by Miramax's 12th weekend of "Chicago" with $7.7 million, representing an impressive 13 percent hike in its gross from the 11th weekend. "Chicago" now has grossed $125.4 million, making it the 164th highest grosser of all time after "Dumb & Dumber."

Overall business was moderate with the top 10 pulling in about $89 million, $28 million below the same weekend last year when "Ice Age" led with a surprising $46.3 million.

(Thanks to UPI's Dave McNary in Los Angeles.)


New York's Film Forum will celebrate the life and work of filmmaker Federico Fellini with the premiere of a bio-pic about the "maestro."

Damian Pettigrew's irreverent portrait, "Fellini: I'm A Born Liar, An Eye-Opening Portrait of the Maestro," will premiere April 2, 10 years after Fellini's death.

In the film actors Donald Sutherland, Terence Stamp, Roberto Benigni and author Italo Calvino tell fascinating, often hilarious stories about working with the great director.

In one scene, Sutherland glowers, "It was hell on Earth" and seems to still be smarting from the experience of making the 1976 film "Casanova."

Stamp, on the other hand, couldn't be more effusive. Describing his first day on the set for the filming of the 1968 short "Toby Dammit," he imitates Fellini's directions: "Ter-en-chino, imagine you go to big party. Whiskey, hashish, cocaine, sex. But really it's not a party, it's like whor-gy! All night! And in the morning somebody put a big tab of LSD in your mouth. Now you're here."

It is Fellini himself, however, who reveals most, discussing women ("the unknown planet"), neurosis ("a treasure trove guarded by monsters"), cinema ("it can exist in a sensation, an intuition; cinema is a form of painting; it's about objects and how light falls on them"), Kurosawa's "Rashomon"("a filmmaker who could photograph air... the most complex reality that surrounds us"), actors ("puppets"), Mastroianni ("Why do I always work with you?"), memory, marriage, and more.

Fellini was interviewed by the filmmaker months before his death in October 1993 at age 73. He referred to the experience as "the longest and most detailed conversation ever recorded on my personal vision."

The film includes clips from two of his greatest films, "8½" and "La Dolce Vita," and of Fellini directing "Satyricon" and "Amarcord."


Liza Minelli and David Gest have postponed their anniversary bash because of likelihood the United States will go to war with Iraq.

About 1,200 guests were expected to attend the April 12 party for the couple's first wedding anniversary at Manhattan's Marriott Marquis, but a spokesperson for the famous pair said they decided to postpone the lavish affair because they didn't want to ask their far-flung friends and family to travel to New York "with the threat of war imminent."

The couple feels it is not an appropriate time for a celebration until after the resolution of the problem with Iraq, when a new date will be announced, said Warren Cowan & Associates.

Minnelli explained in a statement, "We held off sending our invitations out because we want to have our party when the world is at peace and people can come and enjoy themselves."

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