Sunday, December 31, 2006

As The World Turns

I have just a few quick items for you today, on this, the eve of 2007...

The Florida Film Critics Circle have chosen their favorite films of the past year.

Variety has which flicks came out on top in the sunshine state:

The Winners Are...

Next Up...

For a look at the worldwide box office of 2006:

A Variety survey of a dozen foreign countries found that burgeoning film industries in Japan, Korea, Germany, France and Russia are turning out commercially appealing titles of their own.

Global box office reports

...For the final game of the regular season the Chicago Bears will take on their rival the Green Bay Packers....MSNBC says of the game that there's "Plenty of intrigue for Bears-Packers showdown"...

Wishing Everyone A Very Happy And Healthy 2007!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

List Mania

It's that time again – the time of year when entertainment magazines and websites offer up their various lists for the past 365 days. Of course, like all lists--they are very subjective--depending on who has compiled the list.

Below you'll find a diverse collection of lists-for all things movie-land and the stars that can make or break the industry.

First up is my favorite list from this list of lists...via Film Threat.Com:

Here at Film Threat, we have an annual list of our own, The Frigid 50: The Coldest People in Hollywood. Unlike those other lists aimed at browning the most nose, the Frigid 50 is a written declaration of who or what in Hollywood needs a reality check, detailing the least-powerful, least-inspiring, least-intriguing people in all of Tinseltown. Before celebrities fall off the face of the Earth, they get one warning, and the Frigid 50 is it.

The Frigid 50: The Coldest People in Hollywood 2006!

The Frigid 50 Is Here...

Dark Horizons offers their opinion of both The BEST Films Of 2006 and The WORST Films Of 2006...

Premiere Magazine kicks the debate into overdrive with this next list:

It happens to everyone who loves movies: You're in a conversation at a bar, or at a wedding, or online, and someone begins rhapsodizing about one of their favorite movies and you can't help but say, "Uh, that movie sucks. It's totally overrated."

How two perfectly well-balanced individuals can have such drastically different views of the same film is one of the great wonders of being a film fanatic. It happens to us at Premiere all the time, enough so that sometimes we find ourselves questioning who we work with (boy, did it get ugly here when Love, Actually came out, and some of us are still snickering over our boss's love for Bowfinger, not to mention his affection for The Last Samurai).

Well, we decided to let our staff go at each other regarding some of the more beloved movies of all time, and, sure enough, sobbing can still be heard coming from the bathroom stalls.

Relationships have been strained. Egos bruised. Consider this a film lovers' quarrel, an admittedly rabid one.

Premiere Magazine - 20 Most Overrated films of all time...

Ho-Boy!! Some time honored flicks take it on the chin for that list.

IGN has the Top 25 Movie Franchises of All Time...

The next three items come from Variety...

2006: Hollywood diagnoses its audience...

2006: Stories that never happened...

Here's their list of the year's biggest box office bombs..

And finally The AFI announces 'Moments of Significance' awards....

Friday, December 29, 2006


The final weekend of 2006 doesn't really offer much in the way of a big opening at the box office...

The Christmas Day powerhouse Dreamgirls (reviews) goes wide; The biopic Miss Potter (reviews) peels back layers of famed child author Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger); From director Guillermo del Toro comes Pan's Labyrinth (reviews); The Dead Girl (reviews) a mystery staring Brittany Murphy and the great Toni Collette; Recent Golden Globe nominee Zach Braff finds himself in yet another romantic comedy called Fast Track (reviews)

Ian Mohr and Dave McNary of Variety give us a more detailed look at what's out there:

Following its socko one-day start on Christmas, Paramount and DreamWorks' big screen musical "Dreamgirls" will be up for a test this frame as the pic plays its first full weekend in 852 play dates.

Par also will send out, in limited release, the international hit "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer."

Pic, which came to Par with its purchase of DreamWorks, has played to more than $95 million so far overseas, including almost $50 million in Germany. Adapted from Patrick Suskind's bestseller, pic stars Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman and was helmed by Tom Tykwer ("Run, Lola, Run").

Multiplexes will see precious little new studio fare this holiday weekend. But that means good news for a handful of holdovers gunning for further life at the B.O.

Last frame's resounding No. 1, Fox's "Night at the Museum," should continue to spin the turnstiles: Pic has played to nearly $68 million to date after raking in $42.2 million over the extended Christmas frame.

Sony's feel-good drama "The Pursuit of Happyness" also will look to march toward the $100 million mark. Pic, starring Will Smith as a homeless father, has so far played to $73.6 million since its Dec. 15 bow.

MGM's "Rocky Balboa" will still be fighting in theaters after a solid launch last frame. Lion also will expand its horror holiday pic "Black Christmas," to 1,544 engagements. (Pic has so far played to $6.2 million since its Christmas rollout.)

Limited release scene including "Perfume" will perk up significantly as specialty studios aim to roll out scads of product in time to qualify for Oscar consideration.

MGM alone is sending out five more pics in limited engagements, including "Arthur and the Invisibles," "Factory Girl," "Fast Track" and "Miss Potter" -- all of which come from the Weinstein Co. -- as well as the studio's pickup "The Flying Scotsman."

Also, Universal is rolling out "Children of Men" in select markets.

Picturehouse -- the joint venture between New Line and HBO Films -- will send out "Pan's Labyrinth" in 17 engagements. Specialty arm decided to wait to roll out the pic to avoid the fall arthouse crush.

Fox Searchlight rolls with "Notes on a Scandal" in 22, while Warner Independent expands "The Painted Veil" into 37

Look Here For More...

Entertainment Weekly says:

Ben Stiller's box office magic will remain on display, while "Dreamgirls" and "Happyness" slug it out for silver

Talk about going out low key... Wake me up on Tuesday...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Act And React

The National Film Registry Board-via The Library of Congress-has chosen its 2006 honorees. I am happy to report that some of my favorite movies made the cut this year...The 25 additions were made public yesterday.

Dave McNary of Variety:

"Fargo," "Blazing Saddles," "Groundhog Day," "Halloween," "Notorious," "Rocky" and "sex, lies and videotape" are among the well-known films on this year's National Film Registry by the Library of Congress list.

A place on the list -- always made up of 25 films -- guarantees the film will be preserved under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act.

"Fargo," released in 1996, was named Wednesday in its first year of eligibility and is now the youngest film on the registry's list of 450 films. "Toy Story," released in 1995, had been the previous holder of that distinction after it was tapped last year -- also in its first year of eligibility.

"Rocky," named as fifth sequel "Rocky Balboa" unspools in theaters, is the top grosser on this year's list with $117 million domestic B.O.

The earliest film on the list is the 1913 selection "Traffic in Souls," an expose of white slavery that created a sensation when released. Two others come from the silent era -- "Flesh and the Devil" (1927), the first onscreen pairing of silent stars John Gilbert and Great Garbo, and 1914's "Tess of the Storm Country," which made Mary Pickford a star.

The list also features a quartet from the early days of sound -- Rouben Mamoullian's first film, "Applause" (1929); Raoul Walsh's "The Big Trail" (1930), starring a then-unknown John Wayne; Josef von Sternberg's "The Last Command" (1928), with Emil Jannings in an Oscar-winning turn; and "Red Dust," a steamy 1932 pre-Production Code melodrama starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington made the announcement and noted 50% of films produced before 1950 and 80%-90% of those made before 1920 have disappeared.

He said an increasing number of films from the 1950s, '60s and '70s are lost each year to nitrate deterioration, color fading and the recently discovered "vinegar syndrome," which threatens the acetate-based "safety film" stock, on which the vast majority of motion pictures have been reproduced.

"The syndrome really does make film smell like vinegar, and the images simply begin to disappear," said Steven Leggett, program coordinator of the National Film Preservation Board.

"It's been happening to films produced in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. If they're put in cold storage, the process can be arrested."

Congress established the National Film Registry in 1989 and reauthorized the program in April 2005. For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress works to ensure the film is preserved.

"The annual selection of films to the National Film Registry involves far more than the simple naming of cherished and important films to a prestigious list," Billington said in a statement.

"The registry should not be seen as 'the Kennedy Center Honors,' 'the Academy Awards' or even 'America's Most Beloved Films.'

"Rather, it is an invaluable means to advance public awareness of the richness, creativity and variety of American film heritage, and to dramatize the need for its preservation."

A pair of music performance films were tapped -- 1929's "St. Louis Blues," the only extant film recording of Bessie Smith, and 1964's "The T.A.M.I. Show," which featured the Rolling Stones and James Brown...

Student film "A Time Out of War," which won the Oscar for live-action short in 1954, also made the list.

Billington selected the 25 films after evaluating nearly 1,000 titles nominated by the public.

That process included discussions with the Library's motion picture division staff and the National Film Preservation Board, plus extensive input from the public through letters, emails and screenings.

Leggett told Daily Variety that "Fargo," "Rocky" and "Groundhog Day" had received strong pushes from the public.

"There's always been a lot of support for the Cohen brothers' films, and I was a bit surprised that 'Rocky' wasn't already on the list," he added. "And 'Groundhog Day' is a real cult favorite, to the point that the phrase has become part of the American culture."

The Complete List Of 25 And More...

I'm really jazzed that Rocky and Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Notorious made the grade. The same goes for Mel Brooks western spoof Blazing Saddles...But the one I'm most excited about is Halloween--It's nice to see the easily dismissed genre represented by such a class act.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rise And Shine

A teaser trailer for the film Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer has hit the web...

In this 100 second glimpse viewers get see The Human Torch (Chris Evans) and The Silver Surfer (Doug Jones) fly high above the skies of New York City...Other than that--there's not much else to see....

And yes--I still hate that subtitle...

The movie is set for a June 15, 2007 release.

No Harm No Foul

Do you remember that multi-million dollar lawsuit filed against Oscar winning filmmaker Michael Moore, by an Iraq war veteran who claimed he was falsely portrayed in the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11?

Stuart Levine of Variety offers an update:

A judge has thrown out a suit by an Iraq War veteran against filmmaker Michael Moore.

In the $35 million suit that also sought damages from Miramax, the soldier claimed Moore used his image without permission for the docu "Fahrenheit 9/11."

The film shows an armless Sgt. Peter Damon lying on a gurney at Walter Reed Hospital. Damon says he feels pain but that medication allows him to "take a lot of the edge" off of it.

The footage was originally used by
NBC News.

Additional details of the story can be found here...

I'm no fan of the way Michael Moore does his thing but I actually think the judge made the right decision in this case. In both Fahrenhype 9/11 and Michael Moore Hates America, Sgt. Peter Damon's comments are not taken out of context as they are in Moore's film...So that essentially Damon's truth is out there for all to see.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"Night" Wins The Day

Due to the Christmas day opening of Black Christmas and Dreamgirls--final numbers for the long weekend were not posted by some outlets as I write this...That said, I find it hard to imagine that things, as they stand, are going to change all that much.

The family flick Night At The Museum came out the clear winner.

Ben Stiller And Friend Ran Away With Lots Of Cash And Looks
To Finish 1st At The Box Office For The Holiday Weekend

Ian Mohr of Variety has details:

As studios woke up Monday to unwrap their Christmas B.O. gifts, Fox's "Night at the Museum" still seemed to have a commanding hold on the charts.

Pic had the potential to raise its three-day estimated take of $30.8 million to as much as $40 million, or more, with its Christmas biz added on top, according to B.O. pros.

With "Night" ahead of the pack, the weekend's top five films didn't seem as if they'd be shifting places when Monday's B.O. estimates were taken into account: Sony's "The Pursuit of Happyness" remained at No. 2, with MGM's "Rocky Balboa" and Universal's "The Good Shepherd" following behind.

Still set to roll out Monday were Paramount/DreamWorks' musical "Dreamgirls," and MGM's horror pic "Black Christmas."

Some studios chose not to release any official B.O. estimates for the frame's four day frame -- which includes Christmas Day -- saying B.O. numbers can be too tough to call on a this traditionally quirky day when moviegoers' behavior can be hard to predict.

Traditionally on Christmas, daytime numbers tend to be down as families gather. But once Christmas dinner is done, B.O. can be flush as auds head out to the multiplexes.

After bringing in $15 million over the first three days of the Christmas frame, it looked as if "Pursuit," Sony's Will Smith starrer, would be able to add another $5 or so million to its tally. Pic was playing in 2,836 engagements.

MGM, meantime, said that it saw "Rocky" as moving from $12.5 million over the three days to $16.3 million over four. "Rocky's" cume has been a scrappy $$26 million since its release Wednesday. Pic played in 3,017 over the weekend.

Universal's estimated that its "Shepherd," the Robert DeNiro-helmed political pic, meantime, would raise its cume from a three day take of $10 million to $13.9 million off 2,215.

Warner Bros.' gridiron drama "We Are Marshall," which took in just $6.6 million off 2,548 over three days looked as if it would remain in the seventh spot on the charts: Pic's four-day estimate stood at $8.36 million off 3,208.

Studio's "Letters from Iwo Jima" had an estimated six-day cume, as of Monday, of $163,900 from five locations after its Wednesday bow last week.

In the specialty sector, Sony Classics' opener "Curse of the Golden Flower" reported a four-day estimate of $724,369 off 60 for a per screen average of $12,073 and a cume since Thursday of $738,266.

Paramount Vantage raised the cume on its "Babel" to just under $19 million by taking in $422,778 off 207 over the four-day frame.

Miramax's "The Queen" took in $577,000 over the four day frame to raise its cume to $26.6 million.

Unit's opener "Venus" had a four-day take of $54,000 off three screens for a per engagement average of just over $18,000

Update 3:00 PM:

'Dreamgirls' A Holiday Treat

Paramount and DreamWorks' big screen musical adaptation "Dreamgirls" bowed to $8.7 million on Christmas, the studios estimated Tuesday morning.

Tuner, top lining Beyonce Knowles, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy, expanded yesterday from three screens to 852. Per screen average was over $10,000.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Outta Time

You Tube's Goldentusk has tackled yet another movie theme song...this time he wrote lyrics to composer Alan Silvestri's main title march from the Back to the Future trilogy....

One could argue that the score for the Back To The Future trilogy is Silvestri's best work...And this is another creative video celebrating an aspect of cinema that's sometimes under appreciated--while having some fun at the same time. To see more of Goldentusk in action click here and here.

To All Of My Readers:


I'm going to watch my favorite yuletide movie of all time--1983's A Christmas Story before my day officially gets under way...Make sure you do the same.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cast Off

I know the calendar says December...As far as I'm concerned though it's October:

It seems that director Rob Zombie may have found his "Dr. Sam Loomis" for that Halloween sequel/remake...The late great Donald Pleasence originated the role and owned the character for 5 films...The actor chosen to step into the role has very big shoes to fill.

The drum beat of that rumor that Keanu Reeves will play Speed Racer for Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski just got a bit louder. But with nothing confirmed for sure--we'll just have to wait and see I think casting Keanu in the lead is a great idea just the same.

...I wanted to take same time to acknowledge the passing of someone who helped ensure a happy childhood for millions of kids myself included...The story via the World Entertainment News Network:

Animation legend Joseph Barbera died at his home in Studio City, California [on Tuesday Dec. 19th] He was 95.

The co-founder of Hanna-Barbera Studios, Barbera was born in New York in 1911 and began his career as a banker before teaming up with William Hanna in the late 1930s to create beloved cartoon characters like Tom & Jerry, The Jetsons and The Flintstones during their 60-year partnership.

The pair's first collaboration was entitled Puss Gets The Boot, which became the first outing for Tom & Jerry.

Hanna and Barbera picked up seven Oscars for their Tom & Jerry cartoons. The acclaimed animators then created one of the first independent animation studios to produce TV series in 1957 and the hits kept coming with The Huckleberry Hound Show and Quick Draw McGraw.

But the duo landed one of their most beloved shows in 1960 when The Flintstones debuted - the first animated series to air in primetime. The show, about a stone age community, ran for six years and went on to become the top-ranking animated program. Other hits for Barbera and his partner included Top Cat, Scooby-Doo and Smurfs, which earned the pair two Daytime Emmy Awards in 1982 and in 1983 for Outstanding Children's Entertainment Series and a Humanitas Award in 1987.

Of the the many characters created by Hanna-Barbera, The Flintstones are, and always will be my favorite. The stone age family was brought to life on the big screen in 1994 first in The Flintstones and then again fir 2000's The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas...These live action films did a good job at capturing the spirit of the classic TV series.

Read the CNN obituary on Barbera for more...

...As the football season hits the home stretch--the playoff-bound Chicago Bears will take on the Detroit Lions later today...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Reason For The Season?

As a subject matter Religion divides as much as it unifies...Read on as I underscore that idea for this latest edition of Cinema Stew:

World Entertainment News Network is first to stir the pot...

Christian Groups Fume Over Christmas Horror Film

Christian groups have slammed the remake of cult 1974 movie Black Christmas, because they find the horror movie "offensive."

Glen Morgan-directed film stars Oliver Hudson, Katie Cassidy, Lacey Chabert and Michelle Trachtenberg and centers on a group of US college students who battle a slasher over the Christmas holidays. The movie will be released on Christmas Day in US cinemas, much to the horror of Christian groups.

Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, says, "To have a movie that emphasizes murder and mayhem at Christmas, a time of celebration and joy around the world seems to be ill founded."

Jennifer Giroux, co-founder of Operation Just Say Merry Christmas, adds, "The use of religious music 'Silent Night' and the nativity set on the front porch in one scene are insensitive to Christians. It's not enough to ignore and omit Christmas, but now it has to be offended, insulted and desecrated. Our most sacred holiday, actually a holy day, is being assaulted."

This groups are, of course entitled to be "outraged" but I'm afraid the idea of using Christmas as the backdrop for a horror film has been around for over thirty years--The original Black Christmas (1974), Silent Night, Deadly Night and Gremlins (1984)--to name a few...If you find the film offensive you have the right not to buy a ticket

Maybe all of those groups are just in a bad mood over this next item from Studio Briefing

Christian Group Regards 'Nativity' Flop As Setback

The disappointing box-office performance of The Nativity Story represents a "very serious setback" for people of faith who were hoping that Hollywood would produce more films for them, according to Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission.

Baehr, who also writes film reviews for his self-published Movieguide, told the conservative WorldNetDaily that Hollywood generally makes "extremely bigoted, anti-Christian movies" because they do well at the box office. He cited such films as
Borat and Jackass 2.

He blamed New Line marketers for failing to get the word out early to churches, pointing out that
Mel Gibson had begun promoting The Passion of the Christ nine months before it was released and that Disney had distributed Chronicles of Narnia study guides to nearly ever church before that film opened.

As of Tuesday, The Nativity Story, which cost $35 million to make, had taken in only $25 million in ticket sales. Meanwhile, conservative Christian groups have launched a "Stand Up for Christmas" campaign to encourage churchgoers to support the film by going to see it this week.

It's as I've said before--You can't always blame the marketing of a movie for its failure...Ads for the film were everywhere. The push was definitely on prior to its release. Audiences know what they like--besides, the competition seems a bit more heavy this year--than it was when The Passion came along...

Be afraid, be very afraid if this two part story comes true:

Cruise Planning Scientology Movie Starring Ex-Spice Girl?

Tom Cruise may be planning to follow in the footsteps of John Travolta and make a movie based on the ideas of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

According to the London Daily Star, Cruise has already cast former Spice Girl
Victoria Beckham, the wife of soccer star David Beckham, to star in the movie, titled The Thetan in the role of an "alien bride."

In Hubbard's thinking, "the thetan" is the spiritual part of man that advances from one lifetime to the next, inhabiting the minds and bodies of generations of individuals.

According to the tabloid, Cruise is financing the movie on his own after the major studios rejected it. Travolta's $73-million movie based on Hubbard's sci-fi novel
Battlefield Earth was a major flop, grossing just $21 million at the domestic box office.

No Denials From Tom or Posh About Reported Scientology Movie

Expected denials of British press reports that Tom Cruise was planning on funding a Scientology-influenced movie, The Thetan, and had cast Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham in the lead failed to materialize [this past] Tuesday, leading some to conclude that the seemingly unlikely project may in fact be in the works.

Spokespersons for Cruise and Beckham remained curiously silent about the report, which first appeared in the London tabloid, The Star.

If Cruise wants to make the film fine--but I would have thought he would have stayed away from the subject while still in career rehabilitation mode...Prediction the movie, if made, is gonna suck.

That wraps Stew for now...

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Holiday Flicker

This week's openers include a little something for everyone...

Night At The Museum (reviews) has Ben Stiller, teaming up with some of his best pals--along with industry legends Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney for some "family" fun; While the "based on a true story drama We Are Marshall (reviews) hopes to inspire the masses;

The Good Shepherd (reviews) has actor Robert De Niro calling the shots as director for Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie; Letters From Iwo Jima (reviews) is Clint Eastwood's companion piece to his own The Flags Of Our Fathers; Rocky Balboa (reviews) has been in the ring since Wednesday... While Matthew Barney: No Restraint (reviews) and The Painted Veil (reviews) begin runs in limited release.

Ian Mohr of Variety asks of the holiday competition:

Could "Rocky Balboa" pack a surprise punch at the Christmas box office this weekend?

Pic scored some knockout one-day B.O. numbers in its Wednesday debut for MGM, playing to $6.2 million. Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, the newest installment in the franchise centers on the Italian Stallion's return after a 16-year hiatus for yet another comeback.

Warners also got an early jump on the holidays Wednesday, rolling out Clint Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima" in five locations for $20,522. Unlike its companion film, "Flags of Our Fathers," which Paramount handled, "Letters" is platforming and will not expand more widely this weekend.

"Rocky" expands from 2,752 playdates to 3,017 today, but the grizzled pugilist will face some stiff competish: Warner football pic "We Are Marshall" opens in more than 2,600, while Fox's family-skewing "Night at the Museum" has booked 3,688.

Opening in more than 2,200, over a crowded frame, will be Universal political pic "The Good Shepherd." Christmas Day will see the rollout of Paramount and DreamWorks' musical "Dreamgirls" and MGM's holiday horror remake "Black Christmas." (I'll have more to say about Black Christmas over the weekend...)

But as of Thursday, underdog "Rocky" was tracking better than any of the other films, posting particularly big numbers with males. Pic's biggest advantage could be that it's piquing the interest of females over 25, who may recall the fictitious Philly fighter in his prime.

That could spell trouble for "Marshall." Warners' inspirational gridiron drama -- which stars Matthew McConaughey as a coach trying to patch together a college squad after tragedy strikes -- seems to be having a tougher time generating a similar level of interest in the same key demos.

"Museum," meanwhile, starring Ben Stiller as a night watchman guarding some surprisingly lively exhibits, should have the teen market to itself among new releases and looks to be doing well with female auds.

A bevy of family-friendly holdovers could siphon off "Museum" biz, however, including Warner CG sensation "Happy Feet," Fox's own "Eragon" and Par's "Charlotte's Web," which the studio is predicting will see only a slight drop over the frame as more moms become available to take tots to the movies...

Article Continues...

Dave Karger of Entertainment Weekly predicts "Night at the Museuem" will come out on top--despite it not tracking as well as "Rocky"...

Ben Stiller's slay ride will drive laughs, holiday cheer, and big bucks to theaters this weekend.

...The Last Reel will continue to be updated with "special posts" throughout the extended holiday weekend...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Future Film Fun

Two more trailers for Summer '07 movies have hit the net recently...And I thought you might want to take a look:

Director Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney team up again for another casino heist flick-Ocean's Thirteen--This time Al Pacino is along for ride playing the "heavy". The last film in the series lacked the real fun and zip of Ocean's 11. I am sure that the mere presence of Pacino will elevate the proceedings this time...Fingers Crossed Anyway...

The film is set to open on June 8th 2007

Next up is director Michael Bay's eagerly anticipated Transformers Movie...

Doesn't really show much--but it still gave me a few anticipatory goosebumps nonetheless. The war begins on July 4th 2007.

Now a little box office news:

In her latest Deadline Hollywood Daily column LA Weekly's Nikki Finke reports that Rocky Balboa took in $6.2 million on its opening day. Not bad for a flick that, by all rights, should have been a failure...Once again, Rocky the underdog, proves triumphant!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gilded Cages

First, it was the producers who were worried about a possible writers strike in the fall of 2007, now, it seems that concern has spread throughout the industry.

Variety's Dave McNary updates the situation:

Even as the winter holidays loom, Hollywood's facing 2007 with an unmistakably grim directive:

Start stockpiling.

The town's coming down with a fresh, infectious case of strike-itus.

Despite recent pronouncements by WGA West
[president] Patric Verrone and exec director David Young that there's no need to be concerned that negotiations won't start until the summer, the prospect of a strike has lit a fire under producers and execs.

Dealing with a possible work stoppage that would start Nov. 1 is becoming a normal part of doing business.

"You're seeing the development process speeding up," one exec said. "Dates for delivery of scripts are going to get moved up, if they aren't already."

Studios are taking a long look at accelerating production schedules, much as they did in 2000 and 2001 in advance of widely anticipated writers and actors strikes that never materialized.

"No studio's going to get caught short," one exec asserted. "We are starting to book space in advance and analyzing the pipeline and schedule. The uncertainty adds in layers of complexity to what's already a tough decision."

The murky labor outlook -- particularly with SAG's contract expiring in June 2008 -- means studios will likely cut back on the number of pics they're planning to release in 2008 and 2009.

Young and Verrone have asserted that the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers was not willing to address key issues such as digital downloads at early negotiations. Young reiterated that stance in a statement issued Tuesday in response to reports about industry worries.

"When industry representatives are prepared to address the vital concerns of writers, we are confident that we can reach a deal," Young said. "Our members must be fairly compensated for their work. Our upcoming negotiations will assure that they are."

For his part, Verrone has insisted that avoiding early talks enhances the WGA's bargaining position and is in line with the guild's past practice. And he's accused the producers org of fear-mongering.

"The AMPTP asserts that, by refusing to negotiate early, we will force our employers to make rash business decisions to prepare for an inevitable strike," Verrone said in a recent message to members. "That simply flies in the face of the last 18 years of Writers Guild history. In the past five WGA (minimum basic agreement) negotiations, we have been able to reach agreement without a strike, even though, in most cases, we did not begin negotiations more than a few months before the contract expiration date."

The AMPTP, which serves as the industry's negotiating arm, has asserted that Young agreed to start talks in January but then reneged after being told by the WGA West board that negotiations couldn't start until September. WGA reps have insisted subsequently that talks could start in July.

In the interim, execs predict stockpiling of scripts and a ramping up of production early next year to get projects finished by late fall, since getting rewrites will become highly problematic if the WGA walks out.

"Strategically, you can use the strike threat now to help move things along and acquire properties," one producer noted. "But six months from now, we'll be saying there's not going to be a strike so that things will keep moving."

Nerves are also jangled at the networks amid planning for the 2007-08 TV season.

"You don't have any alternative but to start planning around a strike taking place," one exec said. "It would be irresponsible to not be prepared."

The May upfronts will be particularly revealing since networks will have to have hammered out the semblance of a schedule that can survive a prolonged writers strike.

The nets continue to play their cards close to the vest -- "You never want to imply to advertisers that there's going to be a strike," said another exec -- but look for some telltale signs that the networks are moving to cover their bases:

--They'll be ordering fewer drama and comedy pilots and more reality.

--There won't be the usual late-spring hiatus in production.

--Continuing shows will get renewed earlier, with more backup scripts ordered so production can continue past Halloween if the writers walk out.

--Shows on the bubble between renewal and cancellation will become more likely candidates for renewal because they represent a smaller gamble than betting on a new show.

--Talk shows, news and game shows will be more likely to migrate to prime time.

--Producers will take a long, hard look at shooting non-union and outside the U.S.

The last WGA strike took place in 1988. The acrimonious work stoppage lasted five months, delaying the start of the fall TV season.

I could be wrong. But after reading the article--I actually think that a Writers Guild of America strike will probably be averted. I say this because of the plans that are in place to deal with what may happen...To have a contingency at the ready this far out...means it "won't" occur

It's not all doom and gloom in Hollywood though, McNary shares happier news from the Directors Guild of America...

The Directors Guild of America has tapped Carl Reiner to receive an Honorary Life Member Award in recognition of his service to the Guild.

The Guild also announced Tuesday that Paris Barclay and Taylor Hackford will receive the 2006 Robert B. Aldrich Service Award. Stage manager/associate director Terry Benson has been selected for the Franklin J. Schaffner Achievement Award, and George Paul will receive the 2006 lifetime achievement award in news direction.

The kudos will be given at the 59th annual DGA Awards on Feb. 3 at the Century Plaza Hotel with Reiner hosting for the 20th consecutive time. The multi-hypenate has won 12 Emmy Awards.

Barclay received a DGA Award and two Emmys for his work on "NYPD Blue." Barclay's served on the DGA's African-American Steering Committee since 1993; he was elected to the national board as an alternate in 1997 and served as third VP from 1999 to 2005, when he became first VP.

Hackford won an Oscar in 1979 for best live-action short film, "Teenage Father" and was nominated last year for directing and producing "Ray." He's been the DGA's third VP, chairs the DGA's political action committee and co-chairs the DGA PAC Leadership Council with Barclay.

Benson has been in the DGA for over 35 years and spent much of his career in public television at PBS' Channel Thirteen/WNET in New York, where he was shop steward, organizer and negotiator. At the Guild, he served on numerous committees and on the national board.

Paul has worked in TV news for nearly 50 years and continues to direct for ABC's "20/20" and "Primetime." He's only the fifth DGA member to receive the award for news direction, and has served as a national board member representing the Midwest since the 1960s.

Kudos to all of the honorees--but especially to Carl Reiner, who is one of this nation's most enduring entertainers...

Hey yo! Yo Ay! Rocky Balboa opens in theaters today--2 days early from its original release date. The reviews for this sixth installment have been surprisingly very positive. Sylvester Stallone's been all over the place promoting the sucker...It will be interesting to see how the film preforms over the extended holiday period. I'm pulling for ya Roc.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On The Grapevine

Film critics in two more U.S. cities have named their favorite movies of 2006 and Variety has all of the info:

Here's the Las Vegas honorees--and those from Dallas...

This next story actually broke late last week...I know I'm a little late with it--truth be told--I forgot all about it until now. Thanks for not holding my tardiness against me...

Everyone's favorite jungle hero, Tarzan, is coming back to the silver screen.

Springing from the mind of author Edgar Rice Burroughs, the character is among the most popular fictional adventurers ever created...

Michael Fleming of Variety has the details

Warner Bros. and producer Jerry Weintraub are bringing Tarzan back to the big screen.

The studio is developing a new take on the Edgar Rice Burroughs-created character. Studio is negotiating with Guillermo del Toro to direct.

John Collee, who wrote "Master and Commander: Far Side of the World" and most recently scripted the WB animated hit "Happy Feet," is negotiating to write the screenplay.

Weintraub will produce through his Jerry Weintraub Prods. banner.

In the years since Burroughs first introduced the loincloth-clad character in book form in 1914, Tarzan has headlined live action and animated films, as well as radio and TV shows.

Del Toro, who grew up reading Spanish-language translations of those books, feels that the classic themes are still compelling, and that there is new ground to cover in the Tarzan mythology by turning back to the original Burroughs prose.

"I'd love to create a new version that is still a family movie, but as edgy as I can make it," Del Toro said. "There are strong themes of survival of a defenseless child left behind in the most hostile environment."

Deals are still being worked out, but Del Toro sparked to the chance to collaborate with Collee.

"John will be writing it alone, as I'll be in production on 'Hellboy 2' and pursuing writing projects of my own," Del Toro said. "He's got a great sense of adventure and the wilderness."

Del Toro, whose new film "Pan's Labyrinth" opens Dec. 29...

Guillermo del Toro has built up a solid filmography over the years and I'm sure with a solid script in hand--he can make a darn good jungle epic.

The character has appeared in dozens films over the years... Some of them are true classics like Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), that helped make actor Johnny Weissmuller a true Hollywood star. Or director Hugh Hudson's underrated epic Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) with Christopher Lambert in that famous loin cloth--Then there's been truly awful Tarzan films such as Tarzan and the Lost City (1998). Hopefully, Del Toro will cast someone with real acting chops in the lead role, and not some glorified pretty boy underwear model...

In other news: As promised, I received a postage paid envelope from Warner Home Video, to put those defective DVDs from the Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition in yesterday. They were mailed back to WHV today. With any luck, the replacement discs, for the set will arrive quickly...So that I can post my thoughts on the product as a whole...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Okay, I'll admit to being totally taken by surprise by the results of the latest box office bout. I thought for sure that the live action version of the children's classic Charlotte's Web would be number one. That it didn't even beat the dragon flick Eragon and had to settle for the third spot was amazing--considering all of those positive reviews...

Will Smith and real life son Jaden Smith, meanwhile, are probably all smiles over how well their dramedy The Pursuit of Happyness performed.

Brandon Gray of Box Ofice Mojo:

'The Pursuit of Happyness' captured an impressive estimated $27 million over the weekend, eclipsing the expected top draws, 'Eragon' [$23.5 million] and 'Charlotte's Web' [$12 million]...

There's more Mojo right here

Ian Mohr of Variety writes:

Holiday auds were in the mood for father-and-son bonding as Sony's "The Pursuit of Happyness," with Will Smith starring opposite his son, warmed hearts and landed atop the domestic B.O. over the weekend with a $27 million bow.

Pic's per-engagement average was a robust $9,467 from 2,852 over a pre-holiday frame in which it can be tough for non-tentpole pics to woo auds away from holiday preparations. No. 1 bow was Smith's 10th, and pic also marked a solid English-lingo debut for Italo helmer Gabriele Muccino.

Last weekend's surprise No. 1, Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto," dropped nearly 50% in its second frame into sixth place.

Subtitled pic added $7.7 million to its coffers to bring its cume to $27.9 million. Pic is playing in almost 2,500 engagements and posted an average of $3,133 per.

Fox's PG-rated "Eragon" took the second spot on the charts, with $23.4 million off 3,020 for a per-screen average of $7,765. Pic, based on the fantasy-lit phenom, played somewhat better with young males, but also brought in a young female demo.

Frame's other wide opener, Paramount's G-rated reinvention of "Charlotte's Web" -- which mixed live-action with CG f/x -- landed in third with $12 million. Studio said it's hoping to mirror the release of "Stuart Little," which opened slowly in the same frame in 1999 with $15 million, but wound up with $140 million by April as families discovered it. Both "Stuart" and "Charlotte" are based on books by E.B. White...

Article Continues...

For his weekend wrap-up Entertainment Weekly's Joshua Rich said:

Will Smith's star power conquers the box office, while a mythical beast beats a little piggy for the No. 2 spot...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Critical Decision

The Golden Globe nominations were not the only big awards news of the past week...

On Sunday December 10th and Monday December 11th, critics in Los Angeles and New York City announced their picks for the top films of 2006. Daily Variety has all of the winners:

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association is up first...

"Letters From Iwo Jima," Clint Eastwood's account of the fierce World War II battle from the Japanese point of view, was chosen best picture of 2006 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. after spirited voting that saw awards spread among an unusual number and variety of contenders.

Click here' for more...

Meanwhile, the New York Film Critics chose to honor a film that depicts more recent events in history:

The New York Film Critics Circle has named "United 93" its best picture for 2006, marking the second kudos win for the movie in as many days. On Sunday, the L.A. Film Critics Circle named pic's helmer Paul Greengrass its best director

Click here for more...

I finally saw United 93 on DVD and I must say--it was quite an emotional experience. The movie is gut wrenching and may be difficult for some to watch...But I think it's a film that should ultimately be seen by everyone...It's one of the best films of the year that I have seen and deserves as much attention as it can get.

The American Film Institute named their top films of the year as well...

'Borat,' 'Dreamgirls,' 'Little Miss Sunshine' named as best

Little Miss Sunshine hits DVD on Tuesday December 19th

...Despite the fact that Nose tackle Tank Johnson has made news off the field--the Chicago Bears say they are ready to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later this afternoon...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Trail Mix

New trailers for two of summer '07's most anticipated flicks have hit the net.

First up is Live Free or Die Hard--the fourth installment in the popular Die Hard series...

I realize this is only a teaser for the film--but showing a series of stunts and explosions didn't do anything for me...Save for the shot of the cop car...The film is set open in the U.S. on June 29th 2007--Just in time for the Independence Day holiday...

And then there's Shrek the Third....I loved the first film in the series, but was kinda disappointed with Shrek 2...The trailer for the latest adventure did make laugh out loud though. Maybe, just maybe this time out things will be better.

Shrek The Third is set to flicker on screens in the U.S on May 18th 2007

Friday, December 15, 2006

Along Came A Spider

Among this weekend's new films--the latest incarnation of author E. B. White's children's classic Charlotte's Web (reviews) looks to take the top spot. The story first hit the silver screen in 1973 as a wonderful animated movie...

Also hoping for the all important family crowd is the fantasy flick Eragon (reviews). And from the looks of things--it's a tougher sell than "Web" and certainly doesn't have any of Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe type buzz. But the demographic of males under 25 could prove me wrong. Philadelphia's own Will Smith teams up with his real life son Jaden Smith for the dramedy The Pursuit of Happyness (reviews)....In limited release is award season contender Dreamgirls (reviews), Steven Soderbergh's The Good German (reviews), and director Irwin Winkler's ill-received Iraq war drama Home of the Brave (reviews) And finally, there is the Bollywood film Kabul Express

Daily Variety's Ian Mohr coughs up some stats for the weekend openers:

A family-pic fracas is brewing this weekend at the multiplexes as Fox's reimagined classic "Charlotte's Web" stacks up against Paramount's fantasy pic "Eragon."

Both pics are going up against Sony's Will Smith starrer "The Pursuit of Happyness," which lands at 2,852 playdates.

"Web" will spin in 3,566 engagements and "Eragon" hits 3,020.

Also of interest will be Par's unusual rollout of Bill Condon's "Dreamgirls": Studio is releasing the film as a "roadshow," charging $25 a pop for tickets and offering fans at three theaters -- in Gotham, Los Angeles and San Francisco -- reserved seating and special programs as part of the package.

Scheme has so far resulted in sellouts on Friday night in all three venues. (Saturday is sold out at Gotham's Ziegfeld as well, and the L.A. venue's Saturday engagement at the ArcLight was nearly full late Thursday.) Par rolls out the pic in earnest on Christmas.

Holding over will be Mel Gibson's Disney release "Apocalypto" -- last weekend's surprise No. 1 -- which should convert further fans. Helmer's "The Passion of the Christ" took in $53.2 million in its second frame two years ago.

Sony's "The Holiday," meanwhile, will have to try and hang on amid the competish: Pic looked like a No. 2 finisher Sunday but actually slipped a spot when actual receipts were tallied, dropping behind Warner Bros. penguin pic "Happy Feet."

Warners political adventure "Blood Diamond" got off to a slow start last frame but has been gaining ground during the week and could benefit from Golden Globes nominations. Pic bowed to $8.6 million in its first weekend but surged to $11.2 million by Thursday with slight daily drops in biz.

Smith's last pic, the Sony romantic comedy "Hitch," bowed to $43.1 million last year on its way to $179.5 million.

Thesp hasn't had a pic open below that mark since his 2001 biopic "Ali," which preemed to $14 million.

Then again, Smith's pics since "Ali" have either been big-budget actioners, such as "I, Robot" and "Bad Boys II," or comedies like "Hitch." "Happyness" sees the thesp taking a purely dramatic, fact-inspired turn as Chris Gardner, a father who overcomes tremendous hardship to support his son.

Though "Web" and "Eragon" are ostensibly going for the same family aud, the pics are tracking quite differently.

Women over 25 -- perhaps moms who grew up with the book or Par's animated version from 1973 -- seem to be one of this new version's most eager demos. Neither teens nor auds under 25 seem as interested.

"Eragon," based on the literary fantasy phenom, has teens pumped as well as males under and over 25.

Both pics have to contend with B.O. behemoth "Happy Feet." Warners feels the CG-animated pic has the potential to play quite strongly through to January and pass $200 million on the way.

Specialty film sector, which has been having a tough time wooing auds away from more mainstream studio fare this season, will offer up a number of new awards hopefuls from well-regarded helmers.

Pics opening on five screens or fewer include Steven Soderbergh's "The Good German" (Warners), Irwin Winkler's "The Home of the Brave" (MGM) and Anthony Minghella's "Breaking and Entering" (Weinstein Co.).

Over at Entertainment Weekly Joshua Rich predicts:

Will Smith may get bitten by a spider, and this weekend's fire-breathing dragon isn't looking so hot...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Seeing Double

At an unholy time of around 5:30 AM PST on this very morning, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced nominations for the 64th annual Golden Globe Awards:

Brian Lowry of Variety has the details:

Double vision overtook this year's Golden Globe nominations, with Clint Eastwood drawing dual director nods for his matched World War II epics "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima," while Leonardo DiCaprio pulled off an equally rare pair for his starring roles in "The Departed" and "Blood Diamond."

Major studios also engineered something of a modest comeback in nominations for the 64th annual Globe Awards announced Thursday morning.

In addition to Warner Bros.' "The Departed" in the drama category, 20th Century Fox's "Borat" and "The Devil Wears Prada" snagged bids in the comedy/musical balloting, as did the Paramount/Dreamworks collaboration "Dreamgirls."

Throw in Fox Searchlight's "Little Miss Sunshine " and "Thank You for Smoking," and the News Corp. units amassed four of five nominees in the comedy field. Fleshing out the drama voting were "Babel" – the most-nominated film overall, with seven – the historical piece "Bobby," "Little Children" and "The Queen," whose star, Helen Mirren, equaled Jamie Foxx's record for three nominations in a single year.."

This year is also notable for an anomaly in the foreign-language film category, where two U.S.-produced movies – Eastwood's "Iwo Jima," in Japanese; and Mel Gibson's violent epic "Apocalypto" – received nominations, edging out international projects.

As a result, that category might be the least significant in terms of serving as a bellwether for the Oscars, where only non-U.S. productions are eligible. Although the Globes are historically considered a strong predictor for the Oscars -- having matched the best picture winner all but once from 1993 to 2004 -- the two have diverged the last two years, when "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby" were anointed best picture by the motion picture academy. The HFPA honored "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Aviator," respectively, as outstanding drama those years. Eastwood's nominations set up a sort of rematch with Scorsese, up for "The Departed," after Eastwood took the prize two years ago. After "Babel," "Departed" tallied six nominations and "Dreamgirls" five.

"Nashville" remains the most-nominated film in Globe history, earning nine bids (but just one award) in 1976...

Warren Beatty will receive the Cecil B. DeMille award.

And the [motion picture] nominees are...

"Babel" "Bobby" "The Departed" "Little Children" "The Queen"

Penelope Cruz - "Volver" Judi Dench - "Notes on a Scandal" Maggie Gyllenhall - "Sherrybaby" Helen Mirren - "The Queen" Kate Winslet - "Little Children"

Leonardo DiCaprio - "Blood Diamond" Leonardo DiCaprio - "The Departed" Peter O'Toole - "Venus" Will Smith - "The Pursuit of Happyness" Forest Whitaker - "The Last King of Scotland"
"Borat" "The Devil Wears Prada" "Dreamgirls" "Little Miss SUnshine" "Thank You For Smoking"

Annette Bening - "Running with Scissors" Toni Collette - "Little Miss Sunshine" Beyonce Knowles - "Dreamgirls" Meryl Streep - "The Devil Wears Prada" Rene Zellweger - "Miss Potter"

Sasha Baron Cohen - "Borat" Johnny Depp - "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" Aaron Eckhart - "Thank You for Smoking" Chiwetel Ejiofor - "Kinky Boots" Will Farrell - "Stranger Than Fiction"

"Apocalypto'" "Letters from Iwo Jima" "The Lives of Others" "Pan's Labyrinth" "Volver"

"Cars" "Happy Feet" "Monster House"

Adriana Barraza - "Babel" Kate Blanchett - "Notes on a Scandal" Emily Blunt - "The Devil Wears Prada" Jennifer Hudson - "Dreamgirls" Rinko Kikuchi - "Babel"

Ben Affleck - "Hollywoodland" Jack Nicholson - "The Departed" Eddie Murphy - "Dreamgirls" Brad Pitt - "Babel" Mark Wahlberg - "The Departed"

Clint Eastwood - "Flags of Our Fathers" Clint Eastwood - "Letters from Iwo Jima" Stephen Freers - "The Queen" Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - "Babel" Martin Scorcese - "The Departed"

"Babel" "Little Children" "Notes on a Scandal" "The Departed" "The Queen"

"The Painted Veil" "The Fountain" "Babel" "Nomad" "The Da Vinci Code"

- "Pursuit of Happyness" "Listen" - "Dreamgirls" "Never Gonna Break My Faith" - "Bobby" - "Happy Feet"

The Complete List Of Nominees--including those from out there in TV Land--are righr here

I'm sure that Sacha Baron Cohen got a much needed lift from the noms for his Borat film--what with all of his legal woes...Kudos to Clint Eastwood on his pair of nods; That said I'm rooting for Scorsese and The Departed How about Leonardo DiCaprio going for two--while shutting out co-star Matt Damon... At least Damon's best pal Ben Affleck gives him someone to root for.

The 64th annual Golden Globe Awards will take place on Monday January 15, 2007, in a live telecast on NBC

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

RIP Peter Boyle (1935-2006)

Philadelphia born film and television star Peter Boyle passed away last night in New York City, of undisclosed causes, according to his publicist. He was 71 years old. Boyle's talent knew no limits--comfy in both dramatic and comedic roles

Of course, Mr. Boyle will probably best be remembered for his 201 episode run as Frank "Holy Crap" Barone, in the top rated sit-com "Everybody Loves Raymond" '(96-05)...

But as a film fan, he was, and always will be "The Monster" in the Mel Brooks comedy masterpiece Young Frankenstein (1974). Truly one of the funniest movies ever made...

His other motion picture credits include: Monster's Ball, Malcolm X, Honeymoon in Vegas, the actioner Red Heat, the underated sci-fi flick Outland, and the cinema landmark Taxi Driver as "Wizard" that helped put director Martin Scorsese on a whole different level...

"Raymond" wasn't Boyle's only TV gig--he had memorable guest roles in "The X Files" in a '95 highlight - Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose, "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" multiple episodes of "NYPD Blue" and a single segment of "Cagney & Lacey"

Boyle final film role was playing "Father Time" in The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause...

For more on Boyle and his 40 years in showbiz, here's the ABC News obituary...

He will be missed but never forgotten.

Give With One Hand, Take With The Other

While comedian Sacha Baron Cohen A.K.A. Borat came out the winner in court Monday....

The Associated Press and Nicole La Porte of Variety

The first verdict in the various legal tussles over "Borat" is in, and the winner is ... Borat.

On Monday a judge denied the request of two college fraternity brothers to have a scene in "Borat," in which they are shown drunk and making racist remarks, cut from the film. The men claim the footage has damaged their reputations.

Last month they sued 20th Century Fox and the film's producers, maintaining that they were intoxicated when they agreed to participate in the film and were falsely told that it would never be shown in the U.S.

A judge earlier denied their request to have the scene cut from the theatrical version of "Borat," but last week the plaintiffs were given another opportunity to request that the scene be cut from the "Borat" DVD.

In ruling against the duo Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joseph Biderman said that they failed to show a reasonable probability of success on the merits of their case or that money damages alone would be insufficient to resolve their claims.

Lawyers for the men said the unbecoming scene in "Borat" had already cost one of the men a job at a corporation and the other a prestigious internship...

There's more to the story...

Cohen's victory celebration would prove to be short-lived though, as...

"Borat" continues to be bullied.

Another lawsuit has been filed in relation to the Sacha Baron Cohen mockumentary, this time by a man in South Carolina who is suing a restaurant for allowing Cohen to film him in the restaurant's bathroom.

Scene was cut from "Borat" but aired on Comedy Central in a show promoting the movie. Clip also was posted on You Tube and Google. In the scene, Borat poses as a bathroom attendant and comments on the man's genitals.

The lawsuit, filed in a state court, asks for compensation and seeks an injunction against inclusion of the scene on any DVD release of the movie. It also asks that the footage be removed from the Internet.

The owner of the Columbia, S.C., restaurant, Fulvio Valsecchi, said he was told by the filmmakers that they were making a documentary about South Carolina tourism. He said managers did not know Cohen went into the bathroom with a camera...

...Romanian villagers have filed a $30 million lawsuit, saying they were told they were participating in a doc about poverty in Romania. And the owner of etiquette training services in Alabama has sought an investigation, saying she was similarly misled into participating in the film.

Part of me says Cohen shouldn't be shocked by all of these lawsuits--given the nature of what he does in character...But another part of me says some of these folks who were bamboozled by Cohen are using all of the exposure (and $$) as the driving factor for these lawsuits. The Frat Boys from that first story...What dinks.