i>MUSEUM EXHIBITS LEGS

Moviegoers have spent a third weekend at Ben Stiller's computer-created museum, plunking down another $24 million on tickets for Night at the Museum, according to studio estimates. "This truly is one of those movies that works for all audiences -- from age 8 to 80 and from Maine to Maui," Fox distribution exec Chris Aronson told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times. Sony's The Pursuit of Happyness remained in second place with about $13 million. Taking over third place was Universal's sci-fi drama Children of Men which grossed $10.3 million as it expanded into wide release. Among new releases, Paramount's Freedom Writers performed the best, placing fourth with around $9.7 million. The animated Happily N'Ever After unhappily drew only $6.8 million in ticket sales, while New Line's Code Name: The Cleaner failed even to make the top-ten list as it opened with $4.6 million.

The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:

1. Night at the Museum, $24 million; 2. The Pursuit of Happyness, $13 million; 3. Children of Men, $10.3 million; 4. Freedom Writers, $9.7 million; 5. Dreamgirls, $8.8 million; 6. Happily N'Ever After, $6.8 million; 7. Charlotte's Web, $6.6 million; 8. The Good Shepherd, $6.5 million; 9. Rocky Balboa, $6.3 million; 10. We Are Marshall, $5.1 million.

PELLICANO SAYS HE'LL DEFEND HIMSELF

Anthony Pellicano, the onetime "private detective to the stars," on Friday won the right to act as his own lawyer when he goes on trial in August on wiretapping and racketeering charges. Federal judge Dale Fisher tried to talk Pellicano out of doing so, warning him that he must follow all the rules of the court that an established attorney would have learned, "and I will not help you. You will not receive special treatment from me at all." The judge urged Pellicano to let him appoint a new defense attorney, but Pellicano was unswayed. "You're very kind, your honor, but no thank you," he said. "If you change your mind, let me know," the judge responded. The Associated Press reported on Friday that Pellicano's attorney, Steven Gruell, said that Pellicano had told him that he was broke and couldn't afford him. "I was willing to do it [for free]," Gruell said, "but he was too proud" to accept. "It's a very foolish thing to do," Peter Keane, former dean of Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, told Saturday's Los Angeles Times. "Usually you're consigning yourself to failure. It creates nightmares for judges. Judges and prosecutors hate it."

STARS BRING GLITTER TO AWARDS SHOW IN PALM SPRINGS

Unlike other smaller-market film festivals, the Palm Springs International Film Festival was able to attract winners of its top awards to Saturday night's presentations, including Brad Pitt, who flew cross-country on the same day in order to be among the cast members of Babel to pick up the festival's award for Best Ensemble Performance. Also on hand were Babel director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, who received the Director of the Year Award; Kate Winslet, who received the Desert Palm Achievement Award for Acting; and Cate Blanchett, winner of the Career Achievement Award for her performances in Babel, Notes on a Scandal and The Good German. Meanwhile, the Spanish-language Pan's Labyrinth was named best picture Saturday by the National Society of Film Critics. Paul Greengrass received the best director award for United 93. The group's acting awards went to Helen Mirren for The Queen and Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland.

LEGENDARY SUPERHERO CREATOR STAN LEE MOVES FROM COMICS TO DVD

Stan Lee, who created or co-created some of Marvel Comics's most famous superheroes, plans to do the same thing on DVD. His POW! Entertainment is producing s DVD series, "Stan Lee Presents," being distributed by Starz Home Entertainment, whose first title, Mosaic, is set to hit the shelves on Jan 9 at $14.98. "We're very excited," Lee told Home Media Retailing magazine. "The DVDs should appeal to the same audience as those who enjoy Marvel comics." Mosaic will be followed by The Condor on March 20 and, later this year, Ringo, a superhero voiced by Ringo Starr.

Brian B.