CATHOLIC BISHOPS ASSAIL HBO FILM
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has condemned an HBO documentary set to air tonight (Monday) that links the church's position on celibacy to many of its current problems, including recent sexual-abuse scandals and the exodus of 500,000 nuns and priests from the church since the 1960s. A review of the film published by the bishops' office says that it fails "to take seriously that following the example of the celibate Christ is a motive for priestly celibacy." It said that, in the film, "primacy is always given to motives other than spiritual" and that the filmmakers reduce "man to a ball of biological urges." Indeed, the film by Anthony Thomas claims that the sexual urge is stronger even than hunger, and it includes an interview with a former priest who had himself castrated because he felt he could not control it. Another priest, who admits to having been involved with two women in the past, maintains that his experience is not unique -- that it is in fact the rule among priests. "I love being a priest," he says in the film, "But as [my parishioners] are leaving, I see that big empty church, and that church is symbolic of the emptiness inside me."
WRITERS FACE REALITY
The profusion of unscripted reality shows and the replacement of numerous half-hour sitcoms with hour-long dramas are likely to result in widespread job losses for members of the Writers Guild of America West this fall, according to the guild's annual report. In an interview with today's (Monday) Daily Variety, Charles Slocum, the WGA's assistant executive director who oversees its research projects, observed that 100 staff writer jobs were lost last season as a result of the proliferation of reality series. The report indicated that working writers earned an average of $93,482 last year, up 2.1 percent from the previous year, with the highest-paid 5 percent (215 writers) earning more than $663,000. However, 25 percent of working writers earned less than $32,700.
JANET SET TO RETURN TO LIVE TV ON TUESDAY
Janet Jackson is scheduled to make her first live TV appearance since the Super Bowl during the BET Awards Tuesday night. She is listed among the performers who will appear on the cable channel's awards show originating at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. Stephen Hill, BET's vice president of music programming and talent, told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times that none of the show will be tape-delayed. "We're the livest of the live awards shows, absolutely," Hill told today's Los Angeles Times." "There's no need for concern [about a repeat of the Jackson breast-baring incident]. We have great confidence and communication with our artists."
TRUMP FINDS HIS BRITISH COUNTERPART
Donald Trump has selected Sir Alan M. Sugar, founder of Britain's Amstrad computer and electronics firm, to host a British version of his reality series, The Apprentice. "I am a great realist and very straightforward," the British entrepreneur told today's (Monday) New York Times. "You get it right between the eyes from me. You don't get any flowers or niceties." He indicated that he will probably not use Trump's signature phrase, "You're fired!" "We would normally use the term, in England, 'You're sacked!'" he said.
BBC REPORTER SHOT BY EXTREMISTS RETURNS HOME
BBC reporter Frank Gardner, who was attacked by gunmen in Saudi Arabia on June 6, has returned to Britain, where he will undergo further treatment. The London Independent reported today (Monday) that Gardner's condition was regarded as "serious but improving," despite his having suffered 11 bullet wounds that fractured his spine and right thigh and damaged his bladder and intestines. Gardner's cameraman, Simon Cubers, was killed in the attack.
IRISH TV SCRAMBLES TO HALT REBROADCAST OF BUSH WEARING T-SHIRT
Irish television cameras, trained on Dromoland Castle where President Bush was staying Saturday, managed to catch a brief shot of the president wearing a T-shirt as he changed clothes. The broadcaster immediately sent out a notice to other TV outlets that might have considered rebroadcasting the images. It said: "The host broadcaster inadvertently transmitted pictures of President Bush at the window of Dromoland Castle. These pictures are the property of the Irish presidency and must not be used for transmission by any service."
FAHRENHEIT RISES -- AND HOW!
Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 bushwhacked the box office over the weekend, astounding analysts and even the filmmaker himself by taking in an estimated $21.6 million despite playing in only 848 theaters, many of them small-capacity art houses. By contrast, the No. 2 film ($19.6 million), White Chicks, played at 2,726 theaters, while the No. 3 film ($18.5 million), DodgeBall, played at 3,020. "We sold out in Fayetteville [NC], home of Fort Bragg," Moore told the New York Times Sunday. "We sold out in Army-base towns. We set house records in some of these places. ... Republican states are embracing the movie, and it's sold out in Republican strongholds all over the country." He predicted that the film will be cleared in twice as many theaters by next weekend, when it will have to do battle with Spider-Man 2. Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations, told today's (Monday) Washington Post that he was particularly impressed with the per-theater average of $25,115: "I'm amazed at those numbers," he said. "That type of per-theater average is usually reserved for a blockbuster." Separately, he told E! Online: "This is maybe the sleeper hit of all time." Only Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and Shrek 2 have recorded bigger per-theater averages this year. In an interview with the Associated Press, Moore attributed the success of the film to his detractors. "I want to thank all the right-wing organizations out there who tried to stop the film, either from their harassment campaign that didn't work on the theater owners, or going to the FEC to get our ads removed from television, to all the things that have been said on television,'' Moore said. "It's only encouraged more people to go and see it." The success of the film also pushed up the overall box office to about $149 million, up 22 percent from the comparable weekend last year. The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Fahrenheit 9/11, $21.8 million; 2. White Chicks, $19.6 million; 3. DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story, $18.5 million; 4. The Terminal, $13.9 million; 5. The Notebook, $13 million; 6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, $11.4 million; 7. Shrek 2, $10.5 million; 8. Garfield: The Movie, $7 million; 9. Two Brothers, $6.2 million; 10. The Stepford Wives, $5.2 million.
UNKNOWN SOLDIER WINS L.A. FILM FEST
Ferenc Toth's Unknown Soldier received the top prize trophy at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Saturday. The film, which tells the story of a teenager forced to live on the streets of Harlem, has yet to find a distributor. The victory carries a $50,000 cash prize. Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation received the $25,000 top prize for a documentary. The film, about Caouette's relationship with his troubled mother, reportedly cost just $218 to make.
BRANDO NEARLY DESTITUTE SAYS BRITISH NEWSPAPER
Marlon Brando has fallen on hard times and now lives alone in a one-bedroom Mulholland Drive bungalow, existing almost entirely on his pension from the Screen Actors Guild, Social Security, and small residuals, the London Sunday Times reported, citing court records. The newspaper quoted a recent visitor to the home as saying that it was "claustrophobic" with two shabby sofas and beaded curtains. An upcoming biography, Brando in Twilight by Patricia Ruiz, is expected to provide details of the 80-year-old actor's financial downfall, during which he reportedly spent a fortune on legal fees for his son Christian, who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of his sister's boyfriend in 1990, and on settling a palimony suit brought by his former maid.
RAIMI WORKING ON DVD VERSION OF SPIDER MAN
Spider-Man 2 isn't due to hit the theaters until Friday, but director Sam Raimi is already planning the DVD version, to be called Spider-Man 2.5, restoring scenes that were excluded from the theatrical version following audience previews, according to Video Store magazine. "I think that their thinking is that once the dad has spent the money to take the family to the movies, and then once the dad has bought the kid the DVD, they can still smell a few more bucks from the dad's pocket," Raimi remarked at a news conference.
AUSTRALIAN STUDIO ENGULFED IN FLAMES
Fire, emanating from a huge candle being used on the set of House of Wax, a remake of the 1953 thriller, destroyed a studio at the Movie World lot on Australia's Gold Coast Sunday. Reports said that millions of dollars worth of movie equipment was lost in the blaze. Police indicated that no one received serious injuries as a result.
In Friday's edition, we erroneously identified Michael Wilmington as a critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. He is a critic for the Chicago Tribune. We regret the error.