Surprising many industry observers who expected the first meeting between the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers under the auspices of federal mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez would be perfunctory and unproductive, the two sides in fact spent 12 hours together, adjourning at 1100 p.m. Thursday night. They then said that they would meet again on Friday. Nevertheless, Daily Variety, citing people familiar with the meeting, said that "progress appears to have been negligible" and that it consisted mostly of each side repeating the positions they have taken previously.


Director Terry Gilliam disclosed Thursday that he plans to restart production of The Man Who Killed Don Quixotenext year after securing rights from the insurance company that paid out $15 million when the movie's sets were destroyed by a flash flood in 2000 and one of the stars of the movie pulled out following a serious injury. Speaking at a tribute to him Thursday night by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in London, Gilliam, who created the graphic images for the Monty Python TV shows and movies before launching his career as a film director, said that he now believes that God stepped in to "save his ass" on Don Quixote when the storm occurred. "I was in some way relieved that it did fall apart," he said. "Because I didn't have the money to finish it. It's a good thing it went down when it did because I would have got the blame for going over budget. I think this time we will make a better film."


Box-office forecasters are predicting huge crowds at the nation's multiplexes this weekend, with hordes of teenagers pouring in to see Summit Entertainment Group's vampire flick Twilight along with family groups arriving for Disney's latest animated feature Bolt.Each film is expected to take in around $50-60 million. Moreover, other moviegoers who missed last weekend's opening of the latest James Bond epic, Quantum of Solace, will be joining the crowd. It's expected to earn $30-40 million. All in all, the weekend box office total is expected to rise to its highest mark since summer -- ahead of the upcoming four-day Thanksgiving weekend.


Critics are giving Disney's Boltno standing ovation, as they are wont to do for most of the Pixar product the studio releases, but they are giving it plenty of polite applause. Consider A.O. Scott's comments in the New York Times: "If Bolt ... does not quite rise to the level of bona fide Pixar masterpieces like Wall-E, Finding Nemoand Ratatouille,it does manage to be frisky, funny and inventive enough to engage the attention of grown-ups as well as children." Claudia Puig in USA Todaycomes to the identical conclusion, writing: "Funny and heartwarming, if not entirely original,Bolt is bound to charm audiences of all ages." Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinelcomments that it "marries the best Disney traditions with Pixar polish." Lou Lumenick in the New York Post doesn't go that far, calling it "sporadically entertaining, occasionally quite funny and presented in unremarkable 3-D," but concluding that overall, it's "deeply mediocre." The movie itself reportedly underwent a major overhaul after the Disney/Pixar merger, and several critics observe that the touch of Pixar's John Lasseter, who is now overseeing all Disney animated fare, is evident in the movie. Writes Glenn Whipp in the Los Angeles Daily News: "Lasseter believes that 'for every laugh, there should be a tear.' Which is another way of saying that movies should have heart, a quality in short supply in Disney animated offerings this decade. ... You won't need to keep a pack of tissue at the ready here, but Bolt does have some lump-in-the-throat moments courtesy of a vividly drawn, huggable main character you grow to love." Similarly, Kenneth Turan writes in the Los Angeles Times: "At the end of the day, Bolt is a sweet Disney family film, but Lasseter's oversight has made it smarter than it otherwise would have been. It's not in Pixar's league, but it's laced with idiosyncratic characters with pleasantly wacky attitudes."