Eminem, the white rapper with the No. 1 movie in America and the No. 1 album, will pass the million-sales mark tomorrow when copies of his 8 Mile soundtrack are counted.
8 Mile sold over half a million copies last week, adding to the 600,000 copies it sold the previous week when it debuted. This, on top of the record $54 million the movie took in over the weekend, makes Marshall Mathers a force to be reckoned with.
The question is: What exactly comes next? And why this incredible popularity? Mathers has now achieved what Prince, Madonna and a bunch of rock stars could not: a dual chart hit. Only Jennifer Lopez has managed to have a No. 1 album and movie at the same time.
In other chart news, Justin Timberlake's solo debut, Justified, will finish at No. 2 with about 450,000 copies — a huge amount by any standards but many hundreds of thousands fewer than previous debuts by his group 'N Sync.
If all this seems a little sad or disturbing, rest easy: U2 managed to finish in third place with its new greatest hits package featuring the theme song from Gangs of New York and a single called "Electric Storm." It's small consolation, but consolation nonetheless.
Sunday nights at Ago in West Hollywood are usually pretty quiet, but not this past one when superstar couple Warren Beatty and Annette Bening came in for a casual dinner with two friends. Talk about old fashioned stars — these two have 'it,' and oodles of it. Beatty and I talked briefly, but he was more interested in reuniting with two guests at my table — famed cookbook author Martha Rose Shulman and her mom, Mary. Many eons ago, Beatty got his start in Hollywood playing rich young playboy Milton Armitrage on the TV series Dobie Gillis — which was created and written by Martha's dad, novelist Max Shulman. I've known Warren Beatty and talked to him a lot over the years, but when I told him who these ladies were, he beamed with happiness and zipped around the table to talk to them. "I was just thinking about Max," he told the Shulmans. A happy reunion, and a pleasant surprise.
Everyone knows Christopher Plummer from The Sound of Music. It may be his curse. He's gone on to have countless successes in the theatre, movies, and TV, but basically he's been sort of trapped in time. A couple of years ago I was certain he'd be nominated for Best Supporting Actor as Mike Wallace in The Insider. Alas, it didn't happen.
Now Plummer has a slyly choice role in Atom Egoyan's Ararat, which opens on Friday. Will he be nominated for this? He should be — there's no question about it. His part as a customs officer who interrogates the main character (played by newcomer David Alpay) starts slow but, like the rest of Ararat, Plummer had the audience eating out of his hand by the time he's done.
Last night in Hollywood, Ararat got a mini-premiere at the American Film Institute Film Festival. And the special guest was not Plummer, who was home in Connecticut, but his extremely gifted actress daughter Amanda, who's had many hits of her own on stage (Agnes of God) and movies (The World According to Garp).
Amanda is more like her famed actress mother, Tammy Grimes, than her reserved dad. Extremely friendly and open, Amanda told me her father didn't even know she was at the premiere. "Some friends called me up and said, Your dad is in a movie. So here I am."
The younger Plummer has been living in Los Angeles, but she's heading back to New York next week for a two week run in Bob Balaban's terrific play The Exonerated. "I'm coming home!" Plummer declared. "I've paid all my bills, and I'm back!"
The AFI fest has been taking place at the spectacular all-new ArcLight Theatre complex, which was built around the famed Cinerama Dome Theatre on Sunset Boulevard. In my life I cannot recall an entire city having been purposely erased and rebuilt, but this is what has happened in Hollywood. Both long stretches of Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards are now gleaming shrines to modern malls. I suppose this is a good thing, but I do miss the old buildings and the gritty feel of what used to be an exciting place.
Nevertheless, the Cinerama Dome seems to have lasted long enough to be Hollywood's answer to New York's Ziegfeld. It's a cool place for a premiere, and the theatre is in top shape. Ararat looked great, and even though it's sometimes confusing — the movie-about the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, circa 1915 — is poignant, arresting and well worth seeing.
Alpay is a college student at the University of Toronto whom Egoyan found at an audition. Needless to say, he will have quite a few female fans after Friday's opening. But the kid told me last night he plans to go to medical school and has no movies or auditions lined up. We'll see if that continues after Ararat rolls out around the world. Something tells me he'll be playing doctor sooner than being one.
Egoyan, by the way, tells me his next project will be staging Wagner's Ring cycle up in Toronto for the 2004 opera season. But perhaps not all four operas, after all. "It's an incredible amount of work," he said. "I may just do the Valkyries because it's so well known, I can do some new things to it."
Also spotted at the Ararat premiere: actor Vondie Curtis Hall, who has survived directing Mariah Carey in Glitter and is now writing an action picture he will direct later this year. Character actor Vincent Schiavelli was also found milling about among the many Armenian-Americans present. Celebrity art dealer Larry Gagosian, who was not there, nevertheless got a screen thank you for helping supply the many paintings and art work in Ararat that make the movie so authentic.