Published April 17, 2003
Is it all over for Eddie Murphy? Will he be joining John Travolta on the scrap heap of yesterday's stars soon? The answer, says the Wonder Ball, is "most likely."
Murphy is getting ready to launch his third flop in a row on May 9. Called Daddy Day Care, the film's trailer depends on a baby peeing to the ceiling in order to get laughs. Gone are the days when Murphy was truly brilliant. What happened to the edgy young guy who did those Mister Robinson and Buckwheat sketches on Saturday Night Live? He's been reduced to pablum.
Eddie's last movies included Showtime, I Spy, and the unreleaseable Adventures of Pluto Nash. Except for his voiceover in Shrek, you'd now to have go back to his first Nutty Professor movie to find anything remotely watchable. His string of junk includes such favorites as Metro, Holy Man, and Boomerang -- and those were just in the last 10 years.
Interestingly, Daddy is being released by Sony/Columbia, which has another dud on its hands with John Travolta in Basic -- which is basically a mega-million writeoff. Columbia has some consolation in having Anger Management out there cleaning up at the box office. But they got Daddy when the folks at 20th Century Fox (our related company) got wise and got out of the deal before taking on the risk.
Meanwhile, if you're intrigued by the Daddy Day Care premise, just rent the much better Mr. Mom with Michael Keaton, Teri Garr and Martin Mull. It's still a charming little winner after all these years.
Vogue's Anna Wintour, Oscar winner Nicole Kidman, and diva of divas Diana Ross are all gearing up for the big annual Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Ball on April 28. It's billed as the Party of the Year, with more hype and celebrities than the Oscars and the Kentucky Derby combined.
But here's something the organizers have failed to mention. The Costume Institute Ball is one big money loser. And I mean Big. According to the museum's tax filings, the ball lost over $600,000 in 2001. I wonder how the swells who pay $3,500 a ticket to this thing will feel when they realize they're actually not raising money for the museum?
In fact, all the museum's fundraising parties in 2001 lost money at a total of almost $1.2 million. That includes its Real Estate Council Benefit, Family Benefit, Apollo Circle Benefit, Acquisitions Fund Dinner Dance and Corporate Benefit.
For the Party of the Year in 2001, the museum lists gross revenue of $328,875 and direct expenses for the dinner at $941,670, resulting in a net loss of $612,795.
To make matters more interesting, it seems that the upper echelons of the museum staff are literally raking it in. They have over a dozen salaries ranging from $145,000 a year to that of Director and Chief Executive Officer Philippe de Montebello, who not only takes home over a half a million bucks in pay but a whopping $255,547 in "expenses and other allowances." And it's not like de Montebello has to treat people to dinner outside the museum. The place has a four-star restaurant.
Some other salaries of note: Ashton Hawkins, executive vice president and counsel to the trustees, gets $320,000 in paychecks and $121,000 in expenses. President David McKinney: $439,000 with $126,000 in expenses. And so forth. Even the press guy, Harold Holzer, is up over $200,000.
Mind you, we know all this because the museum has tax-free status.
Now, don't take all this information as my indictment of the museum. The Met is probably the finest institution of its kind, certainly on par with the Louvre in Paris and the Prado in Madrid. But doesn't something seem off kilter here? Why bother giving these parties and paying these high salaries and perks when the museum is in constant need of donations and assistance? It received $19.6 million in government grants and half a billion dollars in direct public support in 2001.
Holzer, the well paid press rep, says: "The way the IRS requires us to report revenues and expenses, it just looks like we lose money on these events. But we make money. It has to do with how much of the ticket is allocated to the dinner and to a museum contribution." Holzer also says the IRS forces the museum to factor in a portion of everyone's salaries into the final total.
There are no ledgers or other paperwork to show this, Holzer says. "But we did announce that we made a million dollars that year from the dinner."
As for the high salaries at the museum, Holzer pointed out: "The people at the Natural History Museum make a lot more money and all they have over there are bones."
First, Premiere magazine issued four collectible covers on The Matrix Reloaded, the summer's hotly-anticipated blockbuster film. Its story actually has a lot of information about the movie including an explanation of what it is, who's who, etc. It's a success.
Then Entertainment Weekly followed with a cover on The Matrix Reloaded, which was just a cover. There was no information inside, but you can see what's happening: everyone wants a piece of The Matrix pie, and they want it early.
Premiere's four-cover bonanza should be a must for those in the collectible business. My personal favorite of the four is the one with Monica Bellucci and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Writer Mark Salisbury gets a good quote from Keanu Reeves in the piece, about how hard it is to train for these over-the-top action movies: "I didn't suffer. Yeah, there's bruising and blood and kicks and concussions and you can't sleep because your legs ache and you cry when you're stretching and you're in ice baths and you're lonely and you miss your friends and your family and you're trying to keep it together and you're trying to live and fight and create for the next day. It's like going out to sea, man, and you don't know where you are and how you are but you want to keep going, you want to be alive."
Sort of like writing this column. Happy Passover! Happy Easter! Celebrate Dr. Atkins's life this weekend and have a steak. His diet works, no matter what his critics say. He will be missed.