Summer’s Big Winner? Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston | 'Superman Returns' | The Beatles

Summer’s Big Winner? Jennifer Aniston

Everyone rooted against her. It was actually very fascinating. On June 2, Jennifer Aniston’s career was over according to the experts. The critics didn’t like her new movie, "The Break Up," and the wise guys said that after such unimpressive projects as "Derailed" and "Rumor Has It," Jennifer Aniston was going back to television.

I have to admit, I was pretty much leaning in that direction, too.

But now, one month and two days after "The Break Up" hit theaters, Jennifer Aniston is a hit. "The Break Up," which cost $52 million to make, has taken in more than $110 million domestically. Add to that another $17 million worldwide, and "The Break Up" comes out as a huge hit. And that’s not all: "The Break Up" is still out there in nearly 2,000 theatres. It did $3 million over the weekend. Money is still coming in, and the DVD sales should be a knockout.

All of this is great news for Universal, which in three weeks will have to deal with the overblown remake of "Miami Vice." The latter film is a potential disaster, while "The Break Up" turns out to be a pleasant surprise.

So, if the reviews were not so good, what did it? Was it Jennifer Aniston’s role in the Brangelina saga as the scorned ex-wife? Possibly. But Aniston also has the advantage of lots of good will from “Friends.” She also has an unlikely, and still unacknowledged, relationship with co-star Vince Vaughn, a popular comic actor who was available for off-screen publicity the minute Aniston became available. It was all good.

I kind of like the idea of Jennifer Aniston getting the last laugh. Brad Pitt certainly tried to make a fool of her, and it didn’t work. The “Friends” curse threatened to do her in, but she overcame it. Now she has three projects announced, and all of them look interesting. She could easily have a career similar to Sandra Bullock, mixing romantic comedies with earnest dramas. Things could be a lot worse. At least she doesn’t have to play a character from a video game. Or give birth in Namibia.

Superman Grows Weaker by the Day

Poor Superman. All that hype, but the press turned out to be his kryptonite.

Forget the fact that a lot of people seem to think he’s gay. (He’s not.) That was one weird rumor, which no could have predicted.

The bigger problem is that “Superman Returns” is too long and convoluted. There’s nothing fun about it. Audiences figured that out after the first day of release, when the Bryan Singer epic took in $21 million over a 24-hour period last Tuesday.

Since then, things haven’t been so good. Over the Fourth of July weekend, “Superman Returns" never rose to that level again. Granted, it’s taken in around $100 million over a weeklong premiere (including those Tuesday numbers). But that’s a good $50 million less than expected, or wished for, by its makers. “Superman Returns” isn’t exactly a dud, but if it’s going to have a sequel, I’ll bet there will be long meetings about the next script.

“Superman Returns” has three more days to grow its fan base. On Friday, Disney will unleash the second “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. Of course, no one’s seen it yet and it could be just awful. But the junket reviewers over at liked it (surprise!) and something tells me that Disney isn’t going to blow this release — considering they’re committed to an already-filmed Part 3.

Meet the Beatles, Part 2

We’re still getting over our three-day trip to Las Vegas and the premiere of the superior Cirque du Soleil show with The Beatles called “Love.” If only there were a way to be beamed from home right into the Mirage Hotel, see the show and then come home, a lot of tattoos and track outfits could have been avoided.

Still, while Vegas remains happily tacky, there’s a lot to be said for it. The Venetian Hotel is a total hoot for anyone who’s actually been to Venice, Italy. The fake canals and gondola rides, icky gelato and overpriced Italian clothes are key: I just wish there was more faux Murano glass.

But the Venetian also unexpectedly houses an outpost of the Guggenheim museum that exhibits art from The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia. No, most of the people visiting Vegas have no idea what this is. But there are some, and I was impressed to find quite a few people taking a tour of the loaned Flemish artwork of Peter Paul Rubens. The $20 entry fee is certainly better spent than on a slot machine.

The Bellagio remains the “hot” hotel for overall quality, and The Four Seasons is still the snob destination of celebs and the wealthy who don’t want the sounds of casino screaming in their ears. But the cool hotel is definitely the Palms, which is a little off the beaten track, but still attracts the hot young set, rock stars, etc.

On Thursday night, we were happy to run into New York-based rocker Rob Thomas and his wife, Marisol, at the Palms delectable Nine steakhouse. Thomas was taking a break from his tour with Jewel. He played the Hard Rock Hotel’s venue The Joint the next night. Mother-in-law Maria was along for the ride, too, and hoping to meet Ringo Starr. The service at Nine was great as well and the food was on a par with the Bellagio’s better-known eateries.

I am, however, still getting over an incident at the Venetian, which thankfully turned out, be amusing. As this reporter proceeded up an escalator, a security guard came running over, followed by two more. They’d heard someone was seen in the lobby with “a weapon.” Could I empty my pockets? Out came my beloved Blackberry 8700. “My weapon of choice,” I explained to them. I kid you not. What happens in Vegas … well, happens in Vegas! It certainly never happened in Venice!