Brett Ratner gets his revenge this weekend on all his critics. "Rush Hour 3" took in $19 million on Friday night and could finish the weekend with $60 million in the till.
RH3 bested the highly praised Bourne Ultimatum last night by $9 million, too, knocking the biggest opening August movie ever to number two.
For a series that started nine years ago and had its sequel six years ago, "Rush Hour" remains a startlingly popular franchise. The first one opened with $33 million and became a phenomenon. The second one had a $67 million opening weekend, and went on to become the biggest comedy ever. ("Meet the Fockers" later usurped that title.)
If "RH3" finishes with $60 million on Sunday night, the potential is there for it to equal the second installment's totals. Not bad. As for Ratner, don't go hatin' on him. He makes hard stuff look easy and he's made a bundle along the way.
But he's no Michael Bay. Ratner has already proven himself a commercial hit over and over. He's also made a really good non-action film, "Family Man," that's worth watching again. He still has a lot of surprises up his sleeve, too. His next film, about Hugh Hefner, will be very interesting indeed.
Whitney Houston’s not back on drugs, and she is not reuniting with Bobby Brown.
Whew! That’s the word I got Thursday from a Houston insider who like all of us saw a photo taken the other day of Whitney and Bobby together in Atlanta exiting a restaurant.
“They share a child,” they said, referring to Bobbi Kristina. “She’s only down there recording," the source said of Whitney. "That’s it.”
“She’s in very good shape,” my source added. I mentioned that both Whitney and Bobby looked a bit, shall we say, red-eyed in the photo first published on TMZ.com.
“Certainly that’s his history,” my source said. “But Whitney is not back-sliding on her rehab. She’s very committed to making this work. But when you share a child, you’re going to see the ex-spouse. It can’t be helped.”
The picture only showed the pair, but I am assured that Houston is traveling with bodyguards and that she has a strong support network that won’t permit a Bobby redux. Did she see the picture, I wondered?
”She did, and she feels that people who know the truth, know it.”
Houston has been recording for several weeks now, using a variety of producers and writers. So far she has at least four tracks banked, and everyone who’s heard them says she still has her magnificent voice. One thing’s for sure: In the picture, Houston at least looks healthy.
We continue to root for recovery and comeback. Long live Whitney. … just without Bobby!
Believe it or not, Dana Giacchetto — the previously jailed, hard-partying money manager to stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz — tried to a pull fast one when he got out of prison.
Luckily, though, the bankruptcy receiver handling his case caught on fast.
This morning, Robert Geltzer, the receiver, announced through his attorney, Bob Wolf, that they’d settled this latest case of possible fraud with Giacchetto and his ostensible biographer, Emily White.
The result is that Giacchetto gets no money from White’s recent book about him, and will never receive any royalties, payments or any financial reward for how he stole $14 million from Hollywood’s top stars while he partied with them and acted like he was one of them.
It’s an empty victory on one level for the receiver, because White’s grossly under-reported, semi-factual memoir has barely sold one copy since it was released in June. It’s now at around No. 350,000 on Amazon.com. There are few if any reviews of it.
Left open to interpretation is how White and her lawyers, and the folks at Simon & Schuster, her publisher, thought they’d get by the bankruptcy laws.
For Giacchetto, already marked for life as a felon and liar, signing an agreement with White to share in royalties and advances — when he knew it was in violation of his agreements with the government and the receiver — wasn’t much of a stretch.
But for White, who employs a superior tone in her memoir, it’s a little surprising that she didn’t realize Giacchetto could not accept money for the story of his bilking of clients. The government’s settlement with the pair, however, absolves them of any wrongdoing.
White was married to one of the founders of SubPop Records, an early victim of Giacchetto. Ironically, SubPop just settled with the receiver for around $350,000. This was money that Giacchetto had fraudulently paid to Sub Pop from other clients’ accounts when they demanded to see returns on investments they thought they’d made with the crook.
Many celebrities were also forced to pay back to the bankruptcy receiver money that Giacchetto had sent them. Wolf told me this morning that there were a total of 100 lawsuits, and that all but four or five of them are settled.
For the record, he said, DiCaprio — who lived with Giacchetto after “Titanic” for a couple of years and was his best friend until the money manager was revealed as a fake — was never sued and was not involved in any way.
However, an investor whom Giacchetto had conned into thinking they’d market the rights together to DiCaprio’s name and likeness, did wind up repaying around $350,000 after his case went to court.
Wednesday night, the big question at the Friars Club was: Who’s funniest? The writers from "David Letterman," "Conan O'Brien" or "The Daily Show"?
The other question was, "Will the 'older' audience stay awake until the end of the two-hour presentation?"
Luckily, answer No. 2 was "yes," although one nice man in a plaid jacket did nap a little bit while Jason Sudeikis, of “Saturday Night Live,” introduced the program and cracked wise.
The same man also didn’t notice when Rob Riggle — a writer-performer from “The Daily Show” with eyebrows that could have landed him in the film version of “Thunderbirds” — decided to make fun of old people and what he called “Long Island Riff Raff.”
The small but sold-out audience, composed largely of these two elements, was not so amused. Riggle sensed it, and got off it fast. Talk about knowing your audience!
But there were some big hits in the parade of comics. “Conan” writer Brian Kiley made a big impression as a sort of younger Larry David.
He has a nice subtle delivery as he unveils a series of domestic laughs. One: “We were told we couldn’t have children … [beat] … by our landlord.” Kiley’s eyes also tend to pop a little when he’s put a joke over, which counterpoints his calm exterior.
Colin Jost of “Saturday Night Live,” by far the youngest in the crowd, looked a little uncertain. His jokes were more in the storytelling mode, and he wasn’t sure which way the audience would go.
When he mentioned Barry Bonds breaking the home-run record, the crowd was silent. He did have nice extended bit on the Discovery Channel’s devotion to shark programs. “You could call up and say 'We’ve discovered the cure for cancer,'” Joste said, “and they’d say, 'Are sharks in it?'”
Mostly, though, the Friars’ night — sponsored by Writers Guild of America, East — produced enough good results that it’s something the club should keep doing.
I like J.R. Havelin, who did a long bit on NBC’s Chris Hansen chasing pedophiles on “Dateline.” “He makes them seem sympathetic,” Havelin said.
Eddie Brill, whom I knew for a couple of decades, did some hilarious politically incorrect stuff. “Suicide bombers,” he said, live in such hot climates that “they’re blowing themselves up for the breeze.”
So which show as the funniest? David Feldman, of "Letterman," was very sharp. Because he’s in a mixed marriage, he and his wife celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas as “Hamas.”
Feldman, like some of the others, clearly hadn’t done stand-up in a while. He was a little shaky and skipped over some jokes. It was OK, but he has to learn to finish his stories. I’m still not sure where babies come from.
John Oliver closed the night. Also from “The Daily Show,” Oliver is a Brit who’s recently arrived here. He also has a killer delivery.
Sudeikis and emcee Brian McCann (also “Conan”) were smart to use him as a closer. He gets a lot of mileage about the Brits, sending up their dental work, education, witch burning and wind farmers. (“They’ve been asked to stop," one bit goes. "There’s no wind left.”)
Oliver also mentioned that he can no longer afford to write his own material. He’s outsourced it to a 10-year-old boy in Indonesia.
Lorne Michaels, I know, is still adding one or two people to the new “SNL” cast. Frankly, John Oliver should be his man.
OK, kids, I got to hear Tina Turner’s rendition of “The Game of Love” with Carlos Santana wailing away in the background. The new old recording will be on Santana’s greatest hits, which comes out in October.
All I can say is, Santana may be the first pop star to have two hits from the same single with two different lead singers — Michelle Branch did it with him originally. Tina, who’s unbelievably 67, has never sounded better.
Also on Santana’s album: Chad Kroeger of Nickelback displaying much better singing chops than with his own group on “Why Don’t You & I,” a "lost" track from Santana’s archives.
The greatest hits album also features the Rob Thomas-Santana hit, “Smooth,” and some other guests, too.
The Santana release will be one of many hits on Arista/J/RCA Records this fall, including Annie Lennox, The Foo Fighters. Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood, Barry Manilow, pop/R&B singer Mario and a first solo album (actually a soundtrack) by Eddie Vedder.
You see, Warner Music has it wrong. If you release CDs people want, and promote them, they will sell either digitally or on disc. It’s only if you do nothing that nothing happens. …
Tom DiCillo’s hilarious and touching “Delirious” doesn’t open until next Wednesday. But last night, DiCillo and star Steve Buscemi were a little surprised when co-star Michael Pitt showed up at the last minute at a Gen Art Film screening at the Tribeca Grand.
Pitt, no relation to Brad, is also the opposite of Brad when it comes to press. He shuns it. He lives in the outskirts of Brooklyn, plays in a rock band and takes odd roles. He’s 26 and got his start at 17 on “Dawson’s Creek.”
In “Delirious,” he gives his best performance yet. But he missed the dinner during the screening and sat in the back of the theater.
He didn’t tell anyone he’d come in, but when the lights went up, Pitt reluctantly took a seat for the Q&A.
I asked him later how he handed it. “I just try to stay quiet and not say anything,” he replied. ...