Published March 24, 2008
The sudden resurrection of the Owen Wilson-Kate Hudson romance didn’t help “Drillbit Taylor.” The comedy from the Judd Apatow factory grossed only $10 million this weekend for Paramount, even though it was in the widest release possible: more than 3,000 theaters.
“Drillbit” deserved a drubbing. It was directed by Steven Brill, whose disasters behind the camera include Adam Sandler’s worst movies: “Mr. Deeds” and “Little Nicky.” It was written by Seth Rogen, the second banana from “40 Year Old Virgin” who inexplicably played the leading man in “Knocked Up.” That this is second-generation Sandler, and pretending to be comedy, is all the more depressing. Sandler was enough.
Who can say whether the reappearance of Hudson was a coincidence timed with the film’s opening, or if these two former lovebirds are cooing again for real? My guess is the first, but call me a cynic.
Wilson couldn’t do any publicity for “Drillbit,” thanks to his recent, well-publicized reported suicide attempt, so something had to take the place of junket interviews and trading smarmy quips with David Letterman. A briefly revived romance rumor, along with “exclusive” pictures and breathless observations on movie blogs, must have seemed like a good idea.
Anyway, it didn’t work. “Drillbit” heads to video now, rejected by the Will Ferrell “Semi-Pro” crowd (that flop has made just $32 million in four weeks). It didn’t help that the “Drillbit” story is co-credited to '80s teen-movie-formula director John Hughes (“16 Candles,” “Breakfast Club”) who wore out his welcome as quickly as the Apatow gang.
As for Wilson, he’s a nice guy and a trenchant comic actor; he deserves better than these throwaway comedies. He’s currently filming a Christmas release called “Marley and Me” with Jennifer Aniston about a family dog.
Meanwhile, what about Kate Hudson? Eight years ago, she was the toast of the town. With “Almost Famous,” she received an Oscar nomination and seemed to have enormous potential for a serious career.
Instead, she’s made one forgettable big studio blech-comedy after another, with more to come, according to the Internet Movie Database. "Raising Helen"? "Alex and Emma"? "Fool’s Gold"? "The Skeleton Key"? (What was that, anyway?)
Hudson’s not working with major directors or writers, either. What is it about the actor children of movie stars? They are the most frustrating species in Hollywood.
Neil Aspinall, the man who guided the Beatles for 30 years until his retirement last year, died Monday in New York at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. He was 66.
Aspinall's entire life was spent with the Beatles, from 1962 when he was a roadie for the group. His life was really entangled with theirs, too: in a bizarre twist, he wound up fathering a child with the mother of the group's original drummer, Pete Best. Soon after, Best was replaced by Ringo Starr.
For all the years following the death of the group's manager, Brian Epstein, in 1967, Aspinall assumed the role of manager. When the group broke up in 1970, he continued as their adviser and decision-maker for Apple Corps, their record company.
His loyalty and devotion was unwavering. But sometimes his decisions would produce adverse results. Two years ago, instead of settling a lawsuit with Apple Computers for $128 million, Aspinall balked and proceeded with the court case. The Beatles lost, and Aspinall was ousted from his position.
Still, it was Aspinall who helped engineer the successful "Love" show in Las Vegas, and it was his stance against downloading that's kept the Beatles CDs selling when all other acts have seen their sales decline to nil.
Aspinall also never, ever talked to the press. But he finally gave in and allowed me to put something on the record a year ago when we ran into each other at the Grammys. I think he knew how sick he was, and was ready to unburden himself a little. Unfortunately, he never wrote a book.
Here's a little trivia too courtesy of my Beatles expert Martin Lewis: it was Neil who is pictured in stills from rehearsals at the Ed Sullivan show in 1964 taking the place of George Harrison. George was battling the flu, and stayed in the hotel until showtime. It was Neil who got to stand in for him.
Back on Jan. 6, I told you that Oprah Winfrey’s robust endorsement of Barack Obama hadn’t produced much cash for the presidential candidate.
I can tell you this morning that not much has changed in this regard.
With several more states’ primaries still ahead and Obama fighting a close race with Hillary Clinton, Oprah’s inner circle doesn’t seem much interested in helping the Illinois senator financially.
Dr. Phil McGraw — Oprah’s No. 1 employee and protégé, and a man who owes his entire TV career to Winfrey — hasn’t sent a penny. Oprah’s BFF Gayle King has yet to send Obama more cash since writing a check last September for $2,300.
Indeed, even Oprah and boyfriend Stedman Graham have been light on the donations. They each gave Obama $2,300 back in September 2007, and that was it. No more. Nada.
Winfrey’s celebrity friends — all of whom are, coincidentally, Scientologists — also have ignored Obama. John Travolta, according to federal records, has never given money to any candidate. Ever. Tom Cruise — who jumped all over Oprah’s couch like a madman — and Winfrey’s latest Scientology friend/employee Kirstie Alley, have also stayed away from the campaign.
Interestingly, Winfrey — whose empire includes the successful O Magazine at Hearst Publications — also hasn't been able to pry loose any funds from the Magazine Publishers of America Political Action Committee. That PAC has made no contributions to presidential candidates so far, just 15 Democratic congressional candidates (all men) and 12 Republican (10 men, 2 women).
Meantime, the tightening race and campaign budgets haven’t done much in 2008 to motivate Bill Cosby, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker or Maya Angelou. Halle Berry and Forest Whitaker gave the half amount — $2,300 — last year, but nothing in 2008. Same for Denzel Washington and also Motown mogul Berry Gordy, who gave Hillary Clinton $4,600 in 2007 and Obama half that amount. Michael Jordan sent $2,100 a year ago, and that was it.
Among music stars, comics and assorted actors, Obama is also lacking. Alicia Keys — who’s very involved in her Keep a Child Alive charity — hasn’t sent him anything. Neither has Sean “Diddy” Combs, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, comedian Chris Tucker, actress Vivica A. Fox (a Clinton supporter), Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, John Legend, Usher, Alfre Woodard, Keenen (or Damon, Shawn or Marlon) Wayans, Smokey Robinson or Stevie Wonder, even though he performed at Winfrey’s fundraiser for Obama last September.
The new Tony Awards season Broadway is starting to gear up. March and April are the big theater months, with lots of premieres geared to the May 1 deadline. The Tonys are broadcast on June 15 from New York.
So which musicals are lining up for the honors? Already set in stone for several nominations is Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein.” Andrea Martin is a lock for Best Supporting Actress, and the show itself should get all the regular nominations for Best Musical, Director (Susan Stroman, natch), Book, Lighting (Peter Kaczorowski), Set Design (Robin Wagner) etc. Roger Bart deserves a Best Actor nomination as well.
Following “YF” will be “Cry Baby,” based on John Waters’ movie; “Passing Strange,” this year’s rock musical; “In the Heights,” the pleasant but bland lite version of “West Side Story”; and the disliked “Little Mermaid,” from the Disney movie.
The really busy category will be Best Revival of a Musical, where “South Pacific,” “Gypsy” and "Sunday in the Park With George" will be duking it out in a three-way melee.
One thing for CBS: Please, this year, get a host for the show. Rosie O’Donnell, Hugh Jackman, please, anyone. No more awards shows on automatic pilot. It doesn’t work!