'Narnia' Overcomes 'Kong' at Box Office

Lion Beats 'Kong' | Michael Jackson | Lindsay Lohan | Dana Giacchetto

'Kong' Conked by 'Chronicles'

The numbers are in for Tuesday's box-office take, and one thing is clear: Peter Jackson's "King Kong" has been clobbered.

The winner, now by a large margin, is Disney/Walden's "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

"Kong" finished a solid second on Tuesday with $7,919,225. But "Narnia" ruled with $9,224,127. The two movies have been locked in a dead heat for the last two weeks, but it seems that "Narnia" has completely wedged "Kong" out of first place.

This can only be frustrating news for the folks at Universal. "Kong" cost $300 million, including marketing and promotion. At this rate, it will take a long time for the studio to recoup its expenses and see a profit.

"Kong" follows a trend, though. The public is often lukewarm to this kind of film. A few years ago, a remake of "Godzilla" by Roland Emmerich was also a box-office disappointment.

"Kong" may also be too violent for most schoolkids. The success of "Narnia," as well as the continued steady presence of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," indicates that the box office is under the command of kids on vacation.

"Harry Potter" — along with "Cheaper by the Dozen 2," "Yours, Mine and Ours" and "Chicken Little" — had the smallest fall-off from day to day, while other "adult" attractions are on a box-office roller coaster ride.

As for those "adult" titles: No numbers were ready yet Wednesday evening for "Brokeback Mountain." Steven Spielberg's "Munich" held its own for a third day, as did the Johnny Cash biopic, "Walk the Line."

Jacko Needs No Probing

Michael Jackson can wipe one legal worry from his mind.

The California state attorney general isn't likely to investigate him for a charity function thrown at Neverland in August 2003, or for a concert and single from the fall of 2001.

Yesterday, published reports got a little frantic that Jackson had broken a law somehow or that his associate, Marc Schaffel, had somehow misappropriated funds.

But our checking into the facts turned up no malfeasance, for once, on Jackson's part. It looks like everything was done right for a change.

The Neverland event in question took place Aug. 20, 2003. Miami-based commercial artist Romero Britto convinced Jackson to invite people to the ranch for $5,000 a ticket. A portion — $1,000 — would go to charities. At the time, everyone, including this columnist, was dubious.

According to Faith Holmes, head of the Oneness Project, a California foundation that raises awareness about racism and other social issues, her group received about $40,000 of the total $87,000 collected that day.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., got a check for $17,000. The remainder was divided between the Southern California branch of Make-A-Wish and a Brazilian charity for the homeless patronized by Britto.

Holmes says it was all done by the book. She told me Schaffel, who's now suing Jackson for $4 million, was "unbelievably generous" in organizing and helping to produce the event.

The stories yesterday mentioned that Jackson was responsible for a Sept. 11 charity concert in Washington, D.C., which took place in October 2001, as well as a charity single called "What More Can I Give?" The impression was that somehow Jackson and Schaffel had profited from the occasion.

For a journalist, this story would be lovely if true; however, Clear Channel Communications produced said concert, and tickets were sold through Ticketmaster and normal channels. Jackson merely appeared, sang his song, and left.

Clear Channel picked up his expenses, which were no doubt high. As for the single, Jackson never paid for it. Schaffel did and was not reimbursed for his expenses by Jackson. That's why he's suing.

Holmes, by the way, says a CD album of original music will be available for sale shortly on the Oneness.org Web site. The songs are all by established, veteran songwriters and recorded by up-and-coming stars.

Lindsay Lohan: Album Fizzle, No Sizzle

We won't know until Tuesday exactly how CDs sold during the last two weeks. But this much is clear: Lindsay Lohan's recording career is probably going to have legs.

Lohan released her second album, "A Little More Personal," on Dec. 6. As of yesterday, Amazon.com ranked it at No. 483.

That's not good for Lohan or for Tommy Mottola, her manager and mentor. Lohan is the only artist he's come up with at Casablanca Records since he announced he was restarting the label two years ago.

Of course, Amazon is not a completely accurate indicator of anything. Its No. 1 CD today is a live album from 1957 by Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. We'll wait for the Soundscan report on Tuesday before pronouncing "Personal" dead.

Fallen Finance Guy: Rotten Rocker

Imagine Matthew Broderick as Leo Bloom from "The Producers" trying to front a David Bowie tribute band.

That best describes the horrid show I went to see last night at Joe's Pub put on by Dana Giacchetto with his "band," Waterworld.

Giacchetto was just about as good a rocker as he was a business manager. Dressed in a black T-shirt and baggy jeans, the 42-year-old former federal felon pranced around on stage, hands on hips, sometimes palms together like he was praying.

Often he held his arms wide, maybe imitating his old friend Michael Stipe. He flounced, squinted, complained about the usually very good sound system and grimaced a lot. It was embarrassing.

As one patron at my table said, "He's lucky the judge didn't hear this. He'd put him back in jail."

If only Giacchetto had been as expressive as on his day of sentencing in August 2001. He put on quite a show that day, carrying on like there was no tomorrow.

One of his victims read a statement. "You have devastated my life and my daughter's future," Sherry Vigdor said in an emotional outpouring. "I trusted you and you lied over and over again."

Last night there were 15 people on his "comp" list, but no stars and no names that were the least bit recognizable. No Leo, Cameron, Matt or Ben. No sign of Mike Ovitz or Rick Yorn.

I can report that Giacchetto has regained his old friendship with his former private security guy, a 35-year-old ex-New York City cop who earns his living as a male stripper and part-time actor.

There was also no sign of the former wannabe celebrity's sidekick, 31-year-old Christopher MacLaren, a personal trainer from Montreal whom Giacchetto met at the Crunch gym on Lafayette Street. On his ledgers, Giacchetto wrote checks totaling $12,000 to MacLaren from his clients' accounts in 1999, writing "Art Works" in the check memos.

Giacchetto is married now and has a 5-month-old son.

The comp people didn't pay for their tickets (the cop did, however). That's $150 that could have gone to Giacchetto's many victims of the fraud he perpetuated. He has to pay $14 million in restitution some time.

Maybe the Southern District Federal Court of Manhattan has forgotten that. We haven't. Or that Giacchetto once used an expired passport to try to leave the U.S. after his first arrest in 2000. Or that he lied to interviewers repeatedly about his educational and professional background until this reporter uncovered his prevarications in a New York Observer article published six years ago this week.

Anyway, Bowie, whom Giacchetto seems to think he's impersonating on stage, can sleep soundly. Dana Giacchetto will not be trading bon mots with Carson Daly anytime soon.

This reporter left before the show was over — there's only so much even I can take — but we did get to hear Giacchetto make one reference to his criminal infamy.

"I want to play this for all the people who helped me get through my ordeal," he said, before launching into one of several pedestrian rock songs you will, I hope, never have to hear.