The most expensive movie in history, Pearl Harbor, is starting to have trouble at the box office. On Friday night the bloated, self-important, historically inaccurate epic that cost $150 million or more to make was knocked out of the No. 1 spot by the really, really bad Swordfish, starring John Travolta. In fact, Pearl Harbor finished fourth on Friday night, behind Shrek, and then the not very good Evolution.
It's not like Pearl Harbor will have a bad weekend: it's going to take in $14 million. But estimates through the weekend bring domestic ticket sales to $145 million (that's being generous). This means the movie is somewhere near the break-even point, but not quite. And the fact that such drivel as Swordfish was able to come in and do what the critics could not, suggests that the movie has just two weeks of real life left in it until Steven Spielberg's AI: Artificial Intelligence lands with an explosion in theaters.
On the upside, Swordfish shows that Battlefield Earth, and a string of hideous calamities like it, have not yet killed off the career of portly Scientologist John Travolta. On the other hand, interest in the movie could have something to do with babe-alicious Halle Berry taking off her top. The jury is still out.
The rumor mill is churning again, but this much is certain: Today Show host Katie Couric's contract is up next May 2002. And her fate is in play, as they say in the volatile world of television.
The first rumor out of NBC this week is that Couric — whose perky image was given weight by the tragic death of her husband Jay Monahan last year — is no longer Miss Congeniality at Today.
"She's been doing the whole diva number at the studio," reports a source.
Among other things, Couric has been vocal in no longer wanting to wake up at 4 a.m. for Today, and misses seeing her children off to school now that she's a single mom.
To compensate her for this trouble, Couric is said to want her salary doubled. "She wants a jump from $12 million to $24 million," my source insisted.
However, Couric's agent, Alan Berger, of the Artists Management Group (that's Mike Ovitz's agency), insists: "Any statement like that is completely untrue. We have not talked numbers with NBC. They've been extremely cordial to us. Katie loves doing the Today Show and may be doing it for a long time to come. She's also very good friends with [NBC honchos] Jeff Zucker and Andy Lack and respects them both."
But Berger — who brought Couric with him from International Creative Management 18 months ago — does concede that change could be in the works. "This is a great time for Katie. We haven't ruled out a nighttime show, syndication, cable, or an afternoon talk show."
There's even been talk that Couric might replace Rosie O'Donnell when she wraps up her run next year, which would be ironic since O'Donnell announced her plans to Couric on the Today Show.
As for Couric's wish to be with her kids in the morning, Berger replied, "Well, she's there when they get home from school and on through the rest of the day, so you can look it at that way."
I am told that Kelly McGillis, who was Tom Cruise's love interest in Top Gun, is joining a new CBS dramatic series for this fall called The Agency.
McGillis will be part of an all-star cast that includes Gil Bellows from Ally McBeal, Rocky Carroll (of Chicago Hope), Paige Turco (Party of Five), David Clennon (Miles Drentell from thirtysomething), and two great character actors — Ronny Cox and Will Patton — in this spy/intrigue show about the lives of CIA agents.
The Agency has a pretty good pedigree, too. It's produced by Wolfgang Petersen (director of The Perfect Storm, In the Line of Fire, Das Boot, and Air Force One) and Shaun Cassidy.
McGillis' ascent comes at the sacrifice of another actress. Andrea Roth played the same part in the pilot. This business of changing actors between pilot and season is becoming an alarming trend. Recently Melrose Place's Grant Show was reportedly dumped from a new show when focus groups said they didn't like him. Show won raves last year off Broadway in the play, Wit, so he should bounce back.
Calls to The Agency's offices and to McGillis' agent, Chuck James, were not returned.
Remember Rob Lowe's famous sex videotape from the 1988 Democratic National Convention? Well, you can draw a straight line from that event to HBO's Sex and the City.
Talk about six degrees of separation! What links these two seminal cultural moments together? Sex and the City fashion designer Rebecca Weinberg, formerly known as Rebecca Field for the first two seasons of the hit show.
Astute viewers of Sex and the City know that fashion designer Patricia Field is listed as the provider of the all the cool clothes worn by the main characters.
Rebecca Field was always listed right alongside Patricia. I always thought this was her daughter. Wrong! Rebecca Field was her lover. This season, since breaking up with Patricia, Rebecca has returned to her legal name of Weinberg.
"We're still partners in the business," Rebecca told me this week. "But we did break up romantically. A lot of people who work here use the name Field. It's like the 'House of Field.' Some deejays use it too. But I never legally changed it, and now I'm using Weinberg again."
Weinberg, who comes from Houston, was indeed a witness to a historical footnote before becoming a costumer. In 1988, during the Democratic National Convention, she was working at Club Rio in Atlanta when Rob Lowe stopped by. Two girls who worked with Weinberg during the day at a hair salon called Super Hair 313 wanted to meet Lowe in the VIP section of the club. One of them was a minor. The next day, they showed Weinberg a video tape of Lowe having sex with them in his hotel room.
A year later, the tape became public property. Lowe — now a respectable married man and star of NBC's The West Wing — was nearly finished in show business.
"I introduced the girls to Rob because I was working the VIP room that night," Weinberg said. "There was Lena, who was 16 or 17 and worked as an assistant in the hair salon. And Tara, who was older. We called her Tara the terrible. But I didn't sell the tape to the tabloids. There were four people involved in that, I believe." Weinberg recalled that one of the girls, the minor, left the tape in her room. When her mother found it, that's when Lowe got into national hot water.
It certainly sounds like a story they could work into Sex and the City with little effort.
Watch Roger Friedman on Fox News Channel's Entertainment Coast to Coast, Saturday at 8:30am and 2pm, and Sunday at 7:30pm.