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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

News By The Numbers

10. Restaurant Armageddon: Bruce Willis may be able to save the earth this summer, but his restaurant is under a threat worse than an asteroid. The 87-unit Planet Hollywood chain has had its credit rated as “junk” by Standard & Poors. Corporate analyst Dawn Hu says “the themed restaurant sector carries even higher business risks than other restaurant formats.” More risks for customers, too. Bad food, expensive T-shirts and the very real threat of seeing a piece of memorabilia that will remind you of Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.
9. Racing With Ford: It looks like Ford U.K. is the European equivalent of America’s Denny’s. For the second time this year, they’ve had to pull an ad over complaints of racism. This time, it’s an ad based on The Full Monty that features four dancing men. But none is black, unlike the movie. That may not seem serious, but the last pulled ad featured a photo of four black assembly workers who had been given white faces.
8. Jew Gotta Be Kidding: Jerry Maguire‘s Renee Zellweger is playing a Jewish woman who clashes with orthodox rules in A Price Above Rubies and some Hassids don’t like it. But their protest wasn’t well attended. Only 18 people showed up. Director Boaz Yakin laughed, “I could get a better turn out with my co-op board.”
7. Le’ Porno: Finally, a way to erase the deficit and lower taxes at the same time. And we have the French to thank for it. The French Health Ministry is partially financing five short X-rated films to promote condom use. No comment on the trend from the Clinton White House, but we may have just found a post-Presidential gig for Bill.
6. Semi-Pro or Con: The story got out via The New York Post last week that actors Matt Damon and Edward Norton were so into their roles as gamblers in Miramax’s Rounders (which we referred to last week as Good Will Gambling) that they would play in Las Vegas’ World Series of Poker and that real gamblers were so upset that there was a bounty on their Hollywood heads. Additionally, the story said the team had already played Miramax’s Harvey and Bob Weinstein out of $1,200. I guess that’s the per diem for a publicity trip to Vegas.
5. Not Jada-ed Yet: Will Smith just signed for a romantic comedy, but his co-star will be Whitney Houston, not his newly-christened wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. The project is called Anything for You and is about a guy who dumps his girlfriend and then has to jump through some serious hoops of her design to get her back. Maybe Jada’s gonna be unavailable due to baby duty, but this one sounds like a perfect role for that particular 5-foot-tall sassy comedic actress, not for stiff songbird Whitney.
4. It’s A Small Universe After All – A couple of weeks ago, it was Paramount going down under. Now, Universal is opening a movie theme shopping center in Beijing. Universal execs are hoping to add a theme park as soon as possible. Look for the Tiananmen Square Action Stunt Show, the Back to the Past movie ride and the fun of E.T., the Extremely Territorial, where they ask for your name as you enter the ride and by the time it’s over, your entire family has been imprisoned.
3. Celine, Can You Hear Me?: Guess who’s not going to be singing in public with Celine Dion again? The elusive Ms. Streisand, of course. This time it’s the Oscars she’s missing, thwarted by a bulging disc and bronchitis. It’s beginning to look like we’re going to have to wait for a tearful 2 a.m. meeting between the two divas on The Jerry Lewis Telethon if we ever want to see them work together.
2. Under Pressure: Robert Downey Jr. will serve an extra three days in the lock-up to make up for his bad-P.R.-for-the-judge days of out-of-jail/on-set duty last month. Downey definitely has a serious problem and earned his jail time, but this additional time is just a response to public pressure and is unfair. Downey will do four months in a residential rehab when he leaves the Los Angeles County Jail on April 1.
1. He’ll Be Back: The Ahnuld is back after a self-imposed 18-month post-Batman & Robin hiatus. Well, kind of self-imposed. Universal refused to commit to his I Am Legend, a sci-fi flick with a budget more than $150 million, so now they’ve greenlit End of Days at a cost of only $100 million. (What a deal!) The film has the Big S. trying to keep the Bigger S. (Satan) from finding a bride in New York City. Arnold as Dr. Ruth! Gotta love it.
READERS OF THE DAY: Krillina says: “When I think of Chris Rock in Lethal Weapon 4, I think “It’s that annoying guy from the 1-800-COLLECT commercials.” If Rock wants people to think he’s a hot commodity in Hollywood, he should leave 1-800-COLLECT to Phil Hartman and Ed O’Neill, kings of not impacting the box-office.”
But, Matt B says: “If there is anything that would compel me to see Lethal Weapon 4 this side of a team of wild horses, it is Chris Rock. I would see him in anything. In fact, he sure would have livened up The English Patient.

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“Well, actually, of that whole group that I call the post-60s anti-authority auteurs, a lot of them came from television. Peckinpah’s the only one whose television work represents his feature work. I mean, like the only one. Mark Rydell can direct a really good episode of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Michael Ritchie can direct a really good episode of ‘The Big Valley,’ but they don’t necessarily look like The Candidate. But Peckinpah’s stuff, even the scripts he wrote that he didn’t even direct, have a Peckinpah feel – the way I think there’s a Corbucci West – suggest a Peckinpah West. That even in his random episodes that he wrote for ‘Gunsmoke’ – it’s right there.”
~ Quentin Tarantino

“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima