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Fool's Gold

The last time Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson did the rom-com thing was in 2003's middling How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

They are reunited in an adventure comedy by the name of Fool's Gold, though it could have been called "How to Lose an Audience in 10 Minutes."

A soggy, listless affair, this would-be fun-in-the-sun sunken-treasure frivolity starts taking on water from the get-go, thanks to drawn-out exposition and languid pacing.

Director Andy Tennant has demonstrated a Midas touch with such movies as Hitch and Sweet Home Alabama, though without a Will Smith or Reese Witherspoon to ride out those rough patches, "Fool's Gold" likely will mine a lot less lucre, especially given a market that's currently awash in date-night fare.

McConaughey's Ben "Finn" Finnegan is a career booty hunter whose burning obsession concerns the legendary Queen's Dowry, a shipload of priceless Spanish treasure believed to have sunk in Caribbean waters in the early 1700s.

His latest ill-fated expedition has landed him in deep water with ruthless rapper-gangster Bigg Bunny (Kevin Hart), with whom he already is in escalating debt.

While Finn is being forced to walk the plank off Bigg Bunny's boat, his ex is about to mark the spot on their divorce papers.

Even though the Queen's Dowry was what initially brought them together, for the past eight years Kate Hudson's Tess has watched their marriage continually place second to Finn's undersea pursuits.

Determined to get her life back on track, she's been working as a steward aboard the Precious Gem, a huge yacht owned by billionaire Nigel Honeycutt (Donald Sutherland).

But when Finn finds a shard of a plate that puts the treasure in the immediate vicinity, all is forgiven, and the pair resume the joint hunt with Nigel's support, along with his alarmingly dimwitted daughter (an amusing Alexis Dziena).

Although it's easy to see the appeal of this sort of vehicle -- think a sexier National Treasure -- the end product, with a script credited to Tennant along with the team of John Claflin & Daniel Zelman, has all the buoyancy and shimmer of a shipwreck.

And it's not just all that water slowing everything down.

There's also endless speculating about the coordinates of the Queen's Dowry that gets so involved that Nigel's daughter isn't the only one whose eyes become permanently glazed over.

Not surprisingly, that escapist, tropical location (with Queensland, Australia, standing in for the Caribbean because of hurricane season) affords ample opportunity for topless scenes.

But enough about McConaughey.

Hudson, meanwhile, opts to keep her shirt on, and though she and her co-star have an easy chemistry, her stiffly written character harnesses her in a constricted performance that cheats the audience out of her usual comedic gifts.

Production values, from Don Burgess' sun-drenched cinematography to George Fenton's calypso-infused score, do their bit to set the breezy tone, but where's Jimmy Buffett when you really need him?

FOOL'S GOLD

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. presents a DeLine Pictures/Bernie Goldmann production

Credits:

Director: Andy Tennant

Screenwriters: John Claflin & Daniel Zelman, Andy Tennant

Story: John Claflin & Daniel Zelman

Producers: Donald DeLine, Bernie Goldmann, John Klane

Executive producers: Wink Mordaunt, James R. Dyer

Director of photography: Don Burgess

Production designer: Charles Wood

Music: George Fenton

Co-producer: Stephen Jones

Costume designer: Ngila Dickson

Editors: Troy Takaki, Tracey Wadmore-Smith

Cast:

Finn: Matthew McConaughey

Tess: Kate Hudson

Nigel Honeycutt: Donald Sutherland

Gemma Honeycutt: Alexis Dziena

Alfonz: Ewen Bremner

Moe Fitch: Ray Winstone

Bigg Bunny: Kevin Hart

Cordell: Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Running time -- 113 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13

'Sweet Home' script suit dismissed

A federal court judge has dismissed a copyright infringement lawsuit against The Walt Disney Co. filed by Oscar-nominated producer Stuart Benjamin and three others, finding the movie Sweet Home Alabama was not based on their screenplay, Rescue Me.

In his 22-page decision issued Dec. 12, U.S. District Court Judge George Schiavelli ruled that while there may have been some limited access to the Rescue Me screenplay by Disney executives, no "substantial similarities" between the two scripts exist.

"The general stories of 'Rescue Me' and 'Sweet Home Alabama' are similar only at the most abstract level," Schiavelli wrote. "Abstract story ideas, such as those here, are not copyrightable."

Benjamin, a producer on the Oscar-winning film Ray, along with Alise Benjamin, John Schalter and Sheldon Cohn sued Disney in 2005, claiming that the 2002 movie starring Reese Witherspoon was an unauthorized adaptation of their screenplay.

The lawsuit alleged that the film's producer Stokley Chaffin and writer C. Jay Cox had access to the script via a tracking system in place at Chaffin's production company.

Dance Floor Drama for 'Enchanted'

  • WENN
Dance Floor Drama for 'Enchanted'
Amy Adams blames herself for her foot injuries on the set of hit new Disney film Enchanted - she should have done a better job of teaching co-star Patrick Dempsey how to dance. The actress, a trained dancer, took over ballroom scenes with her onscreen Prince Charming and was left bruised and bloody by the Sweet Home Alabama star. She explains, "Patrick did take off two of my toe-nails but it was my fault because I was a trained dancer and so I thought I knew what I was doing. I was not a good partner and I had a hard time surrendering to Patrick's lead. He moved and I didn't and I refused to let him lead, so I just stood my ground and he just tore them off. So I ended up with the loss of some toe-nails and sore feet but that was the extent of my injuries." The pain and effort was worth it - the family film shot to the top of the box office at the weekend with a staggering $50 million five-day take.

CBS conquers Thurs. with all repeats

NEW YORK -- CBS won in both key audience measures in an all-repeat primetime lineup Thursday.

    There wasn't much to trumpet this holiday between Christmas and New Year's with viewers having seen all of the shows before. CSI (13.8 million, 3.9 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 was the night's most-watched program and its highest-rated in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Friday by Nielsen Media Research.

    But while CBS was far ahead in viewers, it was only a tenth of a point ahead of second-place Fox, whose telecast of the film Sweet Home Alabama (7.2 million, 2.8/6) did well considering.

    NBC won in the demo at 8 p.m. with My Name Is Earl (7 million, 2.7/8) and The Office (5.7 million, 2.6/7) against CBS' Criminal Minds (9.9 million, 2.3/7) and ABC's Ugly Betty (6.7 million, 2.1/6).

    But NBC couldn't compete at 9 p.m. against "CSI" and Grey's Anatomy (7.9 million, 2.9/8) with Scrubs (4.4 million, 2.0/5) and 30 Rock (3.8 million, 1.7/4).

    And CBS took 10 p.m.

CBS conquers Thurs. with all repeats

NEW YORK -- CBS won in both key audience measures in an all-repeat primetime lineup Thursday.

    There wasn't much to trumpet this holiday between Christmas and New Year's with viewers having seen all of the shows before. CSI (13.8 million, 3.9 rating/11 share in adults 18-49 was the night's most-watched program and its highest-rated in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Friday by Nielsen Media Research.

    But while CBS was far ahead in viewers, it was only a tenth of a point ahead of second-place Fox, whose telecast of the film Sweet Home Alabama (7.2 million, 2.8/6) did well considering.

    NBC won in the demo at 8 p.m. with My Name Is Earl (7 million, 2.7/8) and The Office (5.7 million, 2.6/7) against CBS' Criminal Minds (9.9 million, 2.3/7) and ABC's Ugly Betty (6.7 million, 2.1/6).

    But NBC couldn't compete at 9 p.m. against "CSI" and Grey's Anatomy (7.9 million, 2.9/8) with Scrubs (4.4 million, 2.0/5) and 30 Rock (3.8 million, 1.7/4).

    And CBS took 10 p.m.

Tennant sets 'Dates' with Universal pic

Tennant sets 'Dates' with Universal pic
Andy Tennant has signed on to direct Universal Pictures' adaptation of the Jennifer Cox memoir Around the World in 80 Dates and Gwyn Lurie has been tapped to write the script.

Reese Witherspoon's Type A Films shingle is producing along with Mike De Luca Prods. Witherspoon has not committed to star in the project, though that easily could change as the project develops. Witherspoon worked with Tennant on the romantic comedy hit Sweet Home Alabama.

Cox's book revolves around a British travel writer's attempt to find her soulmate, sending her profile and specs to contacts around the world. She then travels the globe, going on dates with the top 80 candidates in 16 countries.

Jeff Rake wrote the previous draft.

Witherspoon is producing with Type A's Jennifer Simpson. Michael De Luca also produces.

Holly Bario is overseeing for the studio.

Tennant is shooting Fool's Gold, starring Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. His credits include Hitch and Ever After. He is repped by CAA.

Lurie, repped by WMA and Fuse Entertainment, did a rewrite on Warner Bros. Pictures' "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and has "London is the Best City in America" set up at Universal.

'Sweet Home Alabama' Star Robbed at Gunpoint

  • WENN
Sweet Home Alabama star Ethan Embry's Studio City, Los Angeles home became the scene of a crime on Sunday night when the actor and a friend were mugged at gunpoint in his driveway. Embry called police after two men stole his watch and wallet after recognizing him in the street and waving a gun in front of him. Furious Embry almost went from being a victim to a suspect as he dashed into his house and came out brandishing a gun, which he fired at the muggers' Suv as they raced away, according to website Tmz.com. Police have refused to confirm whether the actor fired directly at the thugs' car and they won't be releasing the name of his female companion.

Witherspoon Almost Missed Oscar Nomination

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Witherspoon Almost Missed Oscar Nomination
Sweet Home Alabama star Reese Witherspoon almost missed her Oscar nomination yesterday, because she was sleeping. The actress, who was in Berlin, Germany, to promote new movie Walk The Line, has been nominated for Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role, for her portrayal of June Carter Cash in the Johnny Cash biopic. She says, "I was sleeping, they had to wake me up. I am really happy. It feels really good to be nominated. I am so proud of this movie." Witherspoon also won a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for the role.

Witherspoon takes her act to Endeavor

Witherspoon takes her act to Endeavor
Reese Witherspoon has walked the line to Endeavor. The actress, who won a Golden Globe on Monday for her performance as June Carter in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, has signed with the agency for representation. She had been without an agent since her previous agent Steve Dontanville retired from WMA in April. She continues to be repped by Management 360 and attorney Steve Warren. Witherspoon has been riding high this awards season with Line. She received a BAFA nomination Thursday for best actress for her work in the film. Her recent credits include Just Like Heaven, Vanity Fair and Sweet Home Alabama. She also starred in the popular Legally Blonde movies.

Lucas Injured on 'Poseidon' Set

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Lucas Injured on 'Poseidon' Set
Movie star Josh Lucas hopes he never has to film another adventure movie like Poseidon because the shoot left him injured and in immense pain. The Sweet Home Alabama star felt sure the experience of filming with director Wolfgang Petersen would be a challenge, but he had no idea what he'd be expected to do in the deep sea disaster remake. Lucas tore a muscle in his hand during one stunt and had to wear a splint to ease the pain - and that was just the start of his troubles. He recalls, "The muscle actually rolled back up into my thumb and they had to put in two inch slits on either side to go in and rebuild it, and reconnect it through surgery. Poseidon was physically, insanely difficult. Basically Wolfgang's whole thing was, 'I do not want to have a movie that relies on computer generated images, and so what I'm going to do is I'm going to have real situations.' When you watch the movie, you're going to see the walls are actually imploding from the pressure of the water, and there are massive canons of water shooting at us, and there are fires and all of it is real."

Witherspoon Explains Paparazzi Campaign

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Actress Reese Witherspoon is adamant her work with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to investigate illegal and dangerous tactics used by the paparazzi is entirely necessary, because they are ruining her life and terrifying her children. The Sweet Home Alabama star claims she has been victimized by photographers, who have trapped her in public places and hurled abuse at her to get pictures. Last month she allegedly witnessed snapper Todd Wallace assault two Disneyland, California, employees as they attempted to shield the actress from his "aggressive and frightening" behavior. Witherspoon says, "They do things that are illegal. They've hit my car and tried to push me off the road. And they've blocked me in with their cars, which is false imprisonment. They shout terrible obscene things at you and your children to try and get a reaction on your face. I had one follow us to the pediatrician's office shouting the f-word at us. My daughter was only four - she was shaking and crying. It's hard to live with. And I don't understand why it's legal to print pictures of my children."

'Heaven' beats hell out of b.o. with $16.4 mil

'Heaven' beats hell out of b.o. with $16.4 mil
DreamWorks' Just Like Heaven opened in the top spot this weekend with a respectable but not quite heavenly $16.4 million from 3,508 theaters. The romantic comedy, starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo and helmed by Mark Waters, landed on the low side of expectations heading into the frame. Prospects were a bit higher for Heaven because the biggest September opening on the books is another Witherspoon-starring romantic comedy, Buena Vista's Sweet Home Alabama with $35.6 million. Each of this weekend's three new wide releases arrived in theaters with less-than-stellar results. But the story was a bit brighter for the majority of the surfeit of films that debuted in limited release this weekend. Taken together it marked the third consecutive up weekend at the boxoffice as compared with last year, a welcome respite from a disappointing summer. The estimated total for the top 12 films this weekend was $71.3 million, up a hearty 13% from the comparable session last year.

'Heaven' beats hell out of b.o. with $16.4 mil

DreamWorks' Just Like Heaven opened in the top spot this weekend with a respectable but not quite heavenly $16.4 million from 3,508 theaters. The romantic comedy, starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo and helmed by Mark Waters, landed on the low side of expectations heading into the frame. Prospects were a bit higher for Heaven because the biggest September opening on the books is another Witherspoon-starring romantic comedy, Buena Vista's Sweet Home Alabama with $35.6 million. Each of this weekend's three new wide releases arrived in theaters with less-than-stellar results. But the story was a bit brighter for the majority of the surfeit of films that debuted in limited release this weekend. Taken together it marked the third consecutive up weekend at the boxoffice as compared with last year, a welcome respite from a disappointing summer. The estimated total for the top 12 films this weekend was $71.3 million, up a hearty 13% from the comparable session last year. But of the other two wide releases this weekend, Lions Gate's R-rated Lord of War, a drama starring Nicolas Cage, debuted in the third spot with $9.4 million from 2,814 locales. Andrew Niccol helmed War, a film about an arms dealer who is thinking about getting out of the business, which co-stars Ethan Hawke, Bridget Moynahan and Jared Leto.

'Exorcism' scares up $30.1 mil

'Exorcism' scares up $30.1 mil
After a summer with precious little heat at the boxoffice, the first weekend of the fall season was off to a strong start as Screen Gems' The Exorcism of Emily Rose cast out $30.1 million at the ticket window to take possession of first place. The opening for Exorcism exceeded expectations by a wide margin, marking the third biggest ever in September and the second highest for Sony for the year-to-date. Buena Vista's Sweet Home Alabama ($35.6 million) and New Line Cinema's Rush Hour ($33 million) were the only films that had better openings in September. Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson star in the Scott Derrickson-helmed supernatural thriller, which was based on events that took place in Germany in 1976. The solid debut of Exorcism, which also was a post-Labor Day weekend best, aided in lifting the results for the session overall, with the total for this frame's top 12 films generating 16% more than the comparable period last year. The performance was all the more impressive considering the fallout from Hurricane Katrina.

'Exorcism' scares up $30.2 mil

After a summer with precious little heat at the boxoffice, the first weekend of the fall season was off to a strong start as Screen Gems' The Exorcism of Emily Rose cast out an estimated $30.2 million at the ticket window to take possession of first place. The opening for Exorcism exceeded expectations by a wide margin, marking the third biggest ever in September and the second highest for Sony for the year-to-date. Buena Vista's Sweet Home Alabama ($35.6 million) and New Line Cinema's Rush Hour ($33 million) were the only films that had better openings in September. Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson star in the Scott Derrickson-helmed supernatural thriller, which was based on events that took place in Germany in 1976. The solid debut of Exorcism, which also was a post-Labor Day weekend best, aided in lifting the results for the session overall, with the total for this frame's top 12 films generating 16% more than the comparable period last year. The performance was all the more impressive considering the fallout from Hurricane Katrina.

Lucas Concussed on 'Stealth' Set

Lucas Concussed on 'Stealth' Set
Movie star Josh Lucas suffered for his art while filming new fighter pilot action movie Stealth - he was concussed three times in the same week. The Sweet Home Alabama star found filming extremely tough on the set in Sydney, Australia because most of the scenes were shot inside a fake cockpit that would toss him around as he acted to a green screen. He says, "It would basically throw you around for eight hours at a time while you were doing dialogue to nobody. I'd get smashed up pretty badly."

'CSI' comes through again Thurs. for CBS

'CSI' comes through again Thurs. for CBS
CBS was hot but not on fire Thursday with its regular lineup, anchored by the nearly 26 million fans who turned out for 9 p.m.'s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. ER led the charge for NBC, though 9 p.m.'s The Apprentice as usual took the prize for biggest growth spurt from its lead-in. ABC was a little better off than usual on the night with its 8-10 p.m. airing of the Reese Witherspoon starrer Sweet Home Alabama. The same was true for Fox, which served up a double dose of drama The O.C. CBS' opened the night on top with Survivor: Palau pulling in an average of 19.7 million viewers and 6.8 rating/21 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research. NBC's comedy combo of Joey (7.5 million, 3.0/10) and Will & Grace (6.3 million, 3.3/10) were a distant second in the hour, with the first installment of The O.C. (6.6 million, 3.1/10) close behind.

Bush speech prompts sked shuffle

The broadcast networks stepped aside for President Bush's live news conference Thursday night at 8 p.m. EDT, the first night of the May sweep period. The White House accommodated the networks by moving back a half-hour from the 8:30 p.m. starting time it initially scheduled, according to the Associated Press. CBS offered two different schedules, pushing Survivor: Palau to 9 p.m. and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation to 10 p.m. on the East Coast, where Without a Trace was not seen. On the West Coast, a rerun of Trace aired at 10 p.m. NBC pulled Joey and Will & Grace on both coasts. ABC canceled theatrical Sweet Home Alabama and ran an expanded 90-minute edition of Primetime Live at 9:30 p.m. Fox elected to pull an original episode of The O.C. scheduled for 8 p.m.; it has been rescheduled for next week, where it will air back-to-back with another original O.C. episode. Bush made reference to the broadcasters when he called for a reporter to ask the final question, saying, "I don't want to cut into some of those TV shows that are getting ready to air -- for the sake of the economy."

Touchstone buys Holden script

Touchstone buys Holden script
Touchstone Pictures has made a pre-emptive purchase on an untitled romantic comedy from actress-turned-writer Kara Holden. Karz Entertainment's Mike Karz will produce, with Russell Hollander executive producing and Katherine Brown overseeing for the company. The film is described as being in the vein of Sweet Home Alabama, with a city guy falling for a Southern girl. The concept was inspired by an idea by Louanne Brickhouse, who brought the project to Karz and Touchstone and will oversee for the studio. This is the fourth sale for Holden in the past year. Other sales include Spin, a project based on a comic strip by Rob Liefeld, to Spyglass Entertainment. Her other projects include My Girl, which is set up at Paramount-based Robert Cort Prods., and Inner Bitch, which is at Paramount and Grammnet. Holden is repped by David Boxerbaum of Metropolitan Talent Agency and managed by Brooklyn Weaver. Her attorney is Adam Kaller. Other upcoming Karz Entertainment projects include Honeymoon With Harry, which Paul Haggis is writing and directing for New Line Cinema.

Boxoffice preview: Valentines are calling Dr. Love

Sony Pictures is hoping the romantic comedy Hitch will deliver a sweet valentine to the studio this weekend. But with Valentine's Day falling on a Monday, it's highly unlikely that Sony will be able to repeat the phenomenal business it achieved on last year's sweetheart weekend when its 50 First Dates astounded the boxoffice with a $45 million opening. (That film also benefited from the Presidents Day weekend, which falls a week later this year.) Nonetheless, Hitch, starring Will Smith and directed by Andy Tennant (Sweet Home Alabama), is sure to top the boxoffice this frame and might even make it into the $30 million range as lovers gear up for Valentine's Day.
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