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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
September 11

Entertainment News September 11 - TOP 3 Stories for Tuesday

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TORONTO WARY OF SERIOUS FILMS AT FEST

Perhaps it's geopolitical fatigue that has slowed the pace at the Toronto Film Festival.

With a mind-numbing array of earnest pics taking on everything from immigration to the wars on terror and Iraq, there's clearly some wariness setting in on the part of buyers, the press and even stars here to promote.

One breakthrough was achieved by a pic seeking to find the funny among the otherwise furrowed brows.

"Religulous," the Larry Charles-helmed Bill Maher doc that spoofs religious extremism across the world, drew a sellout crowd of 1,200 to a session in which 20 minutes of footage screened and the pair answered questions.

The pic, which Lionsgate will launch domestically around Easter, has almost sold in its last three remaining territories: Japan, Germany and Korea. IM Global, which is handling sales worldwide, expects those deals to be inked within the next day or so.

After a handful of small deals for pics over the first four days of the fest, no more major pacts had closed by Monday evening. There appeared to be no movement for the likes of "The Visitor," George Romero's "Diary of the Dead," "In Bloom" and "Nothing Is Private." Only "Battle in Seattle," the Charlize Theron starrer directed by Stuart Townsend, about the WTO riots in 1999, seemed to be closing in on a sale.

Offers from four companies were being weighed late Monday, with Endeavor expecting a verdict overnight or early Tuesday.

The red-carpet wattage also waned after the glittery weekend, though Keira Knightley's turn highlighted Monday's Gala for "Atonement." That pic has led the pack of successful Toronto unspoolings, along with another fall Focus release, "Eastern Promises"; Fox Searchlight's "Juno"; the Weinstein Co.'s "Boy A"; Paramount Vantage's "Into the Wild"; and Sidney Kimmel's "Lars and the Real Girl."

NBC'S SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL BLOWS AWAY COMPETITION

NBC rode the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys opening match on "Sunday Night Football" all the way to a ratings touchdown.

The "SNF" season premiere averaged 16 million viewers and a 6.7 rating/17 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Monday by Nielsen Media Research. That was far ahead of the rest of the competition, including an original "Big Brother" and the Univision-sponsored Democratic presidential candidate debate. The Cowboys won 45-35 in a game that peaked at 8:30 p.m. ET with 17.6 million viewers and a 7.1/18 in adults 18-49.

Football boosted the fortunes of another network, with Fox averaging 13.5 million viewers and a 5.9/17 between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. ET for runover. It dropped to 8.5 million viewers and a 3.3/10 for "The OT," which competed against NBC's "Football Night in America" (7.7 million, 3.0/9). CBS' coverage of the U.S. Open from Flushing, Queens, averaged 6.8 million viewers and a 2.5/7 between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The only other original program was CBS' "Big Brother," which averaged 8.3 million viewers and a 2.8/7. Meanwhile, Univision's debate between the Democratic presidential candidates averaged 2.1 million viewers and a 0.9/3 in adults 18-49. It came in fifth place among the networks but was in line with what other debates on cable have done this year.

Sunday averages: NBC (14 million, 5.8/15); CBS (8.2 million, 2.1/5); Fox (7.6 million, 3.5/9); ABC (7.3 million, 2.5/6); and the CW (1.1 million, 0.4/1).

JENNIFER HUDSON JOIN CAST OF 'SEX IN THE CITY' "Dreamgirls" Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson has joined the cast of New Line's "Sex and the City: The Movie."

Hudson, who's in final negotiations, will portray the assistant to Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw. Pic revolves around the lives of the four main "Sex and the City" characters, four years after the time frame of the finale of the HBO series, which wrapped its six-year run in 2004.

Hudson recently completed work on the drama "Winged Creatures."

Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon and Chris Noth have signed to reprise their roles, and Michael Patrick King, skein's longtime creative leader and exec producer, is set to write and direct.

The film will be produced by King with Parker, John Melfi and Darren Star, who created the series, based on autobiographical columns penned by Candace Bushnell.

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