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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
November 9

Entertainment News November 9 - TOP 3 Stories for Friday

ALSO ON SITE

WRITERS PLOTTING SMART PICKET LINES

Friday could test the mettle of studio suits and WGA strikers.

TV execs are juggling schedules, chopping episodes from season plans and all the while trying to continue with production business as usual on those shows still going before the cameras.

Throw in a mass rally outside your gates and rumors of a Teamsters work stoppage, and there could be a run on the office aspirin supply.

"Please be advised that the Writers Guild of America will be conducting a large strike rally with between 2,000 and 4,000 participants outside the Fox studio on Friday," Fox employees were alerted in a corporate e-mail Thursday. "It is also possible Avenue of the Stars will be closed from Pico to Olympic during this time period. Rallies such as this are considered normal when a union is on strike."

Lest Fox employees take any of this personally, the memo added, "We anticipate the WGA will continue hosting rallies such as this at other studio locations in the weeks to come."

The rally is expected to start at 10 a.m. and run until 12:30 p.m., the studio said.

Several TV shows, including the Fox-produced series "How I Met Your Mother," are slated to wrap production on the lot today as their supply of available scripts runs dry, and other series also continue in production on the lot, including "Journeyman," "Bones" and "Shark." Most series have later call times of noon or so on Fridays, so even heavier-than-normal picketing would be especially disruptive then.

Yet if the WGA rally seemed sure to cause some anxiety on the lot, there also appeared to be signs that its planning was taxing those trying to mount the event.

Many of the guild's media alerts have been rather last minute ever since negotiations with the studios began in July. Of course, coordinating press stunts involving celebs on picket lines can be tougher than herding cats, but generally speaking an early and detailed media alert produces the broadest coverage.

By late Thursday, there was still no official media alert on the event. A guild spokesman would confirm only that a rally had been set for 10 a.m. Friday at Fox Plaza. The plaza, located near a Fox office tower at 2121 Avenue of the Stars, is situated just around the corner from the studio's main gate on busy Pico Boulevard in west Los Angeles.

POLANSKI BIO TO BE FILMED

Roman Polanski, who has filmed many tragic stories over the years, will soon see his own tragedy-filled life brought to the big screen in an unauthorized biopic.

Amadeus Pictures head Damian Chapa will write, produce and direct "Polanski," which will include passages about the director's childhood in Poland during the Holocaust; the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, by followers of Charles Manson in 1969; and his conviction for sex with a minor that has kept him out of the U.S. for decades.

"It's a very intense story we're going to carefully base on court documents and public-domain records," Chapa said. "I've looked at the court documents of his (statutory rape) case, and they're so brash and in-your-face. What happened there has overshadowed his whole life yet also been swept under the carpet. I've always been fascinated by his story and couldn't understand why no one has done a movie about him."

FRED CLAUS LOOKS TO TOP BOX OFFICE

This weekend's domestic boxoffice crown could be grabbed by a leggy "Gangster" or a still-hovering "Bee" who sounds like Jerry Seinfeld, but it more than likely will go to a newcomer with the last name of Claus.

A Middle Eastern yarn titled "Lions for Lambs," starring some guy named Tom Cruise, also unspools.

Yes, it looks like another busy weekend for anybody programming movie multiplexes.

Warner Bros.' "Fred Claus," a seasonal comedy starring Vince Vaughn as the ne'er-do-well older brother of Santa (Paul Giamatti), bows in 3,603 theaters during a period bolstered by better-than-usual Sunday and Monday grosses. That is thanks to the anticipation of help from the Veterans Day holiday, which falls on Sunday and will give many prospective moviegoers a day off from work Monday.

"It's a great family film and is really well-positioned going into the long weekend," Warners distribution president Dan Fellman said.

"Claus' " playability over the coming frames should be strengthened by the approach of the Thanksgiving holiday period. And as Fellman noted, "The thing about Christmas movies is that they play long."

During its first three days, "Claus" seems safe to do more than $20 million, but it's worth noting that Vaughn has starred in a few films opening above $30 million.

Vaughn's biggest starring bow came in June 2006 with "The Break-Up." His next best opening was July 2005's "Wedding Crashers," followed by "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story" with its $30.1 million bow in June 2004.

Meanwhile, Universal/Imagine's "American Gangster" would seem to have at least a shot at repeating atop the weekend boxoffice, but it would have to avoid a drop of 50% or more. As a family film, DreamWorks/Paramount's "Bee Movie" also should display good second-weekend hold.

Arguably, each of those holdover films could ring up $20 million or so in three-day business during their sophomore sessions. Whether that proves to be enough to grab the frame's top spot depends on how moviegoers embrace "Claus."

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