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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pictured: The 51-year-old television set now wired for the digital age

With the digital deadline looming most people are forking out for the latest in cutting edge TV sets.

But not antique enthusiast Richard Howard who is sticking with a set he bought 51 years ago.

Instead of buying a fancy new TV he's keeping the 1957 flame walnut encased set and has had it converted to receive digital channels.

His father bought the set when he was aged eight and the television has been a cherished feature in the family home ever since.

Antique enthusiast Richard Howard bought his television for £113 in 1957

Not only is it in perfect working order, the classic set, which enthralled Mr Howard through his boyhood years and brought him the first images of the moon landing, is now wired up to receive the 20 plus channels of the digital age.

According to Digital UK, the body coordinating the switch to digital, it is the oldest set ever to be converted to digital.

The 59-year-old furniture restorer can now watch Madonna music videos and glossy Australian soaps play on the tiny 17" black and white screen.

"It was my family's first TV", Mr Howard said.

"My father was walking past the store and was just taken by it. I think there were cheaper ones available but he liked the way it looked like a piece of furniture instead of just a big screen sitting in corner of the room."

Mr Howard enjoys watching Madonna music videos on the tiny 17" black and white screen

He has even kept and framed the receipt for the £113 purchase of the Bush Television Receiver.

"I was away at boarding school at the time but I remember coming home and being amazed. I think the first programme I saw on it was the Lone Ranger.

"I have a lot of fond memories of Christmas time when the whole family would gather round and watch it together. I could never bear to throw it away it had too much value attached to it."

He had been unable to use the set since the late Eighties, when television pictures switched from the old 405-line format to 625 lines. But a specialist repair shop fitted an electronic converter, available only in America, so modern programmes can be shown on the 405-line screen.

The furniture restorer feared he may have to get rid of the set due to the digital switchover

And by plugging in a Freeview box he can now see digital shows. As part of the £200 revamp, the experts also replaced 13 old capacitors, the brightness knob and a lead so the tube would keep from burning out.

The set takes ten seconds to warm up and antiques expert Mr Howard still gets the 'old TV smell' from the warming of the paxolin resin insulators.

The analogue signal is gradually being switched off across the UK and will affect Anglia his TV region in 2011.

With that in mind Mr Howard contacted Digital UK - the independent body co-ordinating switchover in the UK - who said there was no reason for his TV not to work in the digital age.

He took the set to a repair shop in Norwich and they fully restored and converted the set in a matter of weeks.

He added: "Nowadays there's a culture of forced obsolescence. We supposedly live in a hi-tech age but most modern electronic equipment you buy needs replacing after a couple of years and yet this has seen half a century and still sounds and looks great.

"I think I would have been heartbroken if they hadn't have been able to convert it."

Jon Steel at Digital UK, said: "We'd like to congratulate Mr Howard for proving that virtually any television, no matter how old, can be converted to digital.

"It's great to know that he can now look forward to many more years of happy viewing, even after the old analogue signals have been switched off."

Mr Howard's favourites include Foyles War and Waking the Dead and Inspector Morse re-runs.

As well being able to receive Freeview the adapter has allowed him to relive his favourites of yesteryear on DVD.

"There were brilliant shows in the late 50s, I remember Jimmy Edwards in Whacko, CrackerJack and Dixon of Dock Green. Watching them all again on the same TV is quite a nostalgic experience."

"I watched old musical hall shows and remember laughing at George Formby and Arthur Askey with my dad.

"I also watched the news and saw events like Churchill's funeral, the assassination of John Kennedy and Neil Armstrong landing on the moon."

Adding to this experience is what Mr Howard describes as 'old TV smell' caused by the heating of the paxalin insulator used to mount the electrical components inside.

Mr Howard has a passion for preserving memorabilia. Along with furniture he restores classic cars and still lives in the family home his grandfather built in rural Norfolk in the 1920s.

He added: "I think it is important to respect the past otherwise people will forget it. If it weren't for eccentrics like me nothing would be preserved.

And I think that would be a very sad world."

Original here

Behind the scenes of The Colbert Report

NEW YORK (AP) - The walls of "The Colbert Report" studio are plastered with letters and artwork of the show's fearless leader submitted by loyal fans. In one painted portrait, Stephen Colbert, astride a horse, is substituted for George Washington.

Outside Colbert's office sits a brand new GPS system, which he had pleaded for on the show just days earlier. A publicist shrugs, "Ask and you shall receive."

Inside, Colbert's desk is surrounded by leftover props and gifts from guests—a veritable record of the absurdity he's created from this place Jon Stewart calls "bizarro world."

This is where Colbert and his staff hatch plans for where they might next fling their bloviating, perpetually suit-clad creation. Like a malfunctioning heat-seeking missile, he might go anywhere.

Colbert may inject his character into politics and media, just as he might wind up in the Smithsonian or Canadian junior league hockey. He's created a kind of satire in action, teetering between his self- made universe and an often equally absurd real world. It's a constant balancing act that last year nearly had him on the road to the White House.

"The Report" recently aired its 400th episode. On June 16, he will stroll into the Waldorf-Astoria and accept the prestigious Peabody Award for his show. Colbert says he also expects to play the role of "kingmaker" in this year's election. The race has already been swayed by "Saturday Night Live" (whose debate parody altered how the press covered Barack Obama), but the comedy of Colbert has a different effect.

In his hall of mirrors, reflections may be distorted, but never unflattering. A study has even shown that his self-declared "Colbert bump," an upswing in popularity for a politician after appearing on the show, is largely factual.

The presidential candidates have already had to reconcile themselves to dealing with Colbert, and the presumptive nominees—Obama and John McCain—would be wise to play along.

That's because Colbert doesn't demand a particular agenda of anyone, only the tacit, wink-wink acknowledgment that most any agenda—and all the image-conscious apparatus behind it—is a bit absurd, don't you think?

His particular talent is in blurring reality while at the same time illuminating it. In a world where kids on MySpace trumpet a cult of personality just as politicians do on the stump, his act has larger reverberations.

We all have a truthiness.

___

Hastily finishing a sandwich at his desk, Colbert is busy. Lining the wall to his right are index cards of segments that may or may not make the week's shows.

"Mostly I know what I'm doing today and tomorrow and have an idea about the day after that," he says. "And tomorrow might change and I'm not sure about tonight."

On this day, Colbert has already conferred with his executive producer Alison Silverman and co-executive producer Rich Dahm and discussed the current news with head writer Tom Purcell. They'll soon have what Colbert calls "a bake-off" to decide what makes the show.

"The Colbert Report" has been working this way, more or less, since it debuted on Oct. 17, 2005. The show began with what might still be its biggest success—the coining of the term "truthiness." The term, which means a truth one feels in the gut rather than learns in books, was a home run in the first at bat that Colbert calls the "thesis statement" to everything that's followed.

"The Report" was then seen (and largely still is) as a parody of Bill O'Reilly's "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox. While that was indeed the inspiration—a satire of conservative political punditry—anyone who's watched the show consistently knows that its tentacles of farce reach far beyond any simple spoof.

"People say, `Aren't you going to be sad when Bush goes?'" says Colbert. "No. The show is not about that. The show is not about O'Reilly. The show is not about the shout fest. The show is about what is behind those things, which is: What I say is reality. And that never ends. Every politician is going to want to enforce that, or every person in Hollywood—every person."

The 43-year-old Colbert grew up in Charleston, S.C., the youngest of 11 children in a Catholic family. In 1974, his father and two of his brothers were killed in an airline crash. His mother, Lorna, recently said of her son on South Carolina public television network ETV, "I can never nail him down as to exactly what he is"—which makes you wonder what hope the rest of us have.

The young Colbert's fondness of science fiction and fantasy—"Dungeons & Dragons," "Lord of the Rings"—is easily apparent on "The Report," where the serialized sci-fi story of his intergalactic alter- ego Tek Jansen plays out. One of Colbert's prized possessions—which he gleefully brandishes—is Anduril, the sword from "The Lord of the Rings" films, theatrically bestowed to him by Viggo Mortensen on the show.

After studying acting at Northwestern University, Colbert joined Chicago's revered improv troupe, Second City. Comedian Robert Smigel was blown away by Colbert on a night when he was just an understudy, and hired him for his first TV gig on "The Dana Carvey Show."

"I didn't really think it was possible to be honest with you," says Smigel of Colbert's one-man show. "He's a force of nature. I don't know who works harder than that guy."

Colbert voices Ace in Smigel's famed "Ambiguously Gay Duo" animated sketch, and Smigel's comment on the role is symbolic: "He was born to play a cartoon super hero, not a real one."

With collaborators Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello, he moved to New York to make the short-lived Comedy Central sketch show "Exit 57," and later, the series (and movie) "Strangers with Candy."

In his nearly decade-long tenure, Colbert became a standout correspondent on "The Daily Show," and "The Report" was spun-off by Stewart's company, Busboy Productions.

"Stephen has such encyclopedic knowledge and I figured using himself as the foundation of a character like that, there was no question he could do this every day," says Stewart. "He was just ready. He wears that character so perfectly."

Colbert, who is more at ease in a sweatshirt, agrees: "I just look like a suit, which is the best part. The best part is, boy, do I look the part."

___

So far, Obama has appeared on "The Report" via satellite and Clinton has made a quick cameo, but McCain hasn't yet stopped by. His preferred Comedy Central visit is "The Daily Show," where he's guested 10 times.

A politician's appearance to "The Report" certainly comes with risks. In a sit-down interview, Colbert memorably—and in a keen journalistic fashion—asked Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, who had lobbied for the Ten Commandments to be displayed in government buildings, to name them. Westmoreland managed only two and got one wrong, while Colbert sat patiently counting.

Another sly comment came during the writers strike, when Comedy Central's parent company, Viacom Inc., pushed "The Daily Show" and "The Report" back into production without writers. Colbert, desperate for material, rebroadcast an interview with CNN pundit Lou Dobbs, renown for his tough stance on immigration.

Dobbs' segment aired exactly as it had months earlier, but Colbert's side was redone with him dressed as "Estaban Colberto," a Spanish- speaking, mustachioed alter-ego (yes, alter-egos can have their own alter-egos). Estaban arrived at the interview by creeping under a chicken-wire fence.

Still, few lose when they enter Colbert World. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee's unlikely rise late in the Republican primaries could be partly attributed appearances on "The Report." Though viewership for the program is relatively small (it draws around 1.2 million nightly on average), Huckabee showed himself to have a better sense of humor than his competitors.

A study conducted by political scientist James Fowler of the University of California found that politicians often receive a slight uptick in donations following guest appearances on the show.

Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer appeared on the show several times, including one visit that records show came just minutes before he telephoned to schedule a meeting with a prostitute. Colbert later joked that his "whore-dar" wasn't functioning properly.

Spitzer had been a guest for one of the show's most memorable episodes: a surreal guitar "shred-off" complete with a cameo from Henry Kissinger. How Colbert views having who many consider a war criminal on the show is reflective of his politics: humor trumps all else.

After Kissinger's appearance on the show, Colbert wrote him, thanking him for being such a good sport. He wrote, "Thank you for lending us your dignity because it was the source of our comedy."

Colbert explains: "We do the same thing for the candidates. They're all invited and they all understand—I hope they understand—we really are a comedy show. There's opportunity for everyone to have a good time here."

___

What's separated "The Report" from other political (or not) comedy, is how Colbert uses reality as mere fodder for his absurdist humor. There's no question that he's best when right in the mix: on the campaign trail in Philadelphia, at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, causing havoc in South Carolina.

The presidential run was the comedian's ultimate attempt to inject himself into the news, and many pundits and politicians resented the mockery—especially since Colbert was polling ahead of half the Democratic field. Eventually, party officials voted to keep him off the ballot, claiming he was a distraction.

"When a fictional person declares something news, is it responsible for you to agree? Isn't that interesting?" wonders Colbert. "But so many real people declare fictional news and the press agrees. For instance, the surge is a success, don't you think?"

Does it scare Colbert that a fake person can be taken so seriously?

"It does not scare me at all because I don't take myself seriously," he says. "My character wants to do these things. We're making jokes. We never stop making jokes."

On camera, his devotion to staying in character is total, but off- camera he's himself: intelligent, relaxed and quick to laugh. Before taping episodes, he asks the studio audience if anyone has any questions "to humanize me before I say horrible things." He begins every interview by telling his guest that his character is "an idiot" and to "disabuse me of my ignorance."

"The Report" may exist in relation to "The Daily Show," but the difference between the programs is huge. "The Daily Show" has a clear ideological point of view, commenting from the outside, whereas Colbert is a mock-insider. It's no coincidence that when the two do a split-screen hand-off at the end of "The Daily Show," Stewart is always the straight man.

"Jon Stewart can say he doesn't influence all he wants, but you know what? I'll take up that mantle. I'll pick up that sword," Colbert says archly. "That's the big difference between my character and Jon's persona. Jon would demur that responsibility, but my character gets right at the head of the lynch mob and he goes like, `Let's go get the monster in the tower!'"

Many of the show's greatest hits have been entirely apolitical, like the "meta-free-phor-all" with Sean Penn, or singing "Go Down Moses" with civil rights activist and politician Andrew Young, author Malcolm Gladwell and the Harlem Gospel Choir.

After such shows, Colbert likes to sarcastically announce to his staff: "Remember, it's just like O'Reilly!"

Since falling while running around his "C"-shaped desk and breaking his wrist, he's advocated "wrist awareness" by selling "WristStrong" bracelets. All proceeds go to the Yellow Ribbon Fund to assist injured service members and their families.

When asked how long he plans to keep wearing the band and stick with the joke, Colbert turned more serious than at any other point in our conversation. He replied firmly, "Not until the war is over."

That's about as close as Colbert comes to any kind of political statement. His interests are in people and in comedy.

"It is a sketch comedy show," he says. "So far, it's a 2 1/2-year sketch. I think of the entire show as a single scene. I'm just working on an 84-hour comedy project, and that's how we think of it."

___

In such a comedy project, Colbert compares himself to a "wind-up toy." Unable to plan ahead, he must always react to the news, to the initiations of his devoted audience and to his reflection in the media.

"I am not a passive verb," he says. "This is first person, present tense, at all times. I am a verb. As Buckminster Fuller said, `I seem to be a verb.' The show is present tense, present active. We're not passive, we don't observe. We set the news agenda. We create the news. We throw the pebble of the show into reality and we report on our own ripples."

It's a clearly frantic, near-insane job ("I'm tired all the time," he admits) and one can't help but wonder how much longer Colbert—who lives with his wife and three kids in Montclair, N.J.—can keep it up.

When asked this, he puts his head down and is silent for a full 20 seconds. He finally breaks the quiet, "The short answer is, I don't know. The facile answer but maybe the true answer is, as long as it's fun."

For now, the circus goes on. Backstage at the Philadelphia shows, the surrealism was in full force.

Ralph Archbold, a Ben Franklin impersonator (and therefore a man simpatico with Colbert in leading a dual life), was blown away that Colbert knew the Star Spangled Banner was written after the War of "How many people in showbiz know that?" he wonders.

Watching from the wings, R&B singer John Legend—who had just sang the Star Spangled Banner with Colbert—marveled at the comedian. Like Archbold, he gives him credit for his skill in a craft not his own: "He can sing. He really can sing."

It becomes apparent how welcoming and joyful Colbert's act is. Grammy- winner, historical impersonator; Democrat, Republican. Colbert will make a mockery of you, but you'll love every minute of it.

___

On the Net:

http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_colbert_report

Original here

TV Sidekicks That Steal My Show

By: Allie Firestone (Little_personView Profile)

I’ll be the first to admit—TV sidekicks out-nerd (Chloe, the power behind Jack Bauer), out-funny (Cosmo Kramer), and just plain out-do (hello, Dwight Schrute) most predictable main characters. Sometimes I love them, sometimes I hate them, but there’s no doubt—I can’t forget 'em. True, they may be mere tagalongs to the Jerry Seinfelds, Michael Scotts, and Peter Griffins of the TV world, but these 15 show-stealing sidekicks have kept me tuning in…again, and again, and again (yes, I watch way too much TV).

1. George Costanza on Seinfeld
I love complicated characters, but that’s just not George. Between slipping roofies to his boss and pretending to be handicapped, George taught me that being shallow, cheap, neurotic, and dishonest is actually, well, quite funny. No such life lessons from Jerry.

Quotable George: “I’m much more comfortable criticizing people behind their backs.”

2. Dwight Schrute on The Office
As assistant (to the) regional manager, Michael’s wannabe second-in-command has brought us beat farms, bears, and Battlestar Galactica knowledge. Oh, and let’s not forget Schrute Bucks. He’s the only character from the show that I throw into conversations on a regular basis and put on my facebook page.

Quotable Dwight: “In the wild, there is no health care. In the wild, health care is ‘Ow, I hurt my leg. I can’t run. A lion eats me. I’m dead.’ Well, I’m not dead. I’m the lion. You’re dead.”

3. Susie Greene on Curb Your Enthusiasm
Would we ever have come to lovingly identify Larry as a Four-Eyed Fuck without the eloquent Suzie? She manages to make everyone else on HBO sound G-rated while simultaneously wearing hot pink, gaudy rhinestones, and lime-green velour … often, all in the same outfit.

Quotable Susie: “Okay Larry you don’t want the tour? Get the fuck out of my house.”

4. Brian on Family Guy
My favorite dog with a drinking problem. Peter’s best friend and Stewie’s perpetual babysitter. Without him, Peter and Lois would likely be childless, homeless, divorced, and maybe even dead.

Quotable Brian: “I’m the dog. I’m well-read and have a diverse stock portfolio. But I’m not above eating grass clippings and regurgitating them on the rug.”

5. Chloe on 24
While Jack Bauer is out fighting terrorists, detonating bombs, and generally saving the world, Chloe is behind the computer giving Jack step-by-step directions on how to do it. Tech-smart and easy on the eyes? This girl’s skills are way more exciting than the main character (sorry, Jack).

Quotable Chloe:Okay, when the alert level goes down and the terrorists have been caught, we can have some chamomile tea and I’ll tell you all my secrets.”

6. Just Jack! ... and Karen on Will & Grace
Honey, I wanted to touch my stomach to Jack’s and Karen’s so many times, I thought maybe this should have been called the Jack & Karen show.

Quotable J&K: “Oh Karen, you just can’t devastate me and kick me out. I’m not your lover.”

7. Tattoo on Fantasy Island
Even fourteen years later, this guy’s hard to top. I never quite got the relationship between Mr. Roarke and Tattoo, but Fantasy Island wouldn’t have been half as disturbingly entertaining without hearing, “De plane! De plane!” at the beginning of each episode.

Quotable Tattoo: see above.

8. Kramer on Seinfeld
The entrances, the exits, the “bro,” illegal cable TV, and Kramerica Industries—Kramer added a whole lot to the ambience of Jerry’s living room. Well, technically, he took a whole lot out of the apartment, but you get the idea. Kramer set a whole new standard for TV entrances and exits.

Quotable Kramer: “Stick a fork in me, Jerry. I’m done!”

9. Norm Peterson on Cheers
An accountant that spent all his free time drinking beer that he never paid for. How do I get that gig? Just kidding. Kind of.

Quotable Norm: “Women! You can’t live with ’em. Pass the beer nuts.”

10. Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy
The perfect partner in crime, she was always more than willing to go along with Lucy’s oddball plans, while giving her just the encouragement she needed to really make a fool out of herself. And she had some of the best one-liners in show history, if you ask me.

Quotable Ethel: “Oh, Lucy, I know you’re not going to move, but if you ever do move, don’t move.”

11. Turtle on Entourage
Vince’s life: money, sex, and fame. Turtle’s life: pot smoking, sneakers, and matching sweat suits. That’s okay Turtle, you can drive me around any time.

Quotable Turtle: “That prick called you a thespian.”

12. Andy Richter on Conan O’Brien
Even though Andy left the show almost eight years ago, Conan still hasn’t found a replacement for perhaps the only sidekick in talk show history who became at least as popular as the actual host. No small feat when that host is Conan.

Quotable Andy: “If somebody’s looking at pictures of naked people, and you go, ‘Oh I don’t want to see that,’ you’re lying. Cause naked people are always interesting. Always.”

13. Dr. Niles Crane on Frasier
The Jung to Frasier’s Freud, Niles managed to out-Frasier Frasier most of the time. He was snobbier (cooking his own French cuisine) and believed himself to be the more serious psychiatrist. Oh, and let’s not forget his “usual” drink order: a latte with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Quotable Niles: “Frasier, I have made a fist and I’m thinking of using it.”

14. Ned Flanders on the Simpsons
An odd appetite for church-going, family time, and the word okilly-dokilly doesn’t usually make for an exciting sidekick, but good old Flanders brings his own brand of funny—in his own overly cheerful, left-handed way. Honestly, he’s slightly annoying, but the “hey neighbors” and merry lawn mowing really adds that je ne sais quoi to the show.

Quotable Flanders: “I’ve done everything the Bible says—even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!”

15. Screech on Saved by the Bell
When it comes to Screech, it’s a thin line between love and hate. Okay, it’s not, really—he’s pretty easy to hate. The most token of all token dorky sidekicks, I’m not sure whether Screech is memorable because he filled that token loser role so well or because he was so damn annoying. But does anyone feel that strongly about Zach?

Quotable Screech: “Third place, wow! I once finished fifth in an Alf look-a-like contest.”

Original here

Transformers 2: Who Is The Fallen And Why Do They Want Revenge?

MajorJJH

TransformersOver the past week there has been a lot of Transformers 2 news, rumors, and photos. We’ve been hesitant to share them all with you, because in some cases they are simply random shots of some obscure aspect of the shoot occurring at Bethlehem Steel, where Michael Bay is, not unsurprisingly, blowing shit up.

However, through the random shots of new vehicles and running Asians (the scenes shot are supposed to take place in a fictional Chinese city), there has been speculation as to who the Fallen is in the full title Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen, and just why does he/she want revenge?

All the way back on Friday (it seems so long ago), Latino Review posted an email from a fan who had looked into the Transformers log of � well, Transformers, and found that there was in fact a character known as The Fallen. So, here’s Geeks of Doom’s look at who The Fallen is and why they want revenge.

First of all, let’s look at the character that people have been talking about, known only as The Fallen. He was one of the 13 original Transformers created by Primus, to do battle against his “eternal nemesis” Unicron (they had the most awesome names). However, one of the 13 turned against his siblings and his creator, and betrayed them all. His original name is lost, but he was known as The Fallen.

This Transformer became obsessed with the darker side of things, and turned against Primus and bowed to Unicron. Affter the first battle between Unicron and Primus, the Fallen was sealed into an extradimensional limbo along with Unicron.

Of course, later, he managed to get out, but that isn’t really the point of all of this.

Now do I think that this story is going to be replayed word for word in Transformers 2? Looking at the last movie, I would suggest definitely not. However, here’s how I imagine it will play out: They’ve chosen a name like Revenge of the Fallen to follow after the death of at least one of the Transformers from the first movie, whether that be Jazz or Megatron. I’m betting it’s the latter one, and that they will merge Megatron with the story of The Fallen and then introduce the aspect of the god-like beings that created them — Unicron and Primus — through this revised story.

It allows for a measure of Transformers history to be kept, while bringing it in line with what Michael Bay is doing.

The obsessed die-hard fans will hate it, the rest of us, will probably enjoy it. Either way, I wouldn’t take much of anything for granted, considering that last year Michael Bay said that they would be releasing a whole heap of fake information to keep everybody busy and away from the real plot. We’ll see!

Original here

DV EXPOSE: "The Women" Will Destroy You and All You Hold Dear

Written by Anthony Burch

Not the concept of women in general, mind you, but the upcoming film titled The Women, starring Meg Ryan and a cast seemingly made up entirely of females. It is the ultimate chick flick. It will be our undoing.

Know your enemy; watch the trailer

You thought Sex and the City would be the worst affront to testosterone this Summer. You thought it couldn't get any worse than watching Sarah Jessica Parker and her crew bitch about men's stupidity for two and a half hours.

You were wrong. If you can make it to the end of that trailer without contorting your face into a mixture of shock, horror, and fear, then you're a better man than I am.

Or you've got a vagina.

It's called "The Women" for a reason

The Women is actually a remake of a 1939 film by George Cukor, which was in turn based on a play, which in turn probably sucked ass because it was a play. Ignoring the plot of the original for a moment, it was noteworthy at the time because literally 100% of its cast, consisting of at least 130 speaking roles, was comprised of women. More than a hundred characters opened their mouths during the original The Women, and not a single one of them had a dick.

Now, look at the trailer again. Can you see a single man? More than likely, director Diane English has followed the precedent set by the original film and has crafted a movie which, despite centering around a man's affair, doesn't include a single male character.

This is, if I can use a gender-nonspecific insult for a moment, pretty goddamn douchey. Sure, there have been many films with all male casts, but such films usually contain a pretty small cast to begin with and are about men being assholes to one another in an isolated environment (The Thing, Twelve Angry Men). Just based on the trailer, The Women doesn't have a small cast, doesn't take place in an isolated environment, and yet still derives some satisfaction from turning the entire production into a Tacofest (if you will).

Imagine how pissed off women would be if guys made a movie on a huge scale, using big-name male actors, with over a hundred speaking parts, and refused to give a single part to a woman. The feminists would beat their drums and talk about equality, but find no fault in an all-female cast for The Women.

If Meg Ryan was America's sweetheart...

Then what does it say about America that she's got one of the most horrendous Botox-jobs in recorded history? You can't tell from the ridiculously airbrushed photo above, but, in the trailer, every time Ryan opens her mouth to moan about something she looks like she's puckering to apply lipstick. This flick is, ostensibly, aimed at the same sort of demographic: fortysomething, reasonably successful white chicks who are considering or already underwent cosmetic surgery to retain some visual semblance of their younger days. In a film ostensibly about female empowerment and respecting who you are, this strikes me as absurdly hypocritical.

I don't really have a point other than that.

It's about white, upper-middle-class women, specifically

And on the subject of Meg Ryan, the entire film does indeed focus on the overly medicated, conservative, rich-to-the-point-of-boredom feminists and their ideals.

Socially, the women all seem to be different sides of the same coin: Meg Ryan is a white, rich, bitchy woman who is being cheated on; Annette Bening is a white, rich, bitchy woman who is obsessed with revenge; Debra Messing is a white, rich, bitchy woman who is pregnant.

The only outlier is Jada Pinkett Smith, who fulfills the dual token roles of being black and a lesbian. God forbid there be two characters to embody those traits -- better to shove all the politically correct crap into one character, just to save the public face of the movie.

One might assume that so long as your significant other isn't a rich white woman, you're safe; since she isn't like any of the characters in the movie, she won't want to see it. Be warned, however; there is always the possibility, however slim, that a woman may envy the lifestyles of these characters. This explains the success of Sex and the City: most of the women who watched the show aren't actually pretentious Madison Avenue bitches, but they may wish they were.

According to The Women, hot chicks are the enemy

Granted, this is indicative of the general opinion amongst ugly women toward attractive ones: all the really hot ones are slutty and evil, mainly due to their lack of sexual inhibition.

In The Women, the archenemy is Eva Mendes, whose hotness factor exceeds that of her co-stars by a factor of at least eight thousand. Thus, she is the enemy; jealous of Mendes' physicality and sex appeal, viewers of The Women are meant to personally triumph as the comparatively unglamorous Meg Ryan triumphs over her. Since only about three women on the planet are hotter than Eva Mendes, The Women is banking on the fact that its angry, jealous audience will flock to the theatres and revel in the destruction of someone much more sexually appealing than them.

If your girlfriend has self-image issues -- and she does -- she may be at risk for seeing this movie.

Bette Midler is in it

JESUS CHRIST SHE'S SIXTY-THREE YEARS OLD WHAT THE FUCK IS HOLDING HER BODY TOGETHER OTHER THAN PLASTIC AND SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS

HEAD FOR THE FUCKING HILLS

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"I might have a whole new life, next time you see me": 25 worthwhile documentaries about ambitious outsiders

By Christopher Bahn, Jason Heller, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Keith Phipps, Nathan Rabin, Scott Tobias, David Wolinsky

1. American Movie (1999)

Mark Borchardt has long had a dream of making a film called Northwestern, a coming-of-age story about growing up on the rough edges of Milwaukee. He even has a plan to finance the film by first selling copies of a horror movie called Coven directly to genre fans. But getting to that stage isn't as easy as he suspects. Director Chris Smith captures Borchardt at a crucial stage in the project, as he films Coven (pronounced, per the lugubrious Borchardt's preference, "coe-ven") between bouts of binge-drinking and stints working a paper route. Borchardt's resources are limited, to say the least, but apart from a few dark nights of the soul captured by Smith's camera, he remains upbeat about the project, helped by an eccentric support system that includes his doting mother and pal Mike Schank, a slow-speaking musician sidekick who nearly steals the movie. Avoiding easy laughs without overselling Borchardt's talent, Smith's film succeeds largely because it makes audiences root for Borchardt's dream of escaping the workaday drudgery around him through art.

2. The Cruise (1998)

Timothy "Speed" Levitch is a New York City tour guide with an uncanny ability to find connections between Manhattan's architectural history and his own daily struggle to get into sync with the universal life force. Bennett Miller's The Cruise is essentially an hour and 10 minutes of Levitch at work and on the streets, delivering a long, jazzy monologue with remarkable expressiveness. At first, Levitch's nasal voice and dippy philosophizing can come off as a little grating, but he eventually wins people over with his simultaneous eagerness and melancholy, as he jumps from waxing rhapsodic about the city he loves to describing the ways it cages its residents.

3. Sick: The Life And Death Of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997)

Until the introduction of experimental treatments that have recently extended the lives of some patients, cystic fibrosis was considered a "children's disease," and an excruciating one at that, characterized by a mucus buildup in the lungs that leads to frequent infection. CF-sufferer Bob Flanagan decided to fight the disease by using pain to seize control over his rebellious body, playing the submissive to all but his affliction. Along with his partner Sheree Rose, Flanagan created short films, art installations, video diaries, and performance-art pieces around extreme acts of sadomasochism. Kirby Dick's documentary Sick doesn't shy away from his most shocking stunts, from nailing his penis to a board to absorbing a steel sphere several times larger than its intended destination. And yet the film is weirdly palatable, even inspiring, because of Flanagan's sharp sense of humor about his determination to beat the disease in his own twisted way.

4. Crumb (1995)

Terry Zwigoff's groundbreaking portrait of the sexually and racially transgressive underground cartoonist R. Crumb is a testament to how art can be a lifeline for the seemingly hopeless. Throughout the film, Zwigoff forces us to consider Robert Crumb in relation to his similarly gifted brother Charles: How did R. Crumb escape the madness and despair of his dysfunctional home life to become a thriving artist and functioning member of society, while his brother was unable to escape his upbringing and ultimately died by his own hand? For R. Crumb, the answer was to unleash his personal demons on the page, which turned out to be a more socially acceptable avenue for his dark thoughts on race, sex, and the human condition. His harshest critics demonized him for it, but in the context of Zwigoff's film, Crumb's work seems like the healthiest possible outcome for him.

5. The Devil And Daniel Johnston (2005)

Whether you believe folk musician Daniel Johnston to be a savant pop genius or a falsely idolized fringe-dweller doesn't mute the impact of The Devil And Daniel Johnston, which goes further than any documentary since Crumb in locating the intersection of madness and art. Clearly an admirer, director Jeff Feuerzeig gets intimate access to Johnston's life and reveals a manic-depressive visionary who has startled people with his peculiarly catchy pop sensibility and his terrifying periods of violence and institutionalization. His impulse to create art seems to be his salvation from total psychosis, though in the end, only his family members can handle the latter, while the hip indie musicians who initially championed him gradually recede.

6. Dancing Outlaw (1991)

Dancing Outlaw is a PBS documentary that follows Jesse "Jesco" White of Boone County, West Virginia, in his quest to have a good time, impersonate Elvis, dance, and not kill his wife. There's a fine line here between redneck-baiting and anthropological study, but Jesco is ultimately a sympathetic character. Sure, he sniffs lighter fluid and threatens bodily harm on a regular basis, but he's made human on camera, too: Jesco takes the death of his father—a famous mountain-country dancer and his inspiration—really hard, and tries to make his life better. And he hopes to get out, too: "I might get good at this dancing and come into money. I might have a whole new life, next time you see me." He did, briefly: There's a sequel to Dancing Outlaw that follows Jesco to Hollywood, where he cameos on Roseanne.

7. Project Grizzly (1996)

Troy Hurtubise was attacked by a bear once, and doesn't want to repeat the experience without evening the odds. In the years since the attack, Hurtubise has dedicated himself to constructing an increasingly complex series of bear-proof suits and heading out to the Canadian wilderness to put his science-fiction-looking contraptions to the test, all in the name of "research." What exactly he's researching, apart from his own ability to confront his fears, remains one of several questions left unanswered by Peter Lynch's wryly funny but strangely admiring film.

8. Grizzly Man (2005)

In his documentaries and features, Werner Herzog has continually turned to the ongoing struggles of man vs. the forces of nature, and he nearly always finds nature the victor. Timed as the perfect rebuke to the anthropomorphic treatment of animals in March Of The Penguins, Herzog's documentary Grizzly Man testifies to the dangers of thinking wild animals are your cuddly friends. Drawing from a wealth of video footage, Herzog follows the late Timothy Treadwell, a self-styled naturalist who spent 13 summers camping among Alaskan grizzlies in an earnest yet tragically delusional attempt to "protect" them from harm. The film becomes an open debate between Treadwell's sentimentalized view of nature and Herzog's more pragmatic take on it; the issue is settled by a hungry bear, and its "half-bored interest in food."


9. The King Of Kong (2007)

Who's the underdog here? Most fans of this funny, strange film will sympathize with Steve Wiebe, the sad-sack high-school teacher who's trying to unseat Billy Mitchell, the world-champion Donkey Kong player. But Mitchell is a strange sort of underdog in his own way—an overconfident braggart who's at best unpleasant and at worst a coward, according to the film. It's a classic good-guy-vs.-bad-guy setup, and an incredible story even for those with zero interest in competitive videogaming.

10. Danielson: A Family Movie (Or, Make A Joyful Noise Here) (2006)

Neither a performance film nor a straight documentary, J.L. Aronson's lo-fi peek into the life and music of Daniel Smith—mastermind and literal older brother of Christian indie-rock faves The Danielson Famile—takes a variety of approaches to the material, from animation to Rashomon-like retellings of Smith's origins. For more than a decade, Smith and family have staged quasi-religious theatrical "happenings" in dingy nightclubs across the country, augmenting cacophonic kitchen-sink showtunes with traces of sea chanteys, military marches, growly alt-country, wall-rattling punk, and Philip Glass-inspired minimalist pattern-making. Throughout, Smith's music and message have remained wholly his own, as he's figured out how to convert the rough-hewn DIY foundations of indie-rock into plain-speaking examinations of how hard it is to be transformed by the renewal of the mind, instead of pushed into conformity with this world.

11. Tribute (2001)

Though it's currently stuck on a shelf, Kris Curry and Rich Fox's affectionate, probing look at "tribute bands" charmed—and slightly horrified—film-festival audiences and Showtime subscribers across the country during the first half of the '00s. Following ersatz versions of Kiss, Journey, Judas Priest, Queen, and The Monkees from gig to gig and from one surprisingly contentious practice to the next, Curry and Fox raise all kinds of resonant questions about celebrity worship, the nature of "talent," and whether the best way to honor creative people is to copy what they do. Music-rights issues have kept Tribute so far underground that even its trailer is currently unavailable, but according to Curry, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel and a DVD release later this year. That would be welcome, because as a portrait of crackpot American determination, Tribute has few equals.

12. How To Draw A Bunny (2002)

The late pop artist Ray Johnson was known for his collages (often sent to friends in the form of mysterious packages), his almost paranoid reluctance to show his work publicly, and the way he maintained his Long Island home like a private art installation. John Walter and Andrew Moore's documentary about Johnson treats his life like one long performance piece, made up of shows that never came to be, collaborations that came to nothing, and a suicide every bit as odd and inexplicable as the man himself. Given how difficult it can be to find Johnson's actual art, How To Draw A Bunny is in some ways the cinematic equivalent of the museum-store catalog for the exhibits Johnson never mounted.

13. Benjamin Smoke (2000)

Anyone who spent any time hanging around the Athens/Atlanta music scene in the '90s came to know Benjamin, the fragile transvestite with the gravelly voice who worked out his obsessions with Tom Waits and Patti Smith via rambling songs about sex, drugs, and loneliness. Before Benjamin died of AIDS-related hepatitis in 1999, filmmakers Jem Cohen and Peter Sillen interviewed Benjamin in his low-rent Cabbagetown home, recording stories about his punk-rock youth and wastrel adulthood, between performances by his band Smoke. With its black-and-white photography and mournful music, Benjamin Smoke is an almost painfully sad documentary, although the fact that Cohen and Sillen have preserved Benjamin's memory mitigates some of the crushing feeling of loss.

14. Jandek On Corwood (2003)

Since 1978, a man who calls himself "Jandek" has been releasing strange little folk records full of monotone acoustic guitars and a slight bluesy howl on his own Houston label, Corwood Industries. Chad Freidrichs' documentary Jandek On Corwood looks into the mystery man's mysteries, but just a little. The film is more about the cult musician's fans, and why they channel so much devotion to a man who refuses to love them back. Freidrichs talks to underground rock critics, college-radio DJs, and indie record-store clerks, who all rhapsodize about charting Jandek's progress over 25 years via his stark album covers and the microscopic changes in his music and lyrics. As one woman says, hearing about Jandek is better than actually hearing him.

15. New York Doll (2005)

Arthur "Killer" Kane found a bit of fame with the New York Dolls, but after that band went belly-up, the music business wasn't kind to him. The terrific New York Doll picks up the story of his life at the Mormon church where he worships and works, far out of the spotlight. When a Dolls reunion is floated, Kane gathers enough money to get his instrument out of hock, and the doc follows him through the most exciting time he's had in years—never judging his religion or the fact that he's become a sweet, doddering codger while his bandmates have clung to the rock life. The film ends with a surprising tragedy that deepens its impact.

16. I Like Killing Flies (2004)

Kenny Shopsin's ambition isn't to have the biggest, nicest restaurant in New York City—it's to have his restaurant, serving his food, with his rules. In I Like Killing Flies, director Matt Mahurin—a well-known illustrator and music-video creator who's done shadowy videos for U2, Sting, R.E.M., and lots more—captures Shopsin and his family as they move their long-running restaurant from one storefront to another. Shopsin lords over his coterie of customers, treating some like family and some like pariahs. Order something from his massive menu that he doesn't feel like cooking? He'll tell you off. Try to get a table for more than four people? You'll be ejected quickly. But apparently the food—weird concoctions of Kenny's invention, most with funny names—makes his place worth a visit. The dirty kitchen seen in the film is long gone, sadly, and Shopsins now makes its home in the Essex Street Market.


17. You're Gonna Miss Me (2005)

In the mid-1960s, Roky Erickson was a groundbreaking musician at the forefront of psychedelic rock. Hard living took its toll, and arrests, mental breakdowns, deep-seated family issues, and a frightening amount of recreational and clinical drugs left the Austin rocker floridly schizophrenic, though still able to create music as powerful as it is bizarre. As You're Gonna Miss Me opens, Roky is a shambling wreck, living in hermitage with his eccentric mother and listening to eight radios and TVs simultaneously to drown out the voices in his head. But thanks to a determined intervention by his brother (and now caretaker) Sumner, a seemingly miraculous resurgence takes place, and the troubled genius finds it within himself to pick up his guitar again and go on tour for the first time in decades.

18. Driver 23/Atlas Moth (2002)

There's a fine line between dreams and obsessions, and also, as Spinal Tap put it, between clever and stupid. All four of those states are personified in Dan Cleveland, Minneapolis delivery driver by day and leader of C-tier metal band Dark Horse by night. Over the course of Driver 23 and its sequel, Atlas Moth, filmmaker Rolf Belgum chronicles Cleveland's quixotic quest for rock glory. Cleveland's unstoppable drive and single-minded focus on his band are simultaneously absurd, heroic, and pathetic—in part because he often channels that energy into foolish projects like his wildly overcomplicated (and ultimately futile) pulley system for unloading band equipment from his basement. The half-full, tiny clubs don't bother him; half the band quitting doesn't bother him; he barely seems to realize his wife is leaving him. His relentless optimism goes hand-in-hand with an obsessive-compulsive streak requiring heavy dosages of Zoloft and Prozac, and the disquieting, oddly compelling question becomes inescapable: What is the dreamer if you take away his dream?

19. Wesley Willis: The Daddy Of Rock 'N' Roll (2003)

Though Daniel Bitton's rockumentary on bizarre musician Wesley Willis isn't terribly insightful or clever, it's at least smart enough to get out of Willis' way and let the man tell his own story. The no-frills production tails a particularly feisty Willis as he goes about his everyday business: He tells countless people he's a rock star, writes lyrics barefoot in a Kinko's, urinates by a fire hydrant, rides the bus, and visits the zoo—quite an active schedule for a morbidly obese chronic schizophrenic. His friends help fill in the blanks as talking heads, explaining how Willis' medication has both improved and deteriorated his health, though much of the film's poignancy and humor comes from Willis' interactions with passersby. While visiting Chicago's Brookfield Zoo, he momentarily sulks that he's "already doomed" because he can't find a girlfriend, though he just as quickly shakes off the bleakness to harangue the gift-store staff for books so he can "write songs about bestiality."

20. Slasher (2004)

Michael Bennett, the beer-guzzling, fast-talking glorified carny at the center of John Landis' wildly entertaining documentary Slasher, is an outsider in the most literal sense. He's a man without a country, constantly leaving his beautiful wife and family so he can travel to a new city and whip the populace into a car-buying frenzy. Car dealerships all over the country fly him into their lots at great expense so he can preside over "slasher sales" where car prices are "slashed" in the most theatrical way possible, and the big prize is an unmarked car that can be had for the low, low price of $88. Alas, you get what you pay for, as the initially overjoyed, then bitterly disappointed "winners" of the $88 car soon learn. Once Bennett touches down in a new locale with his DJ/sidekick, his ambitions include selling enough cars to justify his considerable overhead, and consuming his weight in cheap beer. It's a glorious, ridiculous, faintly tragic spectacle; as one customer looking for the mythic $88 car guilelessly enthuses, "It's all very dramastic!"

21. Mayor Of The Sunset Strip (2003)

For decades, legendary KROQ DJ and tastemaker Rodney Bingenheimer was paradoxically a consummate insider who hung with all the biggest rock stars in the world (many of whom he helped introduce to American audiences), and an outsider who got a contact high from mixing with the show-business elite, even though he could never make the leap from scenester to major player himself. When George Hickenlooper started filming Bingenheimer for his funny, sad, riveting documentary The Mayor Of Sunset Strip (a nickname Sal Mineo gave Bingenheimer) his glory days were long gone, and Bingenheimer was reduced to working a graveyard shift and being usurped by one of his many former protégés. While the bands he helped break live like kings, Bingenheimer has a pauper's life in a tiny apartment cluttered with memories, ghosts, and mementos that highlight the tragic gulf between his former grand ambitions and current desperation.

22. Stone Reader (2002)

Mark Moscowitz's Stone Reader chronicles its maker's obsessive search for Dow Mossman, a sensitive writer whose ambitious first novel, The Stones Of Summer, garnered a glowing review from The New York Times and made a deep, indelible impact on Moscowitz, but quickly slid out of print. Mossman was institutionalized shortly after the book's failure, and he dropped out of the literary world to work as a welder and a book bundler, and to care for his aged mother. Moscowitz's Slamdance-winning documentary—which climaxes poignantly with Mossman finally meeting his elusive prey—helped resuscitate interest in the author's career and prompted a reprint of Stones Of Summer, but Mossman seems likely to remain forever an outsider on the fringes, lost in his own private world of words and ideas.

23. Mr. Death: The Rise And Fall Of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999)

Director Errol Morris originally intended to add Fred Leuchter to the quartet of eccentric subjects—a wild animal trainer, a topiary gardener, a mole-rat specialist, and a robot scientist—that made up his exhilarating 1997 mélange Fast, Cheap & Out Of Control, but Leuchter's story demanded its own forum. A lonely engineer and egghead from Boston, Leuchter has made an odd living out of creating more humane execution devices, because the needless suffering inflicted by electric chairs and lethal-injection methods appalled him. But his professional interest in gas chambers segues into the far less noble business of Holocaust denial: After hooking up with Canadian neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel, Leuchter embarks on a mission to conduct experiments at Auschwitz to prove that cyanide gas wasn't used in the camp. Watching him rummaging through this sacred ground is appalling and revealing of a scientist blinded by vanity and self-delusion.

24. My Kid Could Paint That (2007)

Set aside for a moment the possibility—okay, probability—that 4-year-old painter Marla Olmstead's remarkable pieces of modern art were partially or entirely not her own. The story of the Olmsteads is really about suburban outsiders trying to break into the exclusively urban world of contemporary art, which is suspicious of artists from other circles. Both are guilty of arrogance: The urbanites for closing themselves off to work from outside their sphere of influence, and the suburbanites for holding the very notion of abstract art in contempt, as evidenced by the title of Amir Bar-Lev's documentary. The fact that Maria's paintings may, in fact, be a hoax raises fundamental questions about what art is and how it's valued by the stories of its creation.

25. The Nomi Song (2004)

The zenith of Klaus Nomi's brief, weird career was singing backup and dancing mechanically behind David Bowie on Saturday Night Live in 1979. Still, the outlandishly made-up and costumed Nomi looked somehow like Forrest Gump haplessly out of his league on the stage behind the Thin White Duke. Video footage of the SNL performance, as well as many other heart-stopping concert clips on the 2004 documentary The Nomi Song, cement Nomi's own fabricated image—that of an androgynous, alien android somehow marooned in the New York club scene during the new-wave era. Nomi, a diminutive German emigrant with an ethereal operatic tenor, rose to cult acclaim quickly in the late '70s before succumbing to bad record deals, ego, and ultimately AIDS in 1983. His few amazing minutes on the 1981 post-punk documentary Urgh! A Music War barely hint at the loneliness and strangeness of the elfin being beneath the robotic tuxedo—but The Nomi Song shows its subject to be one of the most unique, quixotic, and simultaneously ironic and innocent figures in pop-music history.


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Panda kicks Sandler at U.S. box office

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Moviegoers across North America were in a fighting mood during the weekend, cheering the family cartoon "Kung Fu Panda" to the top spot at a box office packed with hits.

DreamWorks Animation's Jack Black comedy about a panda who dreams of martial arts glory handily earned an estimated $60 million during its first three days, distributor Paramount Pictures said on Sunday. The firms had hoped for an opening in the high $40 million range.

But it was not a complete knockout. Columbia Pictures' Adam Sandler comedy "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," in which the comedian plays an Israeli commando-turned-New York hairdresser, opened at No. 2 with $40 million. It also beat forecasts of a debut in the mid- to high $30 million range.

But observers said top honors really could have gone either way. In one corner, "Kung Fu Panda" was powered by rave reviews and an underserved family audience; in the other, Sandler could count on young male fans unlikely to be swayed by negative notices from puzzled critics.

As it turned out, both played beyond their traditional audiences. DreamWorks Animation said 71 percent of the audience was older than 17, while Columbia said women accounted for 51 percent of the "Zohan" crowd.

'SEX' LOSES STEAM

Last weekend's champ, New Line Cinema's romantic comedy "Sex and the City," fell to No. 4 with $21.3 million, a massive 63 percent drop from its surprisingly strong opening weekend. Sales to date stand at $99.3 million for the big-screen adaptation of HBO's fashion-and-relationship series.

Just ahead of it was "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" with $22.8 million, down one place. The total for the Paramount-distributed adventure rose to $253 million after three weekends.

The strong lineup boosted overall sales, said tracking firm Media By Numbers. The top 12 films earned $172 million, up five percent from last weekend, and up 32 percent from the year-ago period, when "Ocean's Thirteen" opened at No. 1 with $36 million.

"Kung Fu Panda" ranks as DreamWorks Animation's third best opening, after 2007's "Shrek the Third" ($122 million) and 2004's "Shrek 2" ($108 million). The three-day tally was a considerable improvement over the studio's most recent film, "Bee Movie" ($38 million), which came out last November.

In addition to Black, whose character Po is a would-be Dragon Warrior, the voice cast includes Dustin Hoffman as a Yoda-type Svengali, and Ian McShane as a villainous kung fu master.

It cost about $130 million to make, and the studio estimated it would spend an additional $125 million to $150 million to market worldwide.

The movie "lends itself to additional chapters," said DreamWorks Animation marketing head Anne Globe, but she said the studio had not yet decided about a sequel.

For Sandler, "Zohan" vies with "Click" as his fourth best opening. That comedy also opened to $40 million, in 2006. Final data for this weekend will be issued on Monday. His record is "The Longest Yard," which opened to $47.6 million in 2005.

Sandler buffed up for his role as a fleet-footed commando who can twist his adversaries into pretzels, but really wants to style hair for old ladies and ravish them afterwards. The film cost about $90 million to make, Columbia said.

Viacom Inc-owned Paramount distributes DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc productions. Columbia Pictures is a unit of Sony Corp. New Line is a division of Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros. Pictures.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)

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