Today's News: Our Take


STILL WILD ABOUT HARRY

Warning: The first sentence of this story contains an abnormally high pun quotient. Stop reading if you A) are under the age of 7, B) have a history of heart disease, or C) are pregnant. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban cast a spell on the weekend box office, conjuring up a magical $92.7 million and setting a new opening record for the wizardly franchise. (I warned ya.) The first two films — 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and 2002's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — opened with $90.3 million and $88.4 million, respectively. Azkaban ranks as the second-best three-day debut on record, behind Spider-Man's $114.8 million haul. After two weeks at the top, Shrek 2 slipped to No. 2 with $37 million for a 19-day total of $313.6 million. The Day After Tomorrow, meanwhile, fell to No. 3 with $28.2 million for a $128.8 million total. The disaster pic is expected to surpass the $135 million mark by, um, the da read more

CASTING COUPS

Sitcom vets Candice Bergen (Murphy Brown) and John Mahoney (Frasier) are in talks to join the cast of Dick Wolf's latest Law & Order spinoff, Trial by Jury, Variety reports. And as first reported last week by TV Guide Online, former Law & Order star Carey Lowell is also near a deal to reprise her role as Jamie Ross on the upcoming offshoot. read more

STILL WILD ABOUT HARRY

Warning: The first sentence of this story contains an abnormally high pun quotient. Stop reading if you A) are under the age of 7, B) have a history of heart disease, or C) are pregnant. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban cast a spell on the weekend box office, conjuring up a magical $92.7 million and setting a new opening record for the wizardly franchise. (I warned ya.) The first two films — 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and 2002's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — opened with $90.3 million and $88.4 million, respectively. Azkaban ranks as the second-best three-day debut on record, behind Spider-Man's $114.8 million haul. After two weeks at the top, Shrek 2 slipped to No. 2 with $37 million for a 19-day total of $313.6 million. The Day After Tomorrow, meanwhile, fell to No. 3 with $28.2 million for a $128.8 million total. The disaster pic is expected to surpass the $135 million mark by, um, the da read more

HE'S GIGLI SICK

Ben Affleck was hospitalized in London this week with severe bronchitis, forcing him to miss the UK premiere of Jersey Girl. The 31-year-old actor is now recuperating at his Boston home. read more

DISBANDED

Spiritually-inclined rockers Creed have called it quits. Frontman Scott Stapp will pursue a solo career, while bandmates Mark Tremonti and Scott Phillips form a new group called Alter Bridge with former Creed bassist Brian Marshall. Singer-songwriter Myles Kennedy (of Mayfield Four fame) rounds out the new quartet. read more

CELLING OUT

Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones is making no apologies for hawking cell phones for T-Mobile or selling wedding photos of her marriage to Michael Douglas to OK! for $1.6 million. "I've worked really bloody hard," she harrumphs in the new issue of W magazine, "and I don't get why people don't go, 'Oh, good for her!'" In related news, Zeta-Jones invites bargain hunters to stop by the stoop sale she's having this weekend outside her Manhattan co-op! read more

LIFE AFTER SEX

The exec producer of Sex and the City is speaking out for the first time about Kim Cattrall's decision to pull out of the show's big-screen spinoff — a stunt that killed the project for good. "The thing that's saddest for me," Michael Patrick King tells USA Today, "is that the whole movie was for the audience. The series ended with pathos and deep emotion, but this would have been big laughs. Now it will never happen." King says the movie would have picked up where the series left off and also feature a flashback to the girls' first meeting in the '80s. "It would have been screamingly funny," he says. "A lot of '80s clothes." Damn you, Kim Cattrall! Damn you! read more

THE ELLE WORD

MGM is developing an hourlong syndicated TV series based on the Legally Blonde film franchise. There's no word on who would replace Reese Witherspoon as lovable ditz Elle Woods, but here's a thought: Someone needs to kill this project now. read more

LORD STILL KING

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was named best film at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards, which were doled out Saturday in Los Angeles. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 picked up three popcorn buckets, including best female performance for Uma Thurman and best villain for Lucy Liu. The night's top honor — best kiss — went to Amy Smart, Carmen Electra and Owen Wilson for their three-way smooch in Starsky & Hutch. Electra, who accepted solo, celebrated her big win by planting wet ones on presenters Snoop Dogg and Paris Hilton — and I'm not talking about moist towelettes. See for yourself Thursday night when MTV airs the ceremony at 9 pm/ET. read more

FUNGUS FLAP

Former NYPD Blue star Nicholas Turturro has settled a lawsuit against a man who sold him a home in Tarzana, Calif., that was allegedly infested with toxic mold. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but rumor has it Turturro walked away with six bottles of Tilex and a scrub brush. read more

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