The Biggest Box-Office Summer Ever: A Recap

It's the last week of summer at the movies, and thanks to late assists from The Final Destination and Inglourious Basterds, 2009 will be the biggest summer ever at the box office. But the cash came from surprising sources: typically golden stars and directors notched major flops this year, while up-and-comers pulled off huge coups. To recap at season's end, we've put some of summer's biggest box-office losers and winners below, along with the worldwide gross of their movie (or movies, as the case may be)....

First 'Weekly Reader,' Now 'Reading Rainbow.' Is This the End of Childhood?

After 26 years, LeVar Burton has turned his last page for Reading Rainbow. According to NPR, "no one—not the station, not PBS, not the Corporation for Public Broadcasting—will put up the several hundred thousand dollars needed to renew the show's broadcast rights." This on the heels of news that classroom fixture The Weekly Reader and its parent company (Reader's Digest Association, Inc.) have filed for bankruptcy.  What childhood institutions are left unscathed?

You Don't Have 'Avatar' Tickets Yet? PANIC!

Tickets to midnight showings of James Cameron's Avatar are already selling on movie sites─that's four months in advance, or nearly three times the industry standard of 45 days for presale tickets, reps for the sites confirm. says it's selling the tickets to Thursday midnight showings in 41 IMAX theaters nationwide, from Olathe, Kans., to Arcadia, Calif., and Fandango is offering them nationwide, as well. Avatar's own Web site already crashed last week, after too many fans sought tickets to the 16-minute preview of the film, and the trailer just broke the record for the biggest debut ever on Apple's popular movie-trailer site. Apparently the AMC movie chain, the driving force behind the presale, saw that surge and decided to let tix out early: they went up for sale last Friday, Aug. 21, the same day as the preview. So, do you have yours yet?

A Postulation: Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Job Security

The View loves manufactured controversy like static cling loves a cheap pantsuit. So it's no big surprise that the show has announced a slew of guest hosts designed to stir the pot while regular Elisabeth Hasselbeck is out on maternity leave. Please welcome Meghan McCain (Sept. 9 and 10), LaToya Jackson (Sept. 16 and 18), Kate Gosselin (Sept. 18 and 19), and Fox News anchor E.D. Hill (Sept. 23 and 24). At the very least, The View will see a big September ratings boom (hat tip, Gosselin and Jackson) and a handful of the YouTube smash hits for which it's known (look to McCain and Hill for these). If you were Hasselbeck, would you be worried?  Resident TV expert Joshua Alston says no—"Who cares what Kate Gosselin has to say about anything, including her own marriage and children?"—but I wonder. What do you think?

Shooting Yourself In The Thigh: A How-To

Plax explains it all: Excerpt from ESPN's E:60 exclusive interview with former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, whose plea deal for possession of a criminal weapon calls for two years in prison. (He will be sentenced Sept. 22).  The interview airs tonight.

Anna Wintour's Recession-Proof Fashion Trick

In her reserved and unprecedented appearance on David Letterman's Late Show last night, Vogue editor Anna Wintour finally answers a burning question: if your fashion budget has been slashed down to a measly "20 dollars," as Dave posits, what can one actually afford to look Vogue-approved?Anna pauses thoughtfully: "You could buy a lipstick."Click above to view full chat.

The Trailer of Heath Ledger's Last Movie

The just-released trailer for The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a Terry Gilliam film that hits theaters Oct. 16 and costars Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Christopher Plummer. What do you think? Will you see it?

What the Brooks & Dunn Break-Up Means for Country

We've already discussed traditional country music's murky future in Steve Tuttle's hilarious essay and the attendant photo gallery.  By Steve's lights, "something gritty and real has been lost. [Today's hits] borrow the vernacular ofcountry music, the genuineness and masculinity of that hard-knock life,but they morph it into something that's barely recognizable. The roughedges and authenticity have been sanded off."There's no better confirmation of his prescience than today's news that 19-year country music veterans Brooks & Dunn are hanging up their Stetsons as an act, preferring instead to gamble on solo careers. They put the news up on their website, announcing that they'll embark on one last tour together (dubbed the "Last Rodeo") before calling it quits in 2010.In the limited country radio market, the end of Kix Brooks' and Ronnie Dunn's honky-tonk hits means more playtime for poppier fare. Pop critic Jon Caramanica had a great piece in The New York...

Susan Boyle Gets Slinky, Sexy, Stutter-y

Forget the guise of feminism—you stay just how you are, sweetie!—that was en vogue few months ago. Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle finally succumbed to her first glossy fashion photo shoot for September's Harper's Bazaar, and now the video of the shoot is online. She stutters and acts very shy in the clip, and we feel for her—all those lackeys touching her face, all those flashbulbs going off.  She might look more Town & Country, but her diminished confidence is a bit sad. Where's the sassy Susan who put Simon in his place—and who's logged a hundred million views on YouTube?

10 Major Stars Who Owe John Hughes, Big-Time

John Hughes helmed just eight films, in the process defining for a generation what it meant to be a teen in the '80s, but he wrote many, many more. Not only Chevy Chase and John Candy have Hughes to thank for iconic roles (Clark W. Griswold and Uncle Buck, respectively)—the filmmaker gave plenty of other up-and-coming actors their start. Here are 10 whose names and faces you likely wouldn't know if not for Hughes's films. Ben Stein.  What would this master of deadpan delivery be doing if it weren't for John Hughes? Maybe teaching high-school economics. Stein was cast as a chalk-dusted, painfully boring econ teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and his roll call—"Bueller … Bueller … Bueller …"—is one of the most memorable lines in comedy history. Stein turned his popularity into more movies (Hughes's Planes, Trains and Automobiles), a few television series (The Wonder Years, Win Ben Stein's Money), and even celebrity product endorsement (...

Director John Hughes, Dead at 59─A Life in YouTube

John Hughes, the beloved writer and director of 1980s teen classics like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, died today in New York City of a sudden heart attack. He was just 59. In memory of Hughes and in honor of his still highly popular oeuvre, we pay tribute with these YouTube scenes....

Trailer Trash: Blood, Boobs, Guns, and 'Zombieland'

Zombieland—Oct. 9, 2009 (This is part of our recurring series in which we dish on newly released trailers,then solicit your feedback. Tell us if you'll see the movie below, in the comments!) THE LOOK: The trailer for the upcoming horror-camp-fest Zombieland has been out since June, but this Wednesday, Columbia Pictures released the film's much juicier, much funnier red-band trailer. (Warning! It's gory and probably NSFW!) The cast is an odd but promising group─Woody Harrelson, Jessie Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and a rumored Bill Murray─and the abundance of cheesy slo-mo shots is really fun. Love the tunes, which include the hip-hop remix of Johnny Cash's "Country Boy." No surprise that sneak snippets of the movie made a big splash at Comic Con a few weeks ago. THE FEEL: Looks like Jessie Eisenberg is starring once again as Jessie Eisenberg─which is fine by us, since his earnest mumbling never fails to win us over.  And Emma Stone is one of our favorites. But...

Battle of the Sideswept Bangs: Sarah vs. Paula

 Gaggle contributor Daniel Stone has a fun think-piece comparing The Recent Resignations That Have Rocked The Earth to Its Core: Paula Abdul's American Idol departure, and the Palin family's Alaskan exeunt. Check it out here!

Is Terrell Owens' Cereal Already Sold Out?!

The first fresh-baked batch of Terrell Owens' honey-oat cereal, officially unveiled in Buffalo yesterday, is an all-pro seller. "By next week, the initial wave—we have two truckloads—will be gone," Ty Ballou, president and CEO of the cereal's producer, PLB Sports, told NEWSWEEK this morning. Even after a long day at work, Ballou says that when he got home last night, he plopped down in front of his home computer to watch the Pay Pal orders pour in: "We're racing production to try and restock the shelves... it's a marketing dream right now."  Curious as we are about how you sell a bowl of T.O.—especially in a matter of hours—we picked Ballou's brain about his business. Which athletes make for good mustard, and who's a better candidate for a horseradish sauce?  Who gets to decide what T.O. tastes like?  The answers await in our chat with Ballou, excerpted below: Yesterday's events were pretty over-the-top for a cereal launch.You...

Trailer Trash: The Coen Brothers' Latest, 'A Serious Man'

A Serious Man—Oct. 2, 2009 (Ed: This is part of a recurring series, in which we dish on newly released trailers—then solicit your feedback. Tell us if you'll see the movie below, in the comments!) THE LOOK: Top-notch production values—the film promises to be absolutely gorgeous to watch, with sleek, quirky shots and retro tones. And we love the "Cell Block Tango"-style melding of diegetic sound into a really cool, percussive backdrop. It's a seductive hook. THE FEEL: No surprise that 1967-set A Serious Man will brim with the old Coen leitmotif: brutal violence (skull bashing?) masquerading as black slapstick. But is that a Dumbledore cameo? Also, you might feel a twinge irked that there's not a familiar, Hollywood face among the ensemble cast. Or perhaps that's refreshing? GRIPES? Minor! Hard to get a read on the plot from the clip, as it's even more confusing than the nonsensical Burn After Reading trailer. Of course, that's partially the point. Better to reveal too little t...

Kate Winslet's 34Cs to Hit Jumbo, 3-D Screen Near You

It's pretty much impossible these days to go to the movies and not see a trailer for an upcoming 3-D release—that is, if you're not seeing a 3-D movie to begin with. But it's not just new movies that are now bursting off the screen; studios are remastering every old Tom, Dick, and Harry Potter into 3-D films. Now, it's Titanic's turn. James Cameron confirmed to MTV that he will follow the lead of other remastering directors, like George Lucas, who's promised to re-release the three original Star Wars movies, and Tim Burton, who's practically cornered the 3-D market. And while remastering is becoming increasingly common, we have to say: we're not sure it's right. Aren't we setting an alarming precedent here? Will any movie be spared? Now that Titanic is taking the plunge into these icy, oh-so-chartered waters, we rate some of the splashiest 3-D releases of the coming months (links to trailers): CANNOT WAIT: Avatar. There's a rea...

William Shatner, Beatnik Poet

"Master thespian" William Shatner took a break from shilling for Priceline last night to do a dramatic poetry reading on The Tonight Show.  But the verse in question wasn't Keats or Auden—it was Palin. Beaucoup snaps from this corner of the coffeehouse.

Summer 2009: The Season of the Anti-Movie Activist

Over the weekend, guinea pig activists (they exist!) raised our collective furry hackles by declaring Disney's latest animated offering, G-Force, to be the next 101 Dalmations. Like the puppy movie before it, they said G-Force (about a rogue band of world-saving guinea pigs) would be one of the cute and cuddly family films for which Disney is known.  They predicted it'd be a smash-hit at the box-office, due in part to 3D ticket premiums. And they said it'd be funny, thanks to its comedian stars Will Arnett, Tracy Morgan and Zach Galifianakis. ...

Ben Silverman: The Flameout, Charted

As NBC must come to admit today, what looks good on 50 percent linen résumé paper can turn out to be kinda crappy in real life. Ben Silverman, the network's co-chair for entertainment, has scooted out the door after two years and uncountable missteps. Here is a look back at the highlights of his gallingly impressive flameout.HIGH: The 38-year-old son of a composer first rose to his cushy position on the shoulders of Reveille, his production studio that specialized in translating European programming into American hits. Reveille was responsible for bringing U.S. versions of The Office and The Biggest Loser to NBC; the shows remain two of the network's biggest hits.SORT OF HIGH: Sells Reveille to Elizabeth Murdoch for an estimated $200 million, of which he takes a massive $125 million cut.  It comes, however, at a reputational cost: He was blasted for perhaps inappropriately muddling his personal business interests with those of NBC.ON THE BUBBLE: Helps keep Jay Leno via the...

Meet Sam Worthington, the Brawny Aussie Behind 'Avatar'

You might not know the name "Sam Worthington" now, but given that you can already preorder a collectible figurine of him here, you might want to learn it. Worthington is a 32-year-old Aussie actor and star of James Cameron's Avatar, the long-awaited (14 years!) alien thriller from the Titanic and Terminator director. Avatar doesn't hit theaters until mid-December, but Cameron screened 25 minutes of the 3-D movie last night at Comic-Con, to an audience beside itself in raptures. Part of their glee? The performance of Worthington in the role of Jake Sully, a paraplegic soldier who beds aliens, tames pterodactyls, and is generally badass in every frame of the blockbuster. But will audiences flock to see a newcomer? Cameron cast Worthington after watching him say "Uh-uh" on an audition tape, before the release of his first major film (Terminator Salvation). But even though the director predicted that Worthington would "blow Christian Bale off the scre...

No Love for the Under-Thirties?

In honor of 15 years elapsing since the creation of Friends—that seminal show that made it OK to be lost and loveless as a young adult—Ramin Setoodeh writes that 20-something coupledom is still nowhere to be found in movies and television. Plenty of screentime goes to tweenage puppy love (Juno) and to grappling with committment in your 30s (Funny People, ). What's keeping us from exploring the decade between? Check the story out here.

'Brüno' Has Been Box-Office Auf'd

Brüno is falling faster at the box office than a lead anvil aimed at Wile E. Coyote. After winning last weekend with a $30.4 million take—seemingly solid, but upon closer inspection, a highly tepid $11,040 per theater—Brüno has dropped nearly daily, from first place on Friday to fourth by the middle of this week. The Sacha Baron Cohen comedy clung to second place in daily domestic grosses for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, behind 3-D family film Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. But in the battle of the franchises, it slid to third behind the weeks-old sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on Tuesday. And Wednesday, Brüno was further auf'd by Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince—the new No. 1 thanks to record midnight showings.Why the quick descent? There were the critical reviews, of course, and our pals at TIME say the Debbie Downer tone on Twitter is to blame. There's also the unfortunate sandwiching in Brüno's release platform—hey there, record-setting summer...

The Emmys Noms Are Out -- What Do You Think?

An open thread for you to sound off.  Here are the lucky contenders, announced this morning: Drama SeriesBig LoveBreaking BadDamagesDexterHouseLostMad MenLead Actress, DramaGlenn Close, DamagesSally Field, Brothers and SistersHolly Hunter, Saving GraceJanuary Jones, Mad MenMariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVUKyra Sedgwick, The CloserLead Actress, ComedyChristina Applegate, Samantha WhoToni Collette, United States of TaraTina Fey, 30 RockSarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman ProgramJulia Louis-Dreyfus, New Adventures of Old ChristineMary Louise Parker, WeedsLead Actor, ComedyAlec Baldwin, 30 RockSteve Carell, The OfficeJemaine Clement, Flight of the ConchordsJim Parsons, The Big Bang TheoryTony Shalhoub, MonkCharlie Sheen, Two and a Half MenLead Actor, DramaGabriel Byrne, In TreatmentBryan Cranston, Breaking BadMichael C. Hall, DexterJon Hamm, Mad MenHugh Laurie, HouseSimon Baker, The MentalistTV MovieCoco ChanelGrey GardensInto the StormPrayers for BobbyTaking ChanceReality...