The Fix

Fox nabs "Borat 2"? A look at this week's movies. Plus: O'Toole on actresses.

By Scott Lamb
Published February 9, 2007 2:30PM (EST)

First Word

Anna Nicole Smith, 1967-2007: Since Thursday afternoon, it has been all Anna Nicole Smith all the time for the celebrity news world. Smith, 39, died mysteriously yesterday after collapsing at her hotel in South Florida, and while the autopsy isn't scheduled until later today, there are already plenty of theories as to what killed her. The New York Post reports that "investigators are probing the possibility of foul play"; CBS says it was a drug overdose; and Access Hollywood says she may have choked on her own vomit, and a source says she'd taken a "children's sedative" and had "kept passing out" before her death. Whatever the autopsy finds, there are a number of other unresolved questions, like the confusing legal stew surrounding her fight for a share of her late husband J. Howard Marshall II's oil millions and, of course, the question of what will happen to her baby, Dannielynn. (People, Associated Press, N.Y. Post, N.Y. Daily News)

Borat 2, you like? Rupert Murdoch told the Financial Times Thursday that Fox had scored a minor coup in signing up Sacha Baron Cohen for a second installment of "Borat." Fox lost Cohen's next movie, based on his character Bruno, to Universal, but Murdoch announced on Thursday that as soon as "Bruno" is finished, Cohen will "come back and do Borat Two." Or maybe not -- Nikki Finke reports that Murdoch may have jumped the gun, writing: "Now varied sources are telling me there have been conversations about it but Murdoch misspoke. He thought there was a deal. But there is no deal.'" (Financial Times, Deadline Hollywood Daily)

White noise . . . Sofia Coppola is branching out from film directing: She's going to be staging Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" in France at the Montpellier Opera House for the 2009-2010 season. (Yahoo News) ... Country singer/Nicole Kidman mate Keith Urban (right) is suing the painter of the same name who owns, claiming that the site (which makes no attempt to make clear it doesn't belong to the Keith Urban) is misleading and violates trademark rules. (Star) ... Kim Kardashian -- Paris Hilton pal and daughter of late O.J. defense lawyer Robert Kardashian -- plans to file a lawsuit to block the distribution of the sex tape she made with ex-boyfriend actor-rapper Ray J. (E Online) ... Prosecutors in Los Angeles say they're weighing whether to charge Ryan O'Neal with assault with a deadly weapon for the shot (or shots) he fired during a fight with his son at the actor's home in Malibu, Calif. (Associated Press) ... Record giant EMI is considering selling its music online without any digital rights management software, according to a report today in the Wall Street Journal. (Associated Press)


The politics of "24": It's no accident that Jack Bauer fights terror by any means necessary on "24" -- the series' creator, Joel Surnow, says, "People in the Administration love the series ... It's a patriotic show. They should love it" (see also Spencer Ackerman's piece on "24" for Salon). In a long profile of the show, the New Yorker reports on Surnow's decorating tastes -- a large American flag in a glass case adorns one wall of his office -- and his pals: "Not long ago, Surnow threw [Rush] Limbaugh a party and presented him with a custom-made '24' smoking jacket." The way Bauer tortures and dispatches the bad guys in the series has become a talking point, but it's not one Surnow shies away from: "We've had all of these torture experts come by recently, and they say, 'You don't realize how many people are affected by this. Be careful.' They say torture doesn't work. But I don't believe that. I don't think it's honest to say that if someone you love was being held, and you had five minutes to save them, you wouldn't do it. Tell me, what would you do? If someone had one of my children, or my wife, I would hope I'd do it." ("Whatever It Takes," New Yorker)

Buzz Index

; )

"Thousands Lose Jobs as Michigan Unemployment Offices Close" (The Onion)

Ice cream nation: The ideas for Stephen Colbert-flavored ice cream just keep pouring in. The best of the rest:

Stephen Colbert's Frozen Spermoni
French vanilla with 401 -- count 'em! -- pink and blue gummy sperm in every carton. (Yuck, but thanks, Laura!)

Stephen Colbert's Patriotic, Flag-Wavin' Pies-cream
Sweet cream and vanilla with chunks of cherries, blueberries and pie crust with a cherry swirl. (Thanks, Sarah!)

Stephen Colbert's Amber Waves of Vain
Bold, patriotic rivers of sweet caramel carving through pompous puffs of marshmallow en route to a shimmering delta of extremely white French vanilla. Delicious! (Thanks, Stacy!)


The spy who loved them: The week's big release is Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others," the Oscar nominee from Germany for best foreign-language film, which focuses on the life of a Stasi wiretapper named Gerd Wiesler (played by Ulrich Mühe) in Cold War East Germany, who spends his days listening in on the lives of a playwright and his actress girlfriend. Salon's Stephanie Zacharek calls the film "a teasingly complex political thriller, but it's also a sort-of romance, and Wiesler is its unlikely hero," and says "Mühe's performance is wonderful -- he's miraculously somber and expressive at once." She says the film is not just "a story about the oppressiveness of the GDR, but about the way even imperfect human beings can tune in to their best impulses, and make choices that will allow them to live with others, as well as themselves." The New Yorker's Anthony Lane praises the film, Mühe's performance and its "seething stillness, its quality not just of self-denial but of self-haunting"; Slate's Dana Stevens calls the film "stunning."

Another brother in a dress: The week's big release is decidedly not "Norbit." Last year on "Oprah," Dave Chappelle complained about Hollywood's historical efforts to get a black man to put on a dress -- and black comedians' eagerness in playing along. Eddie Murphy, apparently, didn't get the message. But "Norbit" is being decried as dreary, the pits, crass, misogynist and, naturally, a drag.

What about "Hannibal Rising"? Don't ask, just don't go.

"You look into their eyes and there's no one at home. Oh God help us! It's like looking at an unlit lamppost."

-- Peter O'Toole on what he thinks of Hollywood actresses. (ContactMusic)


Global top five Web sites in traffic:

1. Yahoo
2. Microsoft Network (MSN)
3. Google
4. (A Chinese search engine)
5. YouTube


A last look at some of the recently registered entries in the U.S. trademark database:

Trademark: America's Best Parent
Owner: ProVision
Use: Reality-based television show

Trademark: The Magic Show Is Dead
Owner: Brett Daniels, 2003's "Magician of the Year"
Use: Magic shows

Turn On

On Friday, Grammy nominee Mary J. Blige shows up on "Ghost Whisperer" (CBS, 8 p.m. EST), it's the fourth-season premiere of "Crank Yankers" (MTV2, 8 p.m. EST), and Showtime airs "Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic" (10 p.m. EST). On Sunday, the Police reunite to perform on the 49th annual "Grammy Awards" (CBS, 8 p.m. EST).


The View (ABC, 11 a.m. EST) Josh Groban, guest co-host Kristin Chenoweth
Ellen (Syndicated, check local listings) Gwen Stefani
Oprah (Syndicated, check local listings) A 7-year-old who performed surgery
Charlie Rose (PBS, check local listings) Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.)
Larry King (CNN, 9 p.m. EST) The death of Anna Nicole Smith
David Letterman (CBS, 11:30 p.m. EST) Rachael Ray, Frank Caliendo as John Madden, the Fab Faux
Jay Leno (NBC, 11:35 p.m. EST) Drew Barrymore, 12-year-old vacuum cleaner collector Kyle Krichbaum, Solomon Burke
Jimmy Kimmel (ABC, 12:05 a.m. EST) Tenacious D, Guillermo Del Toro
Conan O'Brien (NBC, 12:35 a.m. EST) Michael Urie, Lamb of God
Craig Ferguson (CBS, 12:35 a.m. EST) Eddie Griffin, Mat Kearney, Steve Mazan

Almost Famous

Is that a teenage Julia Roberts? (from bcmom's Flickr photostream).

Got a friend who looks like a tall Woody Allen? People always saying you look like a chubby Cillian Murphy? We want to see it! Just make sure you have permission -- then send your Almost Famous moment to the Fix.

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Fix contributors: Heather Havrilesky, Scott Lamb, Kerry Lauerman, David Marchese, Laura Miller, Andrew O'Hehir, Amy Reiter, Stephanie Zacharek

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Scott Lamb

Scott Lamb is a senior editor at

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