As you may know, (or not!) I'm a big movie fan. Here's an edited compendium of the movies of the year 2009.
Happy New Year 2010!
Sobre la hipócrita María Milagros Charbonier
4 hours ago
NEW YORK – It was a memorable and merry Christmas in Hollywood as moviegoers shattered box-office records, responding in droves to a diverse array of high-profile releases over the holiday weekend.
The estimated $278 million in weekend box-office revenue broke the previous record of roughly $253 million set in July 2008, the weekend "The Dark Knight" was released.
A diverse group of films drew throngs to the multiplexes: James Cameron's "Avatar" pushed strongly into its second week while "Sherlock Holmes," "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" and "It's Complicated" all opened.
"Avatar," the 3-D epic, topped them all, earning $75 million for 20th Century Fox, according to studio estimates Sunday. Remarkably, that was only a 3 percent drop from its opening weekend total of $77.4 million. (Blockbusters typically drop 30-50 percent in the second weekend.) In its 10 days of release, "Avatar" has made $212 million domestically — and could be on its way to a worldwide gross of over $1 billion.
"This thing is going to be playing and playing, I can tell you that," said Bert Livingston, 20th Century Fox distribution executive. "There's a lot of business out there. Everybody's got good movies out."
In second was "Sherlock Holmes," Guy Ritchie's reboot of the franchise with Robert Downey Jr. starring as Arthur Conan Doyle's detective. The Warner Bros. film opened with a weekend total of $65.4 million, including a record Christmas Day debut of $24.9 million.
It was a start that seemed sure to pave the way for sequels. Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., called the result "sensational."
"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," which opened Wednesday, took in $50.2 million on the weekend and $77.1 million in its five days of release. The film, also from Fox, earned an impressive $18.8 million on Wednesday alone. The strong start suggested that "Squeakquel" was likely to surpass its 2007 original, which made $217 million.
Also opening was Nancy Meyer's "It's Complicated," the romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. With an audience 72 percent female, the Universal film took in $22.1 million, a solid debut.
The sparkling Christmas weekend results spelled good things for all the films in release in the coming week — one of the most lucrative of the year.
"We all know what next week means to the industry. This is ... huge," said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. "Christmas is past us. No more shopping, no more returning. College kids are home. ... I'm so optimistic about what the next weekend holds for us."
Said Livingston: "Starting this Monday, every day is a Saturday."
Two films with Oscar aspirations also released wide over the weekend: Jason Reitman's "Up in the Air" (Paramount) and Rob Marshall's "Nine" (Weinstein Co.).
"Up in the Air," which has some of the best awards momentum, grossed $11.8 million, bringing its cumulative total to $24.5 million — already nearly earning back its production budget.
"For us, this movie was always the movie that we felt was going to be a real focus during the awards season," said Rob Moore, Paramount vice chairman. "It feels like this should have a long run as awards season continues."
"Nine," the adaptation of the Broadway musical (which itself was a riff of Federico Fellini's classic film "8 1/2") earned $5.5 million in 1408 theaters.
"It's an absolutely fitting end to the biggest box office year of all time," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. "It's just been a total roller coaster ride. It's like audience members are on board."
2009 still has several days to go, but the year is already a record for domestic ticket sales with more than $10 billion at the box office. That surpassed the $9.7 billion mark of 2007.
While some of the credit has to go the recession (movies historically do well in hard times when a trip to the movie theater is a relatively cheap form of entertainment and escapism), there was a feeling Sunday that Hollywood had put forth a better product this Christmas.
"People say it's the recession," said Dergarabedian. "It's the movies — it's really the movies. It seems like when people aren't at home, they're at the movies."
He added: "You're going to find a smile on the face of every studio chief out there today."
Hollywood also seemed to be offering good ol' spectacle to moviegoers. "Avatar" grossed $8.8 million in IMAX theaters, actually increasing from its opening weekend. IMAX chairman and president Greg Foster said they were operating essentially at capacity.
"There is no context," said Foster. "It's so far beyond where we've ever been. It's not eking past a record, it's shattering it."
Christmas weekend was also neatly organized around various demographics. There was science-fiction, romantic comedy, family fare, action-packed thriller and serious awards-contender.
"That's what fueled this Christmas, the diversity of the films," said Dergarabedian. "It was like a cinematic buffet line. If you can't find a movie that you like in the marketplace right now, you don't like movies."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "Avatar," $75 million.
2. "Sherlock Holmes," $65.4 million.
3. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," $50.2 million.
4. "It's Complicated," $22.1 million.
5. "Up in the Air," $11.8 million.
6. "The Blind Side," $11.7 million.
7. "The Princess and the Frog," $8.7 million.
8. "Nine," $5.5 million.
9. "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" $5 million.
10. "Invictus," $4.4 million.
ROME (Reuters) - An Italian toy store opened at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning to help a frantic mother whose gifts for her children had been stolen from a basement.
After putting her two toddlers to bed on Christmas Eve, the mother went down to the basement storage room of the apartment block in northern Italy where she had hidden them, only to find that they had been stolen, according to Italian media reports.
Police found out about the theft while the mother was frantically making the rounds of all-night petrol stations looking for substitute gifts so her two daughters would have something under the tree when they woke up on Christmas morning.
The police contacted the owner of a toy store in a small town near Turin, who opened his store at 4 a.m.
NEW YORK – A "Star Trek" fan isn't entitled to millions of dollars in damages for buying memorabilia that he says wasn't as out-of-this-world as it seemed, a court said Tuesday.
Ted Moustakis wasn't promised he was getting a one-of-a-kind plum when he paid $11,400 for a uniform for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" character Data at a 2006 auction, an appeals court said.
The court also said Moustakis is due at most a refund for two other purchases he says were fakes: a $6,000 poker visor supposedly worn by Data and a $6,600 table from the show's set.
Auction house Christie's and CBS Consumer Products, which oversees "Star Trek" merchandise, praised the ruling. Moustakis' lawyer didn't immediately return a telephone call.
The longtime Trekkie from Towaco, N.J., has said he was thrilled to get the items — until he showed the visor to the actor who played the android Data, Brent Spiner, at a 2007 fan convention.
Spiner told him the visor wasn't genuine, according to Moustakis' lawsuit. Moustakis said he later found the table also was inauthentic, and the uniform was one of several made for the program. Christie's had led him to believe it was unique, he said.
The state Supreme Court's Appellate Division said the auction catalog didn't represent the costume as one-of-a-kind, and even if the other items weren't as advertised, Moustakis isn't entitled to "the massive recovery he now demands" in his $7 million lawsuit.
Christie's has said it stood behind the authenticity of the auction, tied to the hit show's 40th anniversary.
"The sale was and remains a fantastic highlight in the memorabilia market," Christie's lawyer Sandra L. Cobden said Tuesday.
Kang Wannian, a villager from Mengla, Yunnan Province, met the tiger in February while gathering freshwater clams in a nature reserve near China's border with Laos. He claimed to have killed it in self-defense..
The only known wild Indochinese tiger in China, photographed in 2007 at the same reserve, has not been seen since Kang's meal, the Yunnan-based newspaper Life News reported earlier this month.
The paper quoted the provincial Forestry Bureau as saying there was no evidence the tiger was the last one in China.
A local court sentenced Kang to 10 years for killing a rare animal plus two years for illegal possession of firearms, the local web portal Yunnan.cn reported. Prosecutors said Kang did not need a gun to gather clams.
Four villagers who helped Kang dismember the tiger and ate its meat were also sentenced from three to four years for "covering up and concealing criminal gains," the report said.
Kang was also fined 480,000 yuan ($70,000).
The Indochinese tiger is on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 1,000 left in the forests of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar
LOS ANGELES – James Cameron launched his science-fiction epic "Avatar" into a safe orbit as the costly film soared to No. 1 with $73 million domestically and $159.2 million overseas, for a $232.2 million worldwide total.
With that big a start, distributor 20th Century Fox was quick to proclaim it made a good investment with the estimated $400 million spent to make and market the film, which is Cameron's first narrative feature since 1997's "Titanic," the king of modern blockbusters.
"Absolutely. No question," said Chris Aronson, head of distribution for the studio, which reported stellar reaction in exit polls from audiences after seeing "Avatar." "The word of mouth is something that I don't know I've ever seen in this business before."
"Avatar" was a test case for the future of digital 3-D projection, which until now has been a hit with audiences mainly on animated family films.
The film fell short of the record for December debuts of $77.2 million set two years ago by Will Smith's "I Am Legend." But it did break the record for a film opening in 3-D, previously held by last summer's "Up" with $68.1 million.
"What they spent on this movie was totally justified, and they're going to more than earn it back," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com.
"Avatar" stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in a love story amid human-alien conflict on a distant moon in the 22nd century.
Storms on the East Coast kept many people at home, cutting into weekend movie business.
"The weather really, really hurt," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution at Sony, whose comedy "Did You Hear About the Morgans?", opened at a weak No. 4 with $7 million. Sony had expected the movie to debut at about $8 million.
The movie stars Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant as a couple whose crumbling marriage gets a fresh jolt after they see a murder and are sent into witness protection.
The overall box office shot up on the strength of "Avatar." Hollywood's domestic revenues came in at $134 million, up 51.5 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Yes Man" opened at No. 1 with $18.3 million, according to Hollywood.com.
The previous weekend's No. 1 movie, Disney's animated musical "The Princess and the Frog," slipped to second place with $12.2 million, raising its total to $44.8 million.
Paramount's recession story "Up in the Air," which led last Tuesday's Golden Globes announcement with six nominations, broke into the top 10 as it widened to more theaters ahead of its nationwide expansion Wednesday.
"Up in the Air" came in at No. 8 with $3.1 million. The film stars George Clooney as a man addicted to the frequent-flyer life as he travels the country firing people at downsizing companies.
Two music-themed films had strong starts in limited release as they position themselves for Academy Awards attention. The Weinstein Co. musical "Nine" opened big with $246,933 in four theaters, for an average of $61,733 a cinema, compared to an average of $21,147 in 3,452 theaters for "Avatar."
Based on the stage musical that was inspired by Federico Fellini's film masterpiece "8 1/2," "Nine" has an all-star cast that includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz and Kate Hudson. "Nine" goes into nationwide release Christmas Day.
Fox Searchlight's "Crazy Heart," starring Jeff Bridges as a boozy country singer trying to turn his life around, pulled in $84,204 at four theaters in New York City and Los Angeles, averaging $21,051 a cinema. The film expands to four more markets on Christmas Day.
No one expects "Avatar" to be another "Titanic," which started with a modest $28.6 million opening weekend domestically but held on at No. 1 for months. The film finished with a record $600 million domestically and $1.8 billion worldwide.
Before "Avatar" opened, Cameron had said the movie might not have a "slam-dunk opening weekend" but that its profitability hinged on how well it held up in subsequent weekends.
Unlike other Hollywood franchises, which usually are based on comic books, TV shows, toys or other existing stories and ideas, "Avatar" was an original tale whose concept was not pre-sold to audiences.
Much of the action takes place among 10-foot-tall, blue-skinned aliens created by digital cameras that captured actors' performances, with computer animation adding the details of the characters, along with the exotic backgrounds and other effects.
Some reviewers found the story and characters two-dimensional, but critics generally were wowed by the dazzling images Cameron created.
"I think it is the must-see film event of recent memory," Fox executive Aronson said. "I do believe it is a game-changing movie. It will change the way people think about movies, the way they see movies, what they want to see in movies."
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "Avatar," $73 million.
2. "The Princess and the Frog," $12.2 million.
3. "The Blind Side," $10 million.
4. "Did You Hear About the Morgans?", $7 million.
5. "The Twilight Saga" New Moon," $4.4 million.
6. "Invictus," $4.2 million.
7. "Disney's a Christmas Carol," $3.4 million.
8. "Up in the Air," $3.1 million.
9. "Brothers," $2.6 million.
10. "Old Dogs," $2.3 million.
LOS ANGELES – Brittany Murphy, the actress who got her start in the sleeper hit "Clueless" and rose to stardom in "8 Mile," died Sunday in Los Angeles. She was 32.
Murphy was pronounced dead at 10:04 a.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Sally Stewart said. Stewart would not provide a cause of death or any other information.
Murphy was transported to the hospital after the Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a call at 8 a.m. at the home she shared with her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, in the Hollywood Hills.
Los Angeles police have opened an investigation into Murphy's death, Officer Norma Eisenman said. Detectives and coroner's officials were at her Murphy and Monjack's home Sunday afternoon but did not talk to reporters. Paparazzi were camped outside.
Messages left for Murphy's manager, agent and publicist by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.
Neighbor Clare Staples said she saw firefighters working to resuscitate the actress Sunday morning. She said Murphy was on a stretcher and "looked as though she was dead at the scene."
Murphy's husband, wearing pajama bottoms and no shoes, appeared "dazed" as firefighters tried to save her, Staples said. "It's just tragic," she added.
TMZ.com first reported Murphy's death Sunday morning.
Murphy's father, Angelo Bertolotti, said he learned of her death from his son, the actress's brother, and was stunned.
"She was just an absolute doll since she was born," Bertolotti said from his Branford, Fla., home. "Her personality was always outward. Everybody loved her — people that made movies with her, people on a cruise — they all loved her. She was just a regular gal."
He said he hadn't heard much about the circumstances of Murphy's death. Bertolotti divorced her mother when Murphy was young and hadn't seen Murphy in the past few years. He said he used to be in the mob and served prison time on federal drug charges.
"She was just talented," Bertolotti said. "And I loved her very much."
Born Nov. 10, 1977, in Atlanta, Murphy grew up in New Jersey and later moved with her mother to Los Angeles to pursue acting.
Her career started in the early 1990s with small roles in television series, commercials and movies. She is best known for parts in "Girl, Interrupted," "Clueless" and "8 Mile."
Her on-screen roles declined in recent years, but Murphy's voice gave life to numerous animated characters, including Luanne Platter on more than 200 episodes of Fox's "King of the Hill" and Gloria the penguin in the 2006 feature "Happy Feet."
She is due to appear in Sylvester Stallone's upcoming film, "The Expendables," set for release next year.
Her role in "8 Mile" led to more recognition, Murphy told AP in 2003. "That changed a lot," she said. "That was the difference between people knowing my first and last name as opposed to not."
Murphy credited her mother, Sharon, with being a key to her success.
"When I asked my mom to move to California, she sold everything and moved out here for me," Murphy said. "I was really grateful to have grown up in an environment that was conducive to creating and didn't stifle any of that. She always believed in me."
She dated Ashton Kutcher, who costarred with Murphy in 2003's romantic comedy "Just Married."
Kutcher sent a message on Twitter Sunday morning about Murphy's death: "2day the world lost a little piece of sunshine," Kutcher wrote. "My deepest condolences go out 2 Brittany's family, her husband, & her amazing mother Sharon."
LOS ANGELES – Jennifer Jones, the beautiful, raven-haired actress who was nominated for Academy Awards five times, winning in 1943 for her portrayal of a saintly nun in "The Song of Bernadette," died Thursday. She was 90.
Jones, who in later years was a leader of the Norton Simon Museum, died at her home in Malibu of natural causes, museum spokeswoman Leslie Denk told The Associated Press.
Jones was the widow of the museum's founder, wealthy industrialist Norton Simon, and served as chair of the museum's board of directors after his death.
Known for her intense performances, Jones was one of Hollywood's biggest stars of the 1940s and '50s.
Among her most memorable roles were the vixen who vamps rowdy cowboy Gregory Peck in "Duel in the Sun," and the Eurasian doctor who falls for Korean War correspondent William Holden in "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing."
Despite her heavily dramatic screen roles, Jones conveyed an aura of shyness, even aloofness offstage. She rarely gave interviews, explaining to a reporter in 1957: "Most interviewers probe and pry into your personal life, and I just don't like it. I respect everyone's right to privacy, and I feel mine should be respected, too."
Early in her career, Jones had become nearly as famous for her high-profile marriages as for her movie work. She met actor Robert Walker when both studied acting in New York, and they married and came to Hollywood, where her stardom ascended more rapidly than his.
Jones' boss, David O. Selznick, became obsessed with his star and spent much of his time promoting her career. They married four years after she divorced Walker in 1945.
Selznick died in 1965, and in 1973 Jones married Simon. After his death in 1993, she assumed a major role in leading the Pasadena-based museum.
She initiated the museum's celebrated gallery renovation by architect Frank Gehry and spearheaded the development of its public programming and outreach initiatives.
She was born Phylis Isley on March 2, 1919, in Tulsa, Okla., to parents who operated a touring stock company that presented melodramas in tent theaters in the Southwest. She began doing roles in their plays at the age of 6.
After graduating from a Catholic high school, she toured with another stock company, studied drama at Northwestern University for a year, then persuaded her father to support her for a year at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.
She married Walker in 1939 and they spent their honeymoon traveling to Hollywood. They could find only bit roles in small pictures, she in a western, "New Frontier," and a serial, "Dick Tracy's G-Men."
The pair retreated to New York before Jones was selected for the prize role in "The Song of Bernadette" about a French peasant girl who claimed to have seen a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in 1858.
Her performance and the Oscar for best actress helped make her one of Hollywood's most popular leading ladies.
Director Henry King recalled testing the six finalists for the role of Bernadette: "A man held a stick behind the camera; the girls focused their rapt attention on that stick. The other five did very well. But only Jennifer looked as if she saw the vision."
Among her other films were "Love Letters" (with Joseph Cotten), "We Were Strangers" (with John Garfield), "Madame Bovary" (with Louis Jourdan) and "A Farewell to Arms" (with Rock Hudson).
She received a supporting actress Oscar nomination for "Since You Went Away," and lead actress nominations for "Love Letters," "Duel in the Sun" and "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing."
While in Rome filming "A Farewell to Arms," Hudson told a reporter, "I heard fantastic stories about this girl, that she was neurotic, temperamental, under hypnosis by Selznick. Not a word of truth in any of it. From the first take, she's been cooperative with everyone — except reporters."
Her last film under Selznick's guidance came in 1962 with F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Tender is the Night," a failure.
Several months after Selznick's death in 1965, she went to England to film "The Idol." As it turned out, she made only two more film appearances, in 1969's "Angel, Angel, Down We Go" and 1974's "The Towering Inferno."
Two years after she filmed "The Idol," a sheriff's deputy found Jones in the surf at Malibu. She was not breathing but still had a heartbeat and he was able to revive her.
She had earlier called her physician to say she was taking pills, and it appeared she had fallen from a cliff into the ocean.
Her daughter plunged to her death from the 22nd floor of a hotel in west Los Angeles in 1976, and tests showed traces of morphine, barbiturates and alcohol in her system. The death was ruled a suicide.
After retiring from acting after "The Towering Inferno," Jones avoided the limelight as much as possible.
She is survived by her son, Robert, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
BALCH SPRINGS, Texas — Taylor Pugh has been suspended from pre-kindergarten because he likes his hair a little on the floppy side.
The four-year-old sat with a teacher's aide in a suburban Dallas school library Wednesday while his friends played and studied together in a classroom.
"They kicked me out that place," said Taylor, who prefers the nickname Tater Tot. "I miss my friends."
Taylor's locks — long on the front and sides, covering his earlobes and shirt collar — violate the school district's dress code. He has been punished with in-school suspension since late last month.
His parents say the boy plans to eventually cut his hair and donate it to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients. And they are not happy with the district's rules.
The school district appears "more concerned about his hair than his education," said Taylor's father, Delton Pugh. "I don't think it's right to hold a child down and force him to do something ... when it's not hurting him or affecting his education."
Pugh, a tattoo artist, said he used to shave his own head but that his son "made me pinky promise I would let my hair grow long with him."
The follicle fight came to a head last month when Taylor's parents received a signed letter from Floyd Elementary School's principal, threatening to withdraw the boy from school if his hair didn't comply with district standards.
When Taylor's parents didn't budge, their son was suspended.
When the boy returned, his hair was longer than ever. But school officials decided suspension was too harsh and changed the punishment.
"They still have regular classroom work, but in an isolated environment," Mesquite Independent School District spokesman Ian Halperin said of the modified in-school suspension that Taylor is serving. "We expect students ... to adhere to the code of conduct."
According to the district dress code, boys' hair must be kept out of the eyes and cannot extend below the bottom of earlobes or over the collar of a dress shirt. Hairstyles "designed to attract attention to the individual or to disrupt the orderly conduct of the classroom or campus (are) not permitted," the policy states.
The district is known for standing tough on its dress code. Earlier this year, a seventh-grader in the district was sent home for wearing black skinny pants. His parents chose to home-school him.
On its Web site, the district defends its code, saying "students who dress and groom themselves neatly, and in an acceptable and appropriate manner, are more likely to become constructive members of the society in which we live."
A persistent violator could face additional suspensions, but such issues are handled on a case-by-case basis, Halperin said.
Pugh said the issue is about more than hair. He said his son is being singled out, and that he has seen other male students in the district with hair much longer than Taylor's.
"Nobody wants to meet in the middle. It's all or nothing," Pugh said. "He's my son. I love him. I will back him to the end."
WILMINGTON, N.C. — The body of an elderly woman remained in her bed for up to eight months even though caretakers paid daily visits to the house and kept it tidy, authorities said Wednesday.
Sheriff's deputies were investigating the suspicious death of Blanche Matilda Roth after the corpse was found in her suburban home in Wilmington, on the Atlantic coast, on Tuesday following a call to 911.
New Hanover County Deputy Charles Smith said Roth likely died in May, before her 88th birthday in September. Her body was found after the 911 caller, whose identity was being withheld by authorities, reported that an elderly woman in the home was unconscious and not breathing.
Smith said caretakers had been going in and out of the house on a quiet cul-de-sac on a daily basis. He would not specify if the caretakers were family members but said they were not nurses. At least four other people also lived in the house, a neighbor said.
Failure to report a death is a felony in North Carolina.
Smith said the residence was very well kept. He said police hadn't received any calls requesting welfare checks on Roth.
Officials are awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
"They were quiet and stayed to themselves all the time," neighbor Ray Taylor, 72, said of the home's residents.
Martin Pedersen, another neighbor, said he had no idea Roth had died.
Pedersen, 55, said four other family members, a married couple and two sons, lived in the house and that a younger son went to school every day.
Pedersen said the family was nice and the news surprised him. He used to see the elderly woman walking to the mailbox with another family member holding her arm. "They'd be laughing and everything else."
He couldn't recall when he last saw her.
TULSA, Okla. – Oral Roberts, the evangelist who rose from humble tent revivals to found a multimillion-dollar ministry and a university bearing his name, died Tuesday. He was 91.
Roberts died of complications from pneumonia in Newport Beach, Calif., according to his spokesman, A. Larry Ross. The evangelist was hospitalized after a fall on Saturday. He had survived two heart attacks in the 1990s and a broken hip in 2006.
Roberts was a pioneer on two fronts — he helped bring spirit-filled charismatic Christianity into the mainstream and took his trademark revivals to television, a new frontier for religion.
Roberts overcame tuberculosis at age 17, and credited that triumph with leading him to become one of the country's most famous ministers.
He gave up a local pastorate in Enid in 1947 to enter an evangelistic ministry in Tulsa to pray for the healing of the whole person — the body, mind and spirit. The philosophy led many to call him a "faith healer," a label he rejected with the comment: "God heals — I don't."
By the 1960s and '70s, he was reaching millions around the world through radio, television, publications and personal appearances. He remained on TV into the new century, co-hosting the program, "Miracles Now," with son Richard. He published dozens of books and conducted hundreds of crusades. A famous photograph showed him working at a desk with a sign on it reading, "Make no little plans here."
He credited his oratorical skills to his faith, saying, "I become anointed with God's word, and the spirit of the Lord builds up in me like a coiled spring. By the time I'm ready to go on, my mind is razor-sharp. I know exactly what I'm going to say and I'm feeling like a lion."
Unity of body, mind and spirit became the theme of Oral Roberts University. The campus is a Tulsa landmark, with its space-age buildings laden with gold paint, including a 200-foot prayer tower and a 60-foot bronze statue of praying hands.
His ministry hit upon rocky times in the 1980s. There was controversy over his City of Faith medical center, a $250 million investment that eventually folded, and Roberts' widely ridiculed proclamation that God would "call me home" if he failed to meet a fundraising goal of $8 million. A law school he founded also was shuttered.
Semiretired in recent years and living in California, he returned to Tulsa, Okla., in October 2007 as scandal roiled Oral Roberts University. His son, Richard Roberts, who succeeded him as ORU president, faced allegations of spending university money on shopping sprees and other luxuries at a time the institution was more than $50 million in debt.
Richard Roberts resigned as president in November 2007, marking the first time since Oral Roberts University was chartered in 1963 that a member of the Roberts family would not be at its helm. The rocky period for the evangelical school was eased by billionaire Oklahoma City businessman Mart Green donated $70 million and helped run the school in the interim, pledging to restore the public's trust. By the fall of 2009, things were looking up, with officials saying tens of millions of dollars worth of debt had been paid off and enrollment was up slightly.
That September, a frail-looking Oral Roberts attended the ceremony when the school's new president, Mark Rutland, was formally inaugurated.
BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
THE HURT LOCKER
PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE
UP IN THE AIR
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
EMILY BLUNT -THE YOUNG VICTORIA
SANDRA BULLOCK -THE BLIND SIDE
HELEN MIRREN -THE LAST STATION
CAREY MULLIGAN -AN EDUCATION
GABOUREY SIDIBE -PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
JEFF BRIDGES -CRAZY HEART
GEORGE CLOONEY -UP IN THE AIR
COLIN FIRTH -A SINGLE MAN
MORGAN FREEMAN -INVICTUS
TOBEY MAGUIRE -BROTHERS
BEST MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
(500) DAYS OF SUMMER
JULIE & JULIA
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
SANDRA BULLOCK -THE PROPOSAL
MARION COTILLARD -NINE
JULIA ROBERTS -DUPLICITY
MERYL STREEP -IT’S COMPLICATED
MERYL STREEP -JULIE & JULIA
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
MATT DAMON -THE INFORMANT!
DANIEL DAY LEWIS -NINE
ROBERT DOWNEY JR. -SHERLOCK HOLMES
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT -(500) DAYS OF SUMMER
MICHAEL STUHLBARG -A SERIOUS MAN
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS
FANTASTIC MR. FOX
THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
BROKEN EMBRACES (SPAIN)
THE MAID (CHILE)
A PROPHET (FRANCE)
THE WHITE RIBBON (GERMANY)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
PENÉLOPE CRUZ -NINE
VERA FARMIGA -UP IN THE AIR
ANNA KENDRICK -UP IN THE AIR
MO’NIQUE -PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE
JULIANNE MOORE -A SINGLE MAN
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
MATT DAMON -INVICTUS
WOODY HARRELSON -THE MESSENGER
CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER -THE LAST STATION
STANLEY TUCCI -THE LOVELY BONES
CHRISTOPH WALTZ -INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
BEST DIRECTOR – MOTION PICTURE
KATHRYN BIGELOW -THE HURT LOCKER
JAMES CAMERON -AVATAR
CLINT EASTWOOD -INVICTUS
JASON REITMAN -UP IN THE AIR
QUENTIN TARANTINO -INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
BEST SCREENPLAY – MOTION PICTURE
NEILL BLOMKAMP -DISTRICT 9
MARK BOAL -THE HURT LOCKER
NANCY MEYERS -IT'S COMPLICATED
JASON REITMAN -UP IN THE AIR
QUENTIN TARANTINO -INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE
MICHAEL GIACCHINO -UP
MARVIN HAMLISCH -THE INFORMANT!
JAMES HORNER -AVATAR
ABEL KORZENIOWSKI -A SINGLE MAN
CARTER BURWELL -WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – MOTION PICTURE
“CINEMA ITALIANO” — NINE
Music & Lyrics by: Maury Yeston
“I WANT TO COME HOME” — EVERYBODY'S FINE
Music & Lyrics by: Paul McCartney
“I WILL SEE YOU” — AVATAR
Music by: James Horner, Simon Franglen
Lyrics by: James Horner, Simon Franglen, Kuk Harrell
“THE WEARY KIND (THEME FROM CRAZY HEART)” — CRAZY HEART
Music & Lyrics by: Ryan Bingham, T Bone Burnett
“WINTER” — BROTHERS
Music by: U2
Lyrics by: Bono
BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
BIG LOVE (HBO)
MAD MEN (AMC)
TRUE BLOOD (HBO)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
GLENN CLOSE -DAMAGES
JANUARY JONES -MAD MEN
JULIANNA MARGULIES -THE GOOD WIFE
ANNA PAQUIN -TRUE BLOOD
KYRA SEDGWICK -THE CLOSER
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
SIMON BAKER -THE MENTALIST
MICHAEL C. HALL -DEXTER
JON HAMM -MAD MEN
HUGH LAURIE -HOUSE
BILL PAXTON -BIG LOVE
BEST TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
30 ROCK (NBC)
MODERN FAMILY (ABC)
THE OFFICE (NBC)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
TONI COLLETTE -UNITED STATES OF TARA
COURTENEY COX -COUGAR TOWN
EDIE FALCO -NURSE JACKIE
TINA FEY -30 ROCK
LEA MICHELE -GLEE
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
ALEC BALDWIN -30 ROCK
STEVE CARELL -THE OFFICE
DAVID DUCHOVNY -CALIFORNICATION
THOMAS JANE -HUNG
MATTHEW MORRISON -GLEE
BEST MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
GEORGIA O'KEEFFE (LIFETIME TELEVISION)
GREY GARDENS (HBO)
INTO THE STORM (HBO)
LITTLE DORRIT (PBS)
TAKING CHANCE (HBO)
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
JOAN ALLEN -GEORGIA O'KEEFFE
DREW BARRYMORE -GREY GARDENS
JESSICA LANGE -GREY GARDENS
ANNA PAQUIN -THE COURAGEOUS HEART OF IRENA SENDLER
SIGOURNEY WEAVER -PRAYERS FOR BOBBY
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
KEVIN BACON -TAKING CHANCE
KENNETH BRANAGH -WALLANDER: ONE STEP BEHIND
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR -ENDGAME
BRENDAN GLEESON -INTO THE STORM
JEREMY IRONS -GEORGIA O'KEEFFE
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
JANE ADAMS -HUNG
ROSE BYRNE -DAMAGES
JANE LYNCH -GLEE
JANET McTEER -INTO THE STORM
CHLOË SEVIGNY -BIG LOVE
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
MICHAEL EMERSON -LOST
NEIL PATRICK HARRIS -HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
WILLIAM HURT -DAMAGES
JOHN LITHGOW -DEXTER
JEREMY PIVEN -ENTOURAGE
LOS ANGELES – The animated musical "The Princess and the Frog" jumped to No. 1 at the box office with $24.2 million in its first weekend of nationwide release.
The top 10 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Hollywood.com are:
1. "The Princess and the Frog," Disney, $24,208,916, 3,434 locations, $7,050 average, $27,088,786, three weeks.
2. "The Blind Side," Warner Bros., $15,055,258, 3,388 locations, $4,444 average, $149,816,797, four weeks.
3. "Invictus," Warner Bros., $8,611,147, 2,125 locations, $4,052 average, $8,611,147, one week.
4. "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," Summit, $7,960,394, 3,635 locations, $2,190 average, $267,320,977, four weeks.
5. "Disney's A Christmas Carol," Disney, $6,833,190, 2,402 locations, $2,845 average, $124,426,097, six weeks.
6. "Brothers," Lionsgate, $5,014,426, 2,088 locations, $2,402 average, $17,416,217, two weeks.
7. "Old Dogs," Disney, $4,409,772, 3,090 locations, $1,427 average, $39,996,273, three weeks.
8. "2012," Sony, $4,351,565, 2,838 locations, $1,533 average, $155,288,405, five weeks.
9. "Armored," Sony Screen Gems, $3,504,374, 1,919 locations, $1,826 average, $11,750,895, two weeks.
10. "Ninja Assassin," Warner Bros., $2,707,470, 2,100 locations, $1,289 average, $34,304,761, three weeks.
PARIS (AFP) – Facebook makes you despair? Social networking makes you want to end it all? You may be ready for online ritual suicide with the aid of a new website that helps you kill your virtual identity.
"Impress your friends, disconnect yourself," is the slogan on www.seppukoo.com, a site that aims to subvert Facebook by offering its millions of users a glorious end and a memorial page to match.
"Rather than fall into the hands of their enemies, ancient Japanese samurai preferred to die with honour, voluntarily plunging a sword into the abdomen and moving it left to right in a slicing motion," the site notes.
This form of ritual suicide was known as "seppuku."
"As the seppuku restores the samurai's honour as a warrior, seppukoo.com deals with the liberation of the digital body," the site says.
Today the enemy is not other bands of noble warriors but corporate media who use viral marketing to make huge profits by connecting people across the globe.
"Seppukoo playfully attempts to subvert this mechanism by disconnecting people from each other and transforming the individual suicide experience into an exciting 'social' experience."
The site, which uses its own viral marketing strategy to lure in disgruntled social networkers, is part of a protest wave that sees Facebook as a potentially dangerous entity beholden to corporate interests.
It offers ritual suicide for Facebook users in five easy steps.
Willing victims must first log in to seppukoo.com by typing in the same information they use to go on to their Facebook profile.
They then choose one of several memorial RIP page templates before writing their last words, which the site promises to send to all their Facebook friends when they have taken the final step.
Once the user has made that fatal final click, his or her Facebook profile is deactivated.
But in what might be seen as a bit of a cheat, virtual life goes on after the ritual suicide.
It comes in the form of testimonials friends can write on the memorial page or by rising in the seppukoo ranks by scoring points with every former Facebook friend who follows your lead and commits hara-kari.
The top scorer in that game is currently a blonde woman who uses the name Simona Lodi and who passed into the post-Facebook world on November 5.
But seppukoo.com has some way to go before it attracts anything near the more than 300 million users Facebook currently boasts. On Wednesday it pulled in only half a dozen Facebookers ready to end it all.
Its owners -- whose website says are an "imaginary art-group from Italy" -- told AFP by email that over 15,000 people had done the deed and over 350,000 Facebook users had received an invite to follow suit.
Facebook did not immediately reply when contacted by AFP to ask if it saw seppukoo.com as a threat and if it planned any action to block it.
To reinforce the tongue-in-cheek approach of seppukoo.com, the group's art director -- who uses the name Guy McMusker -- replied when asked if he was a Facebook user: "Of course. We're not Luddites. We're incoherent."
The group is called "Linking The Invisible" and its website says it is made up of media artists Clemente Pestelli and Gionatan Quintini whose work explores "the invisible links between the infosphere, neural synapsis, and real life."
Seppukoo admits that it is in reality a social networking group but seeks to distinguish itself from Facebook by noting that it will store no data and its server will not sell data to any third party.
"If you've trusted a merciless company (Facebook) until now, we hope you can also trust an imaginary artist group," it says. McMusker said the site was not set up with a view to making money.
The RIP memorial page it offers Facebook dissidents could easily be mistaken for a real memorial for a real deceased person. But McMusker rejected suggestions it was in bad taste and said that no-one was likely to be upset.
"Just take it easy," he wrote.
In the real world, suicide is obviously a one-way trip. But in the virtual world even a would-be subversive site like seppukoo.com cannot prevent your resurrection.
If you realise that leaving Facebook was a mistake, all you have to do is log back on again and your profile is instantly restored.
LOS ANGELES - Sandra Bullock's latest movie has taken the industry by surprise.
She stars in the football-inspired drama "The Blind Side" that has become the underdog hit of the season with a $20.4 million weekend and a box-office victory over "The Twilight Saga: New Moon."
The Warner Bros. sports tale had been runner-up for the previous two weekends to Summit Entertainment's vampire romance "New Moon," which fell to second place with $15.7 million.
Great word-of-mouth from fans has sustained "The Blind Side," in which Bullock plays a woman whose family adopts homeless teen Michael Oher, now a rookie tackle for the Baltimore Ravens.
"How outstanding is it to have a movie at No. 1 in its third weekend?" said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president for distribution at Warner, who added that the movie so far has done more than double the business he expected. "I don't know of anybody who ever saw anything this big."
"New Moon" still is far ahead in total gross with $255.6 million domestically, compared to $129.3 million for "The Blind Side." Overseas, "New Moon" added $40.7 million to raise its international total to $314.5 million and its worldwide gross to $570.1 million.
"The Blind Side" and "New Moon" fended off a rush of new wide releases that had so-so to abysmal openings.
The nationwide debuts were overshadowed by a huge premiere in limited release for George Clooney's comedy "Up in the Air," which took in nearly $1.2 million at just 15 theaters for a whopping average of $79,000 a cinema.
Directed by Jason Reitman ("Juno"), Paramount's "Up in the Air" has earned great reviews and buzz as a potential Academy Awards front-runner, positioning it for a long run in theaters as it expands nationwide over the next few weeks. Clooney plays a corporate hit man addicted to the frequent-flyer life as he travels the country firing people for downsizing companies.
Lionsgate's war-on-terror-themed drama "Brothers" debuted at No. 3 with $9.7 million, averaging $4,646 in 2,088 theaters. A remake of a 2004 Danish film, "Brothers" stars Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal in the story of a prisoner of war who returns from Afghanistan to find his sibling has become the man of the house for his family.
Sony's heist thriller "Armored," with Matt Dillon and Laurence Fishburne, premiered with $6.6 million and tied for No. 6, averaging $3,446 in 1,915 theaters.
Another foreign-language remake — Miramax's "Everybody's Fine," with Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore and Kate Beckinsale in an update of a 1990 Italian film — opened a weak No. 10 with $4 million for an average of $1,888 in 2,133 cinemas. De Niro plays a retiree on a journey to reconnect with his grown children.
The vampire mania over "New Moon" did not extend to Full Circle Releasing's bloodsucker comedy "Transylmania," which took in just $274,000 in 1,007 theaters for a dismal average of $272. The movie is a campus-horror spoof about students studying at a Transylvania college overrun by vampires.
Overall revenues came in at $101 million, up 22.6 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Four Christmases" was No. 1 with $16.8 million.
Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com, estimates domestic receipts will finish at $10.6 billion for the year, easily surpassing the industry's all-time high of $9.68 billion in 2007.
Revenues stand at $9.66 billion after this weekend, so Hollywood should break that 2007 record in the next couple of days, Dergarabedian said.
With big movies such as James Cameron's sci-fi epic "Avatar" opening Dec. 18 and Robert Downey Jr.'s crime saga "Sherlock Holmes" and the family comedy "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" arriving Christmas week, that $10.6 billion estimate for the year might prove conservative, Dergarabedian said.
"It will probably go higher if we consistently outperform the way we have been," Dergarabedian said.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Monday.
1. "The Blind Side," $20.4 million.
2. "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," $15.7 million.
3. "Brothers," $9.7 million.
4. "Disney's a Christmas Carol," $7.5 million.
5. "Old Dogs," $6.9 million.
6. "Armored" (tie), $6.6 million.
6. "2012" (tie), $6.6 million.
8. "Ninja Assassin," $5 million.
9. "Planet 51," $4.3 million.
10. "Everybody's Fine," $4 million.
LONDON — Actor Richard Todd, who starred in the classic World War II film "The Dam Busters", has died at the age of 90, his spokeswoman said Friday.
The Oscar-nominated actor, who played a string of typically British heroes, died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday night at his home near Grantham in eastern England, the spokeswoman said.
"He had been suffering from cancer, an illness that he bore with his habitual courage and dignity. His family were with him throughout," she said.
Irish-born Todd's best-known role was that of Wing Commander Guy Gibson in the 1955 film "The Dam Busters," the story of the RAF's attack on German dams in 1943.
But the Irish-born actor was also a war hero in his own right.
As an army captain he was one of the first British officers to land in Normandy on D-Day on June 6, 1944, parachuting in after Major John Howard's glider forces had captured the strategically important Pegasus Bridge.
Todd played Howard in the 1962 D-Day film "The Longest Day", in one scene playing opposite an actor playing himself.
"Being first out of the first plane wasn't my idea, I assure you," he told the News of the World newspaper earlier this year.
"I had no experience of dropping under fire. But I remember looking out and seeing the tracer bullets zipping past us.
"I didn't think about the risk to my life, I just jumped."
He was the first choice of James Bond author Ian Fleming to play the fictional spy, but had to turn the role down due to other commitments.
Sean Connery, fresh from playing alongside Todd in "The Longest Day", got the role instead.
Todd was nominated for the 1948 best actor Academy Award for his role as Corporal Lachlan MacLachlan in "The Hasty Heart", where he played alongside US president-to-be Ronald Reagan, who became a friend.
Michael Winner, who directed Todd in the 1978 film "The Big Sleep", said: "Richard Todd was the most wonderful type of British stiff upper lip acting.
"He was a good friend and wonderful to work with, utterly professional, very quiet, just got on with it."
Todd experienced personal tragedy in later life when two of his sons committed suicide.
Born Richard Andrew Palethorpe-Todd in Dublin on June 11, 1919, the actor was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1993.
Anger is more likely among the young, those with children at home, and the less educated, a new study finds.
A national survey of 1,800 Americans aged 18 and older questioned participants on how and when they feel angry in order to build "a broader social portrait of anger in the United States," said study researcher Scott Schieman, now at the University of Toronto.
These angry emotions range from mild annoyance to yelling and feelings of outrage.
While anger is a normal human emotion, it could be detrimental if you hold on to it too long. And those who express their anger might actually live longer than those who keep it bottled in, one study found.
The results of the survey, conducted in 2005 and to be published next year, showed several key connections to anger.
For one, people under 30 experienced anger of all forms or intensities more frequently than did older adults. This was mainly due to the fact that young people are more likely to be affected by three core stressors that can trigger angry feelings, Schieman said:
* Time pressures
* Economic hardship
* Interpersonal conflict at the workplace
Time pressures had the strongest link to anger, especially low-grade versions termed "feelings of annoyance," the study found.
Those who were under financial strain tended to report higher levels of anger, a connection that could be particularly important in today's flagging economy, Schieman noted. The financial influence tended to be stronger among women and younger adults.
Having children was also associated with angry feelings and behaviors, such as yelling, particularly in women, the survey found.
"There's obviously a lot of joys and benefits that come with parenthood," but other aspects of parenting, such as having to discipline a misbehaving child, can cause feelings of anger and annoyance, Schieman said.
Those with fewer years of education were also more likely to report feelings of anger and were less likely to respond proactively in a situation that made them angry (for example, talking about what made them angry).
"It underscores the power of getting more education," Schieman said. Education has been linked to feeling more self-control, which could be why those with more education tend to manage their anger more proactively, he told LiveScience.
Schieman's findings will be detailed in a chapter of the forthcoming International Handbook of Anger, to be released in January 2010.
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Beverage can tops are still finding their way into the stomachs of some children, especially teens, despite being redesigned in the 1970s to keep people from swallowing them, U.S. researchers said on Monday.
A 16-year study at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found 19 children had swallowed the safety tabs, which are designed to fold back but stay attached to cans for soda and other beverages.
"I think we all know if you fiddle with these stay tabs, you can easily break them off," Dr. Lane Donnelly, who led the study, told reporters at the Radiological Society of North America meeting in Chicago.
The study included children aged 1 to 18 at his medical center, but he suspects many cases go unreported.
Donnelly said he suspected children break off the tab, drop it into the soda can and inadvertently swallow the tab. When broken, the tabs have jagged edges that could perforate the stomach or intestine.
Since the tabs are made from aluminum, they are much harder to detect on an X-ray than coins, which babies and toddlers often swallow, Donnelly said.
He said parents should be aware of the problem and that beverage companies might consider a newer design that makes the tabs harder to break off.
As for the children in his study, none required surgery, although one was sent home with explicit instructions from the emergency department that read: "No sucking on can tops."
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" rose to the top of movie box office charts for the second straight week on Sunday with a three-day haul of $42.5 million on a record-breaking holiday weekend in North America, according to studio estimates.
Over the five-day U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, the vampire romance starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner took in $66 million, pushing its two-week total in theaters to $230.7 million in North America, said independent studio Summit Entertainment, which backed the movie.
Internationally, the high-profile sequel to last year's monster hit "Twilight," based on the best-selling novels by Stephenie Meyer, has taken in $243 million for a worldwide total just under $475 million in two weeks.
Richard Fay, president of domestic distribution for Summit, said the movie continued to do strong repeat business from mostly teenage girls who are fans of the movies and books, and it was able to expand its audiences to include older women.
Total movie ticket sales for the five-day holiday period in North America reached a record $278 million, beating the old figure of $244 million set back in 2000 when "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Unbreakable" were the two top films, according to sales tracker Hollywood.com Box-Office.
Coming in at No. 2, also for the second straight week, was Sandra Bullock football film "The Blind Side" with three-day sales of $40.1 million and a two-week total of $100.5 million. Disaster film "2012" rounded out the top three with $18 million in three days, boosting its three-week total to $139 million.
"Blind Side," produced by Alcon Entertainment and released by Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros,, played well to all audiences. Bullock helped draw women, sports lured men and the feel-good tale about a woman played by Bullock who helps a homeless boy become a football hero attracted families.
"This is a movie that plays equally to both genders," said Andrew Kosove, co-chief executive of Alcon Entertainment. "A great deal of moviegoing is consensus driven (among families) and we were the consensus movie for the weekend."
Natural disaster flick "2012" also continued to score well. Internationally, its ticket sales now stand at $456 million, boosting its global haul to $595 million, said distributor Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp.
Among new movies, Disney comedy "Old Dogs" with John Travolta and Robin Williams was No. 4 in North America with $16.8 million on the weekend and $24 million for five days. Warner Bros' "Ninja Assassin" with Korean superstar Rain was No. 6 with $13.1 million and $21 million for the 3-day and 5-day periods, respectively.
Other noteworthy titles include Disney's "A Christmas Carol," which claimed the No. 5 spot with $16 million, pushing its North American cumulative ticket sales to $105 million.
Twentieth Century Fox expanded the release of its animated movie "Fantastic Mr. Fox," widely around the United States and it climbed to the No. 9 spot with $7 million on the weekend. Fox is a unit of News Corp
PARKLAND, Wash. – A gunman burst into a coffeehouse Sunday and opened fire on four police officers as they sat working on their laptops, killing the three men and one woman in what an official described as a targeted ambush.
Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said officers were looking for one male suspect who fled the scene and haven't ruled out an accomplice, possibly a getaway driver.
It wasn't clear whether the officers even had time to draw their weapons to return fire, Troyer said.
"This was more of an execution. Walk in with the specific mindset to shoot police officers," Troyer said.
Troyer said the officers — all from the Lakewood Police Department — were catching up on paperwork at the beginning of their shifts when they were attacked at 8:15 a.m. Sunday.
Troyer said the attack was clearly targeted at the officers, not a robbery gone bad.
"There were marked patrol cars outside and they were all in uniform," Troyer said.
With no known suspects, there was no indication of any connection with the Halloween night shooting of a Seattle police officer. The suspect in that shooting remains hospitalized.
"We won't know if it's a copycat effect or what it was until we get the case solved," Troyer said. "We don't even have a suspect ID right now."
Troyer would not release the names of the victims in Sunday's shooting.
"We have no motive at all," Troyer said. "I don't think when we find out what it is, it will be anything that makes any sense or be worth it."
Two employees and a few other customers were in the shop during the attack. All are being interviewed by the Pierce County Sheriff's investigators.
"Some are in shock. They are very upset," Troyer said. "They are the ones who are going to put together for us how this happened."
The Forza Coffee Shop, part of a popular local chain, is on a side street near McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, about 35 miles south of Seattle. The shop is in a small retail center alongside two restaurants, a cigar store and a nail salon.
Brad Carpenter, founder and owner of Forza Coffee, said his staff was OK and being interviewed by police, and that his main concern was with the families of the police officers.
"I'm a retired police officer, so this really hits close to home for me," said Carpenter, of nearby Gig Harbor.
Streets around the coffee shop were blocked off late Sunday morning, and a police helicopter hovered over a large crowd of investigators. TV video showed police taking possession of a pickup truck parked in a grocery store in Parkland.
"We are looking at some people. We are looking at some cars. We are looking at some residences," Troyer said.
Troyer said investigators are checking surveillance video from multiple sources, trying to identify a possible getaway car. He urged people to stay away from scenes to avoid interfering and putting themselves at risk.
Dave Gabrielson, a clerk at Foot Mart about a block away from the coffee shop, told the newspaper all was quiet when he opened the store at 8 a.m. About 30 minutes later, "All of a sudden a million cops were zooming up and down the road," Gabrielson said.
JUPITER, Fla. – Three women and a child in bed were shot to death during a family Thanksgiving gathering in South Florida and a male relative was being sought early Friday.
Police said 17 relatives were in the house when the shootings were reported around 10 p.m. Thursday in Jupiter, a small coastal town about 90 miles north of Miami.
Jupiter Police Sgt. Scott Pascarella said officers were looking for Paul Michael Merhige, 35, of Miami. Merhige is a cousin of the 6-year-old victim, McKayla Sitton, and has no criminal record, police said.
The others killed were Merhige's twin sisters, Carla Merhige and Lisa Merhige, 33, and an aunt, Raymonde Joseph, 76, according to police.
Authorities said a fifth victim, Merhige's brother-in-law Patrick McKnight, was being treated at a hospital. His condition was not available.
Pascarella said police received a 911 call from a neighbor shortly after 10 p.m. Police then received a second 911 call from someone within the home. Pascarella says the shootings took place inside the house.
"What led to this incident, we're not quite sure," said Pascarella. "It did not appear there was any altercation prior to this shooting."
Police said the home was owned by Jim Sitton, a photojournalist for WPTV-TV and father of the little girl killed. Sitton told WPTV his daughter was in bed when she was shot. He was at the party at the time of the shooting but was not wounded.
Yellow crime scene tape was stretched around Sitton's salmon-colored house, located in a well-kept subdivision of stucco homes. Several cars were parked in the driveway, and a crime scene van sat in front.
Sitton told local media that his daughter was supposed to perform Friday in a holiday production of "The Nutcracker."
"God packed a lot of sweetness into that little body," Sitton said. "She's just our life. I don't know how we are ever going to recover."
The relationship between Sitton and Paul Merhige was unclear, police said.
Police across South Florida and the U.S. Marshals Service were searching for Merhige. Pascarella said Merhige is believed to be driving a blue 2007 4-door Toyota Camry with Florida license plate W42 7JT.
"The word we're trying to get out to the public is that this individual is considered armed and dangerous," said Pascarella.
Phone calls to a number listed for Paul Merhige were not answered. A phone call to Sitton was also not returned.
INDIANAPOLIS—A man was arrested after police said he left his 5-year-old son in a tractor-trailer while he ducked into an Indianapolis strip club to drink. The 39-year-old was arrested at 1:15 a.m. Tuesday on child neglect and public intoxication charges after calling police to report his truck stolen and his child missing. Police said the man was too drunk to remember where he had parked.
They found the boy inside watching cartoons on a television inside the cab. The keys were in the ignition, and the doors were unlocked.
Police said the suspect put his son in jeopardy by leaving him exposed in a high crime area.
The man was taken to the Marion County jail, where his wife picked up him and the child.
Have you ever thought that your cat really is evil, and is actively manipulating you to do it's bidding?
Science says that it is. Dr Karen McComb of the Centre for Mammal Vocal Communication Research at the University of Sussex has proof.
A BBC News report spoke to Dr. McComb, who stated that it appears that cats "learn to dramatically exaggerate it when it proves effective in generating a response from humans." According to the same report, studies have found that a domestic cat's cries are similar to that of human babies, and that's a sound humans are highly sensitive to.
"The cry embedded within the purr" study was published in the journal Current Biology in July and claims that cats actually exploit humans into caring for them, especially when it comes to filling those food dishes. The abstract states that "even individuals with no experience of owning cats judged the 'solicitation' purrs to be more urgent. "
How long before someone synthesizes those sounds to control humans? I'd write more, but someone's dish is empty, and I feel compelled to fill it.