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Brad Pitt's ''Snatch'' battles for box office

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BOX OFFICE Three new flicks — ”Snatch,” the crime drama ”The Pledge,” and the thriller ”The Gift” — will battle for their share of a crowded box office this weekend. Newlywed Guy Ritchie‘s heist caper — starring Brad Pitt and Benicio Del Toro — is most likely to grab the largest bounty of the three R rated newcomers. Industry watchers, however, say it’s unlikely that the Screen Gems import — which has already earned some $18 million internationally — will debut with much more than $10 million. George W.‘s inauguration on Saturday and the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday are likely to keep a lot of would be moviegoers glued to the tube this weekend. Meanwhile, the box office title will probably go to last week’s No. 1, the teen romance ”Save the Last Dance,” or the crowd pleasing ”Cast Away.” The Johnny Depp/ Juliette Binoche romance ”Chocolat” also moves into wide release this weekend.

DIVAS 2001 It looks as though the rumored duet between Madonna and her protégé Britney Spears is on. The ex-Mousketeer told local reporters at this week’s Rock in Rio Festival that she’s looking forward to working with the Material Mom. ”The duet with Madonna is going to happen,” she said. ”Madonna is great. I grew up listening to her in my room…. I was really happy when she said she admired me.” Still, neither is sure when the recording will take place. Madonna is busy looking for a new film role.

INAUGURATION As of Saturday we’ll have a new prez — and he comes with a whole new slate of theme songs as well. Whereas Clinton was a freewheelin’, rock & roll, Fleetwood Mac kind of guy, Bush‘s musical identity has a slightly softer side. Last night’s opening ceremony was graced by the likes of Ricky Martin, the Rockettes, country singers Brooks and Dunn, and Jessica Simpson. Marilyn McCoo also sang to commemorate the dawning of the Age of Republicans.

SPLIT Here’s a shocker. Marilyn Manson, 32, and ”Scream”’s Rose McGowan, 27, are through. McGowan issued a statement saying that their three year romance ended amicably. ”There is great love, but our lifestyle difference is, unfortunately, even greater,” McGowan said in a statement.

WEB NEWS Let the hype begin. Fiscally challenged New Line Studios is releasing its first Internet trailer for the $270 million ”Lord of the Rings” trilogy on Real.com today. Sure, the first film isn’t out until next Christmas but that doesn’t mean ”Hobbit” fans worldwide aren’t interested in seeing a little behind the scenes footage and a few interviews with other fans like themselves. It’ll give them something to talk about for 11 months.

PROTEST They’re after Eminem again. In response to the Slim Shady’s multiple Grammy nominations, GLAAD is preparing to hold a rally outside the February 21 ceremony at L.A.’s Staples Center. ”Eminem’s lyrics do more than glorify violence against lesbians, gay men, transgender people and women — they also give permission for young people to abuse and harass people who are ‘different,’ numbing them to the damaging impact of homophobia and misogyny,” reads a statement on the organization’s official website. The statement urges others to participate in the demonstration…. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission is threatening to fine a Madison, Wisc., radio station $7,000 for playing an unedited version of the rapper’s hit ”The Real Slim Shady” on August 24. ”The four minute, 44 second rap song contains unmistakable offensive sexual references,” the FCC said in an order proposing the fine. ”Such a song is inappropriate for broadcast during times when children may [be] in the audience.” But we’re glad the FCC got a chance to hear it.

BIRTH Daphne’s days of standing behind strategically placed furniture are over. ”Frasier”’s Jane Leeves gave birth Jan. 9 to a 9 pound, 12 ounce girl, Isabella Kathryn Coben.

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