BOX OFFICE PREVIEW Alas, fame is fleeting. This week’s No. 1 cross media queen Jennifer Lopez may not have her box office title for long. ”The Wedding Planner” faces serious competition as two newcomers — the slasher flick ”Valentine” and Freddie Prinze Jr.‘s latest ”Head Over Heels” — open in theaters throughout the country this weekend.
Both ”Planner” and ”Valentine” are projected to earn about $10 million, according to Robert Bucksbaum of box office tracking firm Reel Source. The R rated slasher film might lose some of its audience to J.Lo’s PG-13 romance. But ”Valentine” has novelty, two sexy stars (David Boreanaz and Denise Richards), anticipation, and a strategically misleading name on its side. ”The horror market is really hot now with ‘Hannibal’ opening next weekend,” says Bucksbaum. ”Also, people will look in the paper, see the title ‘Valentine’ and say, ‘Oh, a great date movie’ and go see it without really knowing what it’s about.” (Warner Bros., the movie’s distributor, did not screen ”Valentine” for critics.)
”Head Over Heels” — the weekend’s genuinely date friendly newcomer — is likely to debut lower. Reel Source predicts that the film will open at about No. 5 with around $6.5 million in earnings. However, Gitesh Pandya of boxofficeguru.com predicts that the romantic comedy will open much higher, with around $10 million. But both Bucksbaum and Pandya note that Prinze, 24, seems to have lost much of his cache with teens. ”Kids think he’s too old now. They’re already moving on to the next star — Julia Stiles,” says Bucksbaum. — Lori Reese
KID STUFF Despite the marketing blitz for MGM’s ”Hannibal” (as with ”Valentine,” it’s rated R, so kids under 17 are not supposed to see it without an adult), the studio — perhaps wary of more government scrutiny — has taken great pains to remind journalists that it ”does not knowingly target persons under 17” in its advertising. So kids, when the movie opens next week, invite Mom and Dad along to enjoy the eviscerations ‘n’ stuff. The FTC’ll be glad you did!
PUFFY TRIAL In court Thursday, shooting survivor Robert Thompson testified that he saw rapper Jamal ”Shyne” Barrow holding a smoking gun — but he couldn’t say for sure who fired the weapon that injured him, according to sonicnet. Another witness, a nightclub security guard, testified that he saw Shyne fire three shots on the night of Dec. 27, 1999. The criminal trial of Shyne and producer Sean ”Puffy” Combs continues today in Manhattan.
REALITY TV You saw Kel get voted off ”Survivor” after being falsely accused of hoarding beef jerky in his backpack — but did you catch Friday’s blind item in the New York Post’s ever zesty Page Six column? According to ”insiders,” cranky survivors discovered that one unnamed player wasn’t guilty of sneaking into the bush to scarf down forbidden Slim Jims: A camera crew captured him in the act of doing what loudmouth Kimmi spoke obsessively of needing to do in the premiere episode. ”He’s traumatized,” snickered the Page Six source. ”He’ll never do it again.” And we thought crocodiles were the meanest creatures Down Under.
REAL RATINGS The hot, real, and hanging out of their clothes have won the first major battle in the war of reality programming versus old school scripted TV. CBS‘s ”Survivor: The Australian Outback” soared past NBC‘s ”super sized” ”Friends”/”SNL” lineup in ratings Thursday night. Some 29.4 million people tuned in to watch Kel get the boot — while a mere 21.2 million settled down for NBC’s ”Must See TV.” Meanwhile, Wednesday night’s ouster of wayward ‘rents Taheed and Ytossie from Fox’s ”Temptation Island” defeated a repeat of the Peacock’s Emmy laden ”West Wing”, while ABC‘s reality offering ”The Mole” finished second, with above average ratings in Tuesday night’s 8 p.m. time slot. But a few bellybutton shots would no doubt have put them further ahead.
ITALIAN STYLE Never a fan of the paparazzi, Leonardo di Caprio may have even more problems with them in the future. According to the New York Post, the star witnessed an accident on the set of ”Gangs of New York” — now filming in Rome — when a horse drawn cart tipped over and injured three extras. When nearby lensmen started snapping pictures, the star reportedly threw horse manure at them. ”All I know is [di Caprio] is on his way to the hospital to visit the accident victims,” said Leo’s rep. Filming on the Martin Scorsese directed epic was halted for the day.
IN DEMAND He’s a hard man to pin down, this Peter Criss, né Eric Singer, the kitty faced drummer of Kiss. The band is launching yet another Far East farewell tour in March, but Criss is committed to playing with Alice Cooper‘s band at the same time. When it rains, it pours, and all we can say is: We hope that makeup’s waterproof, cat man.