Plus, year end box office receipts highest ever, a farewell to Ray Walston, and more

By Lori Reese
January 03, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST
Hudson and Robinson: Rob Bodman/Gamma/Zuma Press

UNION Kate Hudson has made good on the image she fashioned as an devout groupie in Cameron Crowe‘s ”Almost Famous.” The 21 year old It girl wed Black Crowes rocker Chris Robinson, 34, on New Year’s Day. Hudson married Robinson at the Aspen, Colo., ranch her mother, Goldie Hawn, shares with longtime companion Kurt Russell. The two have been seeing each other for about a year; it is the first marriage for both.

BOX OFFICE The close of the year 2000 satisfied many a Hollywood exec. An $181.8 million New Year’s weekend brought total ticket sales for the year to $7.45 billion. This marks a 2 percent rise over last year’s record $7.31 billion. Of course, with ticket prices also reaching record highs, that number doesn’t actually mean that more people are going to the movies.

Disney execs had the most to smile about, as the Mouse House narrowly edged Universal for the year’s highest gross. ”We do everything with consistency,” Chuck Viane, Disney’s distribution president, told the Hollywood Reporter. ”We didn’t seem to have the big blockbusters this year, just a whole bunch of $50 million and $60 million pictures.” Both Universal (distributor of the year’s most profitable movie, ”The Grinch”) and DreamWorks (home to ”Gladiator” and ”What Lies Beneath”) enjoyed their best years ever.

DEATHS Screenwriter Julius Epstein , cowriter of ”Casablanca,” died on Saturday morning at L.A.’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The Oscar winner, known for his wit in Hollywood’s writing community, also penned ”The Strawberry Blonde,” ”The Man Who Came to Dinner,” ”Four Daughters,” and ”Pete ‘n’ Tillie.” He once remarked that ”Casablanca” had ”a great deal of corn, more corn than in the states of Kansas and Iowa combined. But when corn works, there’s nothing better.” He was 91.

Tony and Emmy Award winner Ray Walston — best known for his role as an avuncular alien on ”My Favorite Martian” — died of natural causes in his home in Beverly Hills. The character actor will best be remembered by younger audiences as teacher Mr. Hand in the classic ’80s flick ”Fast Times At Ridgemont High.” He was 86.