''Get Smart'''s Steve Carell, Coldplay's Chris Martin, and Glenn Close of ''Damages'' made headlines this week
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In this corner: an incompetent superspy wielding a shoe phone! In the other corner: a happy-go-lucky guru who wants to save your love life! On June 20, Steve Carell‘s latest broad comedy, Get Smart, bows on at least 3,000 screens against Mike Myers‘ latest broad comedy, The Love Guru, which bows…on at least 3,000 screens. It’s a dicey move in today’s opening weekend is everything atmosphere, and words like dumb, insane, and reckless are being thrown around Hollywood to describe the face-off.

At one time it was common to unveil two similar movies on the same day. But after George Clooney’s The Perfect Storm walloped Mel Gibson’s The Patriot in 2000, ”it [became] the unofficial rule that such showdowns had to be avoided at all costs,” says one studio distribution exec. ”Until now.”

In February 2007, Paramount (Guru) and Warner Bros. (Get Smart) opted to open their big summer comedies on June 20, 2008, unbeknownst to each other. They had almost a year and a half to rethink the date, but neither has budged. Warner Bros. isn’t commenting, but Paramount distribution president Jim Tharp defends the decision to stay put: ”Look at the summer and how crowded it is; it’s difficult to find a place to go.”

True enough. More than half this season’s wide releases are comedies, and these two films are sandwiched between the openings of The Incredible Hulk and Pixar’s WALL·E. But industry wags speculate that the situation is more complicated. Says the studio distribution exec, ”It almost becomes personal if Mike Myers moves for Steve Carell — or vice versa.” May the best ham win. — Nicole Sperling

The 100-day writers’ strike is becoming a distant nightmare, but not every network has fully recovered. FX, for instance, has yet to announce return dates for summer mainstays Rescue Me and Damages (starring Glenn Close). Nor has it decided whether to order third seasons of The Riches and Dirt, both of which just finished poorly rated seasons. ”It’s a combination of the strike having us scrambling, and trying to figure out what shows are compatible where,” says FX president John Landgraf. He predicts a January return (at the earliest) for Damages and a spring berth for Rescue Me. Now for the good news: Fans of the Denis Leary firefighter series can get a fix this summer by watching 10 five-minute original ”minisodes” in the show’s usual time slot. And The Shield returns for its final season Sept. 2. — Lynette Rice

Chris Martin, axman? No, the Coldplay frontman is not pulling a Dave Grohl and giving up his favorite instrument, but he is gearing up for some serious guitar shredding — on a videogame console near you. ”[‘Violet Hill’] is the first Coldplay song to be put on Guitar Hero,” says Martin. And unlike much of the band’s lulling repertoire, he cracks, ”It’s not about the piano s—.” The downloadable track will be part of a massive publicity rollout for Coldplay’s new album, Viva La Vida (out June 17), which includes a performance on the 2008 MTV Movie Awards (airing June 1) and free concerts in London (June 16) and New York City (June 23).

Get Smart
  • Movie
  • 111 minutes
  • Peter Segal