Maximum Crowe

NEWS FLASH

Articles from the news page
Updated March 7, 2001 (scroll to March 6th for Gladiator Ticket Information)


March 7, 2001

FBI Probes Possible Plot to Kidnap Actor Russell Crowe
By Josh Meyer
Los Angeles Times (3/7/01) (c) Copyright 2001

The FBI said Tuesday it was investigating a plot to kidnap Russell Crowe, the New Zealand-born actor recently nominated for an Oscar for his starring role in ãGladiator.ä

No details of the alleged plot were given. But the FBI thought the evidence credible and serious enough to bring it to Croweâs attention, and to accompany him ÷ undercover ÷ to the Golden Globes awards Jan. 21.

ãWe were at the Golden Globes in tuxedos, conducting the investigation,ä said an FBI spokesman, Special Agent Matthew McLaughlin. ãAnd we continue to investigate, coordinating closely with Mr. Croweâs people and with Scotland Yard.ä

British law enforcement are involved because Crowe traveled to London last week for a European premiere of his latest film ãProof of Life.ä

McLaughlin said the FBI first learned about the alleged plot for some time before the Golden Globes ceremony and that agents have interviewed Crowe to determine who might want to kidnap him. The investigation is continuing, and McLaughlin would not say whether authorities have identified any potential suspects.

Croweâs publicist, Robin Baum, said she was aware of the alleged plot and that Crowe has taken security precautions.

The FBI usually does not comment on ongoing investigations, particularly kidnapping plots, but was doing so in this case because of recent media reports.

FBI officials declined to say whether Crowe had received FBI protection since the January award ceremony.

Croweâs nomination for best actor in the upcoming Academy Awards is for his role as a Roman general who becomes enslaved as a gladiator and fights to avenge deaths in his family.


March 6, 2001

Russell Crowe - Times Two

Second Showing of GLADIATOR at AMC Century 14 Added Due to Overwhelming Demand for Tickets to Russell Crowe's Special Appearance

LOS ANGELES, March 6 /PRNewswire/ -- In response to the news that Russell Crowe would host a public screening of DreamWorks Pictures' and Universal Pictures' "Gladiator" on March 9, the 7:30 p.m. show was sold out in minutes with thousands of ticket requests pouring in, clogging the AMC Theatre's phone lines for hours. Requests have been coming in from all over Southern California, and from as far away as Arizona and Nevada.

Due to the overwhelming demand, Crowe will host a second showing of "Gladiator" at the AMC Century 14 on March 9 at 8:00 p.m. In addition to introducing both screenings, Crowe will stay to do a Q&A with the audiences immediately following each showing.

Tickets will go on sale for the 8:00 p.m. showing on Wednesday, March 7. The tickets will be sold at regular admission prices on a first-come, first-served basis. Advance tickets can be purchased at the box office, or through www.movietickets.com, or by calling (310) 289-4262. In addition, guild cards can be presented for admission, with a guest, at the door.

SOURCE DreamWorks Pictures

(Thanks to Kathleen B)


March 1, 2001 (This article is an update on the one we posted previously and includes a schedule.)

DreamWorks Pictures; Universal Pictures DreamWorks Pictures' and Universal Pictures' 'Gladiator' Returns to the Big Screen
Press Release
SOURCE: DreamWorks Pictures; Universal Pictures

Limited Engagement at the AMC Century 14 To Be Hosted By Talent From the Film, Including Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- In a nod to the days of road show engagements, DreamWorks Pictures' and Universal Pictures' ``Gladiator'' will come back to the big screen for a limited run, starting on March 3, 2001, with a one-week special engagement at the AMC Century 14 in Century City, CA and the AMC Promenade in Woodland Hills, CA.

Moviegoers attending each evening's show at the AMC Century 14 only will have the added bonus of having the screening introduced by one of the talents responsible for the Golden Globe-winning and multiple Oscar¨-nominated film.

The tickets for the run will be sold at regular admission prices on a first-come, first-served basis. Advance tickets can be purchased at the box office, or through www.movietickets.com, or by calling (310) 289-4262. In addition, guild cards can be presented for admission, with a guest, at the door.

On Saturday, March 3, director Ridley Scott will kick off the series with a Q&A live, via satellite, from Morocco, where he is presently on location. The film's editor, Pietro Scalia, will also be in attendance to introduce the film and participate in the Q&A.

Following is a complete schedule of those who are currently slated to greet the audience on different nights of the limited run (The listing below is subject to change):

Saturday, March 3 - Director Ridley Scott (via satellite) and Editor Pietro Scalia
Sunday, March 4 - Producer Doug Wick and Executive Producer Walter F. Parkes
Monday, March 5 - Visual Effects Supervisor John Nelson
Tuesday, March 6 - Screenwriter David Franzoni
Wednesday, March 7 - Composer Hans Zimmer
Thursday, March 8 - Cinematographer John Mathieson
Friday, March 9 - Film star Russell Crowe

Originally released in the U.S. in May 2000, ``Gladiator'' immediately became the first must-see film of last summer. It went on to gross more than $187 million at the domestic box office, in addition to becoming an unqualified hit globally. To date, the film has earned more than $440 million worldwide. Its subsequent sell-through release in a Special Edition DVD, as well as the VHS rental release, broke records both in the United States and abroad. Earlier this year, ``Gladiator'' won the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture - Drama. It more recently received 12 Academy Award¨ nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Scott) and Best Actor (Crowe), and this past weekend won five BAFTA Awards, including Best Picture.

``Gladiator'' stars Russell Crowe as Maximus, a great Roman general, who has been forced into exile and slavery by the jealous heir to the throne, Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix. Trained as a gladiator, Maximus returns to Rome, intent on killing Commodus, now Emperor. Maximus learns that the one power stronger than that of the Emperor is the will of the people, and knows he can only exact his revenge by becoming the greatest hero in all the Empire.

Rounding out the international main cast are Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou and Richard Harris. ``Gladiator'' was produced by Douglas Wick, David Franzoni and Branko Lustig, with Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald serving as executive producers. The screenplay was written by David Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson, from a story by Franzoni.

DreamWorks SKG was formed in October, 1994, by its three principal partners -- Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen -- to produce live-action motion pictures; animated feature films; network, syndicated and cable television programming; home entertainment; records; books; toys; and consumer products.

SOURCE: DreamWorks Pictures; Universal Pictures

(Thanks to Kathy and Margaret)


DreamWorks Pictures' and Universal Pictures' 'Gladiator' Returns to the Big Screen
Copyright © 2001 Nando Media

Limited Engagement at the AMC Century 14 To Be Hosted By Talent From the Film, Including Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 26 (Feb 26, 2001 16:18:56 EST) -- In a nod to the days of road show engagements, DreamWorks Pictures' and Universal Pictures' "Gladiator" will come back to the big screen for a limited run, starting on March 3, 2001, with a one-week special engagement at the AMC Century 14 in Century City, CA and the AMC Promenade in Woodland Hills, CA.

Moviegoers attending each evening's show at the AMC Century 14 only will have the added bonus of having the screening introduced by one of the talents responsible for the Golden Globe-winning and multiple Oscar(R)-nominated film. Kicking off the series on March 3 will be director Ridley Scott, who will follow that evening's showing of the film with a Q&A live, via satellite, from Morocco, where he is presently on location.

Cast members and filmmakers who are currently slated to greet the audience on subsequent nights of the limited run include stars Russell Crowe and Connie Nielsen, producer Douglas Wick, producer/screenwriter David Franzoni, composer Hans Zimmer, cinematographer John Mathieson, editor Pietro Scalia, and visual effects supervisor John Nelson. The tickets for the run will be sold at regular admission prices on a first-come, first-served basis.

Originally released in the U.S. in May 2000, "Gladiator" immediately became the first must-see film of last summer. It went on to gross more than $187 million at the domestic box office, in addition to becoming an unqualified hit globally. To date, the film has earned more than $440 million worldwide. Its subsequent sell-through release in a Special Edition DVD, as well as the VHS rental release, broke records both in the United States and abroad. Earlier this year, "Gladiator" won the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture -- Drama. It more recently received 12 Academy Award(R) nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Scott) and Best Actor (Crowe), and this past weekend won the BAFTA Award for Best Picture.

"Gladiator" stars Russell Crowe as Maximus, a great Roman general, who has been forced into exile and slavery by the jealous heir to the throne, Commodus, played by Joaquin Phoenix. Trained as a gladiator, Maximus returns to Rome, intent on killing Commodus, now Emperor. Maximus learns that the one power stronger than that of the Emperor is the will of the people, and knows he can only exact his revenge by becoming the greatest hero in all the Empire.

Rounding out the international main cast are Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou and Richard Harris. "Gladiator" was produced by Douglas Wick, David Franzoni and Branko Lustig, with Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald serving as executive producers. The screenplay was written by David Franzoni, John Logan and William Nicholson, from a story by Franzoni.

DreamWorks SKG was formed in October, 1994, by its three principal partners -- Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen -- to produce live-action motion pictures; animated feature films; network, syndicated and cable television programming; home entertainment; records; books; toys; and consumer products.


Connecting Courtney & Crowe
By George Rush and Joanna Molloy
Tribune Media Services

So whatâs up between Courtney Love and Russell Crowe? Last Tuesday, we heard the pair had shared an intimacy at a party after the Golden Globes. Croweâs lawyer informed us that his client ãadamantlyä denied he and Love had become lovers. Crowe vowed to unleash hell, as his ãGladiatorä character, Maximus, would say, on anyone who published such a story. After a version of the tale ran elsewhere, we asked Croweâs spokeswoman if the actor planned to make good on his threat to sue. Weâre still waiting for a call back.

Love and Crowe, who both act and front rock bands, have known each other for a while. Loveâs spokeswoman, Pat Kingsley, says she hadnât asked her client if sheâd visited Croweâs nest at the Bel-Air Hotel last week, but ãto my knowledgeä Love was still seeing record exec Jim Barber. ãIâm kind of in the dark here,ä said Kingsley.

Love played the sphinx on Thursday night in Park City, Utah, where a reveler at a Sundance Film Festival party asked if she and Crowe had hooked up. Love took a drag on her cigarette, blew smoke the way of the guy who asked, then turned on her heel.

The actress was at Sundance to promote ãJulie Johnson,ä in which she and Lili Taylor play suburban housewives who have a lesbian awakening. (Sandra Bernhard, who has made no secret of her crush on Courtney, surely wonât be missing it.) Wearing a monastic-looking brown velvet gown, Love took charge at the filmâs premiere bash by taking over the turntables that had been manned by deejay Paul Sevigny, brother of actress Chloe.

Around 2 a.m., Love moved on to the summer-camp-themed party for ãWet, Hot American Summer,ä where David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Tommy Lee and Carmen Electra were sucking on Chupa Chup lollipops and listening to â80s tunes spun by Samantha Ronson.


Voices Only a Mother (or a Fan) Could Love
Newsweek, January 2001

Russell Crowe Sometimes star power isnât enough. To enjoy ãHollywood Goes Wildä -- a benefit CD that lets movie darlings become rock stars -- it takes something extra. Like semi-deafness. To be truly charitable, PERI suggests a direct donation to the Wildlife Waystation.

Jeff Goldblum (Piano and vocals for "Born Freeâky")
Lines like Îborn freaky/like, um, uniquey.â Shoulda been born mute-y.**

Russell Crowe ("The Photograph Kills" with his band)
Crowe can sing, but Aussie pop gives us Sydney Olympics nightmares ***

Brad Pitt (Sings "MidTown" as ÎJohnny Suedeâ)
Pittâs voice is weak and thin. Why didnât Jennifer put a stop to all this? *

Mare Winningham (Sings folk ballad "Itâs So Hard")
Hardly a Hollywood heavy-hitter, but sheâs way too vocally talented for this CD ****

Billy Bob Thornton (Vocals and drums on "Island Avenue")
Proves there are limits to what the writer/actor/director can do **

(Thanks to Susie)

FORM YOUR OWN OPINION!
PURCHASE THE WILDLIFE WAYSTATION CD (AND GET MORE INFO) (scroll).


BRITISH STARS FROZEN OUT OF HEROIC ROLE AS SHACKLETON
By Henry Fitzherbert and York Membery
Sunday Express, November 19, 2000

LEGENDARY British explorer Ernest Shackleton will not be played by a British actor in a new Hollywood movie - because its German director claims there is no UK star big enough for the role.

Wolfgang Petersen, who made this summer's blockbuster, A Perfect Storm, wants to cast Mel Gibson or Russell Crowe in the $100m movie, Endurance, due to start shooting next year. This has angered both historians and the British actors' union, Equity.

Speaking to The Sunday Express from Los Angeles on wanting Gibson or Crowe, Peterson said "there are no British actors of their stature around at the moment".

It is a claim likely to offend British talents such as Jude Law, Ewan McGregor and Daniel Day-Lewis. And it astonished Equity spokesman, Martin Brown. "What an amazing thing to say," he said. "Most of the world views the UK as blessed with a wealth of fantastic acting talent."

The film will portray Shackle-ton's doomed second voyage to the Antarctic in 1914 when his ship, Endurance, became trapped by ice and drifted helplessly for nine months before being crushed 200 miles from land. Shackleton led his men to Elephant Island from where he made an 800-mile voyage in a 22ft boat through some of the stormiest seas in the world to reach South Georgia.

Peterson whose Perfect Storm can be bought on VHS and DVD from Warner Home Video on November 27, said: "There are some fine British actors, like Ralph Fiennes, but I just don't think there is anyone larger than life enough to fill Shackleton's shoes."

It is not the first time that home-grown talent has been sidelined in Hollywood movies based on British stories. Critics were angered when the part of Robin in the blockbuster Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves was given to American actor Kevin Costner. Also considered contentious were Gwyneth Paltrow's star roles in Jane Austen's Emma, Shakespeare in Love and the romantic comedy Sliding Doors set in present day London.

Another British comedy to shun home talent is the forthcoming film based on the novel, Bridget Jones Diary, which stars Renee Zellweger who is American.

Mel Gibson courted controversy when he directed and starred in Braveheart about a Scottish warrior chieftain.

Most recently he played a Brit-hating warrior in the controversial American Revolution drama, The Patriot, which portrays the British in an unfavourable light.

Peterson admits he has discussed his Shackleton project with Gibson. "I've already had talks with Mel and he's very interested but he's a little bit afraid of the cold," he said.

He concedes that an American actor might not be convincing in the part, even though Australian-born Gibson is a naturalised American and speaks in a Los Angeles-Sydney drawl.

Historical experts are also angry about cold-shouldering British talent. "Casting someone like Gibson would be an insult to Shackleton, his family and the British acting profession," said Nigel Jones of BBC History magazine.

His concern is shared by Peter Vandermerwe, of the National Maritime Museum, which is staging an exhibition called South, about Antarctic explorers Shackleton, Scott and Amundsen. "Mel Gibson was miscast as Fletcher Christian in The Bounty" he said. "And while he'd be a competent Shackleton, I don't think he would bring much subtlety to the part. Doesn't Mel Gibson always play Mel Gibson?" "It seems a classic case of Hollywood wanting to cast a big star in a role for which he is not really suited."


(Thanks to David Kelly)

The 10th Annual BAFTA/LA Britannia Awards
By David Kelly

The Century Plaza Hotel
Los Angeles, November 4th 2000

When the royal family comes to LA, Americans always ask: ãHow should we treat them?ä Theyâre inevitably told: ãTreat them like ordinary people.ä So they do. And you end up with a Prince hemmed into a pre-dinner reception with a line of people waiting to ask: ãWassup, Andrew?ä Meanwhile Spielberg, who is known in Hollywood simply as ãGodä had the sense to remain cloistered in his own VIP room. So it was that British royalty paid tribute to its Hollywood counterpart Saturday when HRH Prince Andrew presented BAFTA/LAâs Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film to Steven Spielberg. Accepting the award, Spielberg praised the British film industry, which he first worked with in 1980, saying the ãsheer joy and love of filmmaking goes down to craft services. The talent there is undeniable.ä The photos show that warm feelings are mutual as Prince Andrew chats to Kate Capshaw, Spielbergâs wife, while keeping a friendly arm over her chair as Haley Joel Osment learns the prince charming moves from a master.. Among the 1,200 guests in the Century Plaza Hotelâs ballroom were Russell Crowe, Ridley Scott, Brenda Blythyn, Jeff Goldblum, Patrick Stewart and Ben Kingsley. Michael Crawford and Dale Kristien, performed four songs from ãPhantom of the Operaä while being accompanied by a 20-piece orchestra. ãJust awful,ä and ãhokeyä were two comments on that.

(Thanks to David)


From the New York Daily News
10/17/00

Russell Crowe apparently wants fans to know just how much of a gladiator he is. The actor recently injured his shoulder while training for his role as a circus strongman in the Jodie Foster-produced movie ãFlora Plum.ä

Now Crowe has posted photos on his Web site (www.russellcrowe.com) of the surgery he underwent for ãprimary posttraumatic slap lesion of the antero-superior portion of the labrum.ä

The site thoughtfully translates a description of the actorâs ãarthroscopic reconstructionä into Croweâs brand of Aussie-speak. To wit: ãFour incisions, scrape away torn tissue, rasp bone, drill holes in bone, insert directional wire, drop re-absorbable plugs down wire into holes, hammer plugs through labrum tissue into bone bringing bicep tendon back into place. Bobâs your uncleä -- a term used Down Under.

Crowe may be proud of his gristle and grit, but some blame him for putting ãFlora Plumä in limbo just as it was to go before the cameras. Suspicious minds wonder why the filmâs star had to go back to Australia for the surgery (where he had a grand time attending the Olympics and attending to girlfriend Meg Ryan). One production source vouches that Crowe was a ãmodel citizenä when prepping for the role. But co-star Claire Danes (who took a semester off from Yale to learn a high-wire act) and the rest of the crew are cooling their heels waiting to see if Crowe will do ãFloraä or another movie.


Crowe's injury sidelines Foster pic 'Flora Plum'
By Zorianna Kit
Thursday, September 7, 2000

TORONTO (The Hollywood Reporter) --- USA Films' Jodie Foster-helmed "Flora Plum" has been put on hold after its star, Russell Crowe, suffered a shoulder injury Tuesday while training for the film in Austin, Texas. Crowe, who was expected to start production in Orlando in two weeks, was advised by doctors to undergo surgery at the end of the month, sources said.

"Flora Plum" is a love story set during the Depression about a circus "freak" (Crowe) who takes pity on a penniless waif (Claire Danes), with whom he falls in love while helping her achieve fame.

Sources involved in the production confirmed that the start of principal photography has been postponed and that no new start date has been determined. Preproduction is under way in Orlando. On Wednesday, all parties involved were still weighing their options in light of Crowe's mishap. The filmmakers could recast the picture or postpone the production to wait for Crowe to recover.

Crowe was in Austin recording with his band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, while training for the film. Details of the accident were not disclosed.

"Flora Plum" is being produced by Foster through her Egg Pictures and by producer Barry Mendel ("The Sixth Sense," "Mumford").

Crowe is also nearing a deal to star in Imagine Entertainment/Universal Pictures/DreamWorks' "Beautiful Mind" for director Ron Howard. That project is slated to start in March. Crowe would star in the true story about a mathematical genius with movie-star looks who suffered from schizophrenia but miraculously recovered and eventually received a Nobel Prize (HR 5/19).

Crowe, who starred in DreamWorks/Universal's boxoffice champ "Gladiator," next stars in Warner Bros. and Bel-Air Entertainment's "Proof of Life" opposite Meg Ryan.

"Flora Plum" will be the first feature film Foster has directed since stepping behind the camera on "Home for the Holidays" in 1995.

(Beth Laski and Anita M. Busch in Los Angeles contributed to this report.)


Movies prompt deep thinking -- about cuteness
By Ann Cannon
The Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT)
July 27, 2000

Lately, I've noticed that people all over America are having intellectual discussions these days. Some of the questions being asked by thoughtful citizens include the following:

1. Will lasting peace in the Middle East ever be achieved?
2. What will happen to the Dow the next time Greenspan opens his mouth?
3. Should Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg be the keynote speaker at the upcoming Democratic National Convention?
4. What will be the long-range effects of the Microsoft breakup on the computer industry?
5. In light of recent announcements about "genetic mapping," should insurance companies be allowed to deny coverage because of a given individual's genetic structures?

Since I like to think I am part of America's vibrant and also dynamic "intelligentsia," I'd like to enter the "Great Conversation" and throw out a question for discussion, too. Specifically, I would like to know what Americans think about the following issue:

Who (technically speaking) is cuter: (a) Mel Gibson in knee breeches or (b) Russell Crowe wearing a gladiator outfit?

The reason I have been thinking about this is that I finally saw both "The Patriot" and "Gladiator" back-to-back last weekend. You know how it is. Sometimes a girl just gets in the mood to watch bloody body parts flying around the movie screen for almost six hours on a summer's eve.

Anyway, I liked both movies OK. For one thing, they made me think. This is what I thought about when I was watching "Gladiator," for instance. I was thinking about how stupid people get when they turn 40. Not that we're NOT stupid when we're 30. Or 20. It's just that we're stupid in a new way. Here's what "Dumb and 40" looks like.

1. You realize (hello!) that energy, talent and especially time really are finite resources.

2. You look at your career and worry about what you'll do next.

3. You look at your family and your children and worry about what you've already done. Or haven't done.

4. You fear that people will stop finding you attractive because you are not as young as you used to be.

5. On the other hand, you're still attractive enough, so you start taking that "attractiveness" out of the garage and going for little spins.

6. Next thing you know, you've left your kid and very cute husband, Dennis Quaid, for Russell Crowe, even though Crowe has a rock star's reputation for getting wasted and smashing up hotel rooms when he isn't busy making gladiator movies.

OK. I also liked these films because they had cute guys, and (as everybody knows) "cuteness in guys" is an important criterion when it comes to assessing the overall quality of a movie. At least it is to me. Which brings me back to my original question: Mel or Russell?

I started conducting random interviews of both men and women. Or at least I tried to. The men all got these hunted, haunted looks on their faces and fled when I asked who they thought was cuter. Women, on the other hand, were MORE THAN HAPPY to respond. Here's what they said:

ABBY: Mel Gibson for sure. I don't like the way that Russell Crowe is having an affair with Meg Ryan.

AMY: Russell Crowe, 100 percent! He has a real mysterious quality in "Gladiator." He only smiles once in that whole movie, which makes it that much sweeter when the smile comes.

ROBYN: I go for older men, so definitely Mel Gibson. He's got class. Anybody who can be the father of that many kids is a classy guy.

BETSY: Mel Gibson in breeches! Mel Gibson in anything!

LOUISE: I think Mel Gibson is cuter, but Russell Crowe has a dangerous magnetism. And it's the danger that's attractive.

ME: I agree. Mel Gibson is pretty cute. But his ponytail presents certain aesthetic problems for me. Generally speaking, I dislike ponytails on men. Especially if said men are already wearing pantaloons. They look like refugees from that 1960s group Paul Revere and the Raiders. You see guys like that walk into a room, and you automatically worry they're just gonna burst into a chorus of "Cherokee Nation."

So naughty Russell Crowe wins! At least until I see George Clooney in "The Perfect Storm!"
Copyright 2000 The Deseret News Publishing Co.


The men of our dreams.
Women swoon over Hollywood's strong-but-selfless ideal male

By Gregg Zoroya
USA TODAY, July 11, 2000

Besides the Marine Corps, who else is looking for a few good men? Try your average American woman.

Whether by folly or forethought, Hollywood is offering up a new slate of "mythical" male heroes these days. And women are eating it up with a spoon, complaining between helpings that contemporary men are falling short.

The new icon is often flawed, sometimes tortured, a confident and capable if reluctant fighter, battling whatever elements or evils keep him from a principled goal. Most important is his overriding selflessness -- the key factor separating him from today's self-absorbed male minions, women say. By all accounts, this is not the Arnold Schwarzenegger "Hasta la vista, baby" brand of action tough guy. Nor is he the Tom Hanks variety of sensitive, nurturing male in vogue in recent years.

Rather, he is a disciplined, sometimes-terse man of character, with a keen sense of responsibility to country, family, a simpler way of life or some higher purpose for which personal sacrifice is dead certain. Being buff doesn't hurt, either. Mel Gibson's devoted dad-turned-combatant in The Patriot fills the bill, audience surveys suggest. (Gibson's performance in Braveheart five years ago elicited a similar response from women.) Russell Crowe's self-sacrificing Roman general, Maximus, in Gladiator is directly on point. Samuel L. Jackson's detective in Shaft works, as does George Clooney's fisherman in The Perfect Storm.

It's the tough guy and nurturing male all rolled into one irresistible package, women say.

"A man needs to be sensitive," says Crystal Siembida, 20, an art gallery manager in Columbiana, Ohio, who thought Gladiator was perfect, and The Patriot a little less so. "But I don't want a man who's going to be so sensitive that I don't feel safe with him."

"If you take the violence out and you just have the sensitive man, you really don't have the same character," says Valerie Amstutz, 50, of Scottsdale, Ariz., an international marketing manager for a hotel chain. She hid her eyes during intensely violent scenes but raved about Crowe's warrior at work.

"We really want it all," Amstutz says.

The heroes and their stouthearted movie lines are the stuff of water-cooler discussions and happy-hour debates for women. Rhonda Nohava of Rochester, N.Y., a 36-year-old editor for a legal publisher, has seen Gladiator three times and plans to watch it twice more. She's mesmerized by Maximus and his exhortation, "strength and honor." Others drink in Gibson's dichotomy of a savvy Revolutionary War guerrilla fighter who melts when his younger daughter calls out to him "Papa." Or they are moved to tears in The Perfect Storm as the water rises around one tough, if doomed, fisherman, and his last words are about his child: "This is going to be hard on my little boy."

Authorities like Waller Newell, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa and editor of a new essay collection titled What Is a Man? 3,000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue, say this realignment of male virtue is overdue.

"For the last 20, 30 years, we've been telling men that you can either be a wimp or a beast," Newell says. "They are both unsatisfactory alternatives. And what really blew me away about Gladiator was it was the missing middle ground. That Russell Crowe character is the best of both worlds. He's strong. He's reliable. He's absolutely devoted to his family. He's brave. But he's also decent and modest."

Gladiator not only scored high with women, but many were repeat viewers. Says Gladiator producer Doug Wick: "There is an incredible hunger for selfless behavior."

And those yearnings are reflected in attendance surveys of other films. According to opinion tracker CinemaScore, women ages 18 to 34 gave The Patriot higher marks than men (A-plus vs. A), despite the slow-motion slashings and cannonball decapitations of its battle scenes -- and genocidal tactics by the British that are more historically appropriate to the Gestapo than Great Britain.

"Women actually enjoy the film more than men do. I think that really has to do with the fact that the story is about a man fighting for his family," Patriot producer Dean Devlin says. (Gibson's South Carolina widower resists fighting the British because he's concerned about leaving his seven children unprotected.)

Devlin says he expected that war-oriented films like Patriot and Gladiator would not fare as well with women as with men. "This is as much of a surprise to us as anybody," he says.

The Perfect Storm producer Gail Katz says her movie -- a story of six crewmen on a Gloucester, Mass., swordfishing boat, fighting for their lives against one of the most horrific storms of the 20th century -- got its strongest response in test audiences with women ages 25 and up. Beyond the thrill ride of The Perfect Storm's special effects, she surmises that women like the fishermen's humility, their sense of limitation, yet their determination to persevere. She stresses that men had similar reactions.

"Those are very attractive features," Katz says. "You hope you're married to them. We're trying to raise our sons to be like that."

So does this portend a fresh cast of heroes on the Hollywood horizon, a rebirth of the Gary Cooper or Kirk Douglas strain of strong men? To begin with a heroic ideal and build a movie around it is a thorny issue, Wick says. A good story must come first, then character development can follow. But a few guideposts are visible. "It wouldn't be a good time to make a movie about somebody who goes out and sleeps with everybody's best friend," he says.

When asked, women were hard-pressed to name contemporary figures who came close to meeting the new ideal. Some suggested former GOP presidential candidate John McCain, others retired general Colin Powell, both of whom are war heroes. The late John F. Kennedy Jr. was a favorite choice of women; they said he was smart, handsome and steeped in character. Many earmarked anyone who fought in World War II. "These were our last heroes in large numbers, our last 'gladiators,' " Siembida says.

But most women were stumped.

"I think you see a lot of people, particularly in the late '90s, who didn't do things necessarily with straight-and-narrow ways," says Amy Hyland, 31, of Arlington, Va., a media relations specialist who fell in love with the heroes of Gladiator and The Perfect Storm. "Now life is complicated. Life is a lot about living in the gray, and I accept that. I'm no crazy idealist. But it's definitely nice to see on screen some of those qualities that you (otherwise) don't see."

"These are the men that we just are dying for," says Terry Bowen, 48, of Syracuse, N.Y., a consumer relations representative, who suggested Jeffrey Wigand, the tobacco whistle-blower portrayed by Crowe in The Insider, exemplifies this type of character. "My feeling is that so many men today are -- I'm sorry -- wimps."

Others say it isn't necessary to fight tigers or redcoats or 10-story waves to be a real man.

"I think the risks are out there," says Ana Ferreira, 30, of Miami, a program manager. She says that the seemingly shallow pool of true men is a frequent topic of conversation among her and her girlfriends. "There's drugs on the streets. There are juvenile delinquents. They can be mentors. They can be heroes in many, many ways."

Newell says this balanced manliness that women find appealing is closer to age-old ideals, much like the views on maleness that Winston Churchill wrote about British adventurer T.E. Lawrence, famous as Lawrence of Arabia: "He was a savant as well as a soldier. He was an archaeologist as well as a man of action. . . . He was a mechanic as well as a philosopher. His background of somber experience and reflection only seemed to set forth more brightly . . . the generous majesty of his nature."

Is it safe to assume men might see mixed signals from women about what's expected of them? "There's confusion," Newell says. After all, recent samples of what women seek in men suggest something other than a gentleman warrior. In a Maritz Poll marketing research survey last year, when women were asked about the most important qualities they look for in a spouse or significant other, the largest percentage (43%) said emotional warmth and nurturing.

But feminist Susan Faludi warns against the kind of conclusion that might be drawn from this current strain of feminine longing. The author of Stiffed, a look at how men struggle to define themselves in an era when masculinity is under fire, sees no real contradiction between this desire for a new kind of heroic male and women's struggle for equality.

"There is a very basic human need for a world in which people take responsibility for their actions and see it as their responsibility to take care of others and to have a meaningful mission in life," she says.
© Copyright USA TODAY 2000


Maximus Coin Looms for Crowe
Variety, May 19, 2000
By Michael Fleming

NEW YORK (Variety) - In the latest example of how a box office hit can affect an actor's salary, "Gladiator" star Russell Crowe is being courted for several plum projects, and by the time the bloodletting is done in the ring, he might well be getting $15 million for his next film. That's the price being asked by his agents at William Morris, whose arguments grow more persuasive as "Gladiator" gets closer and closer to the $100 million gross mark. The new asking price is more than double what Crowe got for "Proof of Life," the Castle Rock picture in which he's currently starring for director Taylor Hackford. Universal and Imagine are courting Crowe to star for director Ron Howard in "A Beautiful Mind," the adaptation of Sylvia Nasar's book about John Forbes Nash Jr., a Nobel Prize-winning genius who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. At the same time, Crowe's being courted for the Warner Bros. film "33 Liberty Street," a drama about a wannabe mobster who tries to crack the big time by pulling a heist. Crowe has also been offered the Paramount picture "North of Cheyenne," directed by Jon Amiel. The Australian-raised Crowe has shot up the ranks of leading men with alarming speed. After a starmaking turn in "L.A. Confidential," Crowe received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of tobacco whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand in the Michael Mann-directed "The Insider," before portraying the soldier-turned-slave Maximus in "Gladiator."


''Gladiator'' gets thumbs-up at box office
By Dean Goodman
Copyright 2000 Reuters Ltd.

LOS ANGELES, May 7 (Reuters) - ``Gladiator'' came, saw and conquered the weekend box office.

The Roman epic, which stars Australian actor Russell Crowe (''The Insider'') as a general sold into slavery as a sword-wielding fighter at the Coliseum, earned an estimated $32.7 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period.

Playing at 2,938 theatres, it averaged $11,130 per site, easily the highest score in the top 10. A spokesman for the film's North American distributor, DreamWorks SKG, said the figure is conservative by as much as $1 million because of the possible effect of basketball playoffs on Sunday. Final data will be issued on Monday.

Either way, ``Gladiator'' beheaded its box office competition. Director Ridley Scott's $103 million movie earned more than the next six films combined. The only other wide new release was Kim Basinger's ``I Dreamed of Africa,'' which opened at No. 8 with a disappointing $2.5 million and an $1,184 average.

Based on initial polling, the audience for the R-rated ``Gladiator'' skewed 25 years and over, DreamWorks said. On Friday, females made up 35 percent of the audience; Saturday, they comprised 45 percent, indicating strong word-of-mouth among a demographic less than taken with the film's bloody heroics.

DreamWorks distribution president Jim Tharp said the film had ``a very high emotional level,'' which attracted women. ``It was a huge challenge (to bring women in), and I think it will continue to be a challenge,'' he said.

Also starring in the movie are Joaquin Phoenix as the evil emperor who tries to have Crowe's character, Maximus, slain; and Oliver Reed, who died before shooting was finished but was resurrected digitally for his remaining scenes.

Box office analyst Gitesh Pandya at boxofficeguru.com said the opening figure was ``quite strong'' given the film's rating and 150-minute running time. The record for an R-rated opener is Harrison Ford's ``Air Force One,'' which took off with about $37 million in 1997.

``Gladiator'' is a co-production between privately held DreamWorks SKG, which is distributing it throughout the United States and Canada, and Seagram Co. Ltd.'s Universal Pictures, which is handling all overseas territories.

It marks the official start of the summer box office season, which boasts a lineup including Tom Cruise's ``Mission: Impossible'' sequel, Eddie Murphy's ``Nutty Professor'' sequel, George Clooney's ``The Perfect Storm'' and Mel Gibson's ``The Patriot.''

Despite the impressive opening, ``Gladiator'' ranks about ninth in terms of May openers, according to box office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. The record of $72.1 million is held by 1997's ``The Lost World: Jurassic Park.''

The top 12 films this weekend earned a combined $75.4 million, up nine percent from last weekend, but down three percent from the same period last year, when ``The Mummy'' opened at No. 1 with $43.4 million.


Book the church

By Gayle Fee & Laura Raposa
The Boston Herald

Matt Damon and galpal Winona Ryder reportedly are talking marriage.

According to next week's US Weekly, the Cambridge homey-turned-Hollywood-heartthrob and his gamine galpal are on a romantic weeklong holiday at an undisclosed location and are so happy together they're considering tying the knot. So much for rumors about the demise of their romance!

In fact, the couple is so hot-and-heavy, Matt almost came to blows with Tinseltown tough guy Russell Crowe when the Aussie actor tried to get a little too friendly with 'Nonie at an Academy Awards bash.

Word is, Damon had to tell the "The Insider" star to back off. Which must have been quite a sight, Matt being, well, rather puny, and Crowe being your basic barroom brawler!

Anyway, security guards quickly jumped into the fray, and Crowe stormed away spewing obscenities. Not exactly Good Will Hunting, we're sure . . . .

Copyright 2000 Boston Herald Inc.


Many faces of Crowe

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