Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France

The year to come

Happy New Year, everyone!

Following my occasionally longstanding tradition, I will now predict for you what you can expect during the next twelve months in the world of movies and entertainment. If time allows, I will also give you the winning lottery numbers for next month.

January: Impressed by the box office performance of P.J. Hogan’s live-action version of Peter Pan, Harvey Weinstein announces that he will produce his own live-action version of the classic J.M. Barrie play. Michael Jackson is thrilled and foresees a revitalization of his flagging career when he is asked to star in the big-budget epic; that is, until he learns that he will not play the title role but is cast instead in the Captain Hook role, called in this version Capt. Chickenhawk.

February: Hollywood is shocked on the last day of February when a major upset occurs in the contest for Best Motion Picture at the Academy Awards. Consternation runs rampant when American Wedding takes the top prize, even though it was not nominated. For the first time in the history of the Oscars, a film has won on the strength of write-in votes alone. Employees of the Academy’s accounting firm are questioned, and it is learned that they previously worked for Arthur Andersen and the state of Florida.

March: Author Susan Sontag announces that she will retire completely from public life in order to spend all her time watching P.J. Hogan’s film version of Peter Pan.

April: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announces that he will solve the state’s budget crisis by making one more Terminator movie and donating all the proceeds to the state treasury. After cost overruns and schedule delays and concessions following a strike threat from the film crew and poor box office receipts, Schwarzenegger announces that California’s budget deficit has tripled.

May: The TV series Friends finally comes to the end of its history-making ten-year run. In the sweeps-dominating two-hour series finale, the fates of the six main characters are finally wrapped up. To many viewers’ surprise, Chandler and Monica split up when Monica realizes that she is in love with Rachel. On the rebound, Chandler starts an affair with Phoebe, who has dumped her on-again-off-again boyfriend Mike. Meanwhile, Joey and Ross decide to become mercenaries and set off for the Third World for a series of adventures, perhaps to be chronicled in a spin-off series.

June: Madonna announces that she is leaving her husband Guy Ritchie and plans to move in with a female lover. Reporters camp out for weeks around the house of Britney Spears but catch no sign of the pop divas. Madonna later surfaces at a trendy Los Angeles restaurant arm in arm with Anne Heche.

July: The biggest money-making summer blockbuster turns out to be the Disney film The Matterhorn, based on the classic Disneyland thrill ride. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon play a pair of adventurers who climb the famous European peak and then must make their way down against incredible odds. Dustin Hoffman plays the villainous mountain hermit who tries to crush the duo in a series of avalanches.

August: After endless months of speculation, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez finally tie the knot in a massive wedding ceremony at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Security is tight, and only a mere 22,000 close friends and family are allowed to attend. The big surprise is that the high-profile duo pledge their vows in a triple wedding ceremony along with Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher and also with Liz Minelli and David Gest, who have reconciled after a passionately romantic holiday in Australia’s outback.

September: Major made-for-TV movies announced for the fall viewing season include Courts of Justice: The Kobe Bryant Story, Spider Hole: The Capture of Saddam Hussein, Where There’s Smoke: The Southern California Wildfires of 2003, and the ten-part miniseries The Scott Peterson Story.

October: Superstar Michael Jackson announces that he will retire completely from public life in order to spend all his time watching P.J. Hogan’s film version of Peter Pan.

November: In one of the biggest upsets in modern political history, Howard Dean is elected the 44th President of the United States in a landslide unforeseen by pundits, analysts and pollsters. In his victory speech, Dean discloses that he is in reality the reincarnation of a 16-year-old peasant girl who lived in 6th-century China and that his first official act as President will be to grant a full presidential pardon to Saddam Hussein.

December: Everyone’s business calculations for the holiday movie season are thrown into chaos when New Line Cinema issues the surprise release, Lord of the Rings IV: Sauron’s Revenge. The movie does respectable business, although Peter Jackson is replaced as director by Irvin Kershner and none of the principal cast reprises their roles. This latest sequel revolves around the efforts of the dwarf Gimli (played, in a daring recasting move, by Danny De Vito) to save a hapless group of teenagers in a remote cottage, who are menaced by the dark lord Sauron, who has regained his power by forging an all-powerful charm bracelet.

Oops, sorry, I’m out of space. I’ll have to save those lottery numbers for another time.

-S.L., 1 January 2004

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