The separation of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, one of the most famous couples in the world, has prompted reporters to spill ink by the gallon as the Hollywood press began to speculate about the cause of the breakup.
Aniston and Pitt called it quits late last week after four years of marriage, as headlines and television shows wondered: Could it have been differences over the ideal moment to have a child? Was it interference from a growing friendship between Pitt and sultry actress Angelina Jolie?
The break came as Pitt, 41, reportedly wanted to start a family, something Aniston, 35, wanted to put off in favor of her career.
Then, there is speculation that Jolie, named sexiest woman by Esquire last year, caught Pitt's eye, too, as they worked together on Mr and Mrs Smith.
At any rate, Pitt and Aniston, anticipating a rain of rumor, released a statement:
"For those who follow these sorts of things, we would like to explain that our separation is not the result of any speculation reported by the tabloid media ... We happily remain committed and caring friends with great love and admiration for one another," according to the statement.
`Fockers' still popular
Family comedy Meet the Fockers was the biggest box-office hit across North America for the third straight week, according to final weekend figures released Monday.
The movie, starring Robert De Niro, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand, pulled in US$28.5 million over the weekend and has grossed some US$204 million since its release over the Christmas weekend, according to box-office trackers Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
The Universal/Dreamworks movie is the sequel to the 2000 hit Meet the Parents, and tells of the first meeting of two different sets of new in-laws.
The horror flick White Noise debuted in second place with an estimated take of US$24.1 million.
In third place was the Oscar buzz, Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, which pulled in US$7.5 million.
Fourth was Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events, starring Jim Carrey, which made US$7.4 million, followed by the cartoon-turned-live comedy Fat Albert, which raked in US$5.7 million.
Rounding out the top 10 were Ocean's Twelve (US$5.3 million), Spanglish (US$4.251 million) National Treasure (US$4.25 million), Phantom of the Opera (US$3.4 million) and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (US$2.7 million).
Critics laud Eastwood
A group of leading US film critics named director Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby as best film of last year, and its star, Hilary Swank, shared best actress honors with Britain's Imelda Staunton in abortion drama Vera Drake.
The National Society of film Critics picked Sideways, about two middle-aged men looking for love on a wine-soaked holiday in California, as the runner-up for the year's best movie, and the film earned three top honors.
Sideways screenwriters Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor won the award for best screenplay, and co-stars Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen were best supporting actor and supporting actress, respectively.
The 56 members of the National Society of Film Critics gather annually at Sardi's Restaurant in New York City to discuss films and performances; then they vote. The critics work for major newspapers and magazines across the US.