Fri, Aug 11, 2006 - Page 17 News List

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Director Oliver Stone's film on the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack opened to tears and torment in the US on Wednesday, reviving memories ahead of the fifth anniversary.

World Trade Center sparked debate about whether Americans are ready for a film focusing on the Twin Towers attack, where 2,749 people died, but moviegoers at an early New York screening commended it.

About 50 people attended a matinee screening at a Midtown Manhattan cinema. Many wept or were visibly shaken.

The movie, starring Nicolas Cage, is based on the true story of two policemen who raced into the World Trade Center to save people, but were trapped in the rubble of the collapsed buildings for 12 hours before their rescue.

“I can understand why people are not ready to see it yet, but I think that they will be surprised at how powerful and personal it is,” said Leslie Friedman, a New Yorker who said she was not in the city on the day of the attacks.

Reviewers have said the often-provocative Stone had shown respect, restraint and patriotism in the film, but box office experts said the test would be whether people were willing to see it or considered the subject too sensitive.

Famed US actor and comic Robin Williams has checked into an alcohol recovery program, his publicist said Wednesday.

“After 20 years of sobriety, Robin Williams found himself drinking again and has decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family,” his publicist Mara Buxbaum said in a statement.

“He looks forward to returning to work this fall to support his upcoming film releases,” Buxbaum added in the brief statement.

Williams, 55, won a best supporting actor Oscar for Good Will Hunting in 1998 and has enjoyed successful career from films like Dead Poets Society and Good Morning, Vietnam and the 1970s and 1980s television sitcom Mork and Mindy.

He has been married since 1989 to producer Marsha Garces, with whom he has two children.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the sixth movie based on JK Rowling's hugely popular fantasy series, will hit theaters round the world in November 2008, Warner Bros has announced.

The movie will be based on the 672-page book that arrived on shelves last summer and sold a whopping 6.9 million copies its first day in US bookstores.

The upcoming fifth installment in the series Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is due out on July 13 next year.

Movie studio 20th Century Fox and Walden Media, the company behind The Chronicles of Narnia films, have formed a joint venture to produce and market family friendly films, the companies said.

Tuesday's move gives Walden, which has been producing films with a number of studios, a permanent home for future projects while giving Fox the means to expand its reach into the lucrative family entertainment sector.

Walden, which is owned by Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, will remain an independent entity under the deal with its own production staff. Current projects under development with rival studios, including The Walt Disney Co, Paramount Pictures and New Line, also will remain in place.Seventeen short films from 15 countries will compete for the best short film at the Venice Film Festival, organizers announced Tuesday.

South African producer and director Teboho Mahlatsi, winner of the 1999 best short film award, will chair the jury of the Corto Cortissimo section dedicated to short films, which opens Sept. 7.

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