Arts Briefs

Smith rules the big screen in 2008

Well, this isn’t much of a surprise: Will Smith has been named the biggest generator of box office revenue for 2008. Apparently moviegoers couldn’t get enough of watching a 20-foot projection of Smith’s face evoke all kinds of emotions. The superhero blockbuster Hancock grossed $228 million, while Smith’s currently playing heart-warmer, Seven Pounds, had made just over $39 million in ticket sales by the beginning of this month.

According to, Smith is only the second black actor to win the Quigley poll, which asks movie exhibitors to vote on the 10 stars who bring in the most business every year. The only other black actor to have attained this prestigious title was Sidney Poitier in 1968.

Robert Downey Jr., Christian Bale and Shia LaBeouf follow Smith on the list. Last year’s winner was Johnny Depp, who didn’t release anything this year. Also missing from this year’s list was seven-time winner Tom Cruise, but he’d probably be right up at the top if these polls included YouTube hits.

She and a new Him to make sweet music together

Apparently there’s no escape from tabloid fodder, even when you’re considered indie-rock darlings. The Internet was fairly quiet over the holidays, but one story that has attracted a lot of attention (and this arts brief is no exception, obviously) is the recent engagement of Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel.

Deschanel is also a moderately successful actress, who has notable performances in Almost Famous and Elf. She’s 28, he’s 32 and they are both “so thrilled” according to US Weekly. The magazine further reports that “Zooey was swept off her feet and Ben is so excited.”

The real question, though, is which band they’ll ask to play at their wedding and what their guest list will look like. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a commemorative compilation CD out of this.

Prince reveals majestic marketing strategy

According to, Prince has told The Los Angeles Times that he’s releasing three new albums this year.

Prince’s first release will be an experimental foray into Pro Tools pop, while the second disc focuses on Prince’s unique guitar work and will include some heavy rockers.

It’s the third disc, however, that sounds the most promising: “This music is nasty, but it’s not dirty… There’s no profanity. It isn’t promoting promiscuity,” said Prince, a noted Jehovah’s Witness.

It appears he also wants to pull a Radiohead and release each of them without the assistance of a record company. But as we’ve learned over the last year, when record companies step aside, they leave a gap for other corporate giants to step in. Final negotiations with “a major retailer” for the their physical release are ongoing and there’s a website in the works as well.

If Guns N’ Roses went for Best Buy and AC/DC opted for Wal-Mart, we’re really curious to see which “major retailer” will get to sell Prince’s new material. Starbucks? Future Shop? Zellers?

Published in Volume 63, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 15, 2009)

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