Successful 'Escape': "No Escape," the futuristic prison-break movie starring Ray Liotta, broke out in the No. 1 spot at the box office during the weekend. The new release from Savoy Pictures took in $4.6 million, according to early industry estimates. "With Honors," the newcomer from Warner Bros. starring Joe Pesci, was close behind with $4.5 million. In third, Gramercy Pictures' "Four Weddings and a Funeral" with $4.1 million. 20th Century Fox's "Bad Girls" dropped to No. 4 with $2.7 million. And "You So Crazy," the new Martin Lawrence performance film from the Samuel Goldwyn Co., grossed $2.6 million for fifth place during another slow moviegoing weekend. A box-office note: Alfonso Arau's "Like Water for Chocolate" became the highest-grossing foreign language film in U.S. history this weekend. With a cumulative gross of $20,380,744, the film surpassed the record set in 1969 by the Swedish soft-core porn film "I Am Curious Yellow."
Artists' Rights Debate: As much as heavyweight directors such as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas would like to see the U.S. Congress adopt the "moral rights" standards of France, where the creators of a film--the director, writer and cinematographer--are generally considered the authors of the work and not the studios, it appears lawmakers simply have more pressing business to attend to. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told the audience Friday at the International Artists Rights Symposium at the Hotel Nikko that proposed legislation, which would require altered films to carry labels explaining changes, simply does not have the same importance to the public and lawmakers as do other policy issues, like health-care reform. At a joint press conference later, Spielberg and Lucas said that what they most fear--and why "author's rights" are becoming increasingly important--is the potential of misuse by a movie's owner given the state of new technology that can, for example, partner Paula Abdul with a young Gene Kelly for a soda-pop commercial.
Bobcat's Protest: Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, a guest on "The Arsenio Hall Show" Friday night, launched into an unscripted 10-minute tirade that was part- schtick and part-protest over the show's impending demise. During the outburst, Goldthwait spray-painted the set's backdrop with "Paramount Sucks," referring to Paramount Television, the show's distributor. He then pulled two TV monitors off their stands, stomped on one and threw couch cushions into the audience. Hall wrapped his arms around Goldthwait to calm him. No security guards intervened. Paramount executives discussed retaping the show, but decided there wasn't enough time. The show's last night of taping is set for May 27.
News from 'Larry King Live': Larry King will do a series of live, one-hour interviews with celebrities and political figures on CNN's "Larry King Live" this week. The subjects (who will take phone calls) include Calvin Klein tonight, Burt Reynolds on Tuesday; Mike Tyson, on tape, Wednesday; First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday; Dan Quayle on Friday; and Jay Leno on Saturday. . . . Whoopi Goldberg announced her engagement to Lyle Trachtenberg, a film industry union organizer, on Friday's "Larry King Live." She said she met Trachtenberg seven months ago when he tried to organize workers on the film "Corrina Corrina," in which she stars.
Limited Southern Exposure: Two TV stations in the South have pulled tonight's episode of "Northern Exposure" because it depicts a gay wedding. KNOE-TV of Monroe, La., and WTVY-TV of Dothan, Ala., were the only CBS affiliates known to have preempted the series. On the show, characters Erick and Ron (Don R. McManus and Doug Ballard) marry and dance together, but do not kiss. KNOE released a statement it which its general manager denied that advertiser pressure had prompted the preemption; WTVY would not comment on its decision. The series' producers said they decided against having the characters kiss to avoid the show becoming a political football, which it appears to have become anyway.
Hamlisch Makes a Pitt Stop: The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has hired Oscar-, Grammy- and Tony-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch as its pops conductor. Hamlisch, who composed "The Way We Were" and music to more than 40 other movies, signed a two-year contract that starts with the 1994-95 season. He'll conduct four concerts a year and help direct a two-week national tour next summer. He just began conducting a 64-piece orchestra for the Barbra Streisand tour of England and the United States.
Deep Throat: Stricken with hoarseness, country singer George Strait told the 19,400 fans at his Anaheim Pond concert on Friday to hang on to their ticket stubs and come back for a makeup concert on May 15. Strait decided to "give it a shot anyway," singing an apology-filled half-hour set before calling it a night.