Good thing the moral is: Money isn't all

The Life After 1: The first collaboration between director Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe was the 2000 epic "Gladiator," which won the best picture Oscar and an Academy Award for the New Zealand-born actor. But their second teaming, "A Good Year," fizzled with critics and audiences last fall.

Based on the bestselling novel by Peter Mayle, the comedy-romance cast Crowe as a tightly wound British investment banker who learns there's more to life than making money when he inherits his uncle's chateau and vineyard in Provence, France.

The movie earned a pittance in U.S. theaters -- $7.5 million -- though it did slightly better ($32 million) internationally.

Since making "A Good Year," director and star have teamed once again for the thriller "American Gangster," set to open this year.

'Fiction's' truth

The Life After 2: "Stranger Than Fiction" didn't do as well at the box office as Will Ferrell's other film last year, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," but the movie funnyman was singled out for his more subtle performance in this offbeat comedy-drama as a quiet IRS agent who suddenly begins to hear a woman's (Emma Thompson) voice in his head chronicling his every move.

The film made $40.7 million last fall; Ferrell picked up a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a comedy -- he lost to his "Talladega Nights" costar Sacha Baron Cohen for "Borat"; and screenwriter Zach Helm won the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures' original screenplay award and was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award. And Helm also just completed directing his first film, "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium."

The devil, you say

The "Flip" Side: In the late 1960s through 1974, one of the hottest comics was Flip Wilson thanks to his laid-back monologues and such characters as the brazen woman Geraldine Jones, who would always talk about her jealous boyfriend, "Killer," as well as Herbie the Good Time Ice Cream Man and the flim-flamming Rev. Leroy of the Church of What's Happenin' Now.

Wilson was a frequent guest on "The Tonight Show" and he was also popular on "Laugh-In" and "The Carol Burnett Show." And in 1970, NBC gave him his own series, "The Flip Wilson Show," and for the first time in TV history, audiences and advertisers accepted an African American as host of a comedy-variety show.

The series was an instant hit and received Emmys its first season. Then CBS put the wholesome "The Waltons" up against it in 1972 and Wilson's audience eroded, and the series was history by 1974.

Rhino's new "Best of the Flip Wilson Show" features six episodes from the show's last two seasons.

Guests include Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, Joe Namath, Bill Russell, Tim Conway and Lena Horne. The set also features appearances by fellow comics Phyllis Diller, Redd Foxx, Bob and Ray, George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Albert Brooks, who provides two offbeat and extremely funny routines.

Oh, great, it's back

If at First You Don't Succeed ... Oliver Stone is still trying to get his 2004 disappointment, "Alexander," right. In 2005, Stone released his "director's cut" of the lengthy epic about Alexander the Great on DVD, deleting 18 minutes from the theatrical release and adding nine minutes of cut footage. The director's cut clocked in at over 2 1/2 hours.

The new DVD, "Alexander: the Final Cut," arriving Tuesday, adds 45 minutes of footage to the film, transforming it into more of a miniseries than a movie. The two-disc set includes a new intro by the Oscar-winning Stone as well as free passes to the new sword-and-sandal epic "300."


-- Susan King

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