'Freddy vs. Jason' slices, dices new box office contenders

Los Angeles -- A weak batch of new movies made easy prey for "Freddy vs. Jason," which took in $13.45 million to remain the No. 1 weekend flick, according to studio estimates Sunday.

"Freddy vs. Jason," a blood feud between the villains of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Friday the 13th," was the first movie to retain the top spot for two straight weekends since "X2: X-Men United" in early May.

Other estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at North American theaters, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:

2. "S.W.A.T." $10.8 million.

3 (tie). "Freaky Friday," $9.4 million.

3 (tie). "Open Range," $9.4 million.

5. "The Medallion," $8.2 million.

6. "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," $7.3 million.

7. "Seabiscuit," $6.3 million.

8. "Uptown Girls," $5.6 million

9. "American Wedding," $5.58 million.

10. "My Boss's Daughter," $5 million.

Wishful thinking

Pasadena, Calif.-- Science fiction author Ray Bradbury celebrated his 83rd birthday with this wish:

One night, 100 years from now, a youngster will stay up late reading "The Martian Chronicles" with a flashlight under his blanket -- on the Red Planet.

"That's the dream I have and that's the reason I'm here," the author of the 1950 classic said during a birthday party organized Saturday by The Planetary Society.

Actress Nichelle Nichols pinned a "Star Trek" badge on his lapel.

"It makes you an honorary member of the Starship Enterprise, which you actually have been from day one," said Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on the original "Star Trek" TV series.

Kissing for a cause

Fort Myers, Fla. -- Academy Award-winner Meryl Streep served as auctioneer to help sell artwork -- including her husband's -- to benefit survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Streep took the stage before a crowd of about 1,500 on Saturday for the black-tie benefit for Arts for ACT, the annual auction for Abuse Counseling and Treatment.

At one point, Streep offered to shake a winning bidder's hand if the sales price was at least $500. On a laser print, Streep sweetened the pot.

"Maybe a kiss. Maybe a French kiss," she told the crowd.

The print, "Jarros," sold for $3,500 and Streep delivered a kiss to the buyer.

The auction raised $296,795.

A taxing deal

Birmingham, Ala.-- "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard, known as "The Velvet Teddy Bear," will perform two free concerts in his native Alabama on behalf of a tax referendum backed by one of his biggest fans, Gov. Bob Riley.

The 8,800 free tickets for the Sept. 2 concert in Mobile ran out in 30 minutes, and 10,000 were distributed in 17 minutes in Birmingham for a Sept. 5 concert in Studdard's hometown. Studdard's band, Just a Few Cats, and comedian Ced Delaney also are scheduled to perform.

The "Believe in Alabama" concerts were organized to promote the Republican governor's tax increase proposals on the Sept. 9 ballot.


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