WB shrouds 'Dark Knight' from Chinese audiences

Batman landed in Hong Kong, but that doesn't mean The Dark Knight will open all over China.


The movie opened in Hong Kong theaters. But Warner Bros. decided not to release the film in mainland China - or even submit it for censors' approval - because of "prerelease conditions" and "cultural sensitivities," the studio said Tuesday.

Warner Bros. officials may have been concerned the film - particularly scenes shot in Hong Kong, where Batman nabs a gangster - would offend censors. Hong Kong is a Chinese-ruled former British colony that maintains separate political and economic systems.


Another possible sticking point is a brief appearance by Edison Chen, a Hong Kong actor-singer who appeared in lurid photos with several women this year.

Bootleg copies have been available in Chinese markets for months.

'Sopranos' actor 'Johnny Cakes' apparent suicide

Police say the actor who portrayed the gay lover of a closeted mobster on The Sopranos has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in New York.

Lt. John Grimpel, a police spokesman, says John Costelloe was found dead in an apparent suicide at his Brooklyn home on Dec. 18.

Police were called to his residence after family members could not reach him.

The 47-year-old former New York City firefighter gained fame in 2006 when he was cast as short-order cook Jim "Johnny Cakes" Witowski opposite Joseph Gannascoli, who played gay mobster Vito Spatafore on the hit HBO show.

Costelloe was performing as a hustler in a theater production of Gang of Seven at the time of his death.


Ruling could put 'Watchmen' in jeopardy

A federal judge has ruled that 20th Century Fox owns a copyright interest in Watchmen, potentially jeopardizing the superhero movie's March release.

U.S. District Judge Gary Feess of Los Angeles disclosed the decision in a written order Wednesday, The New York Times and Variety reported.

Watchmen, based on the popular graphic novel of the same name, was shot by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Fox sued to prevent its release and Feess had set a Jan. 20 trial, but reversed course in writing that Fox at least owns the right to distribute the film.

Fox claims it never fully relinquished its rights to the story from a deal made in the late 1980s.

Scott Rowe, a Warner spokesman, declined to comment on the latest ruling.


Associated Press

today's birthdays

Record producer Phil Spector, 68

America's Most Wanted host John Walsh, 63 Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), 62

Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk, 61

Humorist David Sedaris, 52.


Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox), 39

Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake), 38

Actor Jared Leto, 37.

Rock singer Chris Daughtry, 29