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The Biggest Gamblers in Hollywood

Hollywood casino

Money breeds money or so they say. Therefore it is no surprise that gambling, placing a bet, having a flutter is a popular pastime for Hollywood celebrities. However, many are not content with a playing small bets online. Here is a look at some of Hollywood’s most infamous gambling cases:

Ashton Kutcher

The 35-year-old is one of Hollywood’s A-list stars, with a string of big roles to his name on both the small and big screens. He has made some pretty smart investments over time too, purchasing a stake in Skype for example. However, he revealed in an interview that he was also operating a sophisticated betting network which cleared hundreds of thousands of dollars each week during the college football season.

Tiger Woods

Regularly ranked as one of if not the top-earning sportsperson over recent years, Tiger Woods is not short of cash. He is apparently a well-known figure around the Las Vegas casino scene, not surprising given his well-publicised party lifestyle. Apparently, the golf star enjoyed a one million dollar betting limit at MGM Grand Casino and often played Blackjack at $25,000 per hand.

Charlie Sheen

The “Two and a Half Men” star has had his very public problems and meltdowns and so perhaps his penchant for excessive gambling is no great surprise. His second wife Denise Richards specified in the divorce papers which she filed that Sheen regularly gambled $20,000 each week, mainly on sports betting. He apparently even set up his own gambling website, presumably making it just that bit easier to place a wager on the big match.

50 Cent

The rapper certainly seems to enjoy having a bet, particularly when it comes to sport. In 2012, he is thought to have pocketed a cool $500,000 on a championship game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers. He tweeted that he placed the bet having listened to “the voices in my head.” 50 Cent was also spotted in late 2012 on a high-stakes night of gambling with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. A YouTube clip showed 50 Cent at the end of the evening packing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cash into a snazzy car.

Ben Affleck

The Hollywood actor and director’s gambling issues are no big secret. He has previously received treatment for a gambling addiction and a couple of years ago he was said to owe movie-mogul Ron Meyer $400,000 in gambling debts. The same rumours said that Affleck used to host his own high-stakes poker game at a high-end Beverly Hills cigar club. However, there is no doubting that Affleck is a talented poker player, having won $356,000 at the California State Poker Championship in 2004, which qualified him for World Poker Tour final tournament that same year.

Frank Sinatra

‘Ol Blue Eyes certainly spent plenty of time in Las Vegas and having starred in the original Ocean’s Eleven movie, he was certainly more than familiar with the gambling fraternity. However, Sinatra used his fame to positive effect, campaigning successfully for an end to segregation in Las Vegas casinos. This paved the way for him to enjoy nights at the casino with his Rat Pack colleague Sammy Davis Jr!

If you’re looking to get a taste of the Hollywood glam life in Vegas, consider first playing Betsson mobile games. Practice in the comfort of your own home or whenever you find yourself in a waiting room and bored. It will give you the confidence and experience you might want before taking the plunge at a poker table.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Weekend box office: “No Strings Attached” receives benefits from female filmgoers

Things this weekend went pretty much exactly according to what I wrote on Thursday. Still, there was some nervousness out there.

Ashton Kutcher, Natalie Portman, and Cary Elwes in Nikki Finke tells us the studios were skittish because of the commercial track record of leading man Ashton Kutcher; it seems I’m not the only male audience member to have a deep, lizard-brain level allergy to the Kutcher. Fortunately for Paramount, young women are the dominant (70%, possibly) audience here. The simplicity of the premise and the balancing presence of the widely beloved, sure-to-be-Oscar-nominated Natalie Portman seems to have been enough to earn “No Strings Attached” — originally, presumably very tentatively, titled “Fuckbuddies” — an estimated $20.3 million for Paramount. I didn’t care for the movie, pretty obviously, but I sort of expected it to do reasonably well. It delivers what’s advertised, has some mildly funny moments, and we’ve all been trained to think of romantic comedies as light-brained affairs. That last part just makes me sad.

Scrolling down the Box Office Mojo chart, “The Green Hornet” suffered a very typical 46% drop it’s second week. It therefore managed a respectable $18.1 million estimate for Sony, putting more than it half-way to making back its $120 million production budget. Ron Howard’s first comedy in many moons, “The Dilemma,” dropped roughly the same amount and continued on track with its soft opening at an estimate of $9.7 million for luckless but now ultra-powerful Universal, thanks to the mega-merger with Comcast.

A cluster of likely Oscar contenders are holding down the next several spots, led by “The King’s Speech.” The press loves a horserace and speculation on the very real possibility of an Oscar sweep for “The Social Network” has been slowed somewhat by the Producer’s Guild awarding of its top prize to the historical tale last night.

Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter in

With a first-rate combination of director (Tom Hooper) and star (Colin Firth) the drama is apparently getting some outstanding word of mouth. It suffered almost no drop at all from last week and it’s estimate for the Weinstein Company is bubbling under $9.2 million. It’s going to be crossing the $60 million threshold probably by mid-week, many times it’s $15 million budget.

It was kind of a funny week in limited release. Indiewire has the details, but Peter Weir’s “The Way Back” disappointed somewhat in about 600 theaters. Probably getting a significant boost from star Paul Giamatti‘s surprise Golden Globe win, “Barney’s Version” led the week in per-screen averages, earning about $10,000 each on 16 screens. Not bad for a movie about a creature thought to be as hard to find as a yeti, an occasionally rude Canadian.

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Weekend box office preview: Will the Kutcher and Natalie Portman swarm “The Green Hornet”?

There’s only one major new release this week and, yeah, I kind of hate it, but that’s never prevented a movie from making a nice sum at the box office.

No Strings Attached” features easily my last favorite star of this, or really any, generation, Ashton Kutcher. It also features the vastly more talented and likable Natalie Portman, a really strong supporting cast, and what I see as really lousy screenplay that can’t be salvaged by director Ivan Reitman or anyone else. The film is an attempt to do an Apatow-style comedy for youngish women and, leaving aside my personal dislike of the film, I have a hunch it will do rather well. It’s actually splitting critics which, considering it’s an Ashton Kutcher film, is probably the equivalent of an Oscar sweep.

Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman have

Given the film’s positive tracking among women discussed by THR’s Pamela McClintock, Ben Fritz says that the conventional wisdom is the movie will make roughly $20 million. That makes it a real threat to the #1 status of “The Green Hornet.” The action comedy earned roughly $33 million last weekend and, for that kind of film, a 50% week #2 drop is actually not doing at all badly. Also, considering the very modest budget of “No Strings” ($20 million), it’s almost sure to be profitable for Paramount.

A couple of interesting and well reviewed movies are also getting much more aggressive than usual limited releases. Director Peter Weir (“The Truman Show,” “Witness”) returns with Ed Harris in tow in the Gulag escape drama, “The Way Back” from Newmarket and the very topical star-driven “The Company Men” from director John Wells is out from the Weinstein Company. The real mystery is why these well-regarded, if not quite ecstatically received, films weren’t at least given a shot at awards with a pre-2011 Oscar-qualifying run.

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The Golden Globes happened, the world continues to turn

You probably know by now that the big water cooler topic in Hollywood about last night at the Golden Globes isn’t so much the awards themselves. Yes, there were some nice surprises in the acting categories, most notably for Paul Giamatti in “Barney’s Version.” “The Social Network” remains a big Oscar favorite, and so on. (You can see a complete list of last night’s winners here, by the way). No. It appears the most criticized man in Hollywood this day is not Mel Gibson or Jeff Zucker, but one Mr. Ricky Gervais.  Here, via the Guardian, is the opening monologue for those of you who missed it or want to relive the moment.

It seems to me that there is no more thankless high-profile task in major-league Hollywood today than being a stand-up hosting an award show. Much better to be an actor doing tightly scripted song-and-dances. As a conventional host, if you’re too much of a flatterer you annoy everyone who wasn’t personally flattered, but just ask Chris Rock and Jon Stewart how even relatively tame cracks can be bandied about in the press for days as writers panic on behalf of show biz egos.

Mary McNamara‘s piece at the L.A. Times underplays the criticism that Rock received at the time for his not-too-extreme critique of Jude Law’s acting abilities compared to Hollywood greats. David Letterman was bashed for being too silly. Stewart was deemed insufficiently differential and not funny enough, though to me it was case of maybe being too honest for the room. Of course, that was the Oscars — which shouldn’t be taken all that seriously but still has a certain mythological import to it — and this was the Golden Globes, the famously drunken award show with the often bizarre nominations and sometimes strange wins.

My attitude is this: Yes, Gervais crossed the line at points — though determining where the line is isn’t always so easy. The crack about Scientology and certain allegedly closeted top stars was pretty nasty, and worse, wasn’t funny. I could understand why the head of the HFPA was angry — though if he didn’t want to have cruel jokes made about him and his job, he’s heading the wrong organization. On the other hand, Gervais was often very funny with better aimed and gentler jabs, and last night’s performance does have its fans. I thought the joke about Bruce Willis being Ashton Kutcher’s dad was funny and it looked to me like Willis maybe thought so too. Others were somewhere in between. They hired Gervais, but what they really wanted was Don Rickles. Someone who’d insult people in such a way that no one would take it seriously. That’s hard to do if you don’t happen to actually be Rickles.

I wouldn’t want to be Gervais, or Gervais’s publicist, today but I think we all take these things way too seriously, and everyone still has their careers. We spend too much time reading the tea leaves and are too quick to make Nikki Finke-style conclusions about the goodness or evil of certain figures based on pretty minimal information. The Steve Carrell “it never gets old” line and putative feud over the different versions of “The Office” struck me as more Jack Benny and Fred Allen than West Coast vs. East Coast rappers. They might well have been “joking on the square,” but they might just as easily have been nervously joking.

Anyhow, if any of you have any thoughts on the matter, feel more than free to pipe up in comments. Oh, and be nice!

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Friday trailer: Pardon my Kutcher

I guess at this point I’ve chosen my destiny to the extent that, barring some miraculous talent infusion, I will probably never interview Ashton Kutcher. It’s not just that he’s a mediocre actor, I’m just allergic to the guy. Something about his onscreen persona — a sense of entitlement backed up by pseudo intelligence, perhaps — just sets my teeth on edge and makes me want to punch him, and I am a very bad puncher who should never be punching anyone.

Nevertheless, I present this red-band trailer for his latest rom-com, “No Strings Attached.” It’s completely NSFW because it’s a bit fuck-happy, both in terms of the act and the heavy and loud use of the word itself, and it does have some chuckles. There’s a bit of Kevin Kline as Kutcher’s father at the beginning, heretical though the thought is that one of my favorite extant actors could begat a Kutcher. Also, for those of you to whom this is an inviting or repellent thought, be advised this trailer also contains a brief moment of what may be naked Kutcher keister. Natalie Portman is, at least, underclothed in many of the shots even if no specific naughty bits are revealed.

h/t Jay A. Fernandez of THR.

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What’s scarier than Ashton Kutcher’s career or a death march, with cocktails?

The first new flick in a long time from John Carpenter. At least, “The Ward” starring sure looks like a good, old fashioned scare show that earns it’s creeps the hard way. Will I be able to take it? Amber Heard and Jared Harris of “Mad Men” star.

h/t The Playlist.

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Pretty funny/Less funny or “Actors With and Without Benefits”

I’m returning to my occasional game of comparison between successful and not so successful attempts at humor with a contrast that’s less outrageous than usual. Today we have two new trailers for comic films dealing with the not-really-so-new phenomenon of people having sex with friends they’re not actually dating.  Neither is bad, exactly, but I think one is definitely funnier than the other.

The trailer that came out last night for “No Strings Attached” isn’t terribly unfunny. It also isn’t all that terribly funny or compelling and, in my view, there’s mostly one reason for that and he’s winking at you right now. See if you agree.

Now, we move along to today’s Red Band (and hence a bit mildly NSWF) trailer for the similarly themed movie with the title you knew someone was going to use: “Friends With Benefits.”

Not necessarily a work of genius but pretty entertaining stuff that had me laughing out loud right at the end. The difference? Well, it’s pretty clear that we have a leading man issue. Though I might be tempted to argue he’s a better producer than director, Ivan Reitman has certainly proven he can make a very decent, or better than decent, comedy. However, Billy Wilder, himself would have probably made a mediocre film if the studio saddled him with an Ashton Kutcher equivalent. Natalie Portman‘s a very good actress who I’m sure will bring out the best in Kutcher, but his best, as far as I can tell, isn’t good.

Starting out as a teen idol, some initially dismissed Justin Timberlake in much the same way I still dismiss Kutcher and, before I actually saw him in anything, I might have expected to feel the same. Funny part is, Timberlake turned out to be a hard working and very likable actor, and his notices for “The Social Network” indicate he’s going to continue to be moving up. He also he has no problem making fun of himself and his career so far. Here, it really pays off and with Mila Kunis — another actor who’s turned out much better so far than I originally expected — he’s really got something to work with. A wise choice by “Easy A” director Will Gluck.

So, my advice to directors considering casting choices is clear: seek the Timberlake; avoid the Kutcher.

H/t Screencrave and /film.

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“They didn’t want to make E.T.”

I like movie about movies, and this one,”Brothers Justice,” features co-writer director Dax Shepherd, Jon Favreau, Tom Arnold, and, er, Ashton Kutcher, playing themselves (which in the latter two cases is preferable to them playing someone once) and has my attention. Following the lead of Dustin Rowles, I’m not going to say much more than that. See what you think. (A bit NSFW because of some of F-words and a homophobic slur on a martial art.)

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Killers

When the ads for Robert Luketic’s “Killers” started appearing in theaters, a lot of people were quick to notice the similarities to another husband-wife action comedy, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” But while it certainly sounds like a clone of the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie film on the surface, “Killers” should be so lucky to be considered in the same company. Katherine Heigl stars as Jen Kornfeldt, a recently single woman on vacation in France with her parents when she meets the seemingly ordinary Spencer Aimes (Ashton Kutcher) and the pair get hitched. What Spencer fails to tell her is that he used to be an assassin for the CIA, and although he’s since walked away from the job in order to lead a normal life, a bounty has been put on his head that sends a sleeper unit of contract killers posing as their neighbors and co-workers to take him out.

Unfortunately, Heigl and Kutcher just don’t have the chemistry needed to make a movie like this work, and I would have loved to have seen what other actors (like maybe real-life couple Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson) could have done in the roles. Of course, that wouldn’t change the fact that the film’s biggest flaw is the explanation as to why the bounty has been put on Spencer’s head in the first place – a twist ending so absurd that it makes the rest of the movie seem even dumber than it is. “Killers” still has a few good moments (including a cameo by a certain bestselling R&B musician that’s so out of left field it’s actually pretty funny), but they’re not enough to save it from the film’s own half-baked plot.

Click to buy “Killers”

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“Shrek Forever After” to live up to its name?

Shrek Forever After Quite possibly, if three weeks constitutes “forever.” The final installment of the CGI animation series was considered a fairly major disappointment in its first week, earning a relatively anemic amount just under $71 million, tens of millions less than prior entries. However,  “Shrek Forever After” has shown decent staying power, indicating that the relatively strong reviews this time around might be reflective of something that actually matters to audiences. If we are to believe jolly Carl DiOrio, it is once again the probable box office champion. Indeed, DiOrio expects the grosses to be between $25 and $30 million, which could easily double almost all of the four, count ‘em, four major new releases coming out this week, assuming his lowish guesses for the other films are right.

To a lesser extent, the second week of the widely hated “Sex and the City 2” is also a contender for third place according to DiOrio — in his video, he doesn’t mention it in writing — but the Numbers see things quite a bit differently. I’d personally expect a bigger than average drop-off from it’s unimpressive debut simply because I get the feeling that hardly anyone liked it much, perhaps not even the franchise’s biggest fans.

Read the rest of this entry »

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