NEIL SIMON DIES
NEW YORK (AP) – The playwright behind such comedic hits such as “The Odd Couple” and “Plaza Suite,” has died. Neil Simon was 91. According to Bill Evans, Simon’s longtime friend and the Shubert Organization director of media relations, the playwright died early Sunday of complications from pneumonia in a Manhattan hospital. Simon was the American theater’s most successful and prolific playwright in the second half of the 20th century. He won three regular Tonys, plus one for special achievement, as well as a Pulitzer and the Mark Twain prize for humor. Simon’s successes included “The Sunshine Boys,” “Plaza Suite” and “Sweet Charity.” Many of his plays were adapted into movies and one, “The Odd Couple,” became a popular TV series.
MARSHA MASON REMINISCES ABOUT NEIL SIMON
NEW YORK (AP) – Actress Marsha Mason says playwright Neil Simon, to whom she was married for a decade, will be “sorely missed” but that his work will live on. Simon was the American theater’s most successful and prolific playwright in the second half of the 20th century, with comedies that included “The Odd Couple” and “The Sunshine Boys.” He died Sunday at age 91. Mason was married to Simon from 1973 to 1983, and she acted in several of his creations. She says: “He was a great talent and man, husband and father.” She says “his work and plays live on and will be enjoyed by many generations to come. I miss him deeply and always.” Mason appeared in his stage comedy “The Good Doctor” and who went on to star in several films written by Simon, including “The Goodbye Girl,” “The Cheap Detective,” “Chapter Two,” “Only When I Laugh” and “Max Dugan Returns.”
“CRAZY RICH ASIANS” STILL NUMBER ONE AT BOX OFFICE
NEW YORK (AP) – The opening weekend for “Crazy Rich Asians” was historic. Its second weekend was even more impressive. The romantic comedy sensation slid just 6 percent from its chart-topping debut to again lead the box office with $25 million, according to studio estimates Sunday. Almost as many people turned out over the weekend for “Crazy Rich Asians” as they did for its opening. That’s virtually never the case for non-holiday releases, which typically drop about 50 percent. But propelled by an eagerness for a major Hollywood film led by Asian stars, “Crazy Rich Asians” is showing almost unprecedented legs. It was helped by weak competition. The critically slammed R-rated puppet caper “The Happytime Murders” debuted with $10.1 million, a career-low for Melissa McCarthy. The robot-dog fantasy “A.X.L.” flopped with $2.9 million.
“CRAZY RICH ASIANS” DRAWS IMMIGRANT PARENTS TO THEATERS
When “Crazy Rich Asians” surpassed expectations and grabbed the top spot at the box office in its opening weekend, the film also pulled off another surprising feat: It put Asians of a certain age in theater seats. Younger Asian-Americans have been flocking with their parents to see the first movie in 25 years with an all-Asian cast. For many older, first-generation Asian immigrants, going to the movies doesn’t rank high among hobbies and interests. The crowds, the language barrier and ticket prices are often turnoffs. But the appeal of “Crazy Rich Asians,” the story of a culture clash that erupts when an Asian-American woman from New York meets her boyfriend’s family in Singapore, has bridged a real-life generation gap. Earning more than $40 million since its Aug. 15 release, the film already has a sequel in development.
BALLOT PETITION NIXED FOR “LAW AND ORDER” ACTRESS DIANE NEAL
KINGSTON, N.Y. (AP) – It looks like curtains for “Law and Order” actress Diane Neal in her bid for a new role as congresswoman from a sprawling upstate New York district. The state Board of Elections has invalidated Neal’s nominating petition to get on the November ballot as an independent candidate in the 19th Congressional District. The board rejected 1,852 of the 4,181 signatures on Neal’s petition, leaving her 1,171 short of the needed 3,500. Neal said Friday that the board is doing the bidding of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. She says she’s confident she’ll succeed in her appeal to the state Supreme Court. Democrat Antonio Delgado is challenging incumbent Republican Rep. John Faso to represent the district north of the New York City metro area. Neal, who portrayed Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak on “Law and Order: SVU,” hasn’t held political office.