'The Martian' leads box office with $55 million

LOS ANGELES -- "The Martian" launched with an estimated $55 million weekend at the domestic box office, nearly matching the October record held by the 2013 stranded-in-space film "Gravity."

"The Martian," which cost $108 million to make, met the higher end of industry tracking expectations after facing little competition from other new releases...Read more

TV picks for the week of Oct. 4

A lot of our favorites return, including HBO's "The Leftovers." But not the people who vanished in that show's first season; they're not back. Well, some of them might be, kinda-sorta, but now I'm veering perilously close to spoiler territory, so never mind. Here's what caught my eye this week:

Sunday: "Madam Secretary," 7 p.m., CBS: Season 2 ...Read more

Around the Remote: 'Homeland', 'Madam Secretary', 'The Flash' return

DON'T MISS: "Homeland" -- Season 5 of the acclaimed drama begins two years after the horrific embassy attack in Islamabad. No longer with the CIA, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is building a new life with her daughter in Berlin. She's even in a stable relationship with a nice German lawyer (Alex Fehling). Oh, but you just know all hell will ...Read more

TMC looking at successes, obstacles for female directors

"The Hurt Locker" was supposed to alleviate the pain.

When the film was named best picture at the 2010 Academy Awards and Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to triumph as best director, Hollywood finally appeared ready to integrate the boys' club.

It didn't happen. Since that milestone, not a single woman has been Oscar-nominated for best ...Read more

David Cassidy charged with sideswiping truck, fleeing scene

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- When witnesses were asked to review a photo lineup for a haphazard driver on Interstate 595 in Florida, they identified 1970s teen heartthrob David Cassidy.

Police say he sideswiped a truck, stopped and attempted to cover his license plate before driving away with a flat tire.

Cassidy, 65, a Fort Lauderdale resident ...Read more

US has funded artists and intellectuals for half a century, but it's a perennial fight

WASHINGTON -- Half a century ago, during a crowded Rose Garden ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson codified the nation's commitment to the arts and humanities.

Johnson, who as a young man taught students of Mexican descent in his native Texas, asked the nation not to forget the arts and humanities even as the prevailing thought was that ...Read more

Movie review: 'Keeping Room' explores violence at home during wartime

Director Daniel Barber has a talent for sussing out the brutality intrinsic in the everyday. In 2009's "Harry Brown," Michael Caine played a Cockney retiree who avenges his best friend by taking on the hoodlums who live in the same council estate. It was revenge both Caine, and cane, style.

In "The Keeping Room," Barber, working off a script by...Read more

Stephen Colbert ratings reveal how 'Late Show' host is shaking up TV

Break out your melodica and do some high kicks: Stephen Colbert's ratings prove that "The Late Show" host is already shaking up the late-night TV landscape.

Of course it's still early, but numbers released Thursday for the first official week of the fall season show that Colbert -- who took over the CBS late-night talk show on Sept. 8 -- has so...Read more

Movie review: 'A Brilliant Young Mind' is a wonderful, fresh tale

A classy comedy-drama in overdrive, "A Brilliant Young Mind" gets seriouser and seriouser even as it grows funnier and funnier. It is a fully realized love story of rare spirit, the sort of deeply affecting film that can make you laugh until you are near tears, then drive you close to bawling.

Asa Butterfield, growing up by leaps since his ...Read more

Why Trevor Noah thinks Donald Trump could be 'America's first African president'

Trevor Noah capped off his first week as host of "The Daily Show" Thursday night with a segment comparing GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to a variety of disreputable African leaders and dictators.

It was the clearest glimpse yet of what the Noah-era "Daily Show" might look like, a piece that used the by-now-familiar "Daily Show" tools ...Read more

Expect more honesty, positivity in second season of HBO's 'The Leftovers'

LOS ANGELES -- The first season of HBO's "The Leftovers" focused on a world awash in guilt and sorrow because of an event similar to the biblical rapture. It was a combination of a deep sense of loss by those who one day woke to find out someone they loved was one of the 140 million people who disappeared with those who couldn't understand the ...Read more

Movie review: 'Time Out of Mind' is haunting masterpiece on homelessness

He's someone you see every day on city sidewalks: dragging a garbage bag, wheeling a worn suitcase, watching for a discarded lunch, for coins dropped on the curb.

In "Time Out of Mind," set in a teeming New York City, a man with a bruised face and a bruised soul looks for places to sleep, for a reason to keep going. People talk on cellphones, ...Read more

Movie review: 'Shanghai' is a likeable mess

"Shanghai is one of those oddball films that just doesn't seem to fit anywhere.

A derivative, muddled "Casablanca"-esque World War II spy thriller helmed by the reasonably accomplished Mikael Håfstrom ("Evil," "Derailed," "The Rite"), who specializes in crime thrillers and high-concept horror, it's not a good film, and it holds little prospect...Read more

Wilton Felder, bass and saxophone player who was member of the Crusaders, dies at 75

LOS ANGELES -- Bass and saxophone player Wilton Felder, who was an original member of the Crusaders and performed on hundreds of recordings with artists including Joni Mitchell and Michael Jackson, has died at his home in Whittier. He was 75.

The cause of his death Sunday was complications from cancer, said his son, Wilton Felder Jr.

Felder ...Read more

Movie review: 'Saving Mr. Wu' is a smart thriller

In fewer than five years, Chinese filmmaker Ding Sheng has established himself as one of the region's top action directors with a pair of smash hits produced by and starring Jackie Chan -- "Little Big Soldier" (2010) and "Police Story" (2013), which had cleared $100 million well before it was released in America in June as "Police Story: ...Read more

CBS drops Hollywood Film Awards

Until last year, the only people who saw the Hollywood Film Awards were the A-list recipients and their teams, movie studio executives and publicists, journalists and the waitstaff at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

That changed in 2014 when CBS and Dick Clark Productions, an investment partner in the show, began what was announced as a "multi-year ...Read more

Movie review: 'Freeheld' is weepie boosted by Julianne Moore and gay rights fight

LOS ANGELES -- It's starting to feel like a trend. With "Freeheld," as with "Still Alice" before it, Julianne Moore gives a performance as a seriously ill individual that is stronger and more effective than the film that contains it.

Unlike its predecessor, which was only about a disease, "Freeheld" comes freighted with Hollywood social ...Read more

Janet Jackson is back with 'lots to talk about'

Janet Jackson is well aware of the job at hand on her first album in seven years, and she doesn't waste any time facing up to it.

"Hello," she coos in the opening track of "Unbreakable." "It's been a while. Lots to talk about."

No kidding. In 2009 Jackson's brother Michael died. In 2012 she married a Qatari tycoon, Wissam Al Mana. And more ...Read more

Movie review: 'Aram, Aram' strikes emotional chord

'Aram, Aram" is the first full-length film to be written/directed by Christopher Chambers. He's a novice, according to his credits, he but shows the wisdom and skill of a veteran telling this story that beautifully examines love and loss painted against a political landscape.

This tale of a grandfather and his orphaned grandson could have been ...Read more

What's opening in theaters next week


"Pan" (PG): Levi Miller is Peter Pan, Hugh Jackman is Blackbeard, Garrett Hedlund is Captain Hook and Rooney Mara is Tiger Lily in this big-budget fantasy that reveals the story leading up to the events in J. M. Barrie's classic novel.

"99 Homes" (R): A working-class father (Andrew Garfield) makes a deal with a shady real estate ...Read more