Mel Gibson doesn’t blame the Jews for the demise of Mayan civilization, the same old J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets rear their ugly helmets and it’s too cold not to wear underwear as the countdown to 2007 gets underway
Mel Gibson Tops the Box Office, Ciara Eyes #1, Clint Eastwood, The Queen Score, and We Prepare for the Apocalypto
The end of year wrap-ups are beginning. The L.A. and N.Y. Film Critics weigh in with their picks. Mel Gibson doesn’t blame the Jews for the demise of Mayan civilization, the same old J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets rear their ugly helmets and it’s too cold not to wear underwear as the countdown to 2007 gets underway… It couldn’t come a moment too soon, folks.

LaFace/ZLG diva Ciara looks headed to the top of the album charts this week, with a number that appears to be over 300k, followed closely by Eminem’s Shady/Aftermath/ Interscope mixtape collection, Re-Ups, and Gwen Stefani’s The Sweet Escape in the 295k and 235-250k range, respectively.

On the film front, Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto bowed as the box office leader with $14.2 million, ahead of The Holiday, with $13.5 million, which was enough to unseat last week’s leader, the penguin cartoon Happy Feet, which racked up $12.7 million for a total of $137.7 million. The three-day box office total was down 22% from last year, when Chronicles of Narnia hit theatres, and now year-to-date is up a little over 5%.

L.A. Film Critics picked Clint Eastwood’s yet-to-open Letters From Iwo Jima as its top film, the companion movie to Flags of Our Fathers. The film, in Japanese with English subtitles, opens Dec. 20. It was also named the top movie by the National Board of Review. Eastwood finished second to United 93’s Peter Greengrass as Best Director. Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat shared the Best Acting nod from the L.A. scribes with Forest Whitaker’s portrayal of Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland, while The Queen’s Helen Mirren received the Best Actress nod and Michael Sheen’s portrayal pf Tony Blair nabbed Best Supporting Actor. The film’s screenwriter Peter Morgan also was cited. Luminita Gheorghiu won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Romanian black comedy, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. The National Board of Review tapped Martin Scorsese as Best Director for The Departed, Forest Whittaker as Best Actor and Helen Mirren Best Actress. The rest of its Top 10 included Babel, Blood Diamond, The Departed, The Devil Wears Prada, The History Boys, Little Miss Sunshine, Notes on a Scandal and The Painted Veil. The Board also cited The Departed for its ensemble cast and breakthrough performances by Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson), Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) and Rinko Kikuchi (Babel). The American Film Institute’s Top 10 included, in no order, Letters From Iwo Jima, Dreamgirls, Borat, United 93, Babel, The Devil Wears Prada, Half Nelson, Happy Feet, Inside Man and Little Miss Sunshine. The New York Film Critics Association tapped United 93 as its best picture of the year, with Helen Mirren winning Best Actress and Forest Whitaker Best Actor. Martin Scorsese earned Best Director honors for The Departed, while Dreamgirls’ Jennifer Hudson and Little Children’s Jackie Earle Haley took home supporting actor nods. Peter Morgan's screenplay for The Queen was honored, as was Happy Feet as Best Animated Film.

The L.A. TimesAnn Powers taps Fall Out Boy, Incubus and My Chemical Romance as the three top performers at this weekend’s KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas, with runners-up honors to 30 Seconds to Mars and AFI here.

Ex-Billboard editor Melinda Newman checks in with an L.A. Times piece on the dearth of female A&R executives here.

The L.A. Times checks in on local indie band Aviatic, who find more success on, surprise, the Internet, than they do getting a major label deal here.

The N.Y. TimesJon Pareles examines the phenomenon of user-generated content on YouTube and MySpace here.

The N.Y. Times profiles American Idol winner Taylor Hicks on the eve of his debut release here.

Surprise Grammy Best New Artist nominee Imogen Heap shares her current, rather esoteric, listening list with the N.Y. Times here.

The TimesJeff Leeds on how labels are increasingly turning to ringtones, digital downloads and other auxiliary sources of revenue in the face of plummeting CD sales here.

The Washington Post weighs in on the death of Tower Records here.

In 1957: Jerry Lee Lewis married Myra Gale Brown in Hernando, Mississippi. Myra was the daughter of his bass player Jay, Jerry Lee’s second cousin and 13- years-old. And Jerry was still married to his second wife Jane Mitcham. Against the odds, this union lasted 13 years.

In 1960: Aretha Franklin performed live for the first time at New York’s Village Vanguard.

In 1963: The Beatles appeared on the BBC’s Juke Box Jury.

In 1964: Sam Cooke died after being shot to death at the Hacienda Motel in L.A. At her trial, motel manager Bertha Franklin said she shot the soul giant three times and then beat him with a stick because he attempted to rape 22-year-old Elisa Boyer, the woman he checked in with, and then tried to assault her. The coroner’s office ruled Cooke’s death to be the result of justifiable homicide.

In 1966: Beatles manager Brian Epstein tried to sign Little Richard after he promoted two of the wild rocker’s London concerts. Richard declined the offer.

In 1967: The Beatles partnership Apple Music signed its first act, Grapefruit.

In 1968: The Rolling Stones Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus taped for the second day with Eric Clapton, John Lennon, The Who and Jethro Tull.

In 1971: James Brown released his 32nd album, Revolution of the Mind: Live at the Apollo, Volume 3.

In 1972: James Brown was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after a show in Knoxville, Tennessee. A man reported to police that Brown was trying to start a riot after he began discussing drugs with a group of people. Charges were dropped after Brown threatened to sue the city of Knoxville for a million bucks.

In 1972: Genesis made their American live debut with a show at Massachusetts Brandeis University.

In 1973: Footage of Jimmy Page climbing a mountain was shot behind his home on Loch Ness in Scotland for the Led Zeppelin film The Song Remains the Same.

In 1976: At a Kiss concert in Florida, Ace Frehley accidentally touched a short-circuited light bulb and was electrocuted. An unconscious Frehley was taken off the stage then wheeled back on 10 minutes later to complete the concert.

In 1976: Bob Seger released his Top 10 album Night Moves.

In 1988: Days after the death of the great Roy Orbison, Don Henley, Tom Petty, and Graham Nash performed a concert in his honor at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles.

In 1995: Folk critic Robert Shelton died in Brighton, England. As a writer for The New York Times, Shelton helped bring the unknown performer Bob Dylan to the city’s attention. He also wrote the liner notes to Dylan’s first album using the pseudonym Stacy Williams.

In 2002: Moby was attacked by three men with a can of mace outside the Paradise Club in Boston. Moby walked away with bruises and stitches.

In 2002: Guns N’ Roses comeback tour was cancelled.

In 2002: David Lee Roth sued Warner Bros. and his old band Van Halen because he said he was owed royalties after a 1996 renegotiation of their contract.

In 2003: The RIAA certified AC/DC's Back In Black as the world's second-best-selling album of all time, behind Michael Jackson's Thriller.

In 2003: The Cure played their smallest British gig in years at the Islington Carling Academy to benefit charity.

In 2004: Two people were killed and 11 were wounded in Sri Lanka after a grenade went off during a concert by Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan.

Mestel walks like a man. (10/22a)
And Q3 figures look good as well. (10/21a)
A Swift return to #1. (10/21a)
The Rumours are true. (10/23a)
Could she be this year's left-field anointed one? (10/23a)
Bring your umbrella.
Mulling possible surprises.
Why not wear a mask indoors?
What drugs will help us get there?

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