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Quick Takes: Matt Damon says Steven Soderbergh may retire soon

December 23, 2010

Matt Damon has been in Chicago working on "Contagion," the pandemic thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh, and the actor said he's consciously tried to enjoy the experience because he doubts that he will have many more chances to work with the filmmaker.

"He's retiring, he's been talking about it for years and it's getting closer," Damon said of Soderbergh, whose credits include "Erin Brockovich," "Ocean's Eleven," "The Informant" and "Sex, Lies, and Videotape." Soderbergh turns 48 next month.

"He wants to paint and he says he's still young enough to have another career," Damon said. "He's kind of exhausted with everything that interested him in terms of form. He's not interested in telling stories. Cinema interested him in terms of form and that's it. He says, 'If I see another over-the-shoulder shot, I'm going to blow my brains out.'"

Soderbergh told Esquire two years ago that he'd like to retire by the age of 51, which marks his 25th year as a filmmaker. "After this movie," Damon said, "we're doing 'Liberace' next summer with Michael Douglas, and then he might do one more movie after that with George [Clooney], and then after that he's retiring."

It may sound like a hoax or gag, but Damon said he is absolutely serious — the only filmmaker nominated twice in the same year for the Academy Award for best director (for "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich," both released in 2000) is weary of moviemaking.

—Geoff Boucher

Love shown for 'Michael'

Michael Jackson's first posthumous studio album was the top seller around the world during its first week of release, his label said Wednesday, but was held to a modest No. 3 debut in the United States.

The collection of unfinished recordings, titled "Michael," took the No. 1 slot in Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Sweden, said Sony Corp.-owned Epic Records.

In Germany, "Michael" was the biggest debut of the year, selling 85,000 copies, Epic said. Its British start of 113,000 copies was the best for Jackson since 1991's "Dangerous."

In the U.S., the world's largest music market, "Michael" sold about 228,000 copies during the week ended Dec. 19.

"Michael" was bested by Taylor Swift's "Speak Now," which returned to No. 1 for a third, nonconsecutive week with 259,000 copies, and former chart-topper Susan Boyle's "The Gift" with 254,000 copies.


Music sold by subscription

Sony on Wednesday unveiled a digital music subscription service, featuring a catalog of 6 million songs from Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, EMI Music and Sony Music Entertainment.

For now, the service is available only in the U.K. and Ireland, but Sony said it plans to expand it to the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Called Music Unlimited, the service comes in two flavors. A basic plan, costing 3.99 euros a month, streams ad-free radio much like Pandora. A premium version lets listeners play songs on-demand and costs 9.99 euros a month.

It works on Sony devices, including the PlayStation 3 and Bravia Internet-connected TVs, but, alas, not the iPhone.

—Alex Pham

Abbey Road, what a site

The most famous pedestrian crossing in popular music, outside Abbey Road Studios in north London, was designated a site of national importance by the British government on Wednesday.

Beatles fans flock to the road to pose for photographs imitating the picture on the "Abbey Road" album cover, which shows Paul, John, George and Ringo strolling over the crossing.

John Penrose, Britain's minister for tourism and heritage, declared the crossing a Grade II listed site on the advice of national preservation body English Heritage. This means the crossing can be altered but only with the approval of the local authorities, which would make a decision based on the site's historic significance, function and condition. Abbey Road Studios were listed Grade II in February.


Spidey fall was 'human error'

The Actors' Equity union says actor Christopher Tierney's fall Monday while stunt-doubling as the superhero in a sequence of Broadway's "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" was due to an unspecified "human error." A safety review was conducted and performances are scheduled to resume Thursday. No show had been scheduled Tuesday; Wednesday's matinee and evening performances were canceled.


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