Week in Review: 'London' calling, hat tricks


'London' calling: Dick Wolf's bread and butter is soon to be ITV's fish and chips. The producer's flagship "Law & Order" series is getting its first international makeover with "Law & Order: London." Kudos, the company behind the BBC's "Hustle," will co-produce with NBC Universal and Wolf Films. While format rights to the original "L&O" have never been sold abroad, versions of "SVU" and "Criminal Intent" have been adapted in other languages.

Threequel fever: Industry observers were banking on sequels to lead a big year at the boxoffice in 2007. Industry observers were right. Grosses for the full year hit a new high of $9.62 billion; that's 5% more than '06 and 4% higher than previous record-holder 2002. Of the top 10 pictures, a full five were sequels -- with four representing the third entry in a franchise and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" marking the fifth. One of those sequels, Sony's "Spider-Man 3," claimed the No. 1 spot at the boxoffice with $336.5 million, but it was the biggest nonsequel hit, "Transformers" ($319.1 million), that put Paramount atop the studio heap. Oh, and ticket prices rose 4% to an average of $6.82 -- a comically low figure to those of us here in the City of Angels.

Not so fast, Globes:
Call it a failure to communicate. With the Golden Globes just 10 days away, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. put out a release Wednesday saying it had "begun discussions" with the WGA on a strike waiver that would allow the show to proceed picket-free. Just what qualifies as "discussions," however, seems open to debate. "There have been some informal conversations but nothing more than that," WGA East boss Michael Winship said, adding that the planned picketing of the show will proceed. On the plus side for the HFPA, Ernest Borgnine, right, has yet to rescind his pledge to attend this year's ceremony.

That didn't take long:
Less than a week after her assassination, plans are already under way for a film on the life of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. According to press reports in her native Pakistan, Indian director-turned-producer Mahesh Bhatt is in preproduction on a biopic to be penned by Pakistani writer-poet Aqeel Ahmad Ruby. "The basic motive behind this announcement is just to dedicate this film to Benazir Bhutto," Skies Unlimited producer Aneela Khan said.

We hardly knew ye:
Netscape Navigator is being pushed out to Internet sea on an ice floe. The once-popular browser, familiar to anyone using the Web in the early to mid-'90s, will be officially decommissioned Feb. 1. The long, slow path to irrelevance began in 1999, when the company was bought by AOL for about $10 billion, roughly the same time that Microsoft was launching its soon-to-be-ubiquitous Internet Explorer. The sale also coincided with the Netscape team's early development of the now popular Firefox browser, which the last remaining Netscape stragglers are now being encouraged to adopt.

Yee haw:
Jessica Simpson is going country. The pop act-turned-actress-turned-born again "country girl" is heading to Tennessee to begin work on her first album in the genre, which will be released via Columbia Nashville. "Writing is a release for me. It's a way for me to tell my story," Simpson said in explaining her involvement in the creative process. "That's not to say I wouldn't record a song that I didn't write." Do tell.

Big game, big ratings:
Saturday's New England Patriots-New York Giants game, roadblocked across NBC, CBS and the NFL's own cable channel like a football State of the Union address, did big ratings for all concerned. At least 34.5 million viewers tuned in part of the game, which saw the Pats finish their regular season with a perfect 16-0 record. It marked the highest numbers for a non-Super Bowl game since a Cowboys-Chiefs clash in 1995.

Beaming up:
The hardest-working multihyphenate in the business is taking a straight acting gig. Tyler Perry, who next appears in "Meet the Browns," which he wrote, produced and is directing, will play the head of the Starfleet Academy in J.J. Abrams' update of Paramount's venerable "Star Trek" franchise. He joins a cast that includes Chris Pine, Eric Bana and Wynona Ryder.

Lucky '21':
Robert Luketic's fast-paced gambling drama "21," starring Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne and Kevin Spacey, has been tapped to open the 15th annual South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival.