Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

End of the Ben and Jen Show? Their First Film Together, Gigli, Bombed. and the Knives Are out for Their Next One. Times Are Hard for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez - and the Pressure Is Taking Its Toll on Their Romance

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

End of the Ben and Jen Show? Their First Film Together, Gigli, Bombed. and the Knives Are out for Their Next One. Times Are Hard for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez - and the Pressure Is Taking Its Toll on Their Romance

Article excerpt

Byline: EDWARD HELMORE

ON Tuesday night in a glitzy 500-seat cinema in The Bronx, a paltry six people took their seats for the evening showing of Gigli, the much-hyped and now derided film starring Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck. It's a sorry state of affairs when even cinema-goers from the neighbourhood in which J-Lo grew up and where she's affectionately called "Jenny from the block" avoid Gigli (it rhymes with "really") like the proverbial plague.

Gigli has become the movie fiasco of a Hollywood summer that is judged to be the worst both financially and artistically of recent years. The [pounds sterling]80 million film, in which J-Lo and her fiance Affleck play rival gangsters who fall in love, took a measly [pounds sterling]2 million in its opening weekend in the US. Sony, the film's distributor, has pulled all advertising for the movie, leaving theatre owners, who are contractually obliged to play the film for two weeks, stranded.

With critics unanimously describing the film as "dreary", "torpid" and "unwatchable", the most immediate casualty of Gigli is likely to be the couple's next vehicle, Jersey Girl, about a young man (Affleck) as a single father. Made by the wellregarded director Kevin Smith, the release of the Miramax-backed film has already been pushed back from the autumn to next February at the earliest, so fearful are bosses of the public's perception of the couple.

It will be difficult for them to overcome the stigma, predicts Glenn Kenny, Premiere magazine film reviewer. "Even after we get through the Schadenfreude phase, people are going to be so sick of hearing about them that even on the off-chance one of them appears in something halfway decent, nobody will want to know."

People who have seen Jersey Girl (and cruelly dubbed it Gigli 2) say the film's first act - in which Lopez's character appears before dying in childbirth - is highly problematic and the director has been reshooting it.

Now that Affleck and Lopez together are proven box-office poison, sources at Miramax are hinting that J-Lo may be cut from the film altogether, though a spokesman insists no decision has yet been taken.

One critic said he couldn't sit through it for more than an hour.

"Unless the cutting-room floor contains a pile over 10ft high of unused footage, I don't think there is any way to fix this movie," he wrote.

Consequently, Lopez and Affleck are being advised to take a wellearned break from the business of being the world's most visible celebrity couple. If, indeed, they are still a couple at all.

The difference in their backgrounds-- Affleck, a Harvard-educated-New England Protestant, J-Lo a Hispanic twice-married Catholic from one of New York's toughest neighbourhoods - has always given rise to speculation that theirs is a union of love and professional opportunism, and only yesterday it was reported that the whirlwind relationship has come unstuck. …

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