Sideshow: Girls' 'The Heat' outduels boys' 'White House Down'

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy brought The Heat against Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx at the box office.

The Fox action-comedy starring the funny ladies as mismatched detectives earned $40 million in second place in its opening weekend, topping the $25.7 million debut haul of Sony's White House Down, according to studio estimates Sunday.

"Happy birthday, Mr. Authoritarian President of Turkmenistan": (see "J-Lo didn't know.")

The Disney-Pixar animated prequel Monsters University remained No. 1 at the box office in its second weekend, earning $46.1 million in first place.

As for The Heat, employing two female leads to buck the male-dominated buddy-cop formula paid off in ticket sales.

White House Down, which features Tatum as a Capitol policeman and Foxx as the president of the United States, debuted below expectations in fourth place.

Meanwhile, Paramount's globe-trotting zombie thriller, World War Z, starring Brad Pitt, took another bite out of the box office in its second weekend, with $29.8 million.


J-Lo 'didn't know'

Jennifer Lopez sang "Happy Birthday" to the leader of Turkmenistan during a performance, but her representative says had she known there were human rights issues in the country, she wouldn't have performed there at all.

Lopez performed in the former Soviet-bloc country on Saturday night. A statement released by her publicist says it was for the China National Petroleum Corp. and wasn't a political event.

However, the country's leader, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow (gur-BAHN-goo-lee bair-dee-mukh-ha-MAY-doff), did attend. Berdimuhamedow has been criticized for oppressive rule by human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch describes Turkmenistan as "among the most repressive in the world."

The statement says the event was vetted by Lopez's representatives, but she wouldn't have attended if she had known about the accusations.

According to the statement, the birthday song was a last-minute request made by the company to Lopez, and she "graciously obliged."


Thumbs-up for Ebert

The late movie critic Roger Ebert has been honored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Ebert, who worked at the Chicago Sun-Times for more than 40 years, took first place for online columns or blogs on large websites in the society's annual column contest. The group held its annual conference Saturday in Hartford, Conn.

Ebert died this year at 70 after a long battle with cancer. The day before his death on April 4, he wrote in a post on his blog that he was taking a break from his schedule of almost-daily movie reviewing because cancer had recurred.

He won national fame teaming with fellow film critic Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune from 1975 to 1999 for television shows that had them each give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down rating to the latest releases.


Contact "SideShow" at This column contains information from Inquirer wire services.