WHEN SHOPPING for gifts this
holiday season, buyers want value.
One would think that's what Hollywood producers want also, but they always seem drawn by the big star and the big summer tentpole with the $200 million budget. But with so few stars consistently bankable - even Tom Cruise hasn't lured audiences lately - Forbes magazine has come out with a list of the stars who provide the best value.
It isn't very helpful, however, because aside from the woman at the top of list, Natalie Portman, the others are young actors in huge, blockbuster franchises. And, as we've seen repeatedly over the past few years, being the lead in a blockbuster doesn't translate to anything outside of the blockbuster.
Sure, Portman makes turkeys like every other actor, but her relatively reasonable (by Hollywood standards) fee allows her hits like "Black Swan" and "No Strings Attached" to generate big profits.
Forbes estimated that for every dollar Portman is paid by a studio, she returns $42.70. Forbes' most overpaid star, Eddie Murphy, on the other popcorn-greased hand, returns $2.30 on his dollar.
Second on the list, thanks to those "Twilight" movies and "Snow White and the Huntsman," is Kristen Stewart, who brings in an average of $40.60. We hope no one is expecting that type of return from "On the Road" - or any other movie Stewart makes whose title doesn't begin with "Twilight."
Shia LaBeouf was the highest value actor ("Transformers," duh!) returning $35.80 for each dollar he's paid. Then came Robert Pattinson ($31.70), but here's where Forbes' methodology becomes a tad bogus. They don't count Pattinson's art-house films "Bel Ami" and "Cosmopolis" because they didn't get wide enough release. Pattinson, therefore, finishes ahead of sixth place Taylor Lautner ($29.50), because his "Water for Elephants" did better than Lautner's "Abduction" (that it costarred Reese Witherspoon and was based on a well-known book may have helped) and his smaller films don't count against him.
But isn't the true test of a star's value whether he can draw people to the Ritz when playing a French aristocrat as well as to the multiplex when playing a sexy vampire?
Rhythm Mideast NationJanet Jackson plans to marry for a third time.
Us Weekly reports that the lucky groom-to-be is Qatari fashion executive Wissam Al Mana. He's 37, she's 46 - but she looks 26 when she's prepping to go on tour.
No need to tour anymore, however. Al Mana is reportedly worth about $200 million, although some publications swear he's a billionaire. Janet should also have a few bucks.
If you need to make travel plans, the wedding will be this spring in Qatar. But don't ask us what to get them. The wedding will reportedly cost $20 million, putting a whole lot of pressure on the chef and the DJ.
TATTBITS * Following the Daily News' advice, a lot of people did have a "Miserables" Christmas. The movie adaptation of "Les Miz" took in a hefty $18.1 million Christmas Day and was the nation's No. 1 movie. Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" finished second with $15 million. What better way to commemorate the birth of Jesus than with an antebellum bloodbath? The family movie "Parental Guidance" took in $6.3 million Christmas Day. Maybe families stayed home. Of the holiday movies that opened on Friday, none of them look like the gift their studios had hoped for. Through Tuesday, Cruise's "Jack Reacher" had taken in $23.5 million, "This Is 40" $17.4 million and "The Guilt Trip" $11.1 million. * For all you "Downton Abbey" fans, enjoy Matthew Crawley while you can. Dan Stevens, the actor who plays him, will not be returning to the show for season 4, which is shooting now. Season 3 starts on PBS on Jan. 6. The same night, Jillian Michaels returns to "The Biggest Loser." * Amazing Spider-Man No. 700 writer Dan Slott began to receive death threats from crazed Spidey fans when word leaked that Peter Parker was going to be killed off, according to hollywoodgossip.com. Note to fans: Peter Parker is the fictional alter-ego to a fictional superhero. Dan Slott is a real person. Trust Tattle, if the "Spider-Man" Broadway musical couldn't kill off Old Webhead, nothing can.
Daily News wire services contributed to this report.