Top Story: Chris Rock Takes on Drudge
Comedian Chris Rock, whose directorial debut Head of State hits theaters this weekend, wants fans to know that contrary to reports from media gossip Matt Drudge, he "never had any intention of bashing President Bush" for launching the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Reuters reports. Drudge reported last week that DreamWorks executives feared Rock, who once said of Bush, "He's not stupid, he's just drunk," might spark a public backlash against the film if he made public comments ridiculing the president or the war in Iraq. "I never met Matt Drudge, but if I see Matt Drudge, I'm going to take my red-blooded American foot and put it up his un-American [backside] for trying to disrupt the opening of my movie," Rock said in a statement on Thursday. The comedian, who mentioned the date of the film's opening three times in his statement, wants everyone to know Head of State opens Friday--that's this Friday, March 28, in theaters across the country. Did we say Friday?
Charity Rejects Susan Sarandon
The United Way of Tampa Bay, Florida, has canceled an upcoming event featuring actress Susan Sarandon after getting some three dozen complaints about her antiwar views, The Associated Press reports. Sarandon had been scheduled as the keynote speaker at the April 11 event aimed at inspiring volunteerism in the community. But the United Way said it received phone calls, e-mails and letters criticizing Sarandon's selection because of her antiwar views. Robin Carson, chairwoman of the board of directors, said the event had the potential to become "divisive."
"Wanda" Nets Big Ratings for Fox
Fox's new comedy Wanda at Large received strong Nielsen ratings Wednesday, leading its 9:30 p.m. time slot in most categories by retaining 67 percent of its 18-49 lead-in from the second half hour of American Idol. Wanda's numbers represent Fox's best comedy premiere among adults 18-49 since the debut of Grounded for Life in January 2001 and its largest overall audience for a comedy bow since Malcolm in the Middle in January 2000, Variety reports.
Madonna Blasts Homogenized Pop
Madonna says manufactured pop acts and TV talent searches are homogenizing the music world. "I arrived at a different time, before the time of Svengalis holding talent searches--finding a girl that looks right and can carry a tune and then figuring a way to market her," the star is quoted as saying in the May issue of British music magazine Q. Madonna, 44, was also critical of young hopefuls who crave celebrity for its own sake. "It's the allure of this beautiful life. Drive this car, you're gonna be popular," she told Q. "It's a very powerful illusion and people are caught up in it, including myself--or I was."
Harry Potter Fan Pays Lots for Book
A Harry Potter fan has paid $8,000 through an online auction for a signed copy of the latest, unreleased fifth installment of the boy wizard's adventures, the AP reports. The British charity group Sense sparked frenzied bidding when it announced the sale of a copy of the long-awaited book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which has yet to be printed. Bids for the book, due out on June 21, started at $1.60 when the auction kicked off more than a week ago before quickly jumping to the closing price.
Role Call: Spielberg Remakes "Mitty," "The Mask" Lives On
Paramount and DreamWorks have agreed to co-finance the remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty for director Steven Spielberg as a possible Jim Carrey vehicle ... Uma Thurman has signed on to star opposite Ben Affleck in the sci-fi thriller Paycheck for director John Woo. The film, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, is another project co-financed by DreamWorks and Paramount ... Jamie Kennedy is in preliminary negotiations to star in New Line Cinema's Son of the Mask, a follow-up to the 1994 blockbuster The Mask. Son of the Mask revolves around an aspiring cartoonist who is not ready for fatherhood but finds himself raising a baby endowed with the powers of the mask of Loki...Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardellini will rejoin their canine co-star and director Raja Gosnell in the Scooby-Doo sequel. Their second mystery adventure is set for release on March 26, 2004.
Suddenly Calvin Klein model; suddenly TV star; suddenly engaged, again. Brooke Shields of erstwhile "Suddenly Susan" fame became engaged to boyfriend Chris Henchy over the weekend while vacationing in Mexico, the actress’s publicist has confirmed.
No details of the romantic coup were otherwise available, save from the facts that Henchy proposed on a Saturday night.
Henchy, 37, was a producer on the short-lived NBC series "Battery Park." Shields, 35, whose impressive resume includes being the national jail-bait in those Calvin Klein ads and "The Blue Lagoon" as a teenager and the star of NBC’s "Suddenly Susan" as a grown-up, was once married to tennis bad boy Andre Agassi. That marriage ended in April 1999.
Henchy and Shields have been seeing each other since the fall.
THE VIP TREATMENT: A group of New Jersey teenagers apparently came to Pamela Anderson’s rescue after the ex-"Bay Watch" actress left her debit card at an ATM machine in a Malibu, Calif. mall Sunday morning, without so much as closing out the transaction.
Shocked to discover who the card belonged to, the good Samaritans swiftly returned the plastic to its rightful owner and was rewarded handsomely – in this case, a photo op with the "VIP" bombshell herself.
Rosie O'Donnell BYE, BYE ROSIE?: The New York Daily News reports today that CBS is allegedly looking for a new host to replace Rosie O’Donnell on the Tony Awards show. According to the tab, the network is reportedly peeved over O’Donnell’s biased preference in using her friends -- such as musical director John McDaniel, Susan Lucci and Kathie Lee Gifford -- for the show
Our inquiries to the network were not returned. O'Donnell served as Tony Awards’ emcee for three years, in 1997, 1998 and 2000.
WHEN ROMAN FALLS: Exiled auteur Roman Polanski is being sued by Artisan Entertainment for making run with more than $1 million plus from his last film, "The Ninth Gate."
The complaint, filed July 11 in a Los Angeles District Court, claims that Polanski and his production company have kept the French value-added tax refunds instead of turning the dough over to Artisan.