Top Story: Horn Takes Some Steps
Illusionist Roy Horn, who was mauled last October by a 300-plus lb. white tiger while performing in his famed Las Vegas show with partner Siegfried Fischbacher, was able to walk again with the help of a wheeled walker, a spokeswoman for the duo told The Associated Press. Horn, 59, managed to walk 558 paces last week with the assistance of the device, his spokeswoman said, adding that he has "strong willpower" and is undergoing intensive physical therapy. But Horn isn't rushing up onstage any time soon. Horn has a long recovery ahead of him after his left side was paralyzed by a stroke suffered after the attack, and the duo's long-running show has been closed.
Jackson's Phone Records, Video Seized
Over 100 pages of phone records, videos and a DVD of a party at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif., were seized by investigators in his child molestation case, according to court documents released Monday. AP reports Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville agreed last month to release the records, but ordered details to be omitted; the resulting documents do not include such information as where the warrants were served and descriptions of the items taken.
Neil Simon Gets Kidney Transplant
Playwright Neil Simon, 76, received a kidney transplant Tuesday after suffering from kidney problems for several years, AP reports. His friend and longtime press representative, Bill Evans, donated a kidney for the operation, Simon's wife Elaine told the New York Times. Simon told the Times shortly before the operation that he and Evans had been friends for 25 years. "It's wonderful of him to do this," Simon said.
Dr. Suess Gets Star
Theodor Geisel, the late beloved children's author best known as "Dr. Seuss,'' will be honored with a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Mar. 11. The tribute is part of several celebrations being held this month in honor of the author's 100th birthday, which was yesterday. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Geisel, a longtime San Diego County resident, wrote 44 books for children including such classics as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat.
Reynolds Opens Hollywood Museum
To display her extensive collection of movie memorabilia, Hollywood icon Debbie Reynolds will open the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum in the resort community of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in the Great Smoky Mountains, AP reports. Valued at more than $50 million, the collection contains about 3,500 costumes and tens of thousands of props, movie posters, still photos, lobby cards and other items, the 71-year-old actress told AP. Pigeon Forge attracts more than 11 million visitors a year as a gateway to the country's most visited national park and is also home to singer Dolly Parton's Dollywood amusement park, Tennessee's top tourist attraction.
Role Call: Nikki Reed Goes to "Dogtown," John Singleton Tackles Black Superhero
Nikki Reed, fresh off of winning the Independent Spirit Awards' best debut performance prize for her performance in the taut Thirteen, is set to reteam with her Thirteen director, Catherine Hardwicke, on the skateboarding drama Lords of Dogtown. The movie will be a fictionalized version of Stacy Peralta's documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys…Boyz in the Hood director John Singleton is in negotiations to bring Marvel Comics' black superhero comic Luke Cage to life. Comic is about a former gang member who is framed for a crime he didn't commit. In prison, he volunteers for a medical experiment that goes awry, giving him super strength and bulletproof skin. Using his newfound powers, Luke Cage escapes and becomes a hero for hire.
After a long struggle to complete the editing on Swept Away, a remake of Lina Wertmuller's 1974 film starring wife Madonna, Guy Ritchie is going back to doing what he does best--the gangster flick. Between warding off rumors of Swept Away being threatened with straight-to-video purgatory and helming his crusader epic The Siege of Malta, the director has managed to squeeze a new film into his schedule. According to Productionweekly.com, Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn have signed on to take JJ Connolly's novel Layer Cake to the big screen. The story is about a young man's attempt to disengage himself from London's gangster underworld, but a last job threatens to spoil his plans. The book is riddled with the same type of rhyming slang used in Ritchie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, so expect plenty of subtitles. Swept Away is scheduled for release Oct. 11.
His own record label, a clothing line, two restaurants. If you thought Sean "P. Diddy" Combs had it all, think again. According to The Associated Press, the hip-hop entrepreneur has expanded into the polling business with his own market research company. Blue Mindset, a division of Combs' company Blue Flame Marketing and Advertising, will release a national survey each week on a different topic. Combs' enterprises do an estimated $300 million in annual business.
Steve-O, a regular on MTV's Jackass, turned himself in to police after returning to Louisiana, where he faced charges of obscenity and of staging a stunt that injured a teenager in a nightclub, the AP reports. Steve-O, whose real name is Stephen Glover, allegedly exposed himself on a stage in Houma, La., last month and took part in a stunt in which a bouncer slammed a 19-year-old on his head, knocking him unconscious. Glover, 28, was booked on counts of obscenity and accessory to second-degree battery, but was later released on bail.
MDP Worldwide has greenlighted 26-year-old filmmaker Greg Marcks' 11:14, a story of seemingly unrelated incidents recounted in reverse chronology, all converging in a car accident that occurs at that time, Variety reports. The ensemble cast boasts Hilary Swank, Colin Hanks and Rachael Leigh Cook, with Patrick Swayze and Barbara Hershey in final negotiations to star. Swank was so impressed by the script that she agreed to serve as an executive producer on the project.
Former James Bond star Timothy Dalton has signed on to play Brendan Fraser's father in Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes: Back in Action, Variety reports. The film, which blends live action with animation, also stars Jenna Elfman and Heather Locklear.
USA Cable Entertainment is developing a remake of the 1976 series The Bionic Woman. In the original series--a spin-off of The Six Million Dollar Man--Jaime Sommers (Lindsay Wagner) gets bionically reconstructed after a near-fatal skydiving accident, leaving her with superhuman powers. Sommers, you may recall, was the one-time fiancée of Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors). No word on whether the series will include her bionic German shepherd, Max.
Friends star Lisa Kudrow said in an interview for the season premiere of Oxygen's Conversations From The Edge with Carrie Fisher that she did not know if the upcoming ninth season would actually be the final season of the show. "You look around and you see that a lot of reasons shows finish is [that] the ratings are really bad. We were No. 1 for the first time ever in our eighth season."
Fans of the late legend Elvis Presley gathered Thursday to pay tribute on the 25th anniversary of his death, with thousands lighting candles in the nightlong procession past his grave, Reuters reports. The street in front of Presley's Graceland mansion was closed to traffic, with an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 fans assembled. Presley, who died Aug. 15, 1977 at the age of 42, is buried next to the mansion's swimming pool, along with his parents and paternal grandmother.
Shape magazine's August issue reveals the most popular fitness role model in the 2002 Reader's Choice Awards, and it's not Britney Spears. According to Shape readers, Madonna still reigns supreme--at least when it comes to fitness. Shape Editor in Chief Barbara Harris said staffers were not surprised that the 43-year-old star topped this year's list. "She's a great example of today's fit woman because she has a clear sense of herself and she continues to find ways to incorporate working out and staying centered into her busy lifestyle," Harris said. Rounding out this year's favorite fitness role models are Gabrielle Reese, Jennifer Lopez, Cindy Crawford, Oprah Winfrey, Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie.
Actor Robert Wagner, who starred in the popular TV series Switch, It Takes a Thief and Hart to Hart, gets a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame today. Wagner, who was twice married to actress Natalie Wood, reprises his role as Number Two in the second Austin Powers sequel Austin Powers in Goldmember, which opens July 26.
Actress Michelle Johnson filed for a divorce from Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Matt Williams Monday. The actress starred in the 1984 film Blame It on Rio and also appeared in the 2000 football film The Replacements. The two were married Jan. 15, 1999.
Director Sam Raimi is not going mainstream following the monster success of the live-action hit Spider-Man. According to Variety, Raimi will helm 30 Days of Night, based on a comic book series about vampires who invade a small Alaskan town near the Arctic Circle that spends nearly a month in darkness. Raimi will also produce the project with Rob Tapert.
Funnymen Jim Carrey and Garry Shandling will lend their voices to DreamWorks' animated feature Over the Hedge, based on a popular comic strip by Michael Fry and T. Lewis. Carrey will voice the mischievous raccoon R.J., while Shandling will voice the sensitive turtle Verne, Variety reports. The film, targeted for 2005, will be directed by Antz's Tim Johnson.
Jack Black will play a musician who becomes a substitute teacher in a snooty private school in Paramount Picture's School of Rock, slated for release next summer, Variety reports. The comedy will reteam Black with Orange County producer Scott Rudin and scribe Mike White. No director is attached to the project yet.
The creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer tells Sci Fi Wire that he's willing to continue the show after next year, even if star Sarah Michelle Gellar decides not to renew her contract, which expires at the end of year seven. "I'm game for almost anything," Joss Whedon said when asked if the show would go on without Gellar. "It's an incredibly strong ensemble. It's a very strong mythos. It's a huge universe we've created and an incredible cast of actors. So there are definitely opportunities for different kinds of shows."
CNN has signed a deal with Jon Stewart to produce a half-hour comedy show through CNN International, The Associated Press reports. Stewart, who hosts The Daily Show joked with reporters, "CNN has bought the show. I really don't know why. I'm not sure they realize we're actually making fun of them."
On Sept. 24 Miramax Films will release a two-disc DVD set of the Beatles' A Hard Days Night. According to Variety, the DVD will have six hours of bonus features, including most of the 30 interviews conducted by Beatles historian Martin Lewis, producer of Give Me Everything! A Companion Anthology to the Beatles.
For bringing in 35 million viewers for its season finale and being television's most popular show, Friends and NBC claimed the prize of top network for the 2001-02 television season. CBS finished a solid second, with its show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, the second most-watched show on the air, while ABC and Fox followed in third and fourth place, respectively.
Jerry Lewis returned home Tuesday after staying overnight at a hospital, where doctors made a routine check on a device that Lewis had surgically implanted April 8. The device, called Synergy Neurostimulation System, has helped eased chronic back pain Lewis has been suffering from years of pratfalls. He told the Las Vegas Sun that it has left him pain free for the first time in 30 years.
Actress Jenny McCarthy gave birth to a boy, Evan Joseph Asher, on Saturday. The baby weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and is the first child for McCarthy and her husband, director John Asher.
Wasting no time since announcing his departure from Saturday Night Live, funny guy Will Ferrell is set to star in a new film, Action Newsman. He'll play an egotistic local news anchorman threatened by an ambitious female newscaster who, unlike his character, has mastered journalism.
Annette Bening will star in a remake of the Disney film Freaky Friday. The story is about how a mother and her rebellious tomboy daughter, secretly wishing for each other's lives, switch bodies for a day. The original 1976 film starred Barbara Harris as the mother and a young Jodie Foster as the daughter.
In the Biz
Yet another thing the strange Michael Jackson is obsessed with: Sky News reported the Gloved One announced in Cannes that he'll be producing and starring in the film Wolfed, playing a werewolf. He's been fascinated with werewolves since seeing John Landis' 1981 film An American Werewolf in London and got to play one when Landis directed Jackson's music video to the hit song "Thriller."
Director Woody Allen filed a lawsuit last May against his former producer Jean Doumanian, claiming she cheated him out of $14 million in profits, and now Doumanian's lawyer says Allen has overstated what he is owed. According to The Associated Press, Doumanian's lawyer, Lee A. Armstrong, claimed he received a document from Allen's lawyer asking for only $2 million. Allen's camp denies the mix-up, saying Armstrong's "characterization of the document was completely false and uninformed."
Sony Pictures has picked up the rights to yet another Marvel comic-book hero: Ghost Rider. This superhero, named Johnny Blaze, makes a pact with the devil to save someone he loves, but the deal goes awry (as deals with the devil tend to do). Blaze, now embodied with superhuman powers, transforms into a ghost rider to try to reclaim his life, love and soul.
Quickly becoming a powerhouse producer in Hollywood, the multitalented Ice Cube has signed up to produce the comedy feature Race under his CubeVision banner. The film is a fish-out-of-water story about a black cab driver who gets involved in a stock-car race. Ice Cube will not be starring in this particular venture.
Looks like the rash of TV nostalgia shows will finally be tapering off after the May sweeps. According to AP, several TV executives have admitted that they may have overdone it with the clip-filled specials on such shows as The Cosby Show, M.A.S.H., The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Laverne and Shirley. Think so?
Pop-punk band Blink-182 will be making a guest appearance on the 300th episode of The Simpsons this fall. The show has Bart moving out of the Simpson house and into his own apartment, where the band and pro skater Tony Hawk are his neighbors. The episode will air next season.
You can't kill the Dead, man. That's right, the surviving members of The Grateful Dead will be jamming for the first time since lead singer Jerry Garcia died in 1995 of a heart attack, according to the AP. They will perform a two-day concert in East Troy, Wis., Aug. 3-4.
Variety reports producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Black Hawk Down) will be receiving the Albert R. Broccoli Award of Excellence at this year's Cinema Expo in June. Past recipients included producers Saul Zaentz, Brian Grazer and Claude Berri.
A line of collectible action figures issued to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Quentin Tarantino's violent Reservoir Dogs has sparked an uproar in Australia between children's advocacy groups and toy retailers, Melbourne's The Age newspaper reported today (Thursday). One of the dolls ("Mr. Blonde," played by Michael Madsen in the movie) holds a razor he uses to cut off the ear of another character in the movie. That action figure ("Marvin Nash," played by Kirk Baltz) has a detachable ear. "We are shocked and horrified at violent toys like this being put out onto the market," Barbara Romeril, executive director of Community Child Care in the state of Victoria, told The Age. But the owner of a Melbourne shop, Comics 'R' Us, observed that the expensive ($80.00) set carries a notice that they are recommended for "mature collectors." A similar controversy arose in the U.S. two years ago when an underwear-clad Austin Powers doll that asked "Do I make you horny, baby? Do I?" found its way into Toys 'R' Us stores. The manufacturer said it was intended for record stores and novelty shops and shouldn't have been shipped to toy stores.
Paul Hogan, whose third Crocodile Dundee yarn will open April 20, is disputing a Writers Guild of America decision to award the film's writing credits to Matthew Berry and Eric Abrams, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Hogan said he wrote the original screenplay, invented the characters and developed the jokes for Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, a far cry from the "characters created by" credit the WGA awarded him.
"I have an ongoing problem with the Writers Guild because I am also the producer," Hogan told the Hollywood Reporter. "The producer is the natural enemy of the writer."
In Hogan's corner: Simon Wincer, who said that he directed a script written by Hogan.
The guild considers "any challenge a good-faith disagreement" and would prevail should Hogan sue, a WGA spokeswoman told the Hollywood Reporter.
Drescher to write about fight against cancer
Fran Drescher will receive $1 million from Warner Books to pen a memoir chronicling her battle against uterine cancer, according to Variety.
Drescher, whose CBS sitcom The Nanny ended in 1999 after six years, managed to beat the cancer because of an early diagnosis. She discussed her fight in an interview in the May issue of Rosie, the new magazine published by talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell.
Drescher also wrote about her career in Whining.
Ex-Beatle may sell mansion because of 1999 attack
George Harrison has told friends that he may sell the 120-room mansion where he was attacked and stabbed in December 1999 by an intruder, according to Britain's The Mail on Sunday.
The ex-Beatle's 34-acre estate, in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, could be placed on the market for 15 million pounds ($21.56 million). He purchased the mansion in 1970 for 135,000 pounds ($194,000).
Harrison almost died when Michael Abram punctured his lung with a knife. Harrison's wife, Olivia, saved him by striking Abram with a poker. He is now serving an indefinite term in a psychiatric hospital.
Rosie O'Donnell calls on friends to host show
Talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell will continue to recuperate this week after undergoing a medical procedure related to a previous injury, according to the New York Daily News. O'Donnell has called on Barbara Walters, Meredith Vieira, Caroline Rhea and Kathy Griffin to guest host her talk show.
Last week, O'Donnell had a wound on her left hand drained. She cut herself in August when she removed a price tag from a fishing pole belonging to son Parker.
Gandolfini makes Rutgers an offer it can't refuse
Mess with Rutgers University's besieged football team and you could find yourself sleeping with the fishes.
Alumnus James Gandolfini has filmed a morale-boosting commercial for the team, which endured a 3-8 record last season. Gandolfini, who displays his prolific powers of persuasion as The Sopranos' mob boss, appears in the commercial with new coach Greg Schiano.
De Niro to Lopez: "Love Me or Leave Me"
Jennifer Lopez may string Robert De Niro along in a remake of the 1955 romance, Love Me or Leave Me, for Warner Bros., according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The original starred Doris Day as an up-and-coming singer who woos Chicago racketeer James Cagney purely to advance her career.
Unlike the original, the proposed remake would not be based on the real-life story of 1930s singer Ruth Etting.
De Niro and Lopez would each likely squeeze another film into their schedules should they decide to make Love Me or Leave Me. De Niro's slate includes sequels to Analyze This and Meet the Parents; Lopez recently dropped out of the Francis Ford Coppola-produced biopic of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo to negotiate a $10 million paycheck for Taking Lives, a thriller Tony Scott may direct.
Roberts' "Sweethearts" dances against De Niro's "The Score"
Better scratch plans to spend Independence Day with Julia Roberts.
Sony has pushed back the Oscar winner's new comedy, America's Sweethearts, from July 4 to July 13, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Roberts will go head to head with MGM's just-confirmed Legally Blonde, a comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, and Paramount's The Score, a heist flick headlined by masters of method acting Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando and Edward Norton.
Rather than compete against itself, Sony also has moved its expensive CGI-animated epic Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within from July 13 to July 11.
MGM also announced it will release the oft-delayed Original Sin, a steamy period thriller pitting Antonio Banderas against Angelina Jolie, on Aug. 3 and its Rollerball remake possibly on Aug. 17.
Besson loses "Yamakaso" lawsuit
French director Luc Besson's production company must pay $50,000 to writer-director Julien Seri, who sued after being fired from the Besson-produced thriller Yamakaso, according to Variety.
The French labor court, ruling in Seri's favor, dismissed a suggestion by Besson's production company, LeeLoo, that Seri had been asked to resign.
Seri and Yamakao co-writer Phillippe Lyon recently lost their legal bid to halt the release of the film, which hit French theaters Wednesday.
Universal snaps up EMusic.com
Universal Music Group will purchase Web song-swap service EMusic.com for close to $23 million in cash, EMusic.com announced Monday.
Universal will pay 57 cents for each outstanding EMusic.com share.
The service, founded in 1998, first operated on a fee-per-download basis. It began offering a subscription service as an alternative to Napster, which allowed users to download music for free, in most cases without the music industry's permission.
EMusic also operates such sites as RollingStone.com and DownBeat.com.
"EMusic represents a tremendous group of assets that appeal to a wide range of music fans, including the popular RollingStone.com and DownBeat.com brands and a deep catalog of digital music," said Larry Kenswil, president, eLabs, Universal Music Group, in a statement posted Monday on EMusic.com. "We feel that EMusic complements Universal's other digital and Internet initiatives and we look forward to joining with them to offer music lovers more and more compelling online destinations and experiences."