Ryan Seacrest calls Simon Cowell "pompous"
Ryan Seacrest, host of Fox's hit series American Idol, dissed acerbic judge Simon Cowell during a visit to Singapore, where a local version of the program is planned. "I think that he's pompous. I think that he's arrogant. So my feelings about him, and the way that I address him on air, are very real," Seacrest said Wednesday in an interview with the Straits Times newspaper. "I think he says things that are at times a bit too harsh and could probably convey them in a different light so that they don't crush a young person's dream." But the 29-year-old emcee added that Cowell was a good friend and the "most honest" of the show's three judges, according to excerpts published by The Associate Press. A record 65 million phone votes were cast in the finale of the latest American Idol season, which saw 19-year-old single mother Fantasia Barrino crowned the third Idol winner.
Catherine Zeta-Jones' stalker charged
A 33-year-old woman was charged in Los Angeles last week with stalking Catherine Zeta-Jones and making threatening phone calls, Reuters reports. According to a statement released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Dawnette Knight was arrested at her Beverly Hills apartment after a four-month investigation, during which time Zeta-Jones was the target of numerous threatening letters and phone calls. Knight was arraigned on one count of stalking and 25 counts of making "terrorist threats." She remains in custody. The British actress is married to Hollywood veteran Michael Douglas, and won an Academy Award last year for best supporting actress in the hit musical Chicago.
Pat O'Brien joins ET spinoff
Pat O'Brien is leaving Access Hollywood for a new gig as the Los Angeles anchor of The Insider-- a new spinoff of Access Hollywood's rival Entertainment Tonight set to premiere Sept. 13. AH executive producer Rob Silverstein said Wednesday that O'Brien's contract with the show was expiring and his departure was amicable. Sources told Reuters that former Good Morning America correspondent Lara Spencer will serve as O'Brien's New York counterpart on The Insider, while Access Hollywood East Coast correspondent Billy Bush will relocate to Los Angeles to share anchor duties with Nancy O'Dell, who has been with the show since it launched in 1996.
Johnny Ramone's wife says guitarist isn't dying
Johnny Ramone, who has been living with prostate cancer for several years,
was recently admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles with
what his physician called a "complication from the cancer." Ramone’s
hospitalization set off a nationwide media deathwatch earlier this week.
According to MTV.com, his wife Linda Ramone was so dismayed by the funereal
headlines that she authorized Ramone’s doctor to explain his condition to
the media--despite the fact that the 55-year-old guitarist refused to issue
a corrective press statement. Dr. David Agus told MTV News Wednesday that
Ramone is now on a new, experimental therapy and predicts he will be going home
in the near term. "He's not dying," Linda said. "He was OK for years, and
he's fine now. He's in the hospital, but he's not in ICU. And I think he may
be leaving by tomorrow."
Screener issue rises from the ashes
Following a year of controversy over the Motion Picture Assn. of America's (MPAA) controversial screener ban, which bowed under legal action brought on by the indie film community, the issue is once again on the forefront. According to Reuters, Oscar voters could receive specially encoded promotional DVDs during the upcoming awards season. The discs would have to be played on a new system from Dolby Inc. unit Cinea, which would be sent to all members. Last year, major studios resorted to sending out watermarked VHS tapes because DVDs were considered more susceptible to piracy.
Franchise Pictures held accountable
A California jury on Wednesday ordered the production company Franchise Pictures to pay $77 million to Germany's Intertainment AG for padding production costs for about a dozen films such as Sylvester Stallone's Driven, Reuters reports. The legal dispute arose from a 1999 contract, in which Intertainment agreed to fund 47 percent of production costs for about a dozen big-budget U.S. films in return for European distribution rights. In some cases, however, Intertainment unknowingly picked up the entire tab for the big budget films, Intertainment's attorney Scott Edelman told Reuters. Other films included The Whole Nine Yards starring Bruce Willis and The Art of War starring Wesley Snipes.
Transient charged with grisly murders
Keven Lee Graff, a 27-year-old homeless man, has been accused of beheading 91-year-old Robert Lees, a once-blacklisted screenwriter best known for writing Abbott and Costello comedies, as well as stabbing Lees' neighbor, Morley Engleson, to death, Reuters reports. Police say that Graff murdered Lees, then cut off his head and ran with it to Engleson's home. There, police said, he interrupted the physician speaking on the phone and stabbed him to death. Graff was charged with murder with special circumstances, meaning that prosecutors could seek the death penalty against him if he is convicted, Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office told Reuters. Graff was arrested on Monday near the gates of the Paramount Pictures studio in Hollywood, one day after Lees and Engleson were found slain.
Role Call: Chocolate Factory casts kids, Bow Wow in Bounce
Director Tim Burton has rounded out his young cast for his updated Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, including Anna Sophia Robb as Violet Beauregarde, Jordan Fry as Mike Teevee, Julia Winter as Veruca Salt and Philip Wiegratz as Augustus Gloop. British actor Freddie Highmore had previously been cast in the title role of Charlie, while Johnny Depp will portray Willy Wonka ... Rapper Bow Wow (grown up for being 'Lil Bow Wow) and Chi McBride are teaming up for Roll Bounce, a roller-skating comedy. Set in the '70s, story revolves around X (Bow Wow) and his pals, who rule supreme at their local roller-skating rink, but when the doors close, the boys venture into foreign territory--uptown's Sweetwater Roller Rink, complete with over-the-top skaters and beautiful girls. Through his preparation for the showdown of the season, X manages to find himself and also help his dad (McBride) get back on track.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Top Story: Dixie Chicks Give Two Cents on Schwarzenegger
Must be something about being on tour in Europe that inspires the Dixie Chicks to spout off on politics. Rolling Stone reports the country trio had plenty to say about another high-profile Republican besides President Bush. "[Arnold Schwarzenegger] is a great film star," banjo player Emily Robison told a German newspaper, "but I find his run for governor absolutely insane." She added, "America should be governed by people who have a clue. I hope he doesn't win." Maybe bodybuilders will ban the country singers this time.
Schwarzenegger's Ex-Girlfriend Writes Memoirs
On the heels of controversy surrounding reports of Schwarzenegger's naughty behavior decades ago, now it seems his first girlfriend, Barbara Outland Baker, is writing a memoir of her relationship with the Austrian actor called Surviving Arnold, Reuters reports. Baker, now an English professor at a California community college, dated the then Mr. Universe from 1969 until 1974. "I'm trying to sell it as an insider's account of Mr. Schwarzenegger's early years…with over 100 never-before-published photographs of Arnold," her book agent told Reuters. "She's been writing it for years, but obviously now is an opportune time to try to sell it."
Farrell Wields a Mighty Pen, Diaz Does Not
Irish hunk Colin Farrell has been named "best signer" by Autograph Collector magazine in its 12th annual poll of celebrity autograph givers, The Associated Press reports. "Colin is extremely generous with fans and collectors, and goes out of his way to sign for everyone he can at his movie premieres. ... He just flat-out loves to sign autographs," contributing editor Jeffrey Woolf, who helped compile the annual Best and Worst Signers list, told AP. The worst celebrity to be approached for autographs, he says, is Cameron Diaz. "She might be an Angel for Charlie, but Cameron is nothing short of a witch when it comes to signing autographs," Woolf said. Some of the best included Kate Bosworth, Jennifer Love Hewitt, The Osbournes and Jennifer Garner, while some of the worst included Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Orlando Bloom, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Christina Aguilera.
FCC Rules Stern Is Legit Newsman
The Federal Communications Commission ruled shock jock Howard Stern's daily radio show is a legitimate news program, exempting it from federal equal time rules on political coverage, Reuters reports. The FCC decision opens the way for the show to book two of the sexier candidates for California governor: Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had been slated to appear on Stern in August, and porn star Mary Carey. The Communications Act requires broadcasters to treat political candidates equally when selling or giving away air time, although exceptions are made for news programs. Media Access Project, a media watchdog group, plans to appeal the ruling, claiming it is a reversal of decades of U.S. media regulation designed to promote fairness in election coverage.
Simon and Garfunkel Return
The singing-songwriting duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel announced Tuesday their plans to put aside their longstanding differences and launch a U.S. tour together for the first time in 20 years, Reuters reports. The Old Friends tour will hit 32 cities, starting at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan Oct. 18.
ABC Scores Ratings Touchdown
The opener of the NFL football season between the New York Jets and Washington Redskins last Thursday gave ABC its first nightly win in many months in the Neilsen ratings for the week of Sept. 1-7, the AP reports. NBC won the week, averaging 8.3 million viewers followed by a tie between CBS (7.8 million) and ABC (also 7.8 million); Fox (6.3 million); UPN (3 million) and the WB (2.9 million). The top 10 shows were: NFL Monday Night Football: N.Y. Jets vs. Washington, ABC; 2003 NFL Showcase, ABC; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS; Law & Order, NBC; NFL Post-Game Show, Fox; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS; The King of Queens, CBS; Law & Order: Criminal Intent, NBC; and CSI: Miami, CBS.
Sales Galore at Toronto Film Fest
Films were snapped up left and right at the Toronto Int'l Film Festival Tuesday, Variety reports. Jim Jarmusch's Coffee & Cigarettes was bought by United Artists for domestic distribution. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the Korean film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring, while Newmarket Films acquired the Danish flick The Green Butchers.
Role Call: Phantom To Appear On-Screen; J.Lo Produces Documentary
With an all-star cast including Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Ciaran Hinds, Simon Callow, James Fleet, Victor McGuire and Jennifer Ellison, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical extravaganza The Phantom of the Opera is coming to the big screen via Warner Bros. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it will be directed by Joel Schumacher and starts production Sept. 15 in the U.K…Jennifer Lopez will make her first foray into producing by making the documentary Los Quinces through her banner Nuyorican Prods., in association with HBO. Variety reports the film revolves around the coming-of-age ball that marks a Cuban girl's 15th birthday.
Actress Rebecca Gayheart (Beverly Hills 90210, Scream 2, Urban Legend) was charged with misdemeanor manslaughter for striking and killing a 9 year-old pedestrian boy, Jorge Cruz in June, The Associated Press reports. Conviction of the charge could result in jail time, heavy fines and loss of license. The actress paid for the boy's medical and funeral expenses.
Steven Soderbergh, Spike Jonze, David Fincher and Alexander Payne are forming a film company that will most likely be linked to USA films, Variety reports. The venture will allow them to direct film with complete creative control, giving them the opportunity to own the titles in five to seven years. USA Films would contribute financing and marketing, as well as obtaining domestic distribution rights. Sam Mendes (American Beauty) has also been asked to join the company.
Shannen Doherty has been sentenced to five days in a work-release program as a result of her drunken driving arrest in December, The Associated Press reports. Doherty pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of .13 blood alcohol content, and the judge gave her the minimum sentence.
The 19th century period film Gangs of New York will be pushed back for wide release until 2002, Variety reports. The Scorsese film, starring Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis, chronicles the Irish and Italian gangs of Manhattan.
Ice-T stars in the new straight-to-video release of Sonic Impact, which is already on new-release shelves around the country, according to Variety. Its release came only 11 days after the WTC attacks and deals with similar issues of plane hijacking and crashing.
American Pie 2 film editors are chopping away at too-sexy-for-TV scenes so that the film can be sold to the highest network bidder for TV viewing, Variety reports. The film could fetch up to $22 million if the editors can maintain the humorous portions of the film without taking out too much of its content.
Court TV is planning to launch its first made-for-TV movie in winter 2002, according to Variety. The flick "Guilt by Association" deals with mandatory minimum sentencing rules and will be the first of several legal films based on actual events.
La Femme Nikita star Anne Parillaud will take the lead role in upcoming film "Scenes Intimes," directed by Catherine Breillat, Variety reports. Parillaud plays a film director whose movie contains sensuous and erotic scenes. "Scenes Intimes" will begin production in November.
Broadway general managers and producers are telling union workers that the 25% pay cuts may be lessened sooner than later. As shows continue to bring in more revenues, the execs will move to a 12.5% pay cut. (Due to the recent September 11th attacks, public turnout has negatively affected theater income.)
It looks like Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt are back on the wagon when it comes to relationships.
Though Roberts once declared to Oprah Winfrey that she and Bratt were "drunk with joy twenty-four hours a day," the once-happy couple has called it quits.
Publicists for both the Oscar-winning actress and her companion of 3½ years have confirmed the news and insist that, despite rumors, there was no third party involved. The two agreed to go their separate ways about a month ago.
According to a story in the New York Post on Thursday, Bratt ended the relationship with Roberts because of the budding friendship the actress was developing with Ocean's Eleven co-star George Clooney. Shooting for the film took place in Las Vegas and Atlantic City throughout the winter.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in April that Clooney and Roberts "put on a steamy show on the dance floor" at the film's wrap party in Sin City. Clooney was seeing British model Lisa Snowdon at the time, but the two have since broken up.
However, the Daily News puts a different spin in the break-up, citing Roberts' career as the obstacle to the couple's bliss. Sources reportedly told the paper that Bratt saw Roberts' career as a conflict to his plans and that the actress was hemming and hawing about committing to marriage.
Bratt, 37, became known to TV viewers in 1995 when he joined the hit NBC series Law and Order in its sixth season, creating the role of Reyaldo 'Rey' Curtis. His film credits include Traffic and Miss Congeniality. He is currently in Montreal filming Abandon with Katie Holmes.
Roberts has a history with her co-stars that goes back to 1988, when she moved in with Liam Neeson after the two met on the set of Satisfaction. Two years later, she was briefly engaged to her Steel Magnolias co-star Dylan McDermott.
In 1991, Roberts almost made it to the altar with Flatliners co-star Kiefer Sutherland, but the nuptial plans fell through just days before the wedding. She wed singer Lyle Lovett two years later, but they divorced in 1995.
Roberts and Bratt have been together since 1997. Bratt was at the actress' side when she picked up an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Erin Brockovich in March. It almost looked as though the "Pretty Woman" had finally met her match with Bratt. Guess not.
Roberts will star in the upcoming comedy America's Sweethearts with John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones.