August 17, 2004 12:57pm EST
Jackson family arrives in court Jackson 5 style
In a bizarre show of solidarity, Michael Jackson's family, including his parents, Katherine and Joseph Jackson, and siblings Janet, LaToya, Jermaine, Randy and Jackie, attended a hearing Monday in Santa Maria, Calif., to watch the singer's lawyers question the prosecutor in his child molestation case. The self-proclaimed "King of Pop" and his family arrived at the courthouse in a chauffeured double-decker bus, all of them dressed head-to-toe in white. According to The Associated Press, Jackson sat for hours staring intensely at prosecutor Thomas Sneddon, who was grilled for more than three hours by the 45-year-old singer's defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. Mesereau attempted to show that Sneddon violated Jackson's attorney-client privilege by searching the office of a private investigator who worked for the singer's previous lawyer, Mark Geragos. If Mesereau is successful, the evidence taken from the private eye's office, including videotapes, computer hard discs and other items, could be thrown out of court because it is protected by attorney-client privilege. After Sneddon finished his testimony, the Jacksons retired to the modified gold and black tour bus to the screams of about 100 fans chanting, "Innocent, innocent." Jackson had not been required to attend the five-day pre-trial hearing and is not expected to return. He has pleaded innocent to charges of child molestation, kidnapping and false imprisonment and is free on $3 million bail.
Oprah selected to serve on jury
Talk show guru Oprah Winfrey, who was picked to serve on a jury at Cook County Criminal Court in Chicago, told reporters she didn't think she'd be selected because she's too opinionated. But Winfrey added that if she was picked, she hopes it wouldn't take longer than a week "because I've got shows to do." Although Winfrey entered the courthouse Monday through an alternate entrance to avoid crowds, officials said she wouldn't receive any special treatment once inside the courtroom. When Judge James B. Linn was asked how Winfrey was selected for a murder trial, he responded, "This was a straight-up jury selection." A Cook County sheriff's office spokeswoman said last week Winfrey was among some 300 prospective jurors scheduled to appear at court Monday.
Lane and Brolin marry in secrecy
Diane Lane and her beau of two years, Josh Brolin--the son of actor James Brolin and stepson of Barbra Streisand--were married in a hush-hush ceremony, the couple's publicist told the AP Tuesday. Spokeswoman Kelly Bush confirmed the wedding but said her clients banned her from saying anything else except, "they're hitched." The 39-year-old star of Unfaithful and Under the Tuscan Sun told AP Radio in August 2002 that Brolin, 36, got down on one knee and proposed on the Fourth of July. "It was early, early, early, early in the morning. Like dawn," Lane said at the time. "I had no idea what was coming."
Zeta-Jones stalker mentally fit to stand trial
A court-appointed psychiatrist said Monday the woman accused of stalking and threatening actress Catherine Zeta-Jones is mentally fit to stand trial. The AP reports Dr. Kal Sharma examined Dawnette Knight in jail, where she is currently being held on $1 million bail. Superior Court Judge John Riley Jr. halted criminal proceedings last month and ordered a mental evaluation of Knight after she overdosed on barbiturates while in county jail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled to resume Sept. 9. Knight, 33, who was arrested June 3 at her Beverly Hills, Calif., apartment, is charged with one felony count of stalking and 24 felony counts of making criminal threats. If convicted, she could face up to 19 years in state prison.
Blair Witch crewman killed in plane crash
Cinematographer Neal L. Fredericks, best known for his work on The Blair Witch Project, was killed Saturday while shooting the independent film Cross Bones, when the single-engine plane he was in crashed into the water off the Florida Keys coast. He was 35. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fredericks was filming aerial shots for the movie from a single-engine Cessna 206 when the plane's engine sputtered twice at about 500 feet before going down in 50 feet of water, according to Cross Bones writer-director Daniel Zirilli. Zirilli, the pilot, a co-producer and a first camera assistant escaped the wreckage through an open door, but Fredericks, who was strapped into a safety harness beneath camera equipment, was unable to free himself from his seat before the plane was submerged. "It was sunny, no wind; the hurricane had passed 36 hours before," Zirilli said. "It was a glorious day. The pilot called us to go out. As far as we know, it was engine failure."
AFI honors Penn clan
The Penn family, including brothers Sean, Chris, and composer Michael; Michael's wife, singer Aimee Mann; Sean's wife, actress Robin Wright-Penn; along with matriarch Eileen Ryan Penn, will receive the American Film Institute's Platinum Circle Award Oct. 1 in Los Angeles, Variety reports. The luncheon event will also include a tribute to the late patriarch of the family, producer, writer, director and actor Leo Penn. The Platinum Circle Award is presented to a family the AFI considers to have had a significant creative influence on the entertainment industry. Previous winners include the families of Debbie Reynolds, Walter Matthau and Henry Fonda.
Fahrenheit DVD to hit stores soon
Michael Moore's searing and controversial anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 is set to release on home video Oct. 5 through Sony's Columbia TriStar home entertainment unit, AP reports. The announcement Monday confirmed Moore's initial intention to have the film out shortly before Election Day, a time frame the director has favored since winning the top honor at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The film has grossed $115 million domestically, the first documentary ever to top the $100 million mark.
Rapper Shyne loses phone privileges
Jailed rapper Shyne, a former protégé of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs who has been in jail since 2001 for the 1999 nightclub shooting that involved Combs' then-girlfriend Jennifer Lopez, had his phone privileges revoked Monday and was barred from conducting in-person interviews as authorities investigate whether the rapper violated prison rules in making about 100 phone calls, AP reports. Shyne, whose real name is Jamal Barrow, signed a $3 million record deal and recorded part of his new album, Godfather Buried Alive, while in prison. He has been in great demand with the media since the album was released last week. Already, MTV has aired a special about him, The New York Times conducted a phone interview, and he's on the cover of the September issue of Vibe wearing his dark-green prison uniform.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Top Story: Messing To Miss Grace Finale
Ordered by her doctor to stay off her feet in her last months of pregnancy, Will & Grace star Debra Messing has been written out of the last four episodes of the show, including the one-hour season finale, Reuters reports. Messing's spokeswoman said the eight-month-pregnant actress is doing "great," but was told "to be careful and take it easy, preferably bed rest." She added there were no complications with the pregnancy. The season finale is set to air April 29 and centers on Karen (Megan Mullally) and her outlandish wedding to guest star John Cleese. Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez will also make a guest appearance.
Jackson's Accuser Testifies to Grand Jury
Even though the court hearings are under a media blackout, sources close to the child molestation case against Michael Jackson told The Associated Press that Jackson's 14-year-old accuser testified before the grand jury Tuesday. The hearing also included testimony from Jamie Masada, the comedy club owner who first arranged for Jackson and the boy to meet, according to AP's source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. If prosecutors obtain a grand jury indictment they would not have to present evidence at a preliminary hearing to determine if the case should go to trial.
In Other Jackson Family News…
Could wedding plans be in store for Janet Jackson and beau Jermaine Dupri? The couple spent Monday evening canoodling at a New York nightclub after Jackson's appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, AP reports. When asked if the two heard wedding bells, Dupri replied with a grin, "Y'all hear them before I do! That's what everybody is telling me!"
Hung Just Wants To Sing
Now that he's used about 14 of his 15 minutes of fame, American Idol reject William Hung, who brought new meaning to Ricky Martin's song "She Bangs," is determined more than ever to make it as a singer. Hung, who proudly said on TV that he doesn't have any professional musical training, is now very serious about his career and plans to take voice training and dance lessons. "Oh yeah, that's going to change, of course. I want to get better," he told AP Radio. Hung's new album, Inspiration, will be released April 6.
No Date Set for Klein, Holmes
Betrothed Chris Klein and Katie Holmes are having a tough time trying to fit a wedding into their busy schedules. In an interview with AP Radio, Klein believed proposing to Holmes was the natural "next step" in their five-year relationship. "I really believe it's the natural evolution of a relationship," Klein said. "As you grow up in your life, your relationships grow and mature." But the 25-year-old actor, who popped the question in December, said he and Holmes, also 25, haven't set the date yet. "What we do is very different from the normal 'nine-to-five' type of situation. We're actually apart for long stretches of time." Klein has been promoting his new movie, The United States of Leland, and Holmes has been filming the new Batman movie.
Idol, Apprentice Top Nielsens
Reality television reigned with Fox's American Idol and NBC's The Apprentice coming out on top in the ratings, AP reports. CBS won the week overall with an average of 11.5 million viewers, while NBC came in second with 10.9 million, followed by Fox (9.8 million), ABC (8 million), UPN (3.3 million) and the WB (2.7 million). For the week of March 22-28, the top 10 shows included: American Idol (Tuesday), Fox; The Apprentice, NBC; American Idol (Wednesday), Fox; CSI: Miami, CBS; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS; 60 Minutes, CBS; Survivor: All-Stars, CBS; Friends, NBC; Two and a Half Men, CBS; Will & Grace, NBC.
Cheers Ladies Get Pilots
Former Cheers leading ladies Kirstie Alley and Shelley Long are heading back to the tube in separate pilot sitcoms. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Alley is in final negotiations to play Ricki Lake's mother in an untitled CBS comedy pilot about a young widow and her mom, who are raising the widow's two sons after the death of her policeman husband, while also running a bar frequented by cops. Long is set to star in an untitled NBC project centering on the relationship between an adult son and his newly divorced father (Tom Conti). Long will play the mother.
Role Call: Eastwood, Swank Have Baby
Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood and actress Hilary Swank are joining forces on Million Dollar Baby. According to the Reporter, the drama, based on two short stories from the collection Rope Burn by F.X. Toole, is a tragic and platonic love story involving a woman in her early 30s who is determined to begin a boxing career and a fighter-turned-trainer. Eastwood will direct, produce as well as star.
In those rare incidences a sequel can actually be better than the original. Such is the case with X2: X-Men United where this time around the X-Men--including mind-benders Prof. Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Jean Grey (Famke Janssen); optically enhanced Scott/Cyclops (James Marsden); weather controller Storm (Halle Berry); Rogue (Anna Paquin) aptly named newcomers Bobby/Iceman (Shawn Ashmore) and John/Pyro (Aaron Stanford); and last but not least the hunky yet steely Logan/Wolverine (Hugh Jackman)--have their work cut out for them trying to keep the peace between the human and mutant races. After a teleporting mutant assailant known as Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) attacks the White House relations between mutants and humans take a turn for the worse starting an anti-mutant movement. The movement is fueled by baddie scientist William Stryker (Brian Cox) who bears a grudge against mutants and his henchwoman Lady Deathstrike (Kelly Hu) both of whom have a mysterious connection to Wolverine's past. They seek to wipe out all the mutants on Earth by manipulating Xavier and his all-powerful machine Cerebro--a machine that can locate and even destroy every mutant and/or human on the planet in mere moments using mind power. Stryker is in for a fight though. Militant mutants the iron-clad Magneto (Ian McKellen) and morph-happy Mystique (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) join forces with the X-Men to stop this madman--but of course they have their own agendas. Can the X-Men repair the rift in mutant/human co-existence? Or is war imminent? Guess we'll have to wait until X3.
X2 does a nice job giving its comic book heroes and villains more of an emotional core than in the first X-Men. The relationships have deepened and are further explored with Jackman's haunted Logan/Wolverine looking for clues to his past still a standout. Janssen another standout gets more to chew on as Jean whose triangle with Logan and Scott grows more complicated and her character arc takes a surprising turn. But will somebody please write Halle Berry out of this franchise? They say her blonde wig was improved for the sequel but it's as unbelievable as her acting. As for the kids Paquin and Ashmore sweetly play out Rogue and Bobby's budding love story but its Stanford's sullen John who holds the most interest as you see his resentment toward humans growing and luring him to the dark side. In the villains' corner Cox plays Stryker as stonily evil as he can while Romijn-Stamos seems to have a lot more fun as the ultra-cool Mystique even getting to shed the blue paint in one scene and simply use her feminine wiles to get what she wants. Cumming too seems to enjoy being blue as the bible quoting German-accented Nightcrawler who really isn't so bad after all (and has one of the snazzier entrances in the movie). But the most compelling relationship by far has to be between Xavier and Magneto. British thesps Stewart and McKellen portray the two as the old friends they are but whose disparaging views on how mutants and humans should interact has torn them apart giving the film some dramatic weight.
With the original X-Men director Bryan Singer had the dubious task of introducing all of the Marvel comic book's attributes and characters in a way that would appease rabid fans and newbies while also creating a compelling movie with a beginning middle and end. The result was adequate but a tad muddled and cartoonish. With X2 however Singer is able to fine-tune those characters and delve further into the story's universal theme: ridding the world of xenophobia and creating a peaceful co-existence. The three-tiered points of view--from Magneto's defiantly anti-human stance to Stryker's anti-mutant attempts at genocide and Xavier's hopes to find a happy middle ground--parallels today's political climate and actually makes you ponder the world's affairs even while you are watching the very cool very mutant-esque action. X2 leaves you wanting more to find out what is going to happen next to these people. Honestly if there is a war between mutants and humans who do you think is going to win? If only I could use powers of telepathy…