Top Story: Murphy Brown's Pastorelli Dies
Robert Pastorelli, best known for playing the eclectic housepainter Eldin on Murphy Brown, was found dead in his Hollywood Hills home Monday in what the coroner's office said may have been a drug overdose, The Associated Press reports. He was 49. Coroner's office Lt. Ed Winter said Pastorelli's body was found by his assistant in a bathroom and that an autopsy was planned. "It's a possible accidental death," Winter said, adding, "There was drug paraphernalia found." Pastorelli finished work with John Travolta last month on the movie Be Cool, the sequel to the comedy Get Shorty. "I am still unable to grasp this tragic news," Be Cool director F. Gary Gray told AP. "Robert was a true professional and a total delight to work with. My heart goes out to his family, and he will be sorely missed." Pastorelli also had his share of tragedy in recent years. In 1999, his girlfriend, Charemon Jonovich, 25, was found fatally shot and her death was investigated by police as an accident. The couple have a daughter.
Seinfeld Puts Show on Hold for Son
Jerry Seinfeld postponed his sold-out show in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Saturday to be with his 1-year-old son, who had been hospitalized after a fall, The Associated Press reports. Seinfeld flew to New York Friday to be with his family, according to the statement by his publicist. "Julian is at home and is doing very well," the statement said. "Jerry's tour will continue this weekend as scheduled." The Spartanburg show has been rescheduled for Nov. 13.
Hung "Bangs" With Record Deal
Who says you can only have 15 minutes of fame? American Idol reject William Hung, known for his own special rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs," has certainly proven that point, snagging a record deal with music label Koch Records, Reuters reports. Koch said Hung's album, tentatively titled The True Idol, will be released April 6, and cable channel Fuse Music Network said it would air Hung's "She Bangs" music video.
Simpson Accused of Stealing Satellite Signals
Satellite television provider DirecTV filed a civil suit against O.J. Simpson, claiming the former football player pirated TV signals, CourtTV.com reports. The allegations stem from a police search conducted at Simpson's suburban Miami home on Dec. 4, 2001, as part of an ongoing investigation into a money-laundering and narcotics ring, as well as the sale of pirated, satellite TV decoder equipment. CourtTV.com reports during the raid, police seized equipment from Simpson's home that DirecTV claims were "bootloaders," devices used to unscramble the company's satellite signals. No charges have yet been filed against Simpson in connection with the search.
Carey, Butler Upset With Comic Reality Show
Drew Carey and Brett Butler voiced their objections over NBC's new reality show The Last Comic Standing, in which the two comedians served as talent judges, Reuters reports. Carey and Butler claim NBC execs and producers of the show overruled their votes for the 10 aspiring comics most worthy of advancing to the televised competition set to air this summer. "I thought it was crooked and dishonest," Carey told the Hollywood Reporter. Butler, the former star of Grace Under Fire, posted a message on her Web site saying they were "both surprised and disappointed at the results and…we had NOTHING to do with them." NBC said it was up to network brass and producers to decide who made the cut, weighing the opinions of the celebrity panel as just one factor. An NBC spokeswoman told Reuters a disclaimer to that effect airs as part of the show's credits.
Stewart Thanks Supporters
In her first comments since being convicted in her suspicious stock trading case, Martha Stewart showed gratitude toward her fans for supporting her through her ordeal. After visiting the parole office for the first time, Reuters reports, Stewart gave thanks outside the Manhattan courthouse. "I want to thank my readers, my viewers and the Internet users," Stewart told a throng of reporters. "I just want to thank everyone for their support." Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. also fell nearly 8 percent Monday, following a decline of more than 22 percent on Friday when she was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, two counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of agency proceedings, Reuters reports. Stewart's sentencing is scheduled for June 17.
Sting, Lennox To Tour Together
Apparently Sting, who lost the Best Song Oscar this year to singer Annie Lennox, has no hard feelings--the two plan to tour together this summer. The Sacred Love tour will kick off June 27 in Philadelphia and will end in Canada Oct. 12. In an exclusive joint phone interview with the AP on Friday, Lennox and Sting said they hadn't decided on how the tour will develop, or whether they'll sing together--but said they're happy to be performing on the same show. "I think that camaraderie and friendship is actually essential and it has to run from the bottom to the top," Lennox said.
Actor Winfield Dies
Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated actor Paul Winfield, 62, died Sunday in Los Angeles of a heart attack, AP reports. Winfield was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar in 1972 for his role as a sharecropper in Sounder and was known for his work on such television shows as the 1968 comedy series Julia, and later Touched by an Angel and Picket Fences, for which he won an Emmy.
Hollywood's Golden Age Star Dies
Actress Frances Dee, widow of Western movie hero Joel McCrea and one of the last stars from Hollywood's Golden Age, co-starring with the likes of Gary Cooper, Bette Davis, Frederic March, Katharine Hepburn
While the dark side will almost certainly grow stronger in Star Wars: Episode II - The Attack of the Clones, the film itself will still be a vehicle for good. Eleven sneak previews (in 11 different cities nationwide) for Episode II have been announced, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting local children's charities. The previews will be held May 12, four days before the official release of Episode II. A Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox release quoted a pleased Chewbacca as saying "MMMRRAAAAHHHM." We couldn't agree more.
Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient) is set to star in the romantic comedy The Chambermaid opposite super-sexy Jennifer Lopez. (To quote famous philosopher Homer Simpson, "Mmm, Jennifer Lopez.") Ms. Lopez will play the titular chambermaid who becomes romantically involved with Fiennes' politician character. (As if Jennifer would clean her own bathroom, much less someone else's.)
New Jersey's Bergen County Prosecutor William Schmidt, head of the victims' family advisory board for his county, has requested that CBS not show graphic footage from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in its planned March 10 documentary on the subject. Writing on behalf of the United Way, American Red Cross and other groups, Schmidt said it would disrupt the healing process. In related news, scientists have observed that the ostrich's penchant for sticking its head in sand in times of danger really doesn't help.
During her routine at an Ovarian Cancer Research benefit, soon-to-be ex-talk show host Rosie O'Donnell proudly proclaimed, "I'm a dyke!" the USA Today reports. Wanting to shed her "nice" label, O'Donnell later ripped on Anne Heche at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC. Lampooning Heche's interview with Barbara Walters, in which Heche admitted she was "possessed," O'Donnell attacked with "She couldn't just say, 'I was a lesbian for two years, it didn't work out for me'?" We bow to the master.
Not-so-nice Jewish boy Al Goldstein, publisher of lurid Screw magazine, was convicted of six counts (and acquitted of six more counts) of aggravated harassment for graphically tongue-lashing with expletives an employee who had just quit. Our New York City correspondent, covering the trial in Brooklyn, filed this report: "I can't f***ing believe they f***ing convicted his a** for some s****y curses. This is f***ing NYC, after all!"
Five former Screen Actors Guild presidents have publicly excoriated current SAG CEO Bob Pisano for jettisoning Lance Simmens, the now former government relations director. Ed Asner, William Daniels, Charlton Heston, Howard Keel and Dennis Weaver sent an open letter to all SAG members complaining that "Mr. Pisano and [SAG president] Melissa Gilbert have put their own agenda forward." Pisano and Gilbert were unavailable for comment, other than to say they really enjoyed Dennis Weaver's recent turn as a guest voice on The Simpsons.
Despite a U.S. Senate threat to impose government legislation, the computer industry is asking the government to allow private negotiations to continue on how best to safeguard movies with the advent of digital TV. Senator Fritz Hollings, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and other legislators are frustrated with the stalled transition to digital TV. (Methinks they shouldn't have bought those high-priced, new-fangled HDTV sets from Circuit City just yet. No wonder they're frustrated.)