September 22, 2003 7:38am EST
Top Story: Sheen Praises Canada for Staying Out of War
Actor and activist Martin Sheen, who portrays the fictional Democratic President Josiah Bartlet on NBC's political drama The West Wing, said Saturday he was proud of Canada for not entering the Iraq war. Sheen made the statement in Windsor, Ontario, where he was receiving the Christian Culture Gold Medal from Assumption University, which will offer a new scholarship in his name. "Every time I cross this border I feel like I've left the land of lunatics," Sheen said. "You are not armed and dangerous. You do not shoot each other ... I always feel a bit more human when I come here." Sheen, however, made sure to head back to the land of the armed and dangerous for Sunday's annual Primetime Emmy Awards, where The West Wing was named best drama series for the fourth year in a row.
Rocker Melissa Etheridge Weds Girlfriend
Grammy-winning singer Melissa Etheridge exchanged vows with her girlfriend, former Popular star Tammy Lynn Michaels, on Saturday, The Associated Press reports. Etheridge, 41, and Michaels, 28, exchanged custom-made platinum and diamond wedding bands during the ceremony. Although a statement by the singer's publicist described the couple as married, homosexual couples cannot legally marry in California. The two met two years ago and live in Southern California with Etheridge's daughter and son, which she had through artificial insemination using a sperm donation from rocker David Crosby.
Jada and Will's Housekeeping Woes
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's former housekeeper is suing the couple for allegedly failing to pay her about 1,640 hours of overtime pay and firing her after she complained to them, the AP reports. In her lawsuit, filed Sept. 11 in Ventura, Calif., Superior Court, Marilu Cooley says she worked for the Smiths and lived on their estate for 4 1/2 years and often worked more than 40 hours a week. She said she received overtime pay during her first two years of employment, but claims the Smiths stopped paying her overtime in March 1999, and promised to pay her a $25,000 annual bonus instead. Cooley said she never received the bonus and was fired in October 2001 after she complained about it. She is seeking at least $175,000 in damages.
P. Diddy To Consolidate Businesses Near Times Square
Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is close to leasing a 52,000-square-foot space near Times Square in New York City in order to house all of his businesses under one roof, Reuters reports. Combs would occupy five floors in the building, located at 1710 Broadway at the corner of 54th Street--directly across the street from the David Letterman building. The space would house Comb's Sean John clothing line, Bad Boy Records and its related film and TV companies, his charity arm Daddy's House Social Programs, Janice Combs Music Publishing, Janice Combs Management and the corporate offices of his restaurant, Justin's.
Altman, Hanson Tapped for DGA Honors
The DGA has tapped filmmakers Robert Altman and Curtis Hanson, commercial director Joe Pytka, Senator Olympia Snowe and AFL-CIO president John Sweeney as honorees for its fourth annual DGA Honors Variety reports. The event, set for Nov. 16 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, celebrates individuals, institutions and organizations that have made distinguished contributions to the nation's culture in support of filmmaking and TV. Altman's directing credits include M*A*S*H, Short Cuts, Gosford Park and The Player. Hanson's L.A. Confidential, which he co-wrote, directed and produced, won an Oscar for adapted screenplay.
Hines Honored in Harlem
Stars from the worlds of theater, film and dance paid tribute Sunday night to the late tap-dancing actor Gregory Hines at a festive memorial celebration at Harlem's Apollo Theater. The Tony Award winner, who starred on Broadway, in movies and on television, died of cancer in August at the age of 57. Actresses Debbie Allen, Isabella Rossellini, Phylicia Rashad, ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-Harlem, friends and family were all there to honor Hines, the AP reports.
Role Call: Watts Grasps King Kong, Roberts Gets Closer
Australian actress Naomi Watts is the frontrunner to star in filmmaker Peter Jackson's King Kong remake for Universal Pictures. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Watts would play Ann Darrow, an American actress who makes a living performing in Broadway song-and-dance shows in Depression-era New York. Jackson, who is putting the finishing touches on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, is expected to start writing the King Kong script in November, with shooting expected to begin next summer ... Julia Roberts is in talks to join the cast of Mike Nichols' big screen adaptation of Patrick Marber's play Closer, Variety reports. Roberts would replace Cate Blanchett, who dropped out of the pic last week after she announced she is expecting her second child. Roberts would join Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen, who are already on board to appear in the film.
Jazz lovers have lost one of their true pioneering spirits.
Lionel Hampton, a vibraphone virtuoso, died Saturday of heart failure at the New York's Mount Sinai Medical Center. He was 94.
Over his six-decade career, Hampton, who infused his music with boundless energy and a trademark smile, played with a variety of jazz greats including Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and Quincy Jones. In the 1930s, however, when Hampton joined the Benny Goodman Quartet, the "King of Vibes" made a name for himself as one of the first black men to break the race barrier that had kept black and white musicians from performing together in public.
Hampton went on to become an accomplished band leader in his own right, helping to foster other jazz musicians such as Charlie Mingus, Dexter Gordon, Fats Navarro, Joe Williams and Dinah Washington. He traveled the world with his band as a musical ambassador of the United States.
"He was really a towering jazz figure," saxophonist Sonny Rollins, who played with Hampton in the 1950s, told the Associated Press. "He really personified the spirit of jazz because he had so much joy about his playing."
AP reports Jones, the Grammy-winning producer and composer who was just 15 when he first played trumpet with Hampton, said in a statement that the jazz great was a mentor for more than 50 years.
"He taught me how to groove and how to laugh and how to hang and how to live like a man," Jones said. "Heaven will definitely be feeling some backbeat now."
Hampton had also performed at the White House for eight presidents, including Truman, Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton. Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y, told AP he remembers when Hampton played at the White House on his 90th birthday, inviting President Clinton to grab his saxophone and jam with them on stage.
"Lionel was a spectacular guy," said Rangel.
Married for 35 years, he lost his wife, Gladys, in 1971. The couple had no children. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.