November 10, 2004 7:37am EST
Nicky Hilton's marriage to Todd Meister annulled
To think they had appeared so happy. Hotel heiress Nicky Hilton's flash-in-the-pan marriage is officially over--after less than three months. Hilton, 21, married New York hedge fund manager Todd Meister, 33, in an unexpected shotgun wedding in Las Vegas on August 15. Reuters reports a judge granted the annulment Monday. Representatives for the couple have been quoted as saying: "Both parties have ended their marriage amicably, and they remain good friends." Us Weekly reported first Hilton was seeking an annulment last month. The magazine quoted unnamed friends as saying Hilton thought she was too young to be married and her relationship with Meister had been essentially platonic. But in the November issue of Stuff magazine, Hilton claimed that her August wedding was planned and that her sister "Paris orchestrated everything."
Zellweger plans break from acting
Renee Zellweger, who stars in the upcoming Bridget Jones sequel, said she is taking an extended break from acting. Zellweger told Reuters in a recent interview she wants to step away from the limelight and learn what it is like to be just a regular person. "I don't see myself climbing into a makeup chair any time soon and taking another role. I feel like I need to take a minute and have a little bit of life experience," she said. The 35-year-old star, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar earlier this year for her role as farm girl Ruby Thewes in U.S. Civil War drama Cold Mountain, declined to say how long her break from filming would last. She next appears in Ron Howard's The Cinderella Man, which opens June 3, 2005.
Minnelli sues former chauffeur
Liza Minnelli filed a breach-of-contract suit Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court against her longtime personal assistant, Reuters reports. The lawsuit comes one month after M'hammed Soumayah, Minnelli's former chauffeur, reportedly accused the entertainer of beating him during alcohol-fueled rampages. Minnelli is seeking at least $250,000 in damages and a court order against Soumayah and accuses him of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Soumayah, 56, filed suit against Minnelli last month but the case that was immediately sealed by a judge.But according to media reports at the time, his attorney was quoted as saying Soumayah was repeatedly assaulted by Minnelli when she was drunk.
Cat Stevens receives apologies form Americans
Yusuf Islam, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, says he has received numerous apologies from Americans who are embarrassed the U.S. government deported him over potential terrorism links. "I have got more apologies from Americans since that time than you can count," Islam, 57, said in an interview with Reuters Wednesday. "So, I'm quite satisfied with the spirit of most people and probably it was a mistake." Islam, who received a peace award in Rome from a group of Nobel Prize winners, was traveling on a commercial plane from London to Washington when it was diverted to Bangor, Maine. U.S. Homeland Security deported him after his name turned up on U.S. "no fly" lists because of activities they said could be potentially linked to terrorism.
ABC looking good in TV sweeps
Backed by Desperate Housewives, Lost and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ABC won the coveted 18-49 year old demographic in the first ratings "sweeps" month of the new season, the AP reports. CBS won the week, averaging 12.9 million viewers followed by NBC (11.3 million); ABC (11 million); Fox (6.3 million); the WB (4.1 million); and UPN (3.6 million). The top 10 shows were: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS; Desperate Housewives, ABC; Without a Trace, CBS; Survivor: Vanuatu, CBS; Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ABC; Lost, ABC; Cold Case, CBS; 60 Minutes, CBS; ER, NBC; The Apprentice 2, NBC.
Douglas, Lewis earn medal for blacklist fight
Their courageous stand against the Hollywood blacklist has earned veteran actor Kirk Douglas and producer Edward Lewis the Freedom of Expression Medal from the Institute of Modern Letters. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the pair received a standing ovation Monday when they accepted the honor in recognition of their decision to let blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo use his real name in the screenplay credits for Spartacus in 1960, which, at the time, was a serious risk for Douglas, who starred in the film and helped produce it with Lewis. "The most precious thing in our land is freedom," Douglas told a receptive audience at UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television.
Patty Duke recovering from heart surgery
Actress Patty Duke, who won a best-supporting Oscar in 1963 for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, was released from an Idaho hospital after undergoing single heart bypass surgery earlier this month, the AP reports. Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Johnson said Duke, 57, was released on Tuesday--six days after the Nov. 3 surgery. "She's looking forward to recuperating at home for a few weeks," a message posted on Duke's Web site said. Duke, who was married to John Astin from 1973 to 1985, is the mother of Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
November 03, 2004 12:47pm EST
Networks tread lightly on election results
TV networks were determined not to repeat the same mistake they did in the 2000 election by calling out an early winner and instead dubbed the results "too close to call"--with the exception of Fox News Channel and NBC. Fox declared President Bush had won Ohio at 12:41 a.m. EST followed by Alaska at 1 a.m., announcing at least a tie for the presidency with 269 electoral votes. NBC followed suit and called Ohio and Alaska for Bush at 1 a.m. "This race is all but over," NBC anchor Tom Brokaw said. But by 5 a.m., ABC, CBS, CNN and The Associated Press, four other news organizations that received the same vote count and exit poll information as NBC and Fox, had kept Ohio in the "too close to call" category. But Brokaw said the network would not act as the arbiter. "There will be no declaration from us tonight as long as the Kerry campaign is contesting in Ohio," he said. ABC wouldn't call Ohio either--even though analyst George Stephanopoulos said it was almost mathematically impossible for Kerry to win. According to ABC's Terry Moran, the fact that none of the networks were declaring Bush the winner appeared to have irritated the White House. "Essentially…the president and his team is waiting for him to be declared the winner by us," he said. CNN's Jeff Greenfield, meanwhile, told the AP the 2000 election night ignominy--when all of the networks twice prematurely declared a winner in Florida and awarded the presidency to George W. Bush weeks before it was settled--had a lot to do with the network's indeterminate state. "If we hadn't gone through what we had gone through in 2000, we probably would have called Ohio for Bush," Greenfield said.
Jackie Chan not thinking of retirement just yet
Jackie Chan may have turned 50 this year, but the martial arts star has no plans to retire anytime soon. "I don't know how far I can go, but I'll just keep going. I feel I still can do it," Chan told a news conference in Singapore, where he is promoting the share market listing of Hong Kong-based film company Media Asia Entertainment Group Ltd. Chan, best known for performing most of his own stunts, came close to death in 1985 after falling from a tree and splitting his skull open. But he said would like to make more action movies both in Hollywood and Asia." Movies are my business and movies are my job," he said. "But if I am not in front of the screen then I would become a director or producer."
Delaney washes up in The O.C.
Fox's The O.C. and NBC's The West Wing are beefing up their lineups. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Emmy-winner Kim Delaney landed a key role on The O.C. as an ex-flame who reappears in character Sandy Cohen's (Peter Gallagher) life. She is slated to appear in at least five episodes of the show. Teri Polo, meanwhile, will play the potential first lady and wife of Jimmy Smits' character Matthew Santos, a three-term Democratic congressman from Texas with strong presidential aspirations in the political drama The West Wing. Polo is set to do four episodes this season and has an option for 12 more next season, provided the show returns for a seventh year.
CBS, NBC pull shows
CBS' Dr. Vegas and NBC's Father of the Pride have become the first casualties of the new television season, Reuter reports. CBS said it would put the new Rob Lowe drama, which ranked 53rd among prime-time network programs, on an indefinite hiatus, while NBC has yanked Pride, an expensive foray into computer-animated about a family of talking lions, from its schedule completely. The move comes amid admissions by network executives that NBC has struggled this season, with ratings for its target audience of viewers aged 18 to 49 on the decline following years of dominance in that demographic, Reuters reports.
Ailing LL Cool J cancels tour
LL Cool J, who is touring in support of his latest album The DEFinition, has canceled the remaining 12 dates on his tour due to an abdominal ailment, the AP reports. "I am extremely disappointed to have to cancel the rest of this fun and successful tour," the 36-year-old rapper-actor said in a statement. Shows have been canceled in cities including Atlanta and Miami. "I apologize for disappointing my fans who have already bought tickets." A release from his publicist said he is under a doctor's care and requires medication and rest. Ticket holders can seek refunds at the point of purchase.
Patty Duke to have bypass surgery
Actress Patty Duke, who won a best-supporting Oscar in 1963 for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, will undergo single heart bypass surgery Wednesday at an Idaho hospital, the AP reports. Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Johnson said Tuesday the actress is expected to make a successful recovery. Duke, 57, was admitted last spring to the center for insertion of a stent in one of her arteries to improve blood flow. Duke, who was married to John Astin from 1973 to 1985, is the mother of Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin. For years, it was believed John Astin was his father but genetic testing proved rock promoter Michael Tell, whom Duke was to married for less than a month, was actually Sean's father.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action revisits an age-old Tunes question: Why does the affable Bugs reap all the fame and glory while the egocentric Daffy gets shafted again and again? Our duck friend quite frankly has had it up to his skinny neck playing second fiddle to the carrot muncher. All Daffy wants is a little recognition from the studio but the brothers Warner (actual twin brothers as we come to find out) decide instead to let Daffy out of his contract on the advice of their no-nonsense VP of comedy Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman). Bugs however knows they're making a mistake. Even though Daff bears the brunt of the abuse Looney Tunes would fail without him and Bugs convinces the powers that be they need the nutty mallard. If the plot had only followed this thread--perhaps showing Daffy on the skids--then maybe the film wouldn't have spiraled into Looneyville. Unfortunately Daffy ends up hooking up with the hunky D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) a studio security guard who finds out that his famous movie star father Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) is really a secret agent hunting for a mysterious diamond known as the Blue Monkey a supernatural gem that can turn the planet's population into monkeys. The evil head of the Acme Corporation Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) wants the diamond for his own diabolical plans and he's kidnapped D.J.'s dad in an effort to get it. Now the gang has to get the diamond save D.J.'s dad and of course save the world.
It might be a little hard to act subtly around cartoon characters but these aren't your ordinary cutesy Mickey Mouse types. Bugs Daffy Porky Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn are pros at comic timing able to spar with the best of them throw out zingers without a second thought and slay you with a droll glance at the camera. It isn't really necessary for the human actors to match their madcap-ness; just reacting would have sufficed. Fraser comes off the best of the human bunch; since he's had practice (Monkeybone) he easily interacts with his animated co-stars and deftly handles the doubletakes and jabs at pop culture. Elfman on the other hand sputters and goes bug-eyed every time she encounters silliness. She looks uncomfortable doing the green screen thing especially when she's trying to look natural when peeling a distraught duck from around her waist. Martin's highly anticipated turn as Mr. Chairman turns out to be the biggest disappointment. The over-the-top character is reminiscent of Martin's hysterically funny Rupert the Monkeyboy in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but Martin turns Mr. Chairman--an angry schoolboy with knee socks and matted-down hair who never grew up--into a caricature of ridiculous proportions and unlike Rupert who came in small hilarious doses Mr. Chairman gets very tiresome very quickly.
Back in Action's animation is well done more engaging and ambitious than its 1996 predecessor Space Jam in which the action mostly took place in Looney Tunes land; here animated characters go the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? route and Bugs Daffy and the rest coexist harmoniously with humans in the real world. But despite its aspirations Back in Action leaves out vital elements that made Space Jam appealing. While the earlier film stuck to a simple plot Back in Action guided by director Joe Dante (Small Soldiers The 'Burbs) tries too hard to keep things wild and wacky while incorporating elements of '60s heist pics and action-adventure scenes and in the process loses sight of the most important ingredient in any kids movie: the story. Tykes may have limited attention spans but if the story's good they will watch. Granted some individual bits are laugh-out-loud funny particularly the scene in the Warner Bros. commissary where a stuttering Porky Pig complains about being politically incorrect with Speedy Gonzales while an animated Shaggy and Scooby-Doo berate actor Matthew Lillard for playing Shaggy as such a bonehead in the live-action Scooby-Doo. These scenes prove that if any cartoon characters could pass themselves off as real celebrities in the entertainment industry the gang from Looney Tunes could but moments like these simply can't overcome a contrived plot and juvenile antics.
From Pepsi pitch girl to playing Helen Keller. Hallie Kate Eisenberg will next appear as the deaf and blind Keller in ABC's "The Wonderful World of Disney's The Miracle Worker" on Sunday.
It's the little tyke's first venture into a dramatic role, USA Today reports. Her mom said that Eisenberg was so into this particular role that she would wake up at night signing into her pillow. Uh-huh.
NEW NIGHTS FOR 'ED' AND 'TITANS': NBC is doing the shuffle. In an attempt to firm up a few weak spots in its primetime lineup, the network is moving its freshman show "Ed" to Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. while "Titans" is being relocated to Monday at 8 p.m. and "The World's Most Amazing Videos" will settle on Sundays at 7 p.m. All changes will take place beginning Dec. 6.
NO KNIGHT FOR CBS: Bobby Knight is still looking for a job. Indiana's former head basketball coach, who was fired in September, was in negotiations with CBS about a possible job as a college basketball commentator job, but The Associated Press reports that both sides failed to come to an agreement.
"It never got to that point. It wasn't going to work out," Knight's agent, Sandy Montag, said Thursday.
Knight would have sat in the booth with veteran play-by-play commentator Dick Enberg. Enberg's last partner, Al McGuire, left just before the NCAA Tournament last season due to an illness. After Knight was fired, he was contacted by CBS Sports President Sean McManus for a possible job, but an agreement never materialized.