Top Story: Simpson Says Money Helped
O.J. Simpson claims without the money to pay his "dream team" of lawyers, he would probably have been found guilty of murder. Nine years after his trial, the former football player vowed to Playboy magazine in a recent interview that he was innocent of the charges of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman but admits being able to afford such worthy representation helped him in his case. "I didn't commit the crime. That is why I got off," he told Playboy. "I feel in my heart that I got off because I was innocent. But I don't know if I could have proven my innocence if I didn't have the money. And that's a shame. Yes, it is a shame that in this country it costs so much to get good representation."
Reloaded Scores Big Worldwide
The Matrix Reloaded has reached $730 million at the worldwide box office. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the second installment in the Matrix series, with a combination gross of $450 million overseas and $280 domestically, is now ranked 12th on the all-time worldwide box office chart. The trade paper also reports Reloaded is the first film in history to gross more than $100 million in a single weekend internationally and is the biggest grossing R-rated movie on both the domestic and international charts. The film's 1999 predecessor, The Matrix, did $456 million worldwide. The final installment, The Matrix Revolutions, opens domestically on Nov. 5.
Nemo Bests Lion King
Let's hear it for the little fish that could. Disney's The Lion King, the long-held record holder for top grossing animated film in the U.S. at $328.5 million, has finally been bested by Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo, which has taken in $328.7 million domestically, Reuters reports. "Nemo is the biggest film of the summer, the biggest film of the year, and now it is the biggest animated feature of all time," Exhibitor Relations president Paul Dergarabedian told Reuters. Lion King still holds the worldwide record at $780 million.
Blake Makes Public Appearance
Actor Robert Blake, currently out on bail awaiting his trial for the shooting death of his wife Bonny Lee Bakley May 2001, made a rare public appearance Sunday, attending services at a South Los Angeles church, City News reports. He was met by reporters, to whom he said, "Thank you God…I'm with people that I love. You have no idea how important fresh air and sunshine is.'' When a reporter asked Blake what he thought about Kobe Bryant, who was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, Blake smiled and said, "how about,'' and then began singing, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,'' City News reports.
Bobby Brown Arrested for Violation
While dining with his wife, Grammy winner Whitney Houston, singer Bobby Brown was picked up by authorities for an alleged probation violation, The Associated Press reports. Brown was arrested Friday night at a restaurant in an Atlanta suburb after an unidentified caller tipped authorities, a police department spokesman told AP. The spokesman did not, however, know how the singer violated his probation. Last November, Brown was arrested in Atlanta on charges of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana, speeding and having no driver's license or proof of insurance. He also did a 26-day stint in a Florida jail in 2000 for a previous probation violation, AP reports.
Jolie Makes Plea for Chechen Refugees
In her continuing efforts as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, actress Angelina Jolie made a plea to the Russian government Sunday not to force thousands of displaced Chechens back to their war-torn homeland, Reuters reports. Jolie was speaking out for those 80,000 who fled Chechnya amidst fighting but who are now under pressure by Moscow to return to vote in a local leadership election, planned to bring peace to the nation. "You give them an option and you ask them if they want to return home. I am asking you today to make sure they have that option," the Tomb Raider actress said at a news conference.
Duff's Got the Stuff
For the first time in four months, those American Idol idols were bumped off the Hot 100 Singles Sales by TV 'tweener Hilary Duff, Billboard reports. Duff's single "So Yesterday" topped the sales charts, beating down the eight-week run of Idol finalists' "God Bless the USA" followed by the nine-week run of Clay Aiken's "This is the Night"/"Bridge Over Troubled Water." Duff's single, however, is only No. 55 on Billboard's Hot 100.
Role Call: Soccer Fever Takes Hold, Dave Matthews Shops Winn-Dixie
Director David Anspaugh and writer-producer Angelo Pizzo, the duo behind the inspirational sport movies Hoosiers and Rudy, are making another one--The Game of Their Lives, based on the 1950 U.S. World Cup team, AP reports. The tournament in Brazil was the last World Cup appearance for the Americans until 1990, and still is considered by many to be the greatest in the history of U.S. soccer, when the U.S. beat England 1-0...Singer Dave Matthews will make his acting debut in Because of Winn-Dixie for 20th Century Fox. According the Hollywood Reporter this coming-of-age tale revolves around a 10-year-old girl who moves to the small Florida town of Naomi with her preacher father (Jeff Daniels). Lonely, the girl grows close to a big, ugly dog she names Winn-Dixie after the supermarket where she finds him. Through the dog, she befriends a colorful cast of characters that becomes her extended family, including a drifter (Matthews) and a librarian (Eva Marie Saint).
A coroner's report cited cocaine use as the cause of the heart attack that killed The Who bassist John Entwistle, The Associated Press reports. The report ruled the death was accidental, not an overdose, but significant amounts of cocaine were still found in Entwistle's system. How much of the drug was used remains unknown. "Cocaine is a different animal," Clark County Coroner Ron Flud told AP. "It's not like alcohol. There's no way we can put a number on it. You've got a lethal drug on board at the time you have a bad heart. That's a bad combination." The 57-year-old musician was found in his room at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas June 27, one day before the band was to begin a three-month nationwide tour.
Robert Blake's daughter, Delinah Blake, has won permanent custody of her 2-year-old half-sister, Rose, the child Robert Blake had with Bonny Lee Bakley, the woman he is accused of murdering. The actor is now in jail, pending trial.
Former L.A. Lakers basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson has been selected by Fortune Magazine as one of the 50 Most Powerful Black Executives. Johnson's $500 million empire includes his real estate development company, Johnson Development Corp., and Magic Johnson Theatres, as well as his nonprofit Magic Johnson Foundation.
20th Century Fox optioned the film rights to Michael Crichton's (Jurassic Park) next novel, Prey, for a cool $5 million. It was the only studio allowed to bid for the manuscript, whose plot has been kept secret but apparently is a political thriller set in the world of nanotechnology. Does that have something to do with Mork from Ork?
Variety reports Mad TV regulars Will Sasso and Alex Borstein will star in Box Office Gross, a parody on the movie-going experience.
Steve Zahn will join Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin in Revolution Studios' Daddy Daycare. The three will star as fathers who get laid off and decide to start their own daycare center, which becomes a rival to another center run by the evil Anjelica Huston.
Liza Minnelli and new husband David Gest will be opening up their Manhattan penthouse to the public when VH1 airs the series Cabaret beginning in October. The show will emphasize music and will also potentially include special guest stars, such as Mary J. Blige, Alan Jackson and Barry White.
Gary Binkow, an L.A.-based producer, is suing Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne, claiming they stole his idea for "a real-life docu-sitcom" about the rocker and his family. Binkow cites in the suit that he met with the couple and executives from Miramax TV in 1999-2000 to discuss the concept and registered a treatment for the show with the Writers Guild of America.
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer is set to marry her film producer boyfriend Matthew Vaughn in England on May 25, Reuters reports. The story surfaced in a recent issue of the German society magazine Bunte, which did not provide a source for the report. The magazine said 300 guests have been invited to the ceremony, including Madonna and Elton John, and that the couple was viewing English churches as possible locations. Schiffer, 31, and Vaughn, also 31, have been together for 16 months.
The woman who accused Celine Dion's husband of raping her in Las Vegas in March 2000 has been arrested in Pasadena, Calif., for check forgery and is being held on $500,000 bail, The Associated Press reports. Lawyers for Dion's husband, Rene Angelil, are hoping Las Vegas police will consider Yun Kyeong Sung Kwon's arrest in evaluating her credibility and motivation in the case.
In the Biz
Ethan Hawke, who received an Oscar nomination for his role in the 2001 cop drama Training Day, recently made his directorial debut with the film Chelsea Walls. The movie is about New York's Chelsea Hotel, which over the years has housed punks, artists and authors.
Sony-based Revolution Studios had greenlighted a feature film version of the Dark Horse Comics' Hellboy, Variety reports. Guillermo del Toro (Blade 2) will direct the pic, with Ron Perlman being eyed to star as Hellboy, a red-skinned giant with a metallic left hand who happens to look like Satan.
Walt Disney Pictures is shooting a large-format prequel to the 1979 classic Black Stallion with director Simon Wincer (Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles) at the helm. Shooting on The Young Black Stallion in Namibia is expected to wrap this month, Variety reports.
Universal Pictures is hoping Harrison Ford will take the title role in Scott Frank's big-screen adaptation of the Lawrence Block novel A Walk Among the Tombstones. According to Variety, Ford gave Frank notes for reworking the screenplay and could possibly sign on to work on the project after he completes an untitled Ron Shelton film at Revolution Studios.
Nicolas Cage is in talks with Warner Bros. to star in the upcoming drama Matchstick Men directed by Ridley Scott. According to The Hollywood Reporter, production on the film, which is based on the yet-to-be-published novel by Eric Garcia, is scheduled to begin this summer.
The Robert Blake murder case seems to be doing wonders for CNN. The AP reports that the news network had its biggest primetime audiences of the year last Thursday when Blake was charged with the murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. That's good news for CNN, which has fallen to second place behind Fox News Channel in this year's cable news ratings.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship, the no-holds-barred martial arts franchise that combines karate, boxing and wrestling, will launch the sport on multiple broadcast platforms with weekly primetime slots. While the UFC is already an established pay-per-view and live gate draw, the lack of rules and safety guidelines had prevented it from becoming a full-fledged sport in the past.
Forget ultimate fighting. What about Ultimate Dodgeball? According to Variety, Zoo Prods. is shopping cable networks with the proposed 13-episode weekly reality series that would include pitting celebrities against a team of regular people in a game of dodgeball. Last month, Zoo organized the Celebrity Dodgeball Tournament fundraiser that featured Matthew Perry, David Spade, Courteney Cox Arquette and Jeff Probst.
The FX network has greenlighted the controversial cop series The Shield for a second cycle of 13 hour-long episodes, Variety reports. The show's future was recently called into question when at least 11 advertisers, including Burger King, Subaru and Office Depot, backed out because of the show's degree of violence and sexual content.
Parents of the members of the teen boy band Dream Street have filed a lawsuit against the group's creators, seeking back pay and the release of the singers from their current contracts. The suit alleges the boys were exposed to alcohol, women and pornography, but Louis Baldonieri and Brian Lukow claim the parents are the ones setting a bad example, saying the adults were "teaching kids you can sign anything, then lie, cheat and defame people for your benefit," the AP reports.
Bono's going on tour, but not as the frontman for his rock band U2. Starting May 20, Bono will be traveling to parts of Africa with U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, the AP reports. Bono is a longtime aid promoter for Third World countries.
Morgan Freeman will be the guest of honor at Brazil's first Afro-Brazilian/African-American film festival and will present his latest film High Crimes on opening night, Variety reports. AfroFest kicks off in Rio de Janeiro Thursday and runs through May 2. Other screenings include Spike Lee's Bamboozled and Carlos Diegues' Chica da Silva.