The Rev. Al Sharpton has filed a $1 billion libel lawsuit against the HBO TV network for airing an FBI surveillance tape recorded 19 years ago showing a conversation between him and a government agent posing as a drug dealer. The tape aired on the network's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel Tuesday in a segment about former Columbo crime family boss Michael Franzese, who organized gambling for pro athletes. Sharpton says the recording is part of a smear campaign to disrupt his potential presidential run in 2004. According to Reuters, Sharpton is seeking $500 million in compensatory damages and $500 million in punitive damages from HBO Inc., HBO Real Sports, AOL-Time Warner, Inc., reporter Bernard Goldberg and Franzese, alleging "defamation, libel and slander." A spokesman for HBO called the lawsuit "unworthy of comment."
Filmmaker Woody Allen's lawsuit against producer Jean Doumanian has resulted in a tag sale of film props. Dan Meader, the owner of Elmwood Antiques in Haverhill, Mass., bought the contents of a warehouse in Queens, NY, where Allen stored props. Meader's purchase payment will be split between Allen and Doumanian, but Meader will keep the proceeds from the sale. Items--including bags of preserved autumn leaves, Manhattan street signs and old-fashioned refrigerators--will be sold this week at the Amesbury auction house through Sunday, The Associated Press reports.
Warner Bros. Pictures is forging ahead with its big-budget sci-fi epic The Fountain, Variety reports. Director Darren Aronofsky will helm the pic, which will star Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Ellen Burstyn. The film will be about the journey of one man in the present day as well as both 500 years in the past and into the future. Production is expected to begin in late October in Sydney, Australia.
Ben Affleck is in negotiations to star in and possibly direct a new film based on the novel Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane. Affleck, who with Matt Damon won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, is also in talks to write the screenplay, Ananova.com reports. Gone, Baby, Gone is Lehane's fourth book about two private detectives, Kenzie and Gennaro, who live in the working-class Dorchester neighborhood of Boston where they grew up.
Could Everybody Loves Raymond be nearing the end of the road? Creator Phil Rosenthal seems to think so. CBS' deal for the series expires in May, along with star Ray Romano's contract, prompting discussion on the show's future. "You mine for gold as long as you can," Rosenthal told Variety. "But when we're out of stories, the show is over." Everybody Loves Raymond is entering its seventh season this fall.
Malcolm in the Middle actress Jane Kaczmarek's real-life pregnancy will be written into the show, the AP reports. The last time the 46-year-old actress was pregnant, the show's producers spent a lot of time camouflaging her expanding waistline. Kaczmarek is married to Bradley Whitford of The West Wing.
ABC has ordered a one-hour reality special titled The Ultimate Makeover, which will chronicle the makeovers of two women and a man over a 10-week period. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a leading Hollywood plastic surgeon will oversee surgical procedures done to the three participants, including facelifts, cheek and breast implants, tummy tucks and liposuction. The show is scheduled to air during November sweeps.
Two former members of Destiny's Child--LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson--have settled their lawsuits against the group's current members, its manager and Sony Music, the AP reports. The two were original members of the R&B group but left in 2000 over unhappiness with Mathew Knowles' control after their original manager died in 1997. They sued for breach of contract, defamation, libel and fraud over the lyrics in the single "Survivor," specifically the lines: "You thought that I'd be stressed without you/But I'm chillin'/You thought I wouldn't sell without you/Sold 9 million." Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Imagine former Survivor winners Richard and Tina going head-to-head in an all-star tournament. The concept is not that far fetched, especially if the show's executive producer, Mark Burnett, has a say in it.
Burnett, the reality impresario who launched a television phenomenon in summer 2000 with the first Survivor installment, is working on an all-star adaptation of the hit reality show. According to Variety, the "tournament of champions" version would pit past contestants from the first four Survivor seasons against one another.
A spokesman for CBS told Variety that while the concept of an all-star Survivor has been talked about at the network, there is no timetable for when the project would air or who the participants would be.
"We're always looking to add a new wrinkle to the franchise," he added.
The regular Survivor series matches 16 contestants all vying for $1 million over a 13-week period.
But this is not the first time rumors of a new Survivor project have surfaced.
Last June, CBS chief Leslie Moonves said the network had plans to produce a celebrity version of Survivor that would likely include network sitcom stars Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Kevin James (King of Queens), L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant and actor/singer Frank Stallone.
While being interviewed on Howard Stern's syndicated radio show last summer, Moonves was asked if the celebrity Survivor series was a done deal, to which he replied, "We think, yes." But a CBS spokesman later told the New York Daily News that such a series was "still very much in the discussion stage."
Previous rumors that Jermane and Randy Jackson had refused to attend the Jackson 5 reunion for the Michael Jackson: 30 Anniversary Celebration, The Solo Years can now be dismissed. All five brothers from the eponymous Jackson 5 music group have confirmed their attendance at the event.
After feuding for the last month with the show's producer, David Gest, over the ticket prices, the guest list and the lineups for the all-star events, Jermaine agreed on Friday to perform at the September 7 and 10 shows, to be held at New York's Madison Square Garden.
"Having been accused of not wanting to be a part of my brother's 30th anniversary concert for publicity reasons is not right," Jermaine Jackson said in a statement Friday. "My concern was that our loyal fans were not invited nor able to attend because of excessive prices," he told SonicNet.com.
A combined total of 40,000 tickets for the September 7 and 10 Michael Jackson celebration concerts--priced $45 to $2,500 per ticket--sold out just five hours after going on sale on July 31, Launch. com reported.
"I place my family above all else and I would like to perform with my brothers in spite of all that has gone on. I'm sorry that loyalty to my fans and family has been perceived as betrayal," Jermaine added.
The Jackson brothers convened in Los Angeles on Friday to begin rehearsing for the shows.
A complete list of confirmed special guests goes as follows:
Friday, September 7: Marc Anthony; Ray Charles; Deborah Cox; Destiny's Child; Gloria Estefan; Billy Gilman; Whitney Houston; James Ingram; Quincy Jones & the Legends of Jazz including Al Jarreau, Herbie Mann, Les McCann, David "Fathead" Newman, Jimmy Smith, Clark Terry & Cassandra Wilson; Liza Minnelli; Monica; Mya; *NSYNC; Jill Scott; Shaggy featuring Ricardo "Rikrok" Ducent & Rayvon; Britney Spears; Tamia; 3T; Usher.
Monday, September 10: Marc Anthony; Mary J. Blige; Deborah Cox; Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott; Gloria Gaynor; Al Jarreau; Gladys Knight; Lil' Romeo; Ricky Martin; Liza Minnelli; Monica; Mya; 98 Degrees; Jill Scott; Usher; Luther Vandross; Dionne Warwick.
In addition, stars from television, sports, movies, and the recording industry will honor Jackson during the concerts. Confirmed guests include: Marlon Brando; Elizabeth Taylor; Samuel L. Jackson; Willem Dafoe; William Shatner; Dr. Dre; Snoop Dogg; Yoko Ono; Sean Lennon; Jane Russell; Chris Tucker; Liam Neeson; Vanessa Redgrave; Franco Nero; Muhammad Ali; Kobe Bryant; Magic Johnson; Esther Williams; Gregory Peck; Jennifer Jones; Angie Dickinson; Master P; Robert Wagner; Jill St. John; Sir John Mills; Hayley Mills; Janet Leigh; Reggie Miller; Ann Miller; Jane Powell; Macaulay Culkin; Patricia Neal.
Rosie O'Donnell reveals in the August issue of her magazine Rosie that she has been depressed for years, according to Entertainment Tonight. She originally resisted taking medication, fearing it was a cowardly way to live, but has now been on antidepressants for two years. The talk show host said she was pushed over the edge by the Columbine shootings and a celebrity benefit she attended, where she found herself sobbing throughout the evening.
Singer Rick Springfield broke his arm during a performance at the MGM Grand hotel-casino in Las Vegas, The Associated Press reports. He treated and released Tuesday at University Medical Center. The singer fell from a 20-foot high beam that is used to lower him on to the stage in the show's last scene. In EFX Alive, Springfield takes the audience on a journey to the worlds of wizard Merlin, showman P.T. Barnum, illusionist Harry Houdini and sci-fi writer H.G. Wells.
A park honoring Theodor Seuss Geisel, a k a Dr.Seuss, will open in Springfield, Mass., on June 1, AP reports. The Seuss Heritage Park and National Memorial will feature 30 bronze statues of Geisel's literary characters including Horton, Thidwick the Moose and Cat in the Hat. Geisel's stepdaughter, Lark Diamod-Kates, designed the sculptures. Geisel died in 1991 at age 87.
To commemorate the comedienne's 90th birthday, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil a stamp honoring Lucille Ball, Reuters reports. The stamp will be the seventh in the Postal Service's Legend of Hollywood Series. Others have included Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock, James Cagney and Edward G Robinson. Ball, who was best known for her 1950's sitcom I Love Lucy, died in 1989 at the age of 78.
William Dail, the road manager for Insane Clown Posse, has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for choking an Eminem fan, AP reports. The fan apparently held up an Eminem T-shirt and chucked some M&M candies at two clowned-faced band members following an Insane Clown Posse concert in Omaha, Neb., in May. The 24-year-old man was taken outside where Dail then choked him until he blacked out. Dail agreed to plead guilty of one count of disorderly conduct and pay a $100 fine.
The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin said in two magazine articles that his arrest in April was not due to a chronic drug habit but sporadic use, Reuters reports. Sorkin was arrested at a Burbank airport in April after airport employees found marijuana, crack and hallucinogenic mushrooms in his bag. Sorkin told TV Guide that he has broken his sobriety since 1997 by occasional drug use. He said he would smoke pot from time to time to relax, and likened it to having a martini at the end of a long day. Sorkin also said he used crack less than five times in the last two years. In a September issue of Talk magazine, Sorkin said he would used drugs after work to celebrate the pressure being off. "There's no way I could be writing high and not have people know it,"he said.
Robert Downey Jr. was back at work on Tuesday. Variety reports that the actor filmed a music video for the song I Want Love, the first single from Elton John's new CD Songs From the West Coast. Ed Limato, Downey's agent, said that the actor had received several important offers in film and TV roles.
A new biography of Natalie Wood claims the actress was raped as a teenager by an unnamed actor, the BBC reports. According to author Suzanne Finstad, Woods was 16 when she was raped by a "powerful, married movie star." Finstad chose not to name the actor so that people would focus on Wood's horror and trauma. She also added that Wood's mother conspired to keep the rape a secret. The book also details the events leading up to the actress' drowning in 1981 during a boat trip with actors Robert Wagner and Christopher Walken. Wagner has said there are many errors in the book and is upset that the inaccuracies have been published.
Director Steven Spielberg has decided to scale down his plans for a riding ring complex at his home in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, Reuters reports. Neighbors initially objected to the plan, saying the 27,000-square-foot domed monstrosity would clash with the rustic style of the nearby homes. Spielberg reworked the plans and came up with a smaller dome-less version that has met with local approval. The stable will house four or five horses and be surrounded by a 6-foot high gate.
Mick Jagger will release his fourth solo album in November, Virgin Records has announced. According to Reuters, Jagger, 58, has been recording the album with Pete Townshend, Missy Elliott, Lenny Kravitz and Rob Thomas.
Michael Jackson's 30th anniversary all-star concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York sold out in less than five hours, AP reports. Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration, The Solo Years will be Jackson's first with his brothers since the 1994 Victory tour in 1984. Other artists scheduled to appear are Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin and N 'Sync. Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, William Shatner, Quincy Jones, Kobe Bryant, Willem Dafoe and Macaulay Culkin will also pay tribute to the pop star.
CBS chief Les Moonves said Wednesday that the network plans to produce a celebrity version of Survivor that would likely include network sitcom stars Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Kevin James (King of Queens), L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant and actor/singer Frank Stallone. Interviewed on Howard Stern's syndicated radio show, Moonves invited Stern to join the group. "I think you'd be great on it." Stern was noncommittal, saying at one point that he'd have to win more than $1 million before he'd be willing to camp out and eat rice. Moonves told him that winnings would go to charity, that he expects the celebrities would only have to participate for 10 days, and that each day someone would be voted off. When Stern asked Moonves whether the celebrity Survivor series was a "done deal," he replied, "We think, yes." But CBS spokesman Chris Ender later told the New York Daily News that such a series was "still very much in the discussion stage."