Top Story: Club Owner Claims Death Threats in Jackson Case
Jamie Masada, the owner of the Laugh Factory comedy club on the Sunset Strip who introduced Michael Jackson to his 13-year-old accuser, told reporters at a news conference yesterday he has received death threats on the voicemail of his work and privately listed mobile phones this week for speaking out in the case, Reuters reports. Masada said he was speaking out in part because the teen was badly in need of a kidney transplant. "I've gotten phone calls saying if I don't shut up they have a bullet for me to shut me up," Masada said. "If something happens to me, you guys know. You are aware of it." Masada explained that when the boy was hospitalized and given only weeks to live, he fulfilled the ailing boy's wish to meet Jackson as well as comedians Adam Sandler and Chris Tucker. The boy eventually became a regular visitor at Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch and was seen holding hands with the singer in a controversial 2003 documentary. Jackson, 45, is charged with molesting the boy when he was under the age of 14 and plying him with alcohol to seduce him, charges the singer calls a "big lie."
Crocodile Hunter Not Charged
Steve Irwin will not be charged with any offense for holding his one-month-old son while feeding one of his crocodiles, The Associated Press reports. Irwin, who hosts the wildlife TV show Crocodile Hunter, carried his son into a crocodile pen on Jan. 2 and held him under one arm while feeding a croc with the other. Following the stunt, Queensland's Department of Family Services reprimanded Irwin, but the agency took no action against him. Police also declined to file charges. After interviewing Irwin Thursday, the Office of Workplace Health and Safety there was not enough evidence to suggest that he and his Australia Zoo reptile park had violated any safety regulations.
Zeta-Jones and Douglas' Big Fat Legal Bill
After spending millions to win a court fight with Hello! magazine for printing unauthorized photos of their wedding, celebrity couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas have been ordered by a judge to cough up possible millions in legal bills, Reuters reports. Zeta-Jones and Douglas were awarded $27,000 last year in their court battle with Hello!, which printed photos of their wedding after the couple had sold exclusive rights to rival tabloid OK!. But a High Court judge in London Friday ruled that Hello! should only pay $3.6 million of the $7.2 million lawsuit costs, leaving OK! and the Douglases to pick up the rest of the tab.
Bono Swears He Won't Swear
U2 frontman Bono promises he will not swear again on live television if he wins a Golden Globe Award on Sunday. Bono caused a commotion at last year's ceremony when he exclaimed "F***ing brilliant!" when U2 won the Golden Globe for a song the band wrote for the Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York. "I swear I won't swear," Bono told Reuters Thursday in an interview. "You can always cause a stir with an expletive and it's not something that I'm conscious of. If you use them in your everyday speech, sometimes they will come out. I don't mean to offend anyone." This year, Bono is nominated with Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer in the best original song category for "Time Enough for Tears," for Jim Sheridan's Irish immigrant drama In America.
NBC Admits Over-Hyping Friends
NBC promised Thursday not to rerun a Friends ad that refers to the show as the "best comedy ever." The ad apparently peeved some people--particularly Kelsey Grammer, whose comedy Frasier has won five best comedy Emmys compared to Friends one. "They were just trying to hype it and went overboard," NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks told the AP. "It ran once and it won't run again." Friends will go off the air after 10 years in May. "I don't blame them for saying that," Grammer told reporters last week. "Although, we all know it's not true."
Eminem's Ex-Wife Gets Two Years' Probation
Eminem's ex-wife, Kimberly Mathers, was sentenced Wednesday in Michigan's Macomb County Court to two years' probation, the AP reports. Mathers, 28, pleaded guilty last month to a charge of possessing 25 grams or less of cocaine and failing to give adequate space to an emergency vehicle. The charges stemmed from a June traffic stop in St. Clair Shores, Mich. Circuit Judge Edward A. Servitto said the charges would be dismissed if Mathers successfully completes probation, but added that he would send her to jail if she violated any of the terms. As conditions of her probation, Mathers may not use alcohol or non-prescription drugs, and must undergo random drug testing and substance abuse evaluation and treatment.
Role Call: Fonda Stars in Monster-in Law, Walken Could Join Wedding Crashers
Jane Fonda is ending her 14-year retirement from acting to appear in New Line's Monsters-in-Law opposite Jennifer Lopez. Fonda, who last appeared in the 1990 film Stanley and Iris, will play the difficult mother of Lopez's fiancé. The film is slated for release in 2005 ... Christopher Walken is in negotiations to star opposite Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in the romantic comedy The Wedding Crashers, also at New Line. The project, two guys have a hobby of crashing weddings in order to meet girls--until one of them unexpectedly falls in love with a bridesmaid. Walken would play the girl's father.
Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his small hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend and remembers the fateful summer in 1960 when his whole world changed. The story flashes back to when 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his best friends Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully-John (Will Rothhaar) capture the pure joy of youthfulness. When a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves upstairs and starts to pay attention to Bobby the boy suddenly realizes what's truly missing from his life--the love of a parent. Bobby's mother Liz (Hope Davis) is embittered by the death of Bobby's father and shows little compassion for her son's growing needs. Ted fills a void with the boy opening his eyes to the world around him and helps Bobby come to terms with his real feelings for Carol--and his mother. But Ted also has some deep dark secrets of his own and Bobby tries hard to stop danger from reaching the old man.
The performances make the film especially in the genuine camaraderie of the kids. Yelchin Boorem and Rothhaar never deliver a false move with an easiness that makes us believe we are simply watching three 11-year-old children grow up together. Yelchin in particular is able to get right to the heart of this young boy who misses his father and clings to the only adult who will listen. And his scenes with Boorem simply break your heart. (Davis) does an admirable job playing a part none too sympathetic. She manages to show a woman whose been beaten down but who does truly love her son in her own way. Morse too is one of those character actors you can plug in any movie and get a performance worth noting. In Hearts you want to see more of him. Of course the film shines brightest when Hopkins is on the screen. It may not be an Oscar-caliber performance but the actor is unparalleled in bringing a character to life--showing the subtleties of an old man looking for some peace in his life.
If you are expecting the Stephen King novel you may be disappointed. Screenwriter William Goldman and director Scott Hicks (Shine) deftly extracted the King formula of telling a story through a child's eye and explaining how the relationships formed as a child shaped the adult later. Hicks did an amazing job with his young actors especially Yelchin and Boorem. But where the novel continued into a supernatural theme explaining Brautigan's fear of being captured by "low men in yellow coats" (a reference to King's The Dark Tower series) the movie downplayed the mystical elements instead giving real explanations for Brautigan's man-on-the-run. That was the one problem with Hearts--we needed more danger. Introducing men from another dimension may not have been the way to go but had there been more tension the film would have resonated more especially when Bobby risked his own safety to save Ted.
Actress Jane Greer, who co-starred with Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas in 1947's classic Out of the Past, died Friday of complications from cancer, according to Associated Press reports. She was 76.
Greer, a native of Washington, D.C., was born Sept. 9, 1924 and grew up in Florida. She was a onetime beauty contestant who caught the eye of Hollywood after appearing in Life magazine.
"I always wanted to be an actress, and suddenly I knew that learning to control my facial muscles was one of the best assets I could have as a performer," Greer once said in an interview.
Greer is survived by her twin brother; sons Alex, Lawrence and Steve; and two grandchildren. Her common-law husband, acting coach Frank London, died in January.
A private memorial service will be help Sept. 9 on what would have been Greer's 77th birthday.
Contrary to U.S. media reports that Cuba may not allow some of its stars to travel to the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards, the city of Havana said Friday that it would allow artists to travel to the ceremony taking place in Los Angeles on Sept. 11. Rebecca Viera, vice-president for the state-run Music Institute in Havana, told Reuters that "Cuba never put obstacles to stop nominated artists on the island from participating in the Latin Grammys." Cuban nominees include salsa star Isaac Delgado, jazz pianist Chucho Valdes and singers Omara Portuondo and Celina Gonzalez.
The Latin Recording Academy has announced the 17 honorees to inaugurate the newly launched Latin Grammy Hall of Fame. Among the recordings inducted are: Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Garota de Ipanema (The Girl From Ipanema)," Carlos Santana's 1970 remake of the Tito Puente classic "Oye Como Va," Don Azpiazu's version of "El Manisero (The Peanut Vendor)," João Gilberto's album Chega da Saudade, Javier Solís' 1960 version of the classic love song, "Sabor a Mí," and the original 1948 version of Concierto de Aranjuez.
Baretta star Robert Blake put his 4,909-square-foot Los Angeles home on the market on Thursday for $1.09 million. The actor intends to move closer to his adult daughter in the San Fernando Valley, Blake's attorney, Harland Braun, told The L.A. Daily News.
Beatles fans will be able to stay at the Hard Day's Night Hotel after it opens in Liverpool, England, in 2003. Each of the hotel's 120 rooms will feature a mural based on a member, song, or place associated with the group. The hotel will occupy a restored downtown building near the site of the Cavern Club, where the Fab Four played some of their earliest shows.
Sony Pictures Entertainment has pulled an R-rated trailer for its upcoming comedy Not Another Teen Movie from the Sony.com Web site fearing underage kids could view it. The ad reportedly featured profanity and partial nudity, said Jack Valenti, President of the Motion Picture Association of America. Sony officials plan to produce a sanitized version of the ad for the site. Not Another Teen Movie is scheduled for release in December.
Director Joe Camp wants to cast all 26 canine roles from an animal shelter for the newest Benji movie. "It's got to be a dog that's very confident in himself and works and wants to do this," he told the AP on Sunday. Camp's original Oscar-nominated Benji debuted in 1974 and earned $40 million in theaters. His latest, Benji Returns--The Promise of Christmas, is set for the 2002 holiday season.
Eon Productions denied that it has been looking for Pierce Brosnan's replacement for the role of James Bond in an upcoming movie, the AP reported Friday. A report in the British press said Scottish actor Gerard Butler had been promised the role whenever Brosnan gave it up. The title of the next film, due to start filming early next year, has not been announced.
Speaking of Bond, Famke Janssen, who got her big break in the 1995 Bond flick Golden Eye, will take the female lead in I Spy opposite Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson, Reuters reported. Janssen can currently be seen in Jon Favreau's Made, and co-starred in last year's X-Men. I Spy begins shooting in mid-September in Budapest.
Karen Kramer, widow of director Stanley Kramer, is upset about the comparisons being made between Jerry Zucker's recent Rat Race and her late husband's 1963 comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World," People magazine reports. "The truth is that Mr. Zucker tried to build a better mousetrap and failed--exploiting a brilliant classic that was the daddy of its kind to create an inferior, unauthorized imitation," she told the Los Angeles Times last week.
Since the sequel to Matrix, Matrix Reloaded, won't be released until May 2003, Warner Bros. will introduce a 2½ hour documentary on the movie and its sequels this fall and also plans to produce anime episodes of the stories, Reuters reports. The Matrix Revisited will debut on DVD and VHS Nov. 20 and will include interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and sneak peaks at Reloaded and a third Matrix film now in pre-production.
The video game-based movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider will be released on video Nov. 13. The rental-priced VHS will include a 25-minute Digging into Tomb Raider bonus feature, Reuters reports. Other upcoming special edition DVD/ VHS releases include Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Oct. 23), featuring 90 minutes of extra material and audio commentaries by directors Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones; Warner Bros. five-film Dirty Harry collection and a three-film "Rat Pack" collection (Nov. 23).
Actress Halle Berry is being investigated by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies in connection with a hit-and-run accident last week.
Halle Berry The felony occurred at North Doheny and Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood in the early-morning hours of Feb. 23, according to the sheriff's headquarters bureau. Berry, 31, was in the car, a rented Chevrolet Blazer, but it was not clear if she was driving or a passenger.
She received minor injuries and sought medical treatment, while the driver of the other car, a female adult, suffered a broken right arm and was treated at a hospital. Berry's rented vehicle was impounded pending further investigation, said Deputy Carlos Lopez, but no arrests have been made. Calls to Berry's spokesman were not returned.
Berry won a Golden Globe last month for the HBO movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," in which she portrayed the first black woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award. She is engaged to R&B singer Eric Benét.
AWARDS, AWARDS, AWARDS: The Oscars are less than a month away, but some nominees dusted up their acceptance speeches Saturday.
The American Cinema Editors' 50th Annual ACE Eddie Awards gave top honors to "Being John Malkovich" and "The Matrix." The two films won editing honors in the dramatic and comedy categories, respectively. Meanwhile, "Sleepy Hollow" was lauded at the Art Directors Guild's 4th Annual Production Design Awards.
The American Cinema Foundation, which honors film and television for their positive social values, will give "October Sky" its E Pluribus Unum prize Thursday. Eric Roth and Michael Mann will pick up the Writers Guild of America's Paul Selvin Award for "The Insider" on Sunday, and finally, Aaron Spelling and Jerry Bruckheimer will each receive a lifetime achievement award from the Producers Guild of America on Thursday.
IN THE DOGHOUSE: Pamela Anderson Lee and rocker Tommy Lee are back in court, and for once it has nothing to do with their marriage.
This time it's about their pet Rottweiler. A woman is suing the couple, saying the dog bit her during a visit to the couple's hilltop home near Malibu, Calif., in 1997.
"This dog had a vicious nature, disposition and propensity, which was known or should have been known to the defendants," the lawsuit said. And yes, we're sure she wasn't talking about Tommy.
QUICK TAKES: There's bubble-gum pop, and then there's just bubble gum. Teen popster Britney Spears is merging both with Britney Spears CD Bubble Gum, a promotional component to her upcoming tour. The gum, made by Famous Fixins, will give part of its proceeds to The Giving Back Fund, a nonprofit organization that encourages athletes and entertainers to raise money for charitable causes. ...
... John Stamos is putting some of his things on the auction site eBay, including the underwear of his supermodel wife, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. Stamos, 36, recently made the announcement on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," adding, "I told her I wanted to sell her eggs, but she didn't like that idea." ...
... Ads for Julia Roberts' upcoming film "Erin Brokovich" reveal more than early-early Oscar buzz. Roberts, who plays a single mother-turned-legal-crusader, sports some newly um, enhanced -- décolletage. But not to worry, she swears it's the miracle of Wonderbras. "I'd gone 30 years without cleavage and suddenly, pow!" Roberts said of her new look. The look was dramatic enough that when she sent boyfriend Benjamin Bratt some snapshots, he replied, "You can't go out like that."
THE RUMOR ROUNDUP: The New York Post reports that rocker Lenny Kravitz, 35, has been snuggling with Kate Hudson, 20, the actress daughter of Goldie Hawn. Spies say they've been spending time together in Malibu, Calif., "snogging and acting cuddly." People "in the know" say the two are "definitely a couple," but a rep for Hudson says they are "just friends." ...
... He may be 55, but Michael Douglas still knows how to party. According to the New York Daily News, he and pregnant fiancée Catherine Zeta-Jones had a double date recently with his deejay son, Cameron, and his girlfriend, at a New York club. While Cameron spun the discs, dad and Zeta-Jones danced in the deejay booth before leaving at 1:45 a.m. At this rate, Douglas will have no trouble staying up all night to change those diapers.
All the glamorous Catherine Zeta-Jones has to do is tap her heels three times and, just like that, she's returning to her humble homeland of Wales to do the independent film Coming Out. Under the direction of another Welshwoman, Sara Sugarman, Zeta-Jones will produce and star in the film about a Welsh rugby team whose coach unexpectedly dies. Their only hope is to rely on the deceased coach's gay son to "choreograph them to victory." But don't think Zeta-Jones is bowing out of the limelight forever. Oh, no, she wants that Oscar. So, Zeta-Jones also will star with her equally famous husband Michael Douglas in Smoke and Mirrors. The period drama follows the efforts of a French 19th century illusionist, along with his female sidekick, to expose a sorcerer who is inciting anti-colonial revolution. Production will start mid-fall.
Roberts' Atlantic crossing
Julia Roberts, following the leads of Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones's Diary) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Sliding Doors), will most likely have to take some serious dialect lessons to perfect a British accent for a new untitled film (the one she had in Mary Reilly doesn't count). She will take on the real-life role of a Yorkshire woman whose murder led police on one of their biggest manhunts, followed by one of the most controversial miscarriages of justice in the United Kingdom. Roberts will play Wendy Sewell, whose gravitation towards elicit sex gained her the nickname "The Bakewell Tart," London's The Observer reports. Sewell was murdered in 1973. Maintaining his innocence, 17-year-old Tim Downing was convicted of killing Sewell. Local newspaper editor Don Hale spent six years trying to clear the young man's name. Interesting. Let's see what the Oscar-winning actress dishes up.
Hallstrom and DiCaprio play "Catch"
Speaking of more true stories, director Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat) is in final negotiations to direct DreamWorks' Catch Me If You Can, with Leonardo DiCaprio, who certainly has taken the heat off himself in the last few years, attached to star. This is based on the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., the only teen to ever make the FBI's 10 most wanted list for impersonating several hundred different people and writing bad checks between 1964 and 1966. Abagnale Jr. passed himself off as a Pan Am copilot, a chief resident pediatrician and an assistant attorney general. He had written $6 million in bad checks in all 50 states and 26 foreign countries by the time he was caught. That's one busy bee. And with Hallstrom and DiCaprio together again, after their other quirky but compelling film What's Eating Gilbert Grape (DiCaprio was nominated for an Oscar), Catch might one to watch out for.
Allen looking at the stars … again
Hey, why mess with a good thing? Tim Allen is no dummy. After his success in 1999's comedy hit Galaxy Quest, Allen is in talks to star in Paramount Pictures' comedy StarChild, about another romp with aliens--Roswell aliens, to be exact. A socially challenged CIA agent is assigned the task of getting a young Roswell alien back home before interplanetary war erupts on Earth. Peter Segal (Nutty Professor II: The Klumps) will direct. Think about this one carefully, Tim.
"I know nuuuth-ting!"
But we do. Looks like the brainy fellows at Revolution Studios have decided to bring the wacky and popular '60s and '70s TV sitcom Hogan Heroes to the big screen. We'll get to see all the shenanigans of Hogan (maybe Tim Allen should think about this one instead) and his oddball band of World War II POWs, as they run an underground Allied base of operations at the camp while pulling a fast one on the incompetent Col. Klink and his sidekick, Sgt. Schultz (Chris Farley would have been great). And why not? The studios haven't completely tapped out the arsenal of old TV shows as possible movie material. Ironically, the original series' star, Bob Crane, is having his own life brought to the big screen by director Paul Schrader. The film, Auto-Focus, highlights the sordid details of Crane's life after Heroes that ultimately led to his brutal murder in 1978.
Court TV makes movies
Court TV, which owes its popularity to the sensational trials of O.J. Simpson and the Menendez brothers, has decided on its first original movie. It is a project on the aftermath of the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, during which four black girls were killed. The case made headlines recently when an Alabama jury convicted Thomas Blanton of the crime. Blanton is the second man brought to justice in this case after the 1977 conviction of Robert Chambliss. Tentatively titled A Bombing in Birmingham, production will start in the late summer for a 2002 airing. Not sure, though, if anyone can outdo Spike Lee's extraordinary Oscar-nominated documentary on the same subject, 4 Little Girls. That's a hard act to follow.
The power of three
Indie gal-pals Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey and Fairuza Balk will star in Enter Fleeing for writer/director Rebecca Miller. Based on Miller's collection of short stories, Personal Velocity, the film tells the tale of three women-Greta (Posey), Delia (Sedgwick) and Paula (Balk)-who each struggle to flee from the men who confine their personal freedom. Sounds like the ultimate chick flick--an empowering chick flick, the best kind. Shooting begins this week in New York.
Rap Queen large and in charge
Rap singer/actress/talk show host Queen Latifah is in negotiations to star and executive produce the comedy In the Houze for Disney and Hyde Park Entertainment. A man takes to the Internet to find a date but ends up embarking on an online relationship with a convict (Latifah) who makes up several stories about herself. When she's finally released, she seeks out the guy and wreaks havoc on his upper-middle-class life. This will mark the versatile Latifah's first starring role in a film, having played mostly supporting characters in films like The Bone Collector and Living Out Loud.