Top Story: Shriver Leaves NBC to Support Hubby
Maria Shriver has opted to take a leave of absence from her NBC News post while her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, campaigns for governor of California through Oct. 7, Reuters reports. A network spokeswoman told Reuters Shriver requested the leave to avoid any potential appearances of conflict of interest between her job as a correspondent and contributing anchor to Dateline and her new role as the wife of an aspiring politician. The spokeswoman also said it was too soon to say what avenues Shriver will take if Schwarzenegger wins the recall election.
Jolie's Forest Project Approved
The Cambodian government approved a forest conservation project in two former Khmer Rouge areas that will be funded by actress Angelina Jolie, The Associated Press reports. The Tomb Raider star will donate up to $1.5 million over the next five years to help educate villagers about conservation awareness, draw demarcation lines to protect forest and wildlife sanctuaries, and train local rangers, said Mounh Sarath, executive director of Cambodian Vision in Development, to AP.
Lange Becomes Goodwill Ambassador
Jessica Lange, a newly appointed goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Children's Fund, traveled to Congo, Africa, earlier this week, touring refugee camps, AP reports. The refugees, mostly women and children, were forced to flee their homes as a byproduct of a bitter five-year civil war raging in the area. "The stories that these women tell are absolutely horrific, but the thing that moved me most was the extraordinary spirit of these people," the Oscar-winning actress told AP Thursday after hearing how rape is used as a weapon in the civil violence.
Omar Sharif Arrested for Head-Butting Cop
Omar Sharif (Doctor Zhivago, Funny Girl) was convicted of assaulting a police officer at a casino near Paris, AP reports. Le Parisien reported Sharif got into a scuffle with one of the casino's patrons and when an officer intervened, Sharif allegedly insulted and head-butted him. The 71-year-old Egyptian actor received a one-month suspended sentence and was fined $1,700, AP reports.
Gay Musicians Want to Break Into Country Music
Several musicians showed up in cowboy hats and jeans to audition in New York Thursday for a new reality show that will search for the first openly gay country music star, Reuters reports. The show, tentatively titled America Pride, hopes to break some of those barriers surrounding homosexuality in the country music arena. The producers have not found a network to run the show as yet, Reuters reports.
The Next Great Hip-Hopper
Attention: Calling all wanna-be hip-hop artists! Showtime and Interscope Records are developing a new reality show designed to look for the next hottest prospect in hip-hop, USA Today reports. The six-part series called Interscope Presents The Next, described as a cross between 8 Mile and American Idol, is expected to begin airing in October and will be part talent contest and part documentary, with each episode culminating in one-on-one rap battles.
Cache of Comic Hosts to Handle Emmys
Rather than just one host, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences will have a bevy of comics to emcee this year's Emmys, Reuters reports. Comics who hosted the Emmy telecasts during the past three years, including Garry Shandling, Ellen DeGeneres and Conan O'Brien, will be among this year's hosts, along with Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett, Saturday Night Live's Darrell Hammond, Wanda Sykes of Fox's Wanda at Large, George Lopez, Martin Short and Jon Stewart. More stars are expected to be added in the coming weeks. "We've searched high and low to find the funniest people in California who are not running for governor," ATAS chairman Bryce Zabel quipped to Reuters. "It was a challenge, but this all-star comedy team promises to make America laugh without asking for a campaign contribution." The Emmys will air Sept. 21 on Fox.
Role Call: Ratner Rides Into Sunset
Director Brett Ratner (Red Dragon) has taken over the helm of New Line Cinema's After the Sunset after director John Stockwell bowed out in July over "creative differences." Variety reports the film--which stars Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek and Woody Harrelson--follows a retired jewel thief (Brosnan) living on a Caribbean island with his gal pal (Hayek). Harrelson plays an FBI agent who tracks him down.
Top Story: Crowe Tying the Knot on 39th Birthday
Australian actor Russell Crowe plans to marry longtime girlfriend Danielle Spencer on his 39th birthday April 7 in Australia, The Associated Press reports. The actor's publicist, Wendy Day, said Sunday that the Crowe and Spencer would tie the knot at the family chapel on his property in New South Wales. "It's definitely April 7 on his property at Nana Glen," Day said. "It's not a Hollywood, star-studded affair...it's a family and friends affair for about 80 guests." The couple met during the filming of the 1990 film The Crossing. They had an on-again-off-again relationship until Crowe publicly declared his love for her and proposed last November.
"COPS" Producer Feared Dead
Paul Stojanovich, a field producer for the long running show COPS and the creator of the reality TV series World's Wildest Police Videos, fell 300 feet from a cliff into the Pacific Ocean and is feared dead, AP reports. Stojanovich, 47, and his fiancée Kim Srowel were hiking Saturday on a bluff at Treasure Cove in Oregon when he slipped while stopping to pose for a picture. Officers searched for three hours but found no sign of Stojanovich, Sgt. Mike Zimmerman of the Tillamook County Sheriff's Office told the AP Sunday.
Scorsese Deplores Oscar Campaigning
Director Martin Scorsese told Time magazine that Hollywood has grown increasingly aggressive in campaigning for Academy Awards. "If one of the actors from your film is not talking on that screen in the middle of the night, there will be five other actors from five different films talking," Scorsese said, adding that he feels obligated to be interviewed about his Gangs of New York. "The reality is if I don't do PR, I'm hurting the picture. And as many things as I did, that's as many things as I turned down." The film was nominated for was nominated for 10 awards, including Best Director and Best Picture.
Bonnie Hunt, Brad Garrett to Sub for Ailing Letterman
The Late Show With David Letterman has announced a slate of guest hosts for the week of March 17 as Letterman continues to recuperate from shingles. According to Variety, Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett will take the reins on Monday night, followed by comedian Tom Dreesen on Tuesday and Bonnie Hunt from Life with Bonnie on Wednesday. The show will be in repeats the final two nights of the week due to previously scheduled CBS coverage of college basketball.
Gandolfini and HBO May Resume Negotiations
The Sopranos star James Gandolfini and HBO are considering a deal to drop their dueling lawsuits and proceed with contract negotiations, the AP reports. Network executives involved in the negotiations told The New York Times that Gandolfini, who had previously sought a $20 million annual salary, has now lowered his request to about $16 million a year.
Minnelli and Gest Postpone Anniversary Party
Looks like the looming war in Iraq may put a damper on Liza Minnelli and David Gest's first anniversary party. "We held off sending our invitations out because we want to have our party when the world is at peace and people can come and enjoy themselves," Minnelli said. The party was set for April 15 at New York's Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square. Spokesman Warren Cowan told Reuters, "With the threat of war imminent and considering more than 1,200 guests would be traveling from many different parts of the world, Liza Minnelli and David Gest have decided to postpone their anniversary party."
Country Music Fans Irate Over Dixie Chicks' Comment
Radio stations nationwide are boycotting the Dixie Chicks because singer Natalie Maines, a native of Lubbock, Texas, told a London audience last Monday: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." Maines apologized Friday, saying, "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President (George W.) Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect." But the apology seems to have come too late for some irate protesters. On Saturday in Bossier City, Louisiana, protesters used a 33,000-pound tractor to destroy Dixie Chicks CDs and other items, while Two Dallas stations took Home off their playlists and one station in Kansas City held a Dixie "chicken toss" party to trash the group's CDs.
Superman's "Curse" Plagues Casting
Josh Hartnett didn't want it, and neither, it turns out, does Paul Walker. Walker is the latest star to drop out of the running for the title role in Warner Bros. new Superman movie for director Brett Ratner, Variety reports. Perhaps the "Curse of Superman" is to blame for why the pic is having trouble casting the Man of Steel. The so-called "curse" is based on the misfortune many stars connected to Superman TV series and movies have encountered, such as Christopher Reeve's paralysis, Margot Kidder's nervous breakdown, Richard Pryor's multiple sclerosis and George Reeves' death. Reeves, who played Superman in the 1950s, was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head in 1959.