Top Story: We Were Punk'd! Kutcher Resurrects MTV Series
The joke's on us, apparently--unless this is just Ashton Kutcher's April Fool's Day stunt. Just four months after Kutcher ended his hit MTV prankster series Punk'd, the music cabler announced Thursday that Punk'd will return to its slate next month for a third season, with eight episodes already in production. Reuters reports MTV had no explanation for Kutcher's change of heart but said it was grateful for the return of its highest-rated series. The 25-year-old actor had announced his decision to nix a third season of Punk'd in December. "We have had an incredible time doing the show and have decided to stick with the old adage of 'leave 'em wanting more,"' Kutcher had said in a statement. At the time, TV pundits suspected Kutcher's announcement was a ruse aimed at throwing off celebrities, who were catching on that they were being pranked too early in the game.
Stern Pulls April Fools Prank
Kutcher wasn't the only one having fun on Apr. 1. Radio shock jock Howard Stern got in on the joke and "got" his listeners, pretending his show had been yanked off the air for good. Fans tuned in Thursday morning to hear New York's WXRK Radio's General Manager Tom Chiusano reading a statement saying the show was taken off the air because of government pressure, adding, "While we're sorry to end the Howard Stern Show, we promise quality programming in the future." After the message, two deejays played about an hour of insipid music interspersed with banal banter. Listeners nationwide immediately started calling in to complain until Stern and sidekick Robin Quivers finally announced it was a hoax. Stern's show has come under fire recently, with Clear Channel Communications dropping the controversial radio show from six stations for indecent content.
Jackson Not Expected at Hearing
Prosecutors and lawyers in Michael Jackson's child molestation case prepared for a preliminary hearing Friday to determine whether there was enough evidence to try the pop oddity. But the 45-year-old singer, who was busy promoting AIDS awareness in Washington, was not expected to show up at the proceedings in Santa Maria, Calif., where his lawyers and prosecutors and are expected to discuss procedural issues with Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville, who was invited to testify to the grand jury. According to Reuters, media lawyers will be present at the hearing to make a case for more access to court documents, including search warrants.
Nets Balk at Jackson TV Pitch
Speaking of Michael Jackson, the self-proclaimed "King of Pop" seems to be losing his allure with TV networks. According to Variety, Jackson's managers have approached several networks about the idea of a Jackson TV special built around videotape footage from the singer's trip this week to Washington as well as some of Jackson's meetings with his inner circle of advisers, but the early responses have been less than enthusiastic. Jackson, who is charged with molesting a boy under the age of 14, would also agree to sit down for a seven- to 10-minute interview, although topics covered by the gag order in Jackson's criminal case would be off limits. Insiders tell Variety the asking price for a package deal: $3 million.
John Belushi Gets a Star, Posthumously
The late John Belushi, known for his comic genius on Saturday Night Live and in films such as Animal House and The Blues Brothers, was honored posthumously Thursday with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, AP reports. Those in attendance included Belushi's brother, actor James Belushi, his widow, Judy Belushi-Pisano; and close friend Dan Aykroyd. Belushi died in 1982 from a drug overdose. He was 33.
SAG Moves Back Awards Telecast
The 11th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards will be held three weeks earlier next year, on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2005 at the Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center, Variety reports. After years of steady growth, ratings for this year's SAG awards telecast dropped 31 percent when compared with 2003's telecast, and lost more than 1.5 million overall viewers. That ratings decline was attributed to the show airing during the cutthroat Nielsen sweeps week, but by airing on a less competitive Saturday evening in 2005, the telecast is unlikely to face such stiff competition from rival networks. A complete calendar for the 11th annual SAG Awards will be released later this year.
Spears Postpones Another Concert
The hobbled Britney Spears had to postpone her concert in Cleveland, Ohio, Thursday, AP reports, her third postponement since injuring her knee while performing in Illinois. The rescheduled date is now June 29.
Cash's Stepdaughter Jailed
Carlene Carter, stepdaughter of Johnny Cash and daughter of country singers June Carter Cash and Carl Smith, has been jailed in Tenn., authorities told AP Thursday, although it was unclear why the country singer was in custody. Carter was charged in December 2002 with identity theft to obtain prescription drugs. A court hearing in the case is set for April 12 and if convicted, she faces two to twelve years in prison, AP reports.
Role Call: 3001 Cast Gears Up
Saturday Night Live regular Maya Rudolph and Punk'd prankster Dax Shepard are in negotiations to join Luke Wilson in the comedy 3001, directed by Beavis and Butt-Head creator Mike Judge. According to the Hollywood Reporter, 3001 centers on Joe Bowers (Wilson), an average American who is selected for a top-secret hibernation program that finds him waking up and living among a society 10 centuries in the future. He finds that civilization is so dumbed-down that he is the most intelligent person alive. Rudolph would will play a prostitute, and Shepard a defense attorney with a perpetually glazed look who becomes Bowers' court-appointed attorney.
Compiled by Guylaine Cadorette and Kit Bowen
Top Story: J.Lo Denies She's Crying a River
Jennifer Lopez denies she gave an interview to Star magazine in which she was quoted as saying she was "extremely brokenhearted" over her breakup with fiancée Ben Affleck, The Associated Press reports, and that Lopez felt she had put "enormous effort" into the relationship with Affleck, but had to end it so she could put her "personal and professional life back together." According to a representative for Lopez, she was never interviewed by Star magazine's reporter Victoria Gotti, AP reports, but the tabloid stands by the story.
Crowe TKO'd on Boxing Film
Actor and new dad Russell Crowe suffered a dislocated shoulder while in training for his new film Cinderella Man, Reuters reports. Crowe is training for his upcoming role as world heavyweight champion James Braddock, a poor, local fighter who went on to beat reigning champ Max Baer in 1935. Universal Pictures told Reuters Crowe, 39, would immediately undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair the injury in Australia, followed by intense physical therapy.
Singer Manilow Suffers Chest Pains
Crooner Barry Manilow was rushed to the hospital Saturday night in Palm Springs, Calif., after complaining of chest pains, Reuters reports. Manilow, 57, was hospitalized after returning home earlier in the day from New York, where he "endured two of the most grueling days of arbitration" in a lawsuit in which he and co-writer Bruce Sussman are fighting to regain the rights to their stage musical Harmony, publicist Jerry Sharell told Reuters. Sharell said Manilow would remain in the hospital to undergo various procedures and tests.
Trebek Resumes Jeopardy! Post After Accident
Alex Trebek will resume his Jeopardy! hosting duties Tuesday after escaping serious injury when he fell asleep behind the wheel of his pickup truck Friday, AP reports. The 63-year-old game show host was driving in central Calif. near the town of Templeton when his truck drifted off the road, sideswiped a bank of mailboxes and sailed over an embankment into a ditch. Trebek was not hospitalized and was not cited, AP reports.
Real World Creator Dies
TV producer Mary-Ellis Bunim, who pioneered the age of reality programming by co-creating MTV's The Real World, died Thursday in Los Angeles after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 57.
Press Want Cameras at Jackson Hearing
News organizations asked a judge on Friday to allow cameras into an upcoming Michael Jackson court appearance Feb. 13, claiming the chaotic mess of Jackson's arraignment Jan. 16 on molestation charges should be countered by images of orderly proceedings, Reuters reports. Lawyers for Court TV, Fox News Channel, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and AP stated in a written motion that Jackson's arraignment undermined the court system. "The public did not see Mr. Jackson plead not guilty but instead saw only Mr. Jackson's dramatic entry into and exit from the courthouse followed by his interaction with a large crowd of supporters from atop an SUV and his invitations to a party at Neverland Ranch," the court papers said. It was not immediately clear how Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville would handle the request, AP reports.
It's All About Timing, Says Miramax Chief
Miramax Films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein blames timing for Cold Mountain's failure to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. In an interview with Time magazine, Reuter reports Weinstein said, "With the early (Oscar voting) this year, we fell short. There's a lot to do for Academy members and I don't know how many members we got to. We just plain ran out of people who had seen this movie." Even though Cold Mountain garnered seven nominations, including a nod to Jude Law for lead actor and one to Renee Zellweger for supporting actress, it is the first time in 12 years Miramax has not had a Best Picture contender. The studio did get the most nominations, however, with 15 in total, including nods for the Brazilian film City of God. But Weinstein says Miramax has learned its lesson, telling Newsweek the studio plans to move up the release of J.M. Barrie's Neverland starring Johnny Depp, to October, as well as releasing Martin Scorsese's The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, in November rather than December.
Religious Groups Plan Counter Against Passion
Jewish and Christian groups alike are planning lecture series, interfaith talks and other programs to try to deal with the perceived impact Mel Gibson's controversial film The Passion of the Christ will have, AP reports, which is being released Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25. The American Jewish Committee, who viewed the film last week, said they believed it contained destructive stereotypes about the Jewish role in Christ's death "It's part of something larger, which is a hardening of religious conversation. It is such an absolutist movie. It undermines the progress that we've made in this country toward mutual respect and religious pluralism," Rabbi David Elcott, the American Jewish Committee's interfaith director, told AP. Meanwhile, several prominent conservative Christians, including the Rev. Billy Graham, said the film was among the most powerful depictions they'd seen of Christ's last hours. They plan sermons and lectures related to the movie, and have even produced special Bibles that contain images from the film, AP reports.
Iommi Tops Greatest Guitarist List
Black Sabbath's guitarist Tony Iommi was named the No. 1 metal guitarist of all time by Guitar World magazine, Reuters reports. According to Guitar World editor in chief Brad Tolinski, the criteria for the l
Top Story: Roger Moore Collapses on NY Stage
Veteran actor Roger Moore, who played secret agent James Bond in the '70s and '80s, collapsed on stage in New York and was taken to an area hospital on Wednesday. The London-born actor was a celebrity guest in Broadway's The Play What I Wrote, directed by Kenneth Branagh. According to British media report, Moore fell to the floor during a song-and-dance number halfway through the second act of the show. The curtain came down for a short time but the performance resumed and Moore went on through the last 10 minutes of the show. He is being treated in a Manhattan hospital for respiratory problems and is reported to be in stable condition. "I can confirm he collapsed during a performance of a play, but I have no more information as to his condition," his London agent told Reuters.
Dangerfield Goes Home
Rodney Dangerfield appeared in good shape Wednesday, just one month after having brain surgery. The 81-year-old comedian was released from the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center on April 21, nearly two weeks after undergoing surgery to improve his blood flow for an upcoming heart valve replacement. "I feel like a new man," Dangerfield told The Associated Press, a long scar visible on the right side of his head. "I have all the doctors here to thank."
Depardieu Crashes Bike
French actor Gerard Depardieu, who starred in the romantic comedy Green Card, slightly injured his right leg in a motorcycle accident near Paris' old opera house, the AP reports. Police said Depardieu, 54, was able to walk away from the scene of the accident. This isn't the actor's first road accident. In 1998, Depardieu crashed his motorcycle when his blood-alcohol content was five times over the legal limit, escaping with leg and face injuries.
Townshend Cautioned Over Child Porn
The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who was arrested earlier this year during a high-profile crackdown on Internet child porn, will be placed on a register of sex offenders after being formally cautioned Wednesday, Reuters reports. A DNA sample will be taken from him and he will be listed on the national Sex Offenders Register for five years. Townshend, 57, admitted using his credit card to access a child pornography Web site but said he was merely carrying out research for a future book. However, police said accessing such images for research or out of curiosity is not a defense.
Actor Robert Conrad Paralyzed
A court hearing in Robert Conrad's drunk driving case has been delayed until June 10 because the actor is partially paralyzed, Reuters reports. Conrad, who played U.S. Secret Service James West in the 1960s TV series The Wild Wild West, was left partially paralyzed by the car accident in which he is accused of drunken driving. The 68-year-old actor was arrested on March 31 after his car collided with another vehicle in northern California. Police said Conrad's blood alcohol level far exceeded legal limits. His paralysis, however, is not permanent and Conrad is expected to leave a physical rehabilitation facility soon.
Berry in MLK Memorial Ads
Oscar winner Halle Berry and TV weatherman Al Roker will star in a new ad campaign to raise money for a memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the AP reports. The public service announcements will feature Berry being escorted to a "colored section" at the back of a restaurant and Roker not being able to find a treadmill that isn't marked "white guests only." The ads were unveiled Wednesday as part of an effort over the next year and a half to raise $40 million needed to break ground on the national memorial to the civil rights leader. The ads will be placed on radio, TV, newspapers and magazines.
Role Call: Piven Joins Moore's Road Trip, Hanks' Playtone To Fly With CGI
Jeremy Piven has been cast opposite Mandy Moore in an untitled Warner Bros. project for veteran TV director Andrew Cadiff. The pic, slated to go into production in mid-June, centers on the U.S. President's 18-year-old daughter, who runs away on a European road trip. Piven is set to play a key Secret Service agent ... Playtone Production partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman will turn Mary Howitt's 1829 poem The Spider and the Fly into a CGI film for Universal Pictures. The project, written and directed by Bradley Peyton (Evelyn, The Cutest Evil Dead Girl), focuses on a fetching young fly who gets flattered by a spider who tries to charm her into joining him in the spider web.
On Wednesday, New York's Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Web sites can no longer legally offer downloads of a piece of new software, DeCSS (Decoding Content Scramble System), which allows users to easily copy DVDs. According to the court's ruling, DeCSS "is like a skeleton key that can open a locked door, a combination that can open a safe, or a device that can neutralize the security device attached to a store's products.''
At next year's Santa Barbara International Film Festival--running from Feb. 27 through March 3--actor Sean Penn will receive the Modern Master Award, Variety reports. The award honors artists who have greatly enriched the art of cinema
Arnold Schwarzenegger may not receive many acting awards, but the Sun Valley Resort in Idaho honored the celeb on Wednesday by renaming their acclaimed "Flying Maid" ski slope "Arnold's Run," giving thanks to Schwarzenegger--a nearby resident--for his many charitable works in the community, according to People.
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield, 80, was released on Wednesday, from L.A.'s Cedars Sinai Medial Center after spending six days there following a mild heart attack on Nov. 22.
Charlie Daniels, 65, the country crooner best known for his classic hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," is expected to recover fully from prostate-cancer surgery that was performed on Nov. 20, his surgeon, Dr. Joseph Smith of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said on Wednesday.
Though the hype surrounding the November TV ratings sweeps has centered upon CBS, the non-subscriber cable results for the month are also in: surprisingly, TBS won, with an average of 1.7 million households, beating out Lifetime and ESPN, which were heavy favorites.
Garth Brooks' new album Scarecrow, which was released on Nov. 13, is not only No. 1 on the Billboard charts; sales of 466,000 copies makes it the highest grossing country-music debut since 1998, when Brooks' "Double Live" album sold over 1 million in its first week in release.
According to Reuters, the next James Bond film, as of yet untitled, will go ahead with filming in Dec., despite the threatened actors' strike which was expected to shut down film production in the UK. The movie will star Pierce Brosnan as 007 and Halle Berry as the story's villain.
After 12 years as host of the Univision talk show El Show de Cristina, latina media sensation Cristina Saralegui will be leaving the show, effective Dec. 14, due to her increased acting and journalistic endeavors.
Rising country star Trace Adkins pleaded guilty on Monday to DUI charges stemming from a July arrest, USA Today reports. He'll spend two days in jail and have his driver's license revoked for one year.
CBS won a narrow victory over NBC in the final week of the November sweeps, The Associated Press reports. While NBC's Friends was the most-watched program with 24.2 million viewers, more TV sets were actually tuned to the CBS comedy Everybody Loves Raymond. Survivor ratings fell slightly on the Thanksgiving holiday, slipping to 20th place in the Nielsen standings with 17.7 million viewers. For the final full week of sweeps, CBS came in first with an average of 13.2 million viewers, followed by NBC with 12.8 million, ABC with 10 million and Fox with 9.5 million. The Nielsen Media Research ratings are used to set advertising rates.
Angel star David Boreanaz married former Playboy Playmate Jamie Bergman in Palm Springs on Saturday. The pair originally planned to wed in September but postponed the nuptials after the events of Sept. 11, PageSix.com reports. Bergman, who plays B.J. Cummings on Howard Stern's Son of the Beach, skyrocketed to fame when she was named Playboy's 45th Anniversary Playmate
Movie classics The Manchurian Candidate and Network, along with the TV series Happy Days and Maude, will be inducted into the Producers Guild Awards' Hall of Fame on March 3, People reports. The ceremony honors films and TV programs at least 10 years old.
The Los Angeles Police Department confiscated a collection of vintage erotica, which included paintings and photographs, from Paul Reubens' home on Nov. 16, Entertainment Tonight reports. Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) was not arrested or charged with any crime. A spokesperson for the actor called the allegations false and financially motivated. Reubens was arrested in July 1991 for performing lewd acts at a porn movie theater in Sarasota, Fla.
Rebecca Gayheart pleaded no contest in a Los Angeles courtroom Tuesday to a misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter in the death of a nine-year-old boy, People reports. The former Beverly Hills, 90210 star, who struck the boy with her car in June, was sentenced to three years probation and a $1,000 fine. Gayheart also had her driver's suspended and will have to produce an educational safe driving video.
Rodney Dangerfield could be released from the Cedars Sinai Medical Center as early as Wednesday, Reuters reports. The 80-year-old comic was admitted to the Beverly Hills hospital Nov. 22 after suffering a mild heart attack.
Halle Berry may star as the femme fatale alongside Pierce Brosnan in the 20th James Bond film, Variety, reports. The deal has not yet been closed because of potential scheduling conflicts for the actress, who is set to reprise her role as Storm in the upcoming X-Men sequel for Fox early next year. The Bond film, which does not yet have a title, is set to begin shooting at Pinewood Studios in England on Jan. 14.
Six male strippers from the Broadway musical The Full Monty bared all for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Performance in London on Monday, AP reports. The annual charity began in 1912 and helps raise funds for the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund. Other performers included Elton John, Cher and Jennifer Lopez.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young will kick off their 35-city, three-month tour on Feb. 6 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit, Reuters reports. Tickets for the veteran rockers' Tour of America go on sale Dec.1 in Toronto and Dec. 3 in New York and Boston.
South African audiences were apparently laughing out loud on Tuesday after viewing the first episode of Survivor: Africa. South Africans found the participants' concerns about possible bear encounters particularly amusing, considering there are none in Kenya, Reuters reports. Critics said the reality show perpetuates the stereotypes associated with Americans abroad. Obviously.