Top Story: Jackson Loses $5.3 Million in Lawsuit
Michael Jackson took another hit when a California jury ruled in favor of the German concert promoter who sued the pop oddity over a series of canceled millennium concerts, Reuters reports. The promoter's attorney Skip Miller told Reuters the jury in the city of Santa Maria awarded Marcel Avram nearly all of the $5.9 million in lost profits he had been seeking after six and a half days of deliberations. Jackson's attorney, Zia Modabber, told Reuters the verdict was in a way a victory for the entertainer, since Avram had sued Jackson for more than $21 million. "He's fine with it," Modabber said. "He stood up for himself and went to trial and Mr. Avram didn't get nearly what he wanted."
Britney in Battle Over Roller Skates
Britney Spears and footwear company Skechers USA are in a lawsuit battle over an agreement to design and sell custom Britney 4 Wheelers skates, The Associated Press reports. The pop princess sued the company Dec. 26 for $1.5 million, claiming Skechers used her to plug their own line of roller skates and not the ones she designed. Now, Skechers has filed a countersuit claiming fraud and breach of contract relating to product designs and advertising for the skates, as well as claming Spears pushed them into sponsoring her 2001-2002 concert tour.
Eminem a No-Show at Oscars
Claiming he'll still be on vacation, Eminem will not perform his Oscar-nominated song "Lose Yourself" from the film 8 Mile at the Academy Awards ceremony March 23. While this throws a tiny kink in the proceedings, the show's producer, Gil Cates, who usually persuades the artists nominated in the Best Song category to perform, told USA Today, "There's no rule that the nominees have to sing or that you even have to include all of the numbers in the show, I could do a medley or no songs at all....It's a very fluid show with few constraints."
Role Call: Catwoman, Superman Cursed
Halle Berry will get in touch with her feline self as she takes on the title role in Catwoman for Warner Bros. She replaces Ashley Judd, who had committed to the Batman spin-off but dropped out to do the play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. At least we know Berry will look great in a catsuit...Director Brett Ratner is down to two choices to play the red-caped Superman in the upcoming Warner Bros. franchise: Brendan Fraser and soap opera star Matthew Bomer (The Guiding Light). The other major contender, The Fast and the Furious's Paul Walker, took himself out of competition...Christina Ricci just landed the lead in Wes Craven's Cursed. Craven reunites with his Scream writer Kevin Williamson in a film that is a throwback to classic horror tales, following three strangers whose fates collide on a moonlit night in contemporary Los Angeles.
Role Call, Part Deux: Martin Shops, Ward Dirty Dances, Eckhart, Kilmer Go Missing
Steve Martin is finally getting his novel Shopgirl made into a feature film with the Walt Disney Co. With no director attached as yet, the story revolves around a girl selling gloves at a Neiman Marcus store who falls for an older, divorced rich man...Sela Ward has joined the cast of Havana Nights: Dirty Dancing 2, playing the mother of an American girl who moves with her family to Cuba and falls hard for a local dancer (Y Tu Mama Tambien's Diego Luna)... Aaron Eckhart and Val Kilmer join Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones in Revolution Studios' The Missing, a story set in 1885 Mexico about a woman who teams up with her estranged father to track down the psychopathic killer who kidnaps her daughter.
Sporting a heavily bandaged left foot, Michael Jackson limped into a California court Tuesday to resume his testimony in the $21 million lawsuit against him that accuses him of failing to go through with two concerts.
According to Reuters, Jackson told reporters the crutches and incongruous white athletic sock he wore were due to a spider bite. He said he had awakened to find his foot so badly swollen that it could no longer fit inside a shoe.
"It's a spider bite. It's really bad," Jackson said during a break in the proceedings. "If I showed it to you, you'd be shocked. It hurts very much right now as I speak."
He did say he keeps tarantulas at his Neverland Valley ranch nearby but assured reporters it was an indigenous spider that bit him. "I love tarantulas," he said. "This was a little one."
Despite the injured foot, the entertainer seemed almost jovial, signing autographs for fans outside the courthouse. During lulls in the testimony, Jackson even made goofy faces at the photographers.
Still, if they got too close, Jackson protested and demanded his left foot not be photographed, according to AP. He told one camera crew "You're too close," and when the cameraman told him it was OK, Jackson responded, "Promise? Promise?"
The injury is the latest woe for Jackson, who incurred renewed curiosity about his appearance after courtroom photos showed his strangely collapsed nose, goatee and wiglike mane of hair, and recently caused a public relations calamity after dangling his infant child over a Berlin hotel balcony.
The erratic behavior didn't stop there--the King of Pop himself told a German magazine he "didn't like pop music" and showed up at a German zoo with his kids draped in veils.
Jackson is being sued by concert promoter Marcel Avram, who claims the singer backed out of performances in Sydney, Australia and Honolulu Dec. 31, 1999. Jackson, however, maintains it was Avram who canceled the shows because he didn't think they would be profitable, the Associated Press reports.
Frustrated by Jackson's inability to remember important facts about the case, Avram's attorney, Louis R. "Skip" Miller, repeatedly asked the singer questions to which Jackson replied, "I don't recall." At one point, Miller asked Jackson if he suffered from memory problems.
"Not that I can recall" was Jackson's response, prompting laughter from the courtroom.
The trial is scheduled to resume on Wednesday.
Sporting his customary surgical mask, pop oddity Michael Jackson made a rare public appearance at a Santa Maria, Calif., courthouse Wednesday to testify in a $21 million breach-of-contract lawsuit by a former promoter.
The suit says Jackson signed a deal with German-based promoter Marcel Avram in early 1999 to perform four concerts: two charity benefits in June of that year and two New Year's Eve millennium concerts on either side of the International Dateline, one in Honolulu and one in Sydney, Australia.
Avram claims Jackson backed out of the two millennium concerts, citing recording commitments. He also contends the singer was paid a $1 million advance and had debts totaling $1.2 million covered.
Accompanied by a police escort and a white-gloved chauffeur, Jackson made his way through a horde of reporters and about 100 screaming fans behind a barricade. Some 30 people won seats in a lottery for a rare, up-close glimpse of the star.
According to Reuters, the gloved one entered the packed courtroom wearing black slacks, a red corduroy shirt, black eyeliner and pink lipstick. He sported a wispy goatee and skin appeared to be flaking from his nose.
Jackson weathered about three hours of questioning from Avram's lawyer, Louis "Skip" Miller. During the proceedings, he often smiled or laughed to himself and at one point appeared to dance around in his seat to a song in his head.
Jackson insisted it was Avram who canceled the concerts and said he had a vivid memory of the call.
"I remember feeling a little bit upset because I was looking forward to doing the millennium shows," Jackson said. "I was so excited about them that I told people in my organization that we should reach the Guinness Book of World Records because I felt that these would be the most-watched events of all time."
When Miller pointed out discrepancies in Jackson's testimony Wednesday with what he said Avram told him in a deposition last June, Jackson said his memory surrounding the event had improved.
"It's not unusual for my mental clarity to be heightened," he said.
Jackson went on to say that he had rehearsed for the shows in his bathroom.
"I remember dancing in my bathroom, in the mirror," he said. "I was conceptualizing things I could do in the show."
Heightened mental clarity notwithstanding, Jackson, however, had difficulty remembering many of the dispute's key points and told Miller he would not answer because he did not want to guess.
Jackson's lawyer, Zia Modabber, said it was Avram who postponed the concerts when he met with Jackson's representatives in October 1999. According to Modabber, Avram had agreed to pay Jackson $15 million but realized the shows would not be as profitable as he had hoped.
Jackson is expected to return for more questioning today.
It's been almost a decade since Michael Jackson's last tour, and reportedly, he's going back on the road.
PageSix.com reports the gloved one will announce his North American tour in two weeks. Currently, his management company is still working out all the details.
In February, we reported former concert promoter Marcel Avram had sued Jackson, claiming Jackson was looking for another promoter for an upcoming world tour. Whether this yet-to-be-announced tour is the same one Avram was referring to is unclear.
Jackson's latest album, Invincible, was released in 2001 on the Epic Records label.
From the moment Lt. Tommy Hart (Colin Farrell) is captured by the Germans we are once again immersed in the horrors of war. Hart's journey to the POW camp is fraught with danger; the Allies who don't know POW's are onboard attack his transport train. Once at the camp he immediately finds himself at odds with Colonel William McNamara (Bruce Willis) the ranking POW. Believing the story will ultimately be about Hart's perseverance in the camp the plot suddenly twists into a courtroom drama. McNamara assigns Hart to defend the camp's lone black prisoner Lincoln Scott (Terrence Howard) a Tuskeegee airman who has been wrongly accused of murdering a white prisoner. Hart who had been a second-year law student before he joined the war struggles to prepare for his client's trial and even accepts help from the German commandant Werner Visser (Marcel Iures). Yet McNamara's real motive is to use the trial as a diversion for an elaborate escape attempt. It all comes to a head at the conclusion of the trial where duty honor and sacrifice become more than just words.
The acting is solid and incredibly believable. The performances are so spot-on that they blend seamlessly into the overall tapestry of the film and the story becomes the true star. Farrell last seen in the forgettable American Outlaws is given much more to work with in this movie and turns in a fine performance. Willis has finally found a rhythm in his career. He may wear the grimace that we've all seen before throughout the film but his Col. McNamara is a fairly complex individual. We aren't sure if his character is being honorable or not which is a real credit to Willis' acting ability. Howard does a nice job too as the hapless airman. The true standout however is Iures. He gives a multi-layered performance as the German commandant a lover of American music and culture who feels he must run the camp in accordance to the German Army's strictures because it's his job. Iures is Romania's answer to Laurence Olivier and his skills are quite evident: his scenes with either Farrell or Willis are the best in the movie.
Based on the John Katzenbach novel of the same name this isn't your standard World War II POW movie by any means. Katzenbach wrote the book about his own father's real-life experiences during WWII and makes the plot a combination of Stalag 17 and A Few Good Men. The courtroom drama holds prominence and is ultimately what makes this movie worth seeing. Director Gregory Hoblit cemented his reputation as a courtroom and thriller director by directing episodes of TV's Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law and then moving onto the big screen with Primal Fear. Here he expertly draws us into the drama contrasting the bleakness of war with the courage of the soldiers. The only problem with the film is the jarring contrast of the themes: for a while it's a war film then it's a courtroom drama before ultimately becoming an escape flick. For good measure the issue of racism is also explored. Somehow the story lines blend well. And though the film takes it time getting to the meat of the story once you are there it's completely riveting.
Tonight's Late Night With David Letterman show will mark the 20th year--to the day--the program has been on air, reports The Associated Press. Although it's not likely Letterman will make a big deal about it, ratings prove that he's still got what it takes to continue his presence on the air. Regis Philbin is scheduled to be one of tonight's guests.
Pamela Anderson has taken it all off before, but this time the former Playboy Playmate wants to perform as a stripper on tour with her boyfriend Kid Rock, Reuters reports. Anderson told TV news magazine Extra she already has a "stripper pole" in her bedroom, so she was thinking she'd "just take pole dancing lessons and go on the road."
Even celebrities aren't exempt from purse snatchers. PageSix.com reports model Gisele Bundchen was shakin' a leg on the Bellagio's dance floor in Las Vegas recently when someone purloined $1,000 and her ID from her purse. Police were called out to search the vicinity, but neither cash nor ID was recovered.
Steve Kroft of the CBS news show 60 Minutes is being hailed as a lifesaver. The AP reports Kroft pulled a 76-year-old New Jersey woman out of her car Saturday just before the engine caught fire and blew up. The incident occurred just outside Kroft's Long Island, N.Y., beach home.
You won't be seeing Austin Powers in Goldmember this summer, at least not with that title. On Thursday the Motion Picture Assn. of America denied New Line Cinema's appeal of an earlier decision which blocked the use of that title, Variety reports. Apparently, Goldmember is a little too close to the James Bond title Goldfinger.
Variety reports the Shrine Auditorium will premiere the re-release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial March 16. The film, which releases wide on March 22, includes new footage, CGI enhancements and a remixed soundtrack.
Gwyneth Paltrow's newest project is on stage, according to Reuters. Her play Proof will debut in London's Donmar Warehouse in June, with John Madden directing.
Harold Russell, a double Oscar winner for his role as a wounded veteran in the 1946 film The Best Years of our Lives, died of a heart attack Tuesday in Needham, Mass., the AP reports. He was 88. Russell, who had lost both hands in a dynamite explosion in World War II, established the veteran advocacy group AMVETS.
Meg Ryan has ordered a restraining order against John Michael Hughes, the same man imprisoned last year for trying to "deliver a letter" to then-President-elect Bush, Reuters reports. Hughes supposedly broke into another Ryan residence (not Meg's) in Malibu last month telling police the actress had forgotten to leave him a key. Hughes was arrested on suspicion of burglary and later charged with a misdemeanor count of unauthorized entry of a dwelling.
Michael Jackson is being sued by his concert promoter Marcel Avram, Variety reports. Avram claims Jackson has been looking for other promoters despite the pair's written agreement that Avram would continue promotions. Avram reportedly wants $20 million in damages.
Headin' for the Altar
Singer Mary J. Blige is getting hitched. While there's no word on where or when the ceremonies will take place, People.com reports Martin (Kendu) Isaacs is the lucky guy. Blige, who will perform Sunday at the Super Bowl, was adamant about one wedding detail: "The press is not going to know about it," she said.
Model Elle MacPherson is planning her second marriage to her partner of six years and the father of her four-year-old son, French-Swiss banker Arpad Busson, according to Reuters. No further details have been announced.
Ever wonder what Michael Jackson does these days? Apparently so does the guy's longtime promoter. Jackson has been hit with a $21.2 million lawsuit by the aforementioned longtime promoter (one Marcel Avram of Germany) for reputedly backing out of a pair of planned Y2K Eve's shows in Hawaii and Australia.
No comment from the singer's camp.
One thing's for sure, though. Getting hauled into court by Avram is not a new experience for the singer: He filed a $20 million lawsuit against Jackson in 1993 for the never-was "Dangerous" tour.
That's part of your problem. You haven't seen enough movies. All of life's riddles are answered in the movies." "Grand Canyon," 1991
Where ya' gonna be at that precise split second between 1999 and 2000? New York? New Orleans? Paris? The corner bar?
No matter your choice, as far as Tinseltown players are concerned, they've been there, done that.
Hollywood could always throw a party. Sometimes Hollywood acted as if it invented parties, and sometimes we even believed it. There were the luncheons and the dinner parties and the no-meals parties. Some private celebrations got so outrageous, so out there, so out of hand, the bashes made the papers. Or the courts.
So Hollywood folks know how to party off screen. But what about on screen? As we count down and ring-a-ding-ding in a new century, let's see what the movies have had to say about partying time and raising hell in general.
NORA: Hey, what hit me? NICK: The last martini. "The Thin Man," 1936
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party. "Holiday," 1938
Scusi! Scusi! I'm also very good at parties! "The Gay Divorcee," 1934
You call this a party? The beer is warm, the women are cold, and I'm hot under the collar. In fact, a more poisonous little barbecue I've never attended. "Monkey Business," 1931
For good, clean fun, there's nothing like a wake. "Nothing Sacred," 1937
It's some tradition. They throw a great party for you on the one day they know you can't enjoy it. "The Big Chill," 1983
When I heard you were alive, I drank a bottle of champagne and played Chopin's funeral march in swingtime. "The Great Lie," 1941
ADOLPH: Marcel, why did you tell me it was a costume party? MARCEL: Oh, sir, I did so want to see you in tights. "One Hour With You," 1932
Let's blow trumpets and squeakers and enjoy the party as much as we can like very small, quite idiotic school children. ... Let's be superficial. "Private Lives," 1931
I want a sit-down orgy for 40. "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," 1966
What I'm out for is a good time -- all the rest is propaganda. "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning," 1960
You don't think I enjoyed what we did this evening, do you? What I did was for Queen and country! "Thunderball," 1965
Time is just a clock some sucker winds. "Malaya," 1950
Time! Time! What is time? The Swiss manufacture it. The French hoard it. Italians want it. Americans say it is money. Hindus say it does not exist. Do you know what I say? I say time is a crook. "Beat the Devil," 1954
No looking ahead. No tomorrows. Just today. "Only Angels Have Wings," 1939
Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons and necking in the park! "A Night at the Opera," 1935
You know something, Phil? I suddenly want to live to be very old. Very. I want to be around to see what happens. The world is stirring in very strange ways. Maybe this is the century for it. Maybe that's why it's so troubled. Other centuries had their driving forces. What will ours have been when men look for back to it one day? Maybe it won't be the American century after all. Or the Russian century. Or the atomic century. Wouldn't it be wonderful, Phil, if it turned out to be everybody's century? When people all over the world -- free people - found a way to live together? I'd like to be around to see some of that in the beginning. I may stick around for quite a while. "Gentleman's Agreement," 1947
Famed French mime Marcel Marceau, known for his strict reticence, is speaking out in support of awareness of the rights of the elderly. On Thursday, Marceau, 78, was named the United Nations goodwill ambassador for the 2002 World Assembly on Aging. Marceau said he is "not a man of talk,'' but vowed to represent the cause diligently. Marceau gained fame decades ago as a compassionate, silent mime who once starred in Mel Brooks' film Silent Movie.