Top Story: Chris Rock Takes on Drudge
Comedian Chris Rock, whose directorial debut Head of State hits theaters this weekend, wants fans to know that contrary to reports from media gossip Matt Drudge, he "never had any intention of bashing President Bush" for launching the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Reuters reports. Drudge reported last week that DreamWorks executives feared Rock, who once said of Bush, "He's not stupid, he's just drunk," might spark a public backlash against the film if he made public comments ridiculing the president or the war in Iraq. "I never met Matt Drudge, but if I see Matt Drudge, I'm going to take my red-blooded American foot and put it up his un-American [backside] for trying to disrupt the opening of my movie," Rock said in a statement on Thursday. The comedian, who mentioned the date of the film's opening three times in his statement, wants everyone to know Head of State opens Friday--that's this Friday, March 28, in theaters across the country. Did we say Friday?
Charity Rejects Susan Sarandon
The United Way of Tampa Bay, Florida, has canceled an upcoming event featuring actress Susan Sarandon after getting some three dozen complaints about her antiwar views, The Associated Press reports. Sarandon had been scheduled as the keynote speaker at the April 11 event aimed at inspiring volunteerism in the community. But the United Way said it received phone calls, e-mails and letters criticizing Sarandon's selection because of her antiwar views. Robin Carson, chairwoman of the board of directors, said the event had the potential to become "divisive."
"Wanda" Nets Big Ratings for Fox
Fox's new comedy Wanda at Large received strong Nielsen ratings Wednesday, leading its 9:30 p.m. time slot in most categories by retaining 67 percent of its 18-49 lead-in from the second half hour of American Idol. Wanda's numbers represent Fox's best comedy premiere among adults 18-49 since the debut of Grounded for Life in January 2001 and its largest overall audience for a comedy bow since Malcolm in the Middle in January 2000, Variety reports.
Madonna Blasts Homogenized Pop
Madonna says manufactured pop acts and TV talent searches are homogenizing the music world. "I arrived at a different time, before the time of Svengalis holding talent searches--finding a girl that looks right and can carry a tune and then figuring a way to market her," the star is quoted as saying in the May issue of British music magazine Q. Madonna, 44, was also critical of young hopefuls who crave celebrity for its own sake. "It's the allure of this beautiful life. Drive this car, you're gonna be popular," she told Q. "It's a very powerful illusion and people are caught up in it, including myself--or I was."
Harry Potter Fan Pays Lots for Book
A Harry Potter fan has paid $8,000 through an online auction for a signed copy of the latest, unreleased fifth installment of the boy wizard's adventures, the AP reports. The British charity group Sense sparked frenzied bidding when it announced the sale of a copy of the long-awaited book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which has yet to be printed. Bids for the book, due out on June 21, started at $1.60 when the auction kicked off more than a week ago before quickly jumping to the closing price.
Role Call: Spielberg Remakes "Mitty," "The Mask" Lives On
Paramount and DreamWorks have agreed to co-finance the remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty for director Steven Spielberg as a possible Jim Carrey vehicle ... Uma Thurman has signed on to star opposite Ben Affleck in the sci-fi thriller Paycheck for director John Woo. The film, based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, is another project co-financed by DreamWorks and Paramount ... Jamie Kennedy is in preliminary negotiations to star in New Line Cinema's Son of the Mask, a follow-up to the 1994 blockbuster The Mask. Son of the Mask revolves around an aspiring cartoonist who is not ready for fatherhood but finds himself raising a baby endowed with the powers of the mask of Loki...Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard and Linda Cardellini will rejoin their canine co-star and director Raja Gosnell in the Scooby-Doo sequel. Their second mystery adventure is set for release on March 26, 2004.
61-year-old Nick Nolte, who was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of drunk
driving in Malibu, Calif., may now also be facing drug charges. "We have
strong reason to believe there were drugs involved," California Highway
Patrol spokesman Leland Tang told Reuters. Nolte, 61, was described by highway police as "drooling" and "completely out of it" when he was pulled over in Malibu for driving erratically in his black Mercedes. The Oscar-nominated actor was arrested after failing a field sobriety test. He is currently out on $2,500 bail.
Brad Pitt, whom we reported yesterday had pulled out of director Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain seven weeks before shooting was set to start in Australia, said he also is disheartened about the project not moving forward. "Given my friendship and respect for Darren and the year and a half we've dedicated to working on this project, I too am disappointed," he said in a statement released by Warner Bros. Pictures. "Still, I remain encouraged that The Fountain will still have its day." Pitt is in final negotiations to star as Achilles in the studio's epic adventure Troy instead. The news that Pitt was opting out of The Fountain angered many crew workers who had worked on the film's sets, prompting some of them to write an open letter to the Web site Ain't It Cool News that accused Pitt of "Hollywood prima donna antics."
Actor Jude Law and his wife, actress and fashion designer Sadie Frost, had their third child Tuesday night, People.com reports. Frost gave birth to Rudy Law at a north London hospital. The couple has two children together, Iris, 22 months, and Rafferty, 7. Frost also has an 11-year old son, Finley, from her first marriage to Spandau Ballet's Gary Kemp.
Actress Jamie Lynn Sigler, better know as Meadow Soprano on the HBO mob drama The Sopranos is engaged to her manager and boyfriend of one year, A.J. Discala, People.com reports. Discala, 31, proposed to Sigler, 21, while the two were on a Mexican cruise.
Late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's childhood home, which was put up for sale on eBay last Thursday, received a high offer of $210,000 from a serious bidder--$10,000 over the minimum set by Ed and Jennifer McKee of Oregon City, Ore, The Associated Press reports. The couple, unaware Cobain had once lived there, bought the nondescript house located 70 miles southwest of Seattle for $42,500 last month. An attorney for Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, and their daughter said the Cobain estate had not authorized the auction. "The estate will not be authorizing any commercial use of Mr. Cobain's name or likeness at the property," he said in a statement.
The Matrix star Laurence Fishburne is taking a serious interest in the small screen. The Oscar-nominated actor will produce a primetime series for Paramount Network Television. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the action drama, tentatively titled Sleepwalker, is a high-concept show following the adventures of a next-generation superhero. Spawn scribe Alan McElroy will write the project, which has received a script commitment from CBS.
Comedian Jay Mohr has been chosen to host a new NBC series titled The Funniest Person in America, the AP reports. Producers of the show, described as a cross between American Idol and The Real World, will pick 10 comedians and follow them as they live together and compete for development deals with NBC. The series will debut sometime in spring or summer 2003.
Canadian singer Celine Dion's manager-husband Rene Angelil sent a notice of claim to Montreal-based radio station CKMF demanding it stop playing a parody of the song "I'm Alive," The Canadian Press reports. The song played for about six weeks before Angelil complained. He also asked that all of Dion's songs be removed from the station's play list. "I was ashamed that Celine is played on a radio station that, in my opinion, displays a vulgar and disturbing tone," he said. The station agreed to pull the song, in large part because it had run its course, but refused to pull all of the singer's songs from its play list.
Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, 55, whose hit song "Werewolves in London" had fans howling throughout the '70s, was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer last month, spokeswoman Diana Baron announced today. "I'm OK with it," Zevon said in a statement. "But it'll be a drag if I don't make it until the next James Bond movies comes out."
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.