The Rev. Al Sharpton has filed a $1 billion libel lawsuit against the HBO TV network for airing an FBI surveillance tape recorded 19 years ago showing a conversation between him and a government agent posing as a drug dealer. The tape aired on the network's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel Tuesday in a segment about former Columbo crime family boss Michael Franzese, who organized gambling for pro athletes. Sharpton says the recording is part of a smear campaign to disrupt his potential presidential run in 2004. According to Reuters, Sharpton is seeking $500 million in compensatory damages and $500 million in punitive damages from HBO Inc., HBO Real Sports, AOL-Time Warner, Inc., reporter Bernard Goldberg and Franzese, alleging "defamation, libel and slander." A spokesman for HBO called the lawsuit "unworthy of comment."
Filmmaker Woody Allen's lawsuit against producer Jean Doumanian has resulted in a tag sale of film props. Dan Meader, the owner of Elmwood Antiques in Haverhill, Mass., bought the contents of a warehouse in Queens, NY, where Allen stored props. Meader's purchase payment will be split between Allen and Doumanian, but Meader will keep the proceeds from the sale. Items--including bags of preserved autumn leaves, Manhattan street signs and old-fashioned refrigerators--will be sold this week at the Amesbury auction house through Sunday, The Associated Press reports.
Warner Bros. Pictures is forging ahead with its big-budget sci-fi epic The Fountain, Variety reports. Director Darren Aronofsky will helm the pic, which will star Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Ellen Burstyn. The film will be about the journey of one man in the present day as well as both 500 years in the past and into the future. Production is expected to begin in late October in Sydney, Australia.
Ben Affleck is in negotiations to star in and possibly direct a new film based on the novel Gone, Baby, Gone by Dennis Lehane. Affleck, who with Matt Damon won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting, is also in talks to write the screenplay, Ananova.com reports. Gone, Baby, Gone is Lehane's fourth book about two private detectives, Kenzie and Gennaro, who live in the working-class Dorchester neighborhood of Boston where they grew up.
Could Everybody Loves Raymond be nearing the end of the road? Creator Phil Rosenthal seems to think so. CBS' deal for the series expires in May, along with star Ray Romano's contract, prompting discussion on the show's future. "You mine for gold as long as you can," Rosenthal told Variety. "But when we're out of stories, the show is over." Everybody Loves Raymond is entering its seventh season this fall.
Malcolm in the Middle actress Jane Kaczmarek's real-life pregnancy will be written into the show, the AP reports. The last time the 46-year-old actress was pregnant, the show's producers spent a lot of time camouflaging her expanding waistline. Kaczmarek is married to Bradley Whitford of The West Wing.
ABC has ordered a one-hour reality special titled The Ultimate Makeover, which will chronicle the makeovers of two women and a man over a 10-week period. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a leading Hollywood plastic surgeon will oversee surgical procedures done to the three participants, including facelifts, cheek and breast implants, tummy tucks and liposuction. The show is scheduled to air during November sweeps.
Two former members of Destiny's Child--LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson--have settled their lawsuits against the group's current members, its manager and Sony Music, the AP reports. The two were original members of the R&B group but left in 2000 over unhappiness with Mathew Knowles' control after their original manager died in 1997. They sued for breach of contract, defamation, libel and fraud over the lyrics in the single "Survivor," specifically the lines: "You thought that I'd be stressed without you/But I'm chillin'/You thought I wouldn't sell without you/Sold 9 million." Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.