UPN's low-rated reality series Manhunt may have been faked and the $250,000 outcome rigged. Writer Peter Lance has come forward to say that the show's producers were disappointed by the lack of sparks between the contestants during the January shoot in Hawaii and convinced 12 of the 13 contestants to do re-shoots in Los Angeles months later. In a joint statement, UPN and producer Paramount TV told Variety they "have not supported and would not support persons or practices designed to manipulate the outcome of the show." Added "joint," but can you confirm?
Plus-size model Emme gave birth to an 8-pound, 1-ounce baby girl, Toby Cole Aronson, on Aug. 9 after 28 hours of labor. Toby Cole is the first child for the 38-year-old Emme and her husband of 11 years, 38-year-old Phillip Aronson. The family lives in New Jersey.
Veteran British actor Steven Berkoff, known for his roles as villains in Beverly Hills Cop and Octopussy, may be tried for rape in civil court in London after a ruling Wednesday. The assault allegedly occurred Sept. 4, 1994, according to Reuters. Berkoff maintains his innocence, and his lawyers are trying to have the case thrown out based on the fact the charges were not filed within the six-year time limit. However, it's been ruled that the writ was filed in time and a civil case should proceed.
The "Godfather of Soul" is in trouble again. A judge Wednesday refused to throw out a $2 million lawsuit filed against singer James Brown by a woman who claims the entertainer fired her after she rejected his sexual advances. Plaintiff Lisa Agbalaya says she and other female employees were repeatedly subjected to "a pattern of discrimination and harassment" at The New James Brown Enterprises, Inc. Brown's lawyers are maintaining Agabalaya is a disgruntled former employee looking to extort money from the singer.
Musician Paul Winter has sued the producers and composer Russell Landau of Survivor for improperly using parts of a song he recorded in 1987 for the show's dramatic theme song "Ancient Voices." Winter originally signed an agreement allowing Landau to use a portion of his song but now says he agreed to Landau using outtakes, not the released recording, which Winter claims is currently being used. He's asking for $800,000 in compensation.
The veteran English pop group Electric Light Orchestra has canceled plans for a North American tour, which would have been the first one in 15 years for the band, after the tepid response to their newest album, Zoom. The band had grand plans to stage a huge light show in about two dozen venues across the continent, but the album has sold only 52,000 copies since its June 12 release. "That's like not even releasing a record when you're at that level," Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of concert trade publication Pollstar, told Reuters.
Janet Jackson has had to rearrange a Madison Square Garden concert date for her "All for You" tour due to a WNBA playoff game. Jackson's Tuesday concert has been pushed to Monday so the New York Liberty can play, but her Wednesday and Thursday dates will remain. This is the fourth time she's had to change dates on the tour since it began in July.
Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez have signed up to perform at the 18th annual Video Music Awards Sept. 6. They will join rapper Ja Rule, rock band Staind, 'N Sync, Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys and U2 as part of the entertainment lineup.
Luis Miguel, Alejandro Sanz and Thalia will join Nelly Furtado and Jon Secada in performing at the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards, set for Sept. 11.
Following the current reality programming trend, the Miss America pageant will be taking its cameras backstage. In one of the largest overhauls to date of the popular beauty contest, which first aired in the 1950s, viewers will watch as losing contestants get to judge the top 10 finalists live offstage in a "jury room" debate format. "Non-finalists" will cast votes on which of the top 10 will make it on to the top five.
Steven Soderbergh's crime-drama "The Limey" and Alexander Payne's high school satire "Election" led the pack of (relatively) low-budget, high-expectation projects as nominations were announced Wednesday for the 15th Annual Independent Spirit Awards, honoring, yes, indie film.
"The Limey" and "Election" received a field-best five nominations each. Hollywood blockbusters such as "Toy Story 2" and "The Green Mile" received zippo. (They're not indies.)
With the studio heavyweights excluded, a variety of films that failed to garner tremendous box office during the 1999 film season found redemption as the Spirit nominations were handed down. David Lynch's "The Straight Story", a simple yet powerful film about an aging man's trek across country on his lawn mower, earned four nominations. Kimberly Peirce's controversial "Boys Don't Cry" also received four nods -- including ones for best lead actress (Hilary Swank) and best supporting female (Chloe Sevigny).
The five films slated to do battle in the main best-picture event are: Payne's "Election," Soderbergh's "The Limey," Lynch's "The Straight Story," Allison Anders and Kurt Voss' "Sugar Town", and Robert Altman's "Cookie's Fortune".
Awards will be handed out in Santa Monica on March 25 -- the day before the Oscars. The Spirits are sponsored by the Independent Feature Project/West.
The following is the complete list of nominations for the 15th annual IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards:
BEST FEATURE "Election" "The Straight Story" "The Limey" "Cookie's Fortune" "Sugar Town"
BEST FEMALE LEAD Diane Lane, "Walk on the Moon" Janet McTeer, "Tumbleweeds" Hilary Swank, "Boys Don't Cry" Susan Traylor, "Valerie Flake" Reese Witherspoon, "Election"
BEST MALE LEAD John Cusack, "Being John Malkovich" Richard Farnsworth, "The Straight Story" Terence Stamp, "The Limey" David Strathairn, "Limbo" Noble Willingham, "The Corndog Man"
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE Barbara Barrie, "Judy Berlin" Vanessa Martinez, "Limbo" Sarah Polley, "Go" Chloe Sevigny, "Boys Don't Cry" Jean Smart, "Guinevere"
BEST SUPPORTING MALE Charles S. Dutton, "Cookie's Fortune" Luis Guzman, "The Limey" Terrence Howard, "The Best Man" Clark Gregg, "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole" Steve Zahn, "Happy, Texas"
BEST DIRECTOR Alexander Payne, "Election" Harmony Korine, "julien donkey-boy" Steven Soderbergh, "The Limey" David Lynch, "The Straight Story" Doug Liman, "Go"
BEST SCREENPLAY Kevin Smith, "Dogma" Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, "Election" Audrey Wells, "Guinevere" Lem Dobbs, "The Limey" James Merendino, "SLC Punk!"
BEST FIRST FEATURE ($500,000-plus budget) "Being John Malkovich" "Three Seasons" "Boys Don't Cry" "Twin Falls Idaho" "Xiu Xiu the Sent Down Girl"
BEST FIRST FEATURE (less than $500,000 budget) "The Blair Witch Project" "La Ciudad" "Compensation" "Judy Berlin" "Treasure Island"
BEST DEBUT PERFORMANCE Kimberly J. Brown, "Tumbleweeds" Jessica Campbell, "Election" Jade Gordon, "Sugar Town" Toby Smith, "Drylongso" Chris Stafford, "Edge of Seventeen"
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY Tod Williams, "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole" Charlie Kaufman, "Being John Malkovich" Kimberly Peirce and Andy Bienen, "Boys Don't Cry" Anne Rapp, "Cookie's Fortune" John Roach and Mary Sweeney, "The Straight Story"
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER M. David Mullen, "Twin Falls Idaho" Lisa Rinzler, "Three Seasons" Anthony Dod Mantle, "julien donkey-boy" Jeffrey Seckendorf, "Judy Berlin" Harlan Bosmajian, "La Ciudad"
BEST FOREIGN FILM "All About My Mother" (Spain) "Run Lola Run" (Germany) "My Son the Fanatic" (England) "Topsy-Turvy" (England) "Rosetta" (Belgium-France)
DLJ DIRECT TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD (for documentaries) Owsley Brown, "Night Waltz: The Music of Paul Bowles" Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgan, "On the Ropes" Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson, "Well Founded Fear" Rory Kennedy, "American Hollow"
MOVADO SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD (for new directors) Dan Clark, "The Item" Julian Goldberger, "Trans" Lisanne Skyler, "Getting to Know You" Cauleen Smith, "Drylongso"
MOTOROLA PRODUCERS AWARD Pam Koffler, "I'm Losing You" and "Office Killer" Eva Kolodner, "Boys Don't Cry" and "Hide and Seek" Paul Mezey, "La Ciudad" Christine Walker, "Backroads" and "Homo Heights"
How much did them country folks dislike Garth Brooks' soul patch? Well, take a look at the Academy of Country Music nominations. The scorecard reads something like this: Garth Brooks -- zero; 'N Sync -- one.
Is 'N Sync a country act? Can you chew bubble gum and tobacco at the same time? Do the Backstreet Boys know about this?
Frankly, we don't know. We just know this: The boy-band popsters of 'N Sync got more props out of the 35th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards than country mega-mega-star Garth Brooks. In nominations announced Wednesday, 'N Sync nabbed a nod for outstanding "vocal event" for their collaboration with Alabama on "God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You." Brooks nabbed the aforementioned nothing.
The snub was for Brooks' foray into multiple personalities, a k a "In the Life of Chris Gaines," the hat-act's 1999 concept album. For the uninitiated, the "Chris Gaines" thing featured Brooks assuming an alter-ego (Gaines), adopting a pop/rock sound and sporting (egad!) a wig and soul patch.
Tim McGraw, who sports a hat and a goatee but not a soul patch, was rewarded for his good ol' country fashion sense with nominations in five categories, including Entertainer of the Year. All told, McGraw stands to lasso seven trophies, because in the best song and best single categories he's nominated as both the performer and producer.
Wife Faith Hill and Grammy-winning country trio the Dixie Chicks were the other top multiple nominees, with five nods apiece.
The awards are scheduled to be presented May 3 in a CBS telecast from Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheater.
Here's a complete rundown of the nominations for the 35th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards:
Entertainer of the Year: Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Sawyer Brown, Shania Twain.
Top Male Vocalist: Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Collin Raye, George Strait.
Top New Male Vocalist: Gary Allan, Chad Brock, Brad Paisley.
Top Female Vocalist: Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Jo Dee Messina, Shania Twain, Chely Wright.
Top New Female Vocalist: Jessica Andrews, Julie Reeves, Chalee Tennison.
Top Vocal Duo or Group: Asleep at the Wheel, Brooks & Dunn, Dixie Chicks, Lonestar, Sawyer Brown.
Top New Vocal Duo or Group: Montgomery Gentry, Shedaisy, Yankee Grey.
Top Vocal Event of the Year: "A Country Boy Can Survive (Y2K Version)" (with Chad Brock, Hank Williams, Jr., George Jones); "After the Gold Rush'' (with Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt); "God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You'' (with Alabama, 'N Sync); "My Kind of Woman'' (with Vince Gill, Patty Loveless); ''When I Said I Do'' (with Clint Black, Lisa Hartman Black).
Album of the Year: "A Place in the Sun," Tim McGraw; "Breathe," Faith Hill; "Cold Hard Truth," George Jones; "Fly," Dixie Chicks; "Ride With Bob," Asleep at the Wheel.
Single Record of the Year: "Amazed" Lonestar; "He Didn't Have to Be," Brad Paisley; "Please Remember Me," Tim McGraw; "Ready to Run" Dixie Chicks; "Write This Down," George Strait.
Song of the Year: "Amazed," Lonestar; "He Didn't Have to Be," Brad Paisley; "Breathe," Faith Hill; "Choices," George Jones; "Please Remember Me," Tim McGraw.
Country Video of the Year: "Breathe," Faith Hill; "He Didn't Have to Be," Brad Paisley; "How Do You Like Me Now," Toby Keith; "Ready to Run," Dixie Chicks; "Single White Female" Chely Wright.
Call it an act of justice or just plain old good taste.
"Election" finally got the kind of props it deserved.
After getting all but snubbed by Oscar voters, the critically acclaimed high school satire, starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick, was vindicated at today's IFP/West's 15th Annual Independent Spirit Awards, taking a field-best three mentions for best indie feature, best screenplay and best director.
The indie-minded types, who gathered here in a tent for the afternoon beachfront ceremony, also assured Oscar nominees Hilary Swank, Charlie Kaufman, Richard Farnsworth and Chloë Sevginy of glory -- regardless of whether Academy voters deign them worthy of gold statuettes Sunday.
Swank, who faces the daunting task of trying to defeat Mrs. Warren Beatty (aka Annette Bening) in the Oscar race, was tapped best lead actress in an indie film for the gender-bending "Boys Don't Cry." Her co-star, Chloë Sevigny, a Best Supporting Actress nominee at the Academy Awards (where she's expected to lose to Angelina Jolie), was named best supporting female.
Another big winner was Richard Farnsworth, named best actor for "The Straight Story." He's also up for an Oscar (and also expected to lose -- to either "American Beauty's" Kevin Spacey or "The Hurricane's" Denzel Washington.)
At the Oscars, writer/director Alexander Payne is up for one award (best original screenplay). But today, he personally took three in the "Election" sweep.
Though a bit shocked by the sudden attention, Payne was not a bit surprised that Spirit voters remembered the flick (released in April) -- even if Academy voters mostly didn't.
"Everybody always says that movies that come earlier [are forgotten because of audiences'] short memory," Payne told reporters backstage. "I don't know how much that actually applies. ... I don't know [how much that matters.]"
Kaufman, also a nominee in Sunday's best original screenplay competition for "Being John Malkovich," took the Spirit Award for best first screenplay. "Malkovich" also was tapped best first feature, among flicks with budgets larger than $500,000.
"Malkovich" and "Boys Don't Cry" were the afternoon's other multiple winners, winning two categories each.
While Kaufman and "Malkovich" director Spike Jonze remained relatively curt with their responses backstage, R.E.M. rocker Michael Stipe, one of the film's behind-the-sceners, was unabashed on why the film appealed to him as a producer.
"It's not like the usual Hollywood trash," stated Stipe flatly. "[The script takes] the narrative and changes its order. [It's] something's that not the cookie-cutter Hollywood feature."
Here's a complete look at the winners of the 15th Annual Independent Spirit Awards:
Best Feature: "Election" Best First Feature (Over $500,000): "Being John Malkovich" Best First Feature (Under $500,000): "The Blair Witch Project" Best Director: Alexander Payne ("Election") Best Female Lead: Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry") Best Male Lead: Richard Farnsworth ("The Straight Story") Best Supporting Female: Chloë Sevigny ("Boys Don't Cry") Best Supporting Male: Steve Zahn ("Happy, Texas") Best Debut Performance: Kimberly J. Brown ("Tumbleweeds") Best Screenplay: Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor ("Election") Best First Screenplay: Charlie Kaufman ("Being John Malkovich") Best Cinematographer: Lisa Rinzler ("Three Seasons") Best Foreign Film: "Run Lola Run" (Germany)