God Bless America debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's top album charts this week after selling 180,984 copies, The Associated Press reports. The album features a rendition of "God Bless America" by Celine Dion, Frank Sinatra's "America the Beautiful" and Mariah Carey's "Hero."
CBS news anchor Dan Rather said he will not be tested for anthrax or take the antibiotic Cipro, even though anthrax was found in his office. According to PageSix.com, Rather has shown no symptoms of the disease. His assistant, however, is being treated for the skin form of anthrax.
A Florida jury found O.J. Simpson not guilty on Wednesday of auto burglary and battery charges, Reuters reports. The jury deliberate for 90 minutes before delivering the verdict.
Dr. Dre's lawsuit accusing the Michigan cities of Detroit, Auburn Hills and their officials of censorship has been settled, AP reports. Dre filed the lawsuit in July after officials from both cities threatened to arrest him if he aired a sexually explicit video during a concert that month. The settlement included a written apology from Mayor Dennis Archer of Auburn Hills and First Amendment training for police officers in each city. The cities will also reimburse the rapper for legal fees.
Jimmy Gulzar, Spice Girl Mel B's former husband, has been charged with common assault on a three-year-old. According to BBC News, the alleged incident happened on Sept. 1 while Gulzar was visiting the London Zoo with his daughter, Phoenix Chi.
Sexy Beast received four awards at the British Independent Film Awards, the BBC reports. The gangster movie won best film, best screenplay, best director for Jonathan Glazer and best actor for Ben Kingsley.
Kenneth Branagh has signed on to do the second Harry Potter movie, which will begin filming Nov. 16, Variety reports. Branagh will play the role of a wizard who is enlisted to teach at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
George Clooney is criticizing the Screen Actors Guild's national board for expelling three members who worked during last year's commercial strike, Variety reports. Clooney pointed out that Elizabeth Hurley and Tiger Woods received fines of $100,000, while Shaquille O'Neal's case did not even go to trial. The actor said that the union should not enforce laws based on celebrity and that punishment should be uniform. Clooney has offered to pay the fines for Mario Barbieri Cecchini, Gerry Donato and Robert Kalomeer if they could not afford to do so.
Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync has canceled plans for his new novel Inside Drive: A Novel of Basketball, Life and Love because he has no time for a national publicity tour, AP reports. Timberlake signed a seven-figure deal with Ballentine Books to publish his first novel.
Winners of the Latin Grammy Awards will be announced Tuesday at the Conga Room in Hollywood, Reuters reports. While there will be no performances, the academy has not determined if there will be any acceptance speeches or a ceremony.
British pop star Robbie Williams told a crowd of 17,000 fans in Singapore Wednesday that he was fined $5,700 for flashing the audience on Saturday. According to Reuters, Singapore police say that Williams is giving them a bum rap and that they have no record that the singer was fined.
Queen Latifah is the latest addition to the cast of Chicago, the film version of the Broadway musical, Variety reports. The film, directed by Bill Condon, will also star Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger.
Clint Black, Taylor Dane and former MTV personality "Downtown" Julie Brown will join The Citizen Patriot Tour organized by Janet Langhart Cohen, a former television personality and wife of former Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, The Associated Press reports. The group will head overseas this weekend to entertain troops at undisclosed military bases.
Twisted Sister will headline a Nov. 28 concert benefit concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, AP reports. KISS guitarist Ace Frehley, former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, Overkill and Anthrax will also perform. Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French said he hopes to raise $100,000 for the victims of last month's attack on the World Trade Center.
The Beastie Boys have also organized and will headline the New Yorkers Against Violence benefit concert on Oct. 28 at the Hammerstein Ballroom. According to Billboard.com, up-and-coming New York-based rock groups Rival School and the Strokes as well as the B-52s, Cibo Matto, Saul Williams and Pakistani vocalist Rahat Fateh Ali Khan will perform. Proceeds will benefit the New York Association for New Americans and the New York Women's Foundation.
Jay Leno's celebrity-autographed motorcycle and matching truck drew a top bid of $360,200 Wednesday on eBay, Reuters reports. The winner of the limited-edition Harley-Davidson motorbike will be announced Friday. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Natalie Cole married a local minister, Kenneth Dupree, in a private ceremony last Friday at Victory Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., AP reports. Guests included Dionne Warwick, Star Jones, Jennifer O'Neill and producer David Foster.
Virginia Sate Senator Emily Couric died from pancreatic cancer Wednesday, People.com reports. Couric's sister Katie has been on leave from her NBC show Today this week.
The two sides in O.J. Simpson's road-rage trial in Miami offered different versions of the encounter between Simpson and Jeffrey Pattinson, The Miami Herald reports. While the prosecution claims Pattinson was inside the vehicle when he was confronted and scratched by the retired football star, Simpson's defense attorney said both drivers got out of their SUVs. Testimony is expected to last about two days. If convicted, Simpson could face up to 16 years in state prison.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring will premiere in London on Dec. 10, Reuters reports. The Fellowship of the Ring, the first film in the trilogy made back-to-back in New Zealand, is expected to be one of the biggest of the year.
Former Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus is getting her own sitcom, Reuters reports. NBC said on Thursday it had ordered 12 episodes of the series 22 Minutes with Eleanor Riggs, which will likely air early next year as a mid-season replacement. The show will feature Louis-Dreyfus as a nightclub singer in Los Angeles.
Britney Spears is pairing up with AOL Time Warner to promote her albums and tours, Reuters reports. In exchange, every copy of Spears' upcoming album will come with the latest version of AOL software. AOL members will also have advance access to Spears concert tickets.
CBS' The Guardian and NBC's Scrubs have been picked up for the full season. According to the The Hollywood Reporter, NBC also plans to give full-season pickups to Crossing Jordan, UC: Undercover and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
The Screen Actors Guild 's board of directors has expelled three members who worked on or auditioned for commercials during the union's strike against advertisers last year, AP reports. Gerry Donato, Mario Barbieri and Robert Kalomeer were all kicked out following a trial board hearing.
The week of Dec. 14 proves to be yet another with less than usual fanfare as the holiday season continues its approach. The wave of Disney animated offerings takes a week off while the majors decide which sprinklings of recent films will make the grade with the usual catalog backdating.
Leading the relatively small list of major recent offerings is Paramount's special edition of Simon West's ("Con Air") "The General's Daughter" ($29.99 SRP). Featuring a running audio commentary by director West, as well as deleted scenes, trailers and a making-of featurette, the film about an army investigator's (John Travolta) search for the persons responsible for the rape and murder of a prominent base commander should be another big step in the right direction for Paramount DVD. With so many great films in its vast archive, many of its releases would do well to receive such treatment.
New Line hopes to knock out audiences when it issues the Michael Patrick Jann-directed "Drop Dead Gorgeous" ($24.98 SRP). Essentially the story of a small-town beauty pageant that turns mean and vicious, "Drop Dead Gorgeous" features a hot, young cast, including Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richards. New Line's DVD includes a script-to-screen screenplay as a DVD-ROM feature, as well as the original theatrical trailer.
If the concept of Dunst and Richards willing to do anything to be beautiful isn't your thing, one can always pick up her other DVD release of the week, "Dick" ($24.95 SRP). Teamed with Michelle Williams ("Dawson's Creek"), Dunst plays one half of a clueless pair who wind up as official White House dog walkers after a routine field trip to Washington, D.C., during the Nixon administration finds them witness to dirty deeds that the federal government would like to cover up as quickly as possible. Columbia/TriStar's special edition of "Dick" features a running commentary by director Andrew Fleming and screenwriter Sheryl Longin, as well as a making-of featurette, deleted scenes and an isolated music score.
Though few films are really indie anymore (considering the majors own the vast majority of the formerly indie studios), a host of quasi-indie features hits shelves this week.
Leading the way is director Francois Girard's highly praised picture "The Red Violin" ($29.98 SRP). Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Greta Scacchi (among others), the film follows the magical path of the world's most perfect violin --an instrument that brings with it obsession and passion as it travels around the world over miles and ages. As it should be, the music-critical feature offers the obligatory isolated soundtrack, as well as the original theatrical trailer.
Director Alain Berliner's 1997 feature "Ma Vie En Rose ("My Life in Pink")" ($27.95 SRP) hits stores this week. The Golden Globe-winning story of a young boy who believes he is a girl trapped in a boy's body stars Michele Laroque, Jean-Philippe Ecoffey, Helene Vincent and Georges Du Fresne. The film garnered a number of award nominations and positive reviews culminating in its Best Foreign Language Film nod at the 1998 Golden Globes.
Not to be confused with the John Frankenheimer film of the same name, Mario Bava's 1960 horror epic "Black Sunday" ($24.99) hits shelves in an uncut European edition. The story follows the unfortunate decision of two doctors to dig up the crypt of a 17th century witch, resulting in her resurrection and a host of horrific deeds. Image Entertainment's special edition includes a running audio commentary by Bava scholar Tim Lucas, as well as the original theatrical trailer, a photo and a poster gallery.
If suspense is the item of the day, director Philip Noyce's extraordinarily visceral "Dead Calm" ($19.98 SRP) will more than hit the spot. Starring Nicole Kidman, Billy Zane and Sam Neill, the film follows two grieving parents (Kidman and Neill) who hit the open seas in an attempt to get over the loss of their dead child. Instead, they come across a mysterious shipwreck and its sole survivor (Zane). Over the course of its 96 minutes, "Dead Calm" will do a wonderful job of creating unbearable tension and features some of Zane's best work to date.