Welcome to land of lawsuits and legal action, Hollywood-style.
In the last week, a few celebrities and other industry folk have either aired their grievances in court - or were dragged into it. It's not a new occurrence in the topsy-turvy world of entertainment. In fact, it happens all the time. Just seems that lately it's been catching. Here's a quick rundown:
Halle cries foul
Halle Berry and musician husband Eric Benet have filed a $5 million libel lawsuit against the Star tabloid for printing an article last week saying the newlyweds' marriage was already "on the rocks." The couple wed secretly in January after a 1 ½ year engagement.
The suit accuses the paper of causing undue emotional distress on the couple, as well as severely invading their privacy. In a statement, Berry and Benet said the article was "offensive and baseless" and the allegations that Benet and his daughter from a previous marriage have moved out of Berry's house and were looking for their own place to live were blatantly untrue.
No stranger to courtroom troubles, Berry is still on probation after pleading no contest last year to leaving the scene of an auto accident.
Fiorentino gets several fouls
Seems like actress Linda Fiorentino likes to accept work, but then never shows up, according to one lawsuit. A German production company is suing the actress for $5 million in damages, claiming she basically held their Georgia O'Keefe biopic, Till the End of Time, "hostage."
Fiorentino, who was to play O'Keefe, refused to report for rehearsals, makeup, and camera tests, the suit alleges. It charges the actress with jeopardizing the participation of Ben Kingsley, who was to play O'Keefe's lover, photographer Alfred Stieglitz. The film was finally shut down in August when the production company could not find a replacement for Fiorentino, Variety reported.
She also may be sued for abandoning her role in the CBS TV pilot Hudson's Law, a legal drama. In March, Variety reported that the producers couldn't locate her to begin work. They have since recast the role with actress Kyra Sedgwick.
Director Kevin Smith, who directed Fiorentino in Dogma, publicly stated he'll never work with the actress again. It is unclear whether she will reprise her role in Men in Black 2.
"Traffic" pays up
Producers for the Oscar-winning film Traffic have paid an undisclosed sum to the Cincinnati Country Day School, an elite private school, for the unauthorized use of its name in the film. The film depicted the excessive use of drugs by the students at the school. Further, the name will be not used in any re-release of the movie.
Bochco's "NYPD Blues" gets paid
The popular cop show NYPD Blues was finally back on the market this month. The rerun rights were picked up by Court TV and TNT as part of the settlement of Steven Bochco Prods.' lawsuit against 20th Century Fox Television.
The deal allows Court TV to run the show in primetime, starting in the fall; TNT will carry the reruns during other times in the day. Blue reruns play on F/X, Fox's sister cable network, which prompted Bochco in 1999 to sue Fox. He claimed he was cheated out of at least $50 million on the sale to F/X. Fox maintains its distribution rights to the long running cop drama.
Supremes' Wilson says, "Stop!"
Mary Wilson of the Motown legends The Supremes wants to stop copycat musical groups - in the name of morality. She testified Wednesday in Boston in front of eight lawmakers and a crowd of about 150 in favor of a bill that would penalize copycat groups, passing themselves off as the originals, and their promoters. These groups were "demeaning" to what The Supremes accomplished in their career, she said. The bill would require copycat groups to be listed as a featured act and would impose fines between $1,000 to $5,000 for violations.
And then there's Robert…
Poor Robert Downey Jr. So talented, yet so troubled. After his most recent arrest Tuesday, when an officer spotted him in Culver City, Calif., acting "suspicious" and booked him on investigation of using an undisclosed "stimulant," Downey won't be going to jail, as of yet. Instead, he's being sent to six months in rehab for violating his parole, officials said Wednesday.
"Just because somebody has violated their parole doesn't mean they go back to prison," California Department of Corrections officer Russ Heimerich explained to The Associated Press.
The latest scary news from the "Blair Witch" front is that the sequel will be seeking "unrecognizable talent," according to a casting note obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.
Specifically, "Blair Witch Project 2" is looking for five lead characters - two men and three women, ages 19-early 20s. The trade paper says a one-page breakdown on the film lists the characters thusly:
-- "Heather Arendt," a Chicagoan whose life philosophy is "when in doubt indulge"; -- "Nick Leavitt" and "Anna Casio," a couple of live-in lovers attending their senior year at Boston College; -- "Cotter Kaller," an irresponsible state college kid; -- "Domini Von Teer," the enigmatic outsider who favors black and a vague Gothic look.
No word if recognizable talent will be deigned eligible for the above roles -- provided they round up really good disguises.
"Blair Witch 2" is scheduled to begin shooting Feb. 23 on the East Coast, with a Fall 2000 release planned. (Think Halloween.) Despite all this activity, there's still no word on a script (or a screenwriter). Joe Berlinger, the documentary filmmaker behind "Brother's Keeper" and "Paradise Lost," will direct.
GETTING "UGLY"? They may be splitsville in real life, but in Hollywood, Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow are seriously considering a reunion in "The Ugly Truth," a possible project for Warner Bros. and Disney about an unlucky-in-love woman (Paltrow, presumably) who receives a romantic sparkle from an obnoxious, sexist, sloppily dressed TV personality (paging Affleck?).
ON LOAN FROM HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE: 007 star Pierce Brosnan is set to sign up for the CIA as the headliner and producer of "Burnt Sienna," a movie based on an upcoming novel by "First Blood" author David Morrell. Today's Daily Variety says Brosnan will play a former Marine pilot who becomes an artist in Mexico, only to find his life threatened when he turns down an offer to paint the wife of an arms dealer. His character is described as a cross between James Bond and John Rambo.
WHAT A CROC: Car pitchman Paul Hogan is ready to return to the film franchise that made him a movie star - at least in the mid-1980s. According to the Reporter, Hogan, now 59, will say "G'day' in a third "Crocodile Dundee" flick, tentatively titled "Crocodile Dundee in Hollywood." No director yet. Hogan's wife and perennial co-star, Linda Kozlowski, will return as his, yes, perennial co-star. The last "Dundee" movie - that would be "Crocodile Dundee II" - was released in 1988.
IN THE 'DUST': Disaster prone Jan De Bont ("The Haunting," "Speed") has signed on to helm (and produce) "Dust" for Village Roadshow/Warner Bros The movie's based on a novel by Charles Pellegrino, who created the dinosaur-cloning theories behind Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park."
TRUCKIN' TO 'RENO': Patrick Swayze and Natasha Richardson are in final talks to put on their redneck boots alongside Billy Bob Thornton and Charlize Theron in "Waking Up in Reno," the Reporter says. Newcomer Jordan Brady will direct the film about Arkansas rednecks, infidelity and (of course) monster truck shows.