News, April 16: “Chicago” Becomes Miramax’s Top Grossing Pic, Bob Hope Turns 100, Scorsese Embarks on Western Epic, More…

Top Story: “Chicago” Becomes Miramax’s Top Grossing Pic

Miramax Films announced Tuesday that Chicago, which last month picked up six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, is now the highest domestic grossing film in the studio’s history. The hit musical’s box office take reach the $157.1 million mark Monday night, passing previous record holder Scary Movie, which grossed $157 million in 2000 and was distributed by Miramax’s genre arm, Dimension Films. Prior to that, Miramax’s top grosser was Good Will Hunting, which took in $139 million in 1997. Chicago, directed by Rob Marshall, stars Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.

Bob Hope’s 100th Birthday Bash

Celebs, including Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Miller, showed up at the first of several events to celebrate Bob Hope‘s 100th birthday next month, but the legendary entertainer himself was in poor health and was not able to attend. Hope‘s birthday is May 29, but Hollywood got a head start with Universal Studios Home Video release of The Bob Hope 100th Birthday Tribute Collection, the NBC special 100 Years of Hope and Humor and the unveiling of a plaque on one of the actor’s four Walk of Fame stars, Reuters reports.

Steve Bing Wins Libel Damages

Film producer Steve Bing won libel damages Wednesday against the UK tabloid Daily Mail over an article claiming he had tried to tarnish the reputation of his former lover, actress Elizabeth Hurley, Reuters reports. The article, titled “Private eyes and sexual slurs–how Bing is trying to destroy Liz,” said the producer and his co-claimant, Los Angeles lawyer Martin Singer, had “orchestrated a vicious campaign” to destroy Hurley‘s reputation. The Mail apologized for the embarrassment and distress it caused and agreed to pay substantial but undisclosed damages to British children’s charities chosen by Bing.

Melissa Ethridge To Wed Girlfriend

Rocker Melissa Ethridge plans to marry her companion of two years, actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, at the end of this year, The Associated Press reports. Etheridge’s publicist, Marcel Pariseau, declined to reveal plans for the ceremony but said it would take place in Los Angeles. Ethridge and her former partner Julie Cypher share custody of their two children. The two revealed in 2000 that musician David Crosby was the sperm donor for their children.

More Money for “Will & Grace” Cast

Will & Grace stars Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes will stay on board the NBC comedy at least through the 2004-05 season under a new salary pact. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the stars are due for hefty salary bumps under the deal that will carry them through the show’s seventh season. McCormack and Messing will reportedly increase the $250,000-$275,000 they earn per episode for the current season to about $400,000 per episode by the seventh season. Mullally and Hayes are set to receive only slightly less than the two leads under their revised deals.

TNN Rebrands Itself

Viacom will call the TNN network Spike TV beginning June 16. The move reflects the cable channel’s intent to recast itself as a programming source for young men. TNN president Albie Hecht told the The Hollywood Reporter that adopting the male name Spike is intended to evoke the aggressive, irreverent tone the network is taking on. The network will launch a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign that will encompass on-air, outdoor and print to spread awareness for the name change and the channel’s new logo, currently in the works.

Zahn Out of CNN’s “American Morning”

Paula Zahn, anchor of CNN’s American Morning With Paula Zahn, is getting the boot to primetime, Reuters reports. The network is moving Zahn in a 7-9 p.m. ET show titled American Evening With Paula Zahn, the time slot formerly belonging to Connie Chung’s tabloid-style interview program. CNN did not name a morning replacement for Zahn but sources confirmed reports that CNN has interviewed CBS News’ Jane Clayson for Zahn’s slot. For the time being, Bill Hemmer will anchor the show by himself

The Dead, Dylan, Hit the Road

Bob Dylan will co-headline the second leg of The Dead and Summer Getaway Tour, set to kick off July 29 in a yet-to-be-announced location, reports. The two last hit the road together in 1987 on a co-headlining stadium tour that spawned the critically acclaimed 1989 live album Dylan & the Dead, which featured collaborative versions of such Dylan classics as “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and “All Along the Watchtower.”

Role Call: Scorsese Embarks on Western Epic, Aniston Joins Dark Comedy

Martin Scorsese will direct the feature adaptation of Thomas Eidson’s Western epic St. Agnes’ Stand for DreamWorks. The novel, which revolves around a reluctant hero who saves a nun and a group of children from Apache Indians in the 1860s, will adapted by Life of David Gale scribe Charles RandolphJennifer Aniston is set to star and produce a dark comedy for New Line Cinema. The Friends star would play the wife of a wealthy politician who is confronted with her past when the 10-year-old son she gave up for adoption resurfaces in her life.