News, Aug. 10: Weinstein Might Leave Disney, Douglas Son OD’d, Lawsuit Brewing Over “The Village,” More…

Weinstein might ditch Disney

Walt Disney Co. and its Miramax Films unit, which is run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, are expected to meet this week to discuss letting Harvey Weinstein start a production company, while his brother would remain at Disney to make movies, Reuters reports. In a recent New York Times article, Reuters reports the newspaper cites several unidentified people involved in the talks, who say the agreement being negotiated would give Bob Weinstein a four-year contract with Disney, including a small staff and a $300 million to $350 million annual budget to make four to six movies under his Dimension Films banner. Harvey Weinstein would then become an independent producer, who would secure financing for movies to be distributed by Bob Weinstein, the Times article continued. Disney might also license the Miramax name back to Harvey Weinstein, but only for movie projects. Sources told the Times that the two sides still have big issues to work out, but the progress shows that both sides recognize the importance of maintaining a successful relationship and would like to reach an agreement before Disney’s fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.

Overdose cited as cause of Douglas death

The death of Eric Douglas, the youngest son of Oscar-winning actor Kirk Douglas and brother to Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas, was caused by an accidental overdose of alcohol and prescription tranquilizers and pain killers, authorities told AP. Douglas, 46, was found dead inside a Manhattan apartment building July 6. Eric Douglas had a history of substance abuse and had spent time in jail and rehab clinics.

Lawsuit brewing over Shyamalan’s Village

Publishing giant Simon & Schuster Inc. is reviewing its legal options against The Walt Disney Co. and writer-director M. Night Shyamalan over similarities between a children’s book they published and the film The Village, a spokeswoman for the publisher told AP Monday. Apparently, the film’s plot and surprise ending parallel Margaret Peterson Haddix’s first book, Running Out of Time, published in 1995, in which adults living in a bucolic 19th century town keep the same secret from their children, and a plucky tomboy journeys through dangerous woods to get medicine. Haddix said she optioned the book twice–once to Viacom Inc.-owned Nickelodeon, which allowed the option to expire in May 2003 without making a film. She saw The Village last week but declined to discuss her opinion of the film. “Let’s just say that I saw the same similarities that other people have pointed out,” she told AP. “It’s certainly an interesting situation,” Haddix said. “I’m just examining what my options are.” In a statement, Disney and Shyamalan‘s Blinding Edge Pictures said they “believe these claims to be meritless,” AP reports.

Rick James’ funeral to take place in Los Angeles

Funeral services have been announced for Rick James, who was found dead Friday of unknown causes. A public viewing will be held Wednesday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, Calif., and a memorial service will be held there Thursday. “Rick wanted everyone who loved him to be with him at the end and to celebrate his life,” Sujata Murthy, his record label Universal’s spokeswoman, told The Associated Press.

Recent death, health problems plague musicians

Tony Mottola, 86, a guitarist who played with Frank Sinatra and on NBC’s The Tonight Show over the course of a 50-year career, died Monday of complications from double pneumonia and stroke. Meanwhile, William Lee Golden of The Oak Ridge Boys is recovering from a mild heart attack, the group’s publicist told AP. Golden, 65, was traveling with the country group Saturday near Wausau, Wis., when he fell ill and checked into an area hospital, publicist Sandy Brokaw said Monday. The singer is expected to make a full recovery in four to six weeks, Brokaw told AP. Same goes for former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner, 58, who co-wrote and sang the rock group’s classic “Take It to the Limit.” He was hospitalized Friday for chest pains, his manager said but is now “resting comfortably” and “not experiencing any pain.” Then there’s soul veteran Ronald Isley, the lead singer with the Isley Brothers, who suffered a minor stroke but hopes to resume performing as soon as possible, a spokeswoman for his record label told AP. Isley, 63, felt unwell while walking along a street in London last Friday, checked into a local hospital for a few days, and has since returned to his home in St. Louis, Mo., said the spokeswoman.