News, Aug. 30: Russell Crowe Explains Latest Brawl, Ja Rule To Plead Not Guilty, Paris Hilton Body Oil, More…

Russell Crowe explains brawl with bodyguard

Russell Crowe, who was embroiled in some highly publicized brawls last year, is taking the blame for the latest fracas. The Gladiator star recently made headlines when he came to blows with his bodyguard Mark “Spud” Carroll, a former rugby league star, on the Toronto set of Crowe‘s latest film, The Cinderella Man. The Associated Press reports Crowe, 40, sent a letter to Australia’s The Sunday Herald Sun tabloid, explaining the brouhaha was sparked by a misunderstanding and that the pair made up the next day. Crowe explained he had been talking to a young woman, who was an extra on Cinderella Man, at a party for the cast and crew of the film when Carroll approached him and suggested what he thought people might be imagining the pair’s conversation was about. “I thought he was accusing me specifically of something and I took offense to it,” Crowe said in the letter. At the time of the incident, it was also reported Caroll had told Crowe to go home to his wife and kids, something Crowe denied in his letter, adding his wife, Danielle Spencer, did not have a problem with him having a “drink and a chat with the people I’m working with at the end of the week.” Crowe went on to say they “called each other a few ripe names, had a hug and got on with the job.” Carroll, meanwhile, also wrote the newspaper to deny reports Crowe had taken a bite out of his ear. “That never happened, simple as that,” he said. “He did take a nip at my chest–I was trying to smother him at the time, so I can understand the move.”

Ja Rule to plead not guilty to assault charges

Ja Rule will plead not guilty to assault charges brought by Toronto police, his lawyer said Monday. The rapper, who lives in New Jersey but had been frequenting Toronto for film shoots, was charged last month with assault causing bodily harm. A publication ban was placed on evidence surrounding the charges. At the time, Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, made a brief court appearance and was let out on $7,600 bail. His lawyer, Steven Skurka, said he expects the case will go to trial in early 2005. “You can underline that three times,” Skurka said outside court after setting a pretrial date for Oct. 6. The 28-year-old performer did not attend the hearing.

Paris Hilton body oil?

A show, a book,–what’s next? Hotel heiress-turned-realty TV star Paris Hilton filed a trademark application in late July to register a logo of a tiara with a “P” centered in the middle, the Smoking Gun Web site reported Friday, and it looks like it’s going to be used on a variety of products. The filing came after her father, Richard Hilton, filed an application in May to trademark her name for use on bath gel, body lotion, soap and cosmetics. The logo application looks to put the emblem on audio and visual recordings, eyewear, prepaid calling cards, kitchen utensils, mugs, key chains, soaps, body oils and other goods. According to the Smoking Gun, both the logo application and the name trademark are pending review by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, CNN/Money reports.

Patrick Stewart recovering from angioplasty procedure

X-Men star Patrick Stewart is recovering at home after undergoing an angioplasty procedure earlier last week to widen an artery, the AP reports. Kelly Bush, the actor’s publicist, said doctors detected a blood-flow problem and recommended preemptive angioplasty when Stewart, 64, went in for an annual physical Monday. Bush described the procedure, which involves the use of catheters to place a small balloon in a narrowed blood channel, as a success. She said Stewart plans to return to work next week to finish the upcoming movie The Game of Their Lives, but added that he will miss a planned personal appearance at a Canadian sci-fi festival in Toronto this weekend.

Bruce Willis will pay fine for violating wetlands

Bruce Willis, who was cited last October for clearing a small island in a pond at his central Idaho home, installing a sprinkler system, and adding topsoil to level depressions so sod could be laid, will pay a $21,000 fine for violating federal wetlands protection laws, the AP reports. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials also claim Willis dumped 10 cubic yards of fill material in a stream to provide access to the island. Willis‘ attorney Ned Williamson said the actor didn’t know the island was in wetland jurisdiction and stopped the work as soon as EPA officials notified him. He said Willis began restoring the island to its former state before the settlement was announced this week. Under the settlement, the island will be replanted and its wetlands character restored by Oct. 31. The site will then be monitored for the next decade.

Simon Cowell psyched for X Factor

American Idol judge Simon Cowell said in a question-and-answer session at the International Television Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Saturday that he is looking forward to judging older contestants and groups for his new talent competition show The X Factor, set to premiere in the UK next month. “I’m bored of just watching 22-year-olds coming on to a talent show and saying, ‘Make me famous,'” Cowell said of American Idol and its British counterpart Pop Idol. Cowell will be joined on The X Factor by Sharon Osbourne, the wife of rocker Ozzy Osbourne, the AP reports.

The Beckhams expecting third child

After all the speculation about their relationship, former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham announced Sunday she and her husband, England football captain David Beckham, were expecting their third child. The Beckhams, who have been married since 1999, said in a joint statement the baby is due in March. “This is fantastic news. We are both absolutely delighted. We are planning to have the baby in Spain,” the statement said. Their relationship has been under intense media scrutiny since Beckham moved from Manchester United to play soccer for Real Madrid in Spain last year. Victoria, formerly known as “Posh Spice,” remained in England to pursue her solo singing career, sparking rumors the couple’s relationship was on the fritz. Tabloids then reported Beckham had an affair with his former personal assistant, Rebecca Loos. Beckham publicly dismissed the stories as “ludicrous” and said he was happily married to a “wonderful wife.”

Tribeca announces new date for film festival

The Tribeca Film Festival, which has held its first three fests in early May, will shift its date back one week and add two additional nights, Variety reports. Tribeca hopes its new dates, April 21-May 1, will create some breathing space before the Cannes Film festival. Tribeca’s initial early-May slot made it difficult for acquisitions execs, industryites and critics alike to focus on Tribeca because they were busy preparing to leave town for Cannes. As a result, Tribeca will begin accepting entries for its fourth edition Sept. 7 with the final deadline set for Dec. 10. The Tribeca All Access Connects, a networking and meetings program for filmmakers and screenwriters of color, is calling for screenplay and doc proposals beginning Sept. 7 and closing Feb. 4. Also inviting submissions is the Tribeca/Sloan Screenplay Development Program, which seeks scripts with a scientific or technological theme or storyline. More info is available at

Matt Damon’s uncle becomes oldest Channel swimmer

Matt Damon‘s 70-year-old uncle became the oldest person to swim the English Channel Sunday, arriving on the French coast in the early hours after a taxing 21-mile swim, Reuters reports. “I am tired, but this is it, I’ve got the world record and I feel wonderful,” George Brunstad told Reuters by telephone from the British port of Dover. The retired American pilot raised about $12,000 for Haitian children. The swim took 15 hours and 59 minutes and Brunstad, a champion swimmer who had trained for the challenge for a year, took the record from a 67-year-old.