News, Dec. 29: Winslet, Mendes Have Baby; Actor Alan Bates Dies; Southeastern Crix Pick “Rings”; More…

Top Story: Winslet, Mendes Welcome First Child

Oscar-nominated actress Kate Winslet and her husband, Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty), are the proud parents of a baby boy, The Associated Press reports. Joe Mendes, the first child for the couple, who were married in May, was born Dec. 22, weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces, Winslet‘s publicist, Jennifer Allen, said Friday. “The couple is overjoyed,” Allen told AP. Winslet has a 3-year-old daughter, Mia, from her previous marriage to director Jim Threapleton.

Actor Bates Dies

Veteran British thesp Alan Bates, who had a long career on stage and in film including Women in Love (1969), An Unmarried Woman (1978) and most recently Gosford Park (2001), died Saturday in London after a long battle with cancer, Reuters reports. He was 69.

Townshend Contemplated Suicide

Rock icon Pete Townshend admitted he considered suicide while being investigated for his use of child pornography earlier this year. Reuters reports Townshend gave an interview with Britain’s Observer, in which the 58-year-old guitarist for The Who said, “If I had had a gun, I would have shot myself” but then decided against it. “If I had shot myself, it would have been awful because it would have confirmed what everybody thought,” he said. Townshend, who claims he was abused as a child, publicly admitted viewing child pornography but said it was purely for research purposes for a book on the subject. He was never officially charged but his name will stay on the national Sex Offenders Register for five years, Reuters reports.

Rings Tops Southeastern Crix List

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was tagged as best film by the Southeastern Film Critics Association, with Peter Jackson taking the prize for best director. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lost in Translation‘s Bill Murray also won for best actor while Naomi Watts from 21 Grams was named best actress.

CBS’ Crime Wave Wins Christmas Day Ratings

With its crime drama lineup–CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Cold Case and Without a Trace–CBS came in first place in the ratings Christmas Day, attracting a total of 11.2 million viewers, Reuters reports. Fox came in second as 6.5 million viewers watched the two-hour special World Idol–in which 10 Idol winners from around the globe, including American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, competed for the title. World Idol‘s two-hour finale airs New Year’s Day.

Rapper Faces Child Abandonment Charges

Rapper Juvenile, known for his hit song “Back That Thang Up,” is facing an arrest warrant in Georgia on child abandonment charges, AP reports. Gwinnett County sheriff’s deputies say the rapper, whose real name is Terius Gray, has failed to provide financial support for his six-month-old daughter. Although Gray disputes the fact he is the father of the child, deputies say they have paternity test results that show he is.

Role Call: Renfro Puts On Jacket; Towne Will Climb 39 Steps

Brad Renfro has joined cast members Adrien Brody and Keira Knightley in the thriller The Jacket. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film, being produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, centers on a soldier (Brody) convicted of murder who, during his treatment in a psychiatric hospital, begins to believe that he is traveling through time. On his travels he searches for a woman (Knightley) he met as a child and is fated to love…Writer/director Robert Towne has signed a deal with Carlton International Media to write and direct a contemporary remake of the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock classic The 39 Steps, Variety reports. Based on a novel by John Buchan, the story centers on a London man who hides a glamorous female spy on the run in his apartment for one night, only to find her murdered the next day. Having a bit of trouble explaining it all to Scotland Yard, he tries to clear his name by locating a spy ring known as The 39 Steps.