News, Feb. 3: Gest Changes Tune, Blames Tabloid for Split; Boob-Bearing Antics Most TiVo’d Moment Ever; Jackson’s Computers Were Seized; More…

Top Story: Gest Now Blames Tabloid for Split

Producer David Gest told NBC Dateline‘s Stone Phillips in an interview to be broadcast Friday that his marriage to Liza Minnelli ended because of an article in the National Enquirer and not because of the alleged physical abuse. “She got the magazine on a Wednesday morning and on Thursday announced our marriage was over,” Gest said, according to the AP. The article in question, which Gest denies having anything to do with, portrayed Minnelli as an alcoholic. Minnelli, 57, and Gest, 50, wed in March of 2002 at a celebrity-studded ceremony in New York with Michael Jackson acting as best man and Elizabeth Taylor serving as maid of honor. It was Minnelli‘s fourth marriage and Gest’s first. Gest has since filed two legal actions against Minnelli, including a divorce petition and a $10 million lawsuit in which he alleges she beat him so badly that he suffered permanent injuries. Gest says the beatings caused him pain “so enormous that I get now 80 shots around the head to deaden the nerves,” according to a news release from the network. Minnelli denies the abuse. Gest said he and Minnelli might still be together had the story not been published.

Super Bowl XXXVIII a Ratings Win for CBS

CBS’ Sunday night telecast of the Super Bowl XXXVIII, aided by the close win by the New England Patriots over the Carolina Panthers, was the most-watched championship game in six years, the network said Monday. According to Nielsen Media Research, the championship football game drew an average viewership of just under 89.6 million people–the biggest audience since 1998 when 90 million tuned in. The numbers helped seal a Sunday night victory for CBS, as 33.3 million viewers stayed to watch the debut of Survivor: All-Stars, beating Fox’s American Idol as the most-watched entertainment program of the season.

Halftime Exposure Is Most TiVo’d Moment Ever

Super Bowl XXXVIII viewers were just as enamored by the halftime show as they were with the game. According to The Hollywood Reporter, TiVo users took a keen interest in Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s boob-bearing antics as viewers repeatedly replayed–and then paused–at the precise moment in order to see exactly what it was the singer had revealed to millions of Americans. TiVo said that particular halftime stunt was the most replayed moment not only of the Super Bowl but of all TV moments that the young company has ever measured. TiVo’s technology revealed a 180 percent spike in viewership at the time of the Jackson’s exposure.

Police Seized Computers from Jackson’s Neverland Ranch

Court papers unsealed Monday reveal police seized more than a dozen computers, video, still cameras and videotapes in November’s raid of Michael Jackson‘s Neverland Ranch in search of evidence that he molested a young boy, Reuters reports. It is, however, unclear what evidence if any police found during their search. Included in the seizure was a laptop locked in a bathroom, letters and legal documents. The search warrant had been sealed by a judge at the time it was issued, but Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville agreed to release the information, cautioning that in order to ensure a fair trial for both prosecutors and Jackson, he would have to redact the documents to the point where little of substance remained.

O’Donnell Offers Peanuts in Support of Stewart

Former talk show host Rosie O’Donnell offered up peanuts–literally–in support of domestic diva Martha Stewart. After sitting in the front row for the third day of testimony in Stewart‘s obstruction-of-justice trial, O’Donnell approached prosecutor Michael Schachter and offered him a bag of peanut M&M’s to drop the case. “The rest of your life, you’re going to be known as the guy who tried to take down Martha Stewart,” O’Donnell said. “You should have passed on this gig.” Schachter smiled and politely declined the candy.

Helen Hunt Expecting

Actress Helen Hunt and her boyfriend, Matthew Carnahan, are expecting their first child this summer, People magazine reports. Hunt, 40, has been dating the 42-year-old producer since 2001, after her brief marriage to Hank Azaria ended. Carnahan penned the Fox series Fastlane in 2002, produced and created the ABC crime drama Thieves in 2001, and wrote, produced and directed a documentary on former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Rudyland. Hunt last appeared in Woody Allen’s 2001 comedy,The Curse of the Jade Scorpion.

Manilow Released From Hospital

Singer Barry Manilow has returned to his Palm Springs, Calif., home after a 24-hour hospital stay brought on by stress-related chest pains and an irregular heartbeat, Reuters reports. Manilow, 57, underwent a series of tests and procedures and was discharged from the hospital late Sunday. The singer had been in New York, where he says he “endured two of the most grueling days of arbitration” in a lawsuit in which he and co-writer Bruce Sussman are fighting to regain the rights to their stage musical Harmony.

Vandross Won’t Attend Grammys

Luther Vandross, who is nominated for five Grammy awards including song of the year for “Dance With My Father,” will not be able to attend Sunday’s awards ceremony in Los Angeles, the AP reports. The wheelchair-bound singer suffered a severe stroke last April and spent several weeks in a hospital before being transferred to a rehabilitation facility in the New York City area. His business manager, Carmen Romano, said in a statement Monday: “It would have been a tremendous moment for Luther to attend the Grammy Awards this year, but on the advice of his doctors, I regret to say that Luther won’t be able to make this trip.”

Void Wins British Award

The American docudrama Touching the Void (watch the trailer) was named best film at the 31st annual Evening Standard British Film Awards on Sunday in London. Set in 1985, the film recounts ad