News, Jan. 7: Garner Suffering From Nerve Damage, DGA Noms Announced, Culkin To Back Jackson in Court, More…

Garner was really struck down with nerve damage

The full extent of Jennifer Garner‘s ailments have been released–she’s actually suffering from severe nerve damage. The actress pulled out of promotional work for her new movie Elektra last weekend amid reports she was pregnant with boyfriend Ben Affleck‘s baby. Her aides insisted she had a viral infection and was trying to recover in time for this Saturday’s Elektra premiere in Las Vegas. But now it seems Garner was struck down with a nerve problem resulting from a stunt she performed on the set of her TV show Alias. An insider says, “We all thought she was suffering from a viral infection, but doctors concluded that it was more. “Under doctor’s orders to take it easy she had to cancel a hosting gig on Saturday Night Live and the film’s press junket.”

Directors named for top film prize

Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese and Taylor Hackford will fight relative movie-making newcomers Alexander Payne and Marc Forster for the Directors Guild of America top prize. Announced yesterday, Payne‘s Sideways is the favorite to win the DGA prize, but Eastwood‘s Million Dollar Baby and Scorsese‘s The Aviator are also in competition. Forster is nominated for Finding Neverland and Hackford for Ray. The awards are announced on Jan. 29.

Culkin ready to back Jackson in court

Former child actor Macaulay Culkin is prepared to testify in support of Michael Jackson at the singer’s upcoming trial on child molestation charges. Culkin was one of five children named in a 1993 abuse investigation who were said to have slept in Jackson‘s bedroom. Staff at the singer’s Neverland ranch in Santa Barbara, California, are set to claim Culkin was molested at the hands of Jackson. But Culkin, who is now 24 and godfather to Jackson‘s first child Prince Michael I, is willing to appear in court to say nothing untoward ever happened. The 1993 case was dropped when Jackson paid the family of the prosecution’s key witness a $22.8 million settlement.

Kilmer joins United Nations

Actor Val Kilmer has been named a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) ambassador. The actor is delighted with his new role and hopes he can reunite his Alexander cast mates Angelina Jolie–herself a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ambassador–and Colin Farrell to create an action group, to raise funds for victims of December’s Indian Ocean tsunami. He explains, “We filmed part of Alexander up in the north of Thailand and now that I’m involved with UNESCO, I am definitely going to do all I can to help out there. I’d like the cast to unite and do some sort of relief work.”

Proud Jackson turns down 50 Cent film role

Samuel L. Jackson has turned down the chance to work with one of his movie icons–because it’s in a film starring 50 Cent. Jackson has always wanted to work with Irish movie-maker Jim Sheridan and was thrilled when he heard he was being targeted for a new film by the In America director–and then he realized the role was opposite rapper 50 Cent in his movie debut. The actor has been extremely vocal about sharing the stage with unproven actors, and felt he had to turn down Sheridan‘s offer. He says, “Hollywood people tend to think that because one is successful in one aspect of entertainment they can bring them into this particular world and make a success out of them. They ask people like me to be in a film with those people that they are kind of headlining and your name ends up behind them. If you do that, it sanctions the fact that these people come into this world and you think they are worthy of you sharing your time on screen with them. I don’t particularly think that. A month or so ago, someone called me about the 50 Cent movie and I’m like, ‘What are you calling me for?’ I don’t even need to read that because that’s not something I want to do. I like listening to 50 Cent and I can groove to his music but I don’t want to groove to him on screen, just yet. Maybe if he does five movies and he shows some talent. I mean how does he get to work with Jim Sheridan and I don’t. What is it about 50 Cent that makes Jim Sheridan say, ‘I’d really like to make a movie with him?'”

Fear Factor episode prompts lawsuit against NBC

NBC is being sued by a man who claims he suffered distress watching contestants on hit show Fear Factor eat rats. Austin Aitken, from Cleveland, Ohio, is demanding $2.5 million from the network. In a handwritten four-page lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday, paralegal Aitken says, “To have the individuals on the show eat…and drink dead rats was crazy and from a viewer’s point of view made me throw-up as well an another in the house at the same time.” A spokesman for Fear Factor says there will be no comment until producers have seen a copy of the complaint.

Kaczmarek to auction celebrity clothes for tsunami victims

Actress Jane Kaczmarek is calling on her celebrity pals to donate their outfits from the Golden Globe Awards for auction to benefit the victims of Asia’s Dec. 26 tsunami disaster. The Malcolm in the Middle star and her husband, The West Wing actor Bradley Whitford, are sponsoring a “Clothes Off Our Back” auction beginning the day after the Jan. 16 ceremony. The Clothes Off Our Back Foundation, which collects clothes and accessories from celebrities and designers and auctions them to raise money for children’s charities, was started by Kaczmarek and Whitford in 2002. But with the recent devastation in the Indian Ocean, Kaczmarek is now calling on all current and previous Golden Globe nominees and winners to donate clothes and accessories worn to either this year’s awards show or previous ones to benefit those affected in the region. The items will be auctioned online.

Farrell: ‘I wish Alexander sex scenes were more graphic’

Colin Farrell has no regrets about the controversy in America surrounding his portrayal of a bisexual conqueror in Alexander–he wishes the movie had been more explicit. Earlier this week, director Oliver Stone blamed his film’s U.S. box office failure on homophobic audiences, who stayed away from Alexander in droves. But Farrell wishes his onscreen sexual encounters had been more graphic. He says, “It’s a shame we weren’t able to show more about the colorful nature of Alexander’s sex life. The problem was the American moral majority. They kicked up a real stink about even the little bit we did show.”

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