News, Mar. 18: Gibson Eyes Hanukkah Movie, “Passion” Sparks Marital Discord, Charges Dropped Against R. Kelly, More…

Top Story: Mel Eyes Maccabees Flick

Mel Gibson, currently riding high with his religious film The Passion of the Christ, expressed interest in a film adaptation of the Maccabees’ story, Reuters reports. The story of the Maccabees, and the oil that magically lasted eight nights when it should have lasted only one, took place 200 years before the events Gibson depicts in The Passion. Given how The Passion was received by many religious groups, especially Jewish organizations that found the film anti-Semitic, any film made by Gibson about the Maccabees would no doubt cause rancor once more. Said Gibson on an ABC radio show, “The Maccabees family stood up, and they made war. They stuck by their guns and they came out winning. It’s like a Western.” In response Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman commented, “The last thing we need in Jewish history is to convert our history into a Western.”

Passion Sparks Marital Argument

Melissa and Sean Davidson of Statesboro, Ga., became so embroiled in their post-screening discussion of The Passion of the Christ that they were forced to call the police on one another, leading to mutual charges of simple battery, AP reports. Melissa suffered wounds to her arm and face, while Sean sustained a scissor wound and was left bereft of his shirt. The pair started fighting over the age-old theological question of whether God the Father was a real person or a figurative construct. Melissa, expressing a sentiment surely no one would disagree with, admitted that getting into the fight was “the dumbest thing we’ve ever done.”

Sex Charges Against R. Kelly Dropped

All 12 charges against R&B singer R. Kelly, stemming from a videotaped incident in which he allegedly has sex with a fifteen-year-old girl, have been dropped by a Tampa, Fla., judge, AP reports. Last week a judge ruled that photographs depicting R. Kelly were seized illegally by detectives in the case. Rather than contest the ruling, prosecutors in the case opted to abandon their case against the recording artist. Kelly, whose real name is Robert Sylvester Kelly, is still set to stand trial in Chicago on 14 counts of child pornography.

Stewart Asks Friends for Recommendation Letters

Martha Stewart, in an effort to win leniency when her sentence is handed down this June, is asking more than 100 friends to write of good experiences they’ve had with her in the past, AP reports. In the letter, dated Mar. 15, Stewart requests those writing letters to “…include any memorable experiences you have had with me to explain the basis of any expressed opinion(s).” Stewart was recently convicted of four felonies including obstructing justice and lying to the government about the sale of 3.928 shares of ImClone stock. Her broker Peter Bacanovic was also convicted.

Mercedes McCambridge Dies

Mercedes McCambridge, who won a supporting actress Oscar for her turn as Sadie Burke the bleak political drama All the King’s Men and voiced the obscenities that spewed from Linda Blair‘s mouth in The Exorcist, passed away today at the age of 85. McCambridge was also featured in such classics as Giant, Touch of Evil, and A Farewell to Arms (for which she received a best supporting actress nomination). Director William Friedkin picked McCambridge to voice The Demon in The Exorcist due to her vocal skills which Orson Welles also praised, calling her “the world’s greatest living radio actress,” when they worked together during his early career in radio. In 1987 McCambridge suffered the loss of her son John, who killed himself after shooting his wife and children.

Hepburn Possessions To Be Auctioned

Some of Katharine Hepburn‘s most noteworthy possessions, including a signed photo of Humphrey Bogart and letters from lover Howard Hughes, will go on sale at Sotheby’s auction house in June, AP reports. Also up for sale are the wedding gown she wore to her 1928 nuptials to Ludlow Ogden Smith and a lock of her baby hair. Hepburn, who lived to see Meryl Streep surpass her record for most Academy Award nominations (Hepburn was nominated 12 times and amassed four Oscars in her six-decade long career), died last year at the ripe old age of 96. Sales from the auction are expected to total $1 million.

Child Custody Case Against Jackson Denied

Lawyer Gloria Allred filed papers in a Los Angeles County court to have Michael Jackson‘s three children removed from his custody, but was turned down by county officials, The Straits Times reports. Allred, who does not represent the children, says she will now take the case to a juvenile court. Allred had previously filed a similar case against Jackson in Santa Barbara court last year before the singer relocated to Beverly Hills. Jackson will soon stand trial on seven counts of lewd and lascivious acts against a child under 14 and two counts of giving an intoxicating agent to a minor.

No Love for Real World in Philly

Looks like there will be no cheese-steak sandwich dinner for the latest housemates on MTV’s seminal reality show The Real World, AP reports. The show, which changes location every season, stars “seven strangers picked to live in a house” and have their lives taped, was set to start taping in Philadelphia later next month before labor disputes nixed the plan. At issue were non-Union workers hired to spruce up Seaman’s Church Institute in Philly’s Old City, which was to serve as the living quarters for the septet. Union leaders in the City of Brotherly Love picketed outside the Institute prompting MTV to withdrawal its show from the city. “After considerable evaluation, we are disappointed to announce that Bunim/Murray productions has decided not to shoot The Real World in Philadelphia,” a spokesperson for Bunim/Murray, the company that has produce