News, Mar. 23: Aretha Franklin Hospitalized, Bobby Brown Gets Out of Jail 3 Days Early, Madonna Launches Tour, More…

Top Story: Aretha Franklin Hospitalized

Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin was hospitalized Saturday for an undisclosed ailment and is in stable condition, her New York City-based publicist told The Associated Press Monday. Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn declined to say where the singer had been hospitalized and said she had no further information about Franklin‘s illness or how long she would be hospitalized. Franklin, who lives in Detroit, turns 62 on Thursday. She won a Grammy Award last month for best traditional R&B vocal performance for “Wonderful” from her latest album, So Damn Happy.

Bobby Brown Released From Jail Early

R&B singer Bobby Brown was released from a DeKalb County, Ga., jail Monday–three days earlier than scheduled–to appear in family court in an emergency hearing in Roanoke, Va., on Wednesday. But DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown declined to say why Brown had been ordered to appear in Virginia, Reuters reports. On Feb. 27, Brown was sentenced to 60 days in jail after the singer violated his probation terms on a drunken driving charge. The 35-year-old singer was sentenced for five violations including refusing to take drug tests and paying his probation fees; failing to provide proof that he underwent counseling and completed his house arrest; and a December misdemeanor battery charge in which police said Brown hit his wife, Grammy-winning singer Whitney Houston.

Madonna Launches Tour in May

Madonna will hit the road in May for the first time in three years in support of her album American Life, which has sold a disappointing 630,000 copies in the United States since it was release in May 2003. According to, the tour will kick off May 24 in Los Angeles and will consist primarily of North American arena dates, as well as 12 European shows and a stop in Israel. “Madonna has already started rehearsals and she can’t wait to get back on stage to re-create her songs from the earliest days of her career up until the present,” manager Caresse Henry said in a statement. There will be no supporting acts. Madonna‘s 2001 Drowned World tour grossed $75 million from 47 sellouts.

Pierce Brosnan Doubts Spears/Bond Rumor

In February, the syndicated television show Extra reported that while in London, pop princess Britney Spears had requested a meeting with the producers of the James Bond movies. But James Bond star Pierce Brosnan told the AP Tuesday that if the singer is going to be a Bond girl, it is news to him. “Bless her cotton socks and good luck to her,” said Brosnan, who added he’d prefer Keira Knightley or Monica Bellucci be the next Bond girl. The untitled 21st Bond movie is slated to hit theaters Nov. 18, 2005, but Brosnan said the producers are having a hard time getting the project off the ground. “There’s a certain sense of paralysis that has kind of blanketed production at the moment,” Brosnan told the AP. “The last Bond broke all records. They don’t know what to do.”

Kevin Smith/Michael Jackson Hot Rod Project?

Jersey Girl director Kevin Smith said he once got an offer to direct pop oddity Michael Jackson in a film about a man who turns into a car that gets ridden around by a boy. Smith told Playboy in the magazine’s April issue that Jackson wanted to play the car/man role and that the proposed title of the project was Hot Rod. Smith said it was probably the weirdest script he was ever asked to direct and in retrospect, should have made the movie. The director, however, added: “”It wouldn’t be anything like the version Jackson or the studio wanted to see.”

Schwarzenegger Won’t Have To Give Deposition in Libel Suit

Judge Robert L. Hess ruled Monday that while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger must answer written questions, he doesn’t have to give a deposition in a libel lawsuit filed by a Hollywood stuntwoman who alleged the action star groped her on film sets of Terminator 2 and True Lies. Hours after Rhonda Miller made the allegations, Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Sean Walsh sent an e-mail to reporters directing them to a court Web site, where records for a Rhonda Miller showed a history including prostitution and disorderly conduct, but it was a different Rhonda Miller. Schwarzenegger‘s attorney said the questions will be very limited, and will be answered within 10 days, the AP reports.

Valenti Worried About Free Speech

Jack Valenti, head of The Motion Picture Association of America, said Monday at the ShoWest movie theater convention in Las Vegas that the recent crackdown by federal authorities on decency standards for U.S. airwaves would be worrisome if it infringed on people’s free speech rights, Reuters reports. The First Amendment “is the one (part) of the Constitution that guarantees all others. If you don’t have freedom of speech, what do you have? So, I worry about that,” Valenti said. But the MPAA chief also warned that entertainers and distribution companies bear the responsibility of letting audiences know what type of content they will be getting before they receive it.

Role Call: Love Boat Making Another Run; Hunter, Reynolds Play Ball

After being docked for more than five years, Paramount Pictures is reviving The Love Boat movie. The film will be a broadly comic reinvention of Aaron Spelling‘s hit TV series, which ran from 1977-86, with the Bermuda Triangle as a destination. Producer David Permut is seeking writers and planning a hip-hop version of the show’s theme song … Supermodel Rachel Hunter will join Burt Reynolds in Cloud Nine, about a has-been coach who launches a women’s volleyball team whose players are strippers.