News, Nov. 12: Zeta-Jones Upset Over Atkins Claims, Indie Studios Seem Unshaken by Screener Ban, Flynt “Safeguarding” Pvt. Lynch Pics

Top Story: Zeta-Jones Upset Over Atkins Stories

Lawyers for Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones have sent letters to several news organizations that released reports that the actress had been using the Atkins diet. According Reuters, lawyers say the actress has been wrongly linked to the weight-loss technique and her image could suffer damages as a result. “We intend to pursue claims on her behalf against each and every publication responsible for the creation and initial growth of these false and damaging stories,” her attorneys warned. Since their release to the various news organizations in question, copies of the letter, which was signed by Zeta-Jones‘ attorney John Lavely, have surfaced on several sites across the Web, including The Smoking Gun ( Atkins spokesman Richard Rothstein said in a statement, “It’s never been our policy to seek celebrity endorsements….Where tabloids get their info is a complete mystery to me.” Lavely further slammed the stories, adding that they made it appear that Zeta-Jones is more concerned with her physical appearance than her health.

Flynt Protecting Nude Photos of Jessica Lynch

In what could be called an out-of-character role reversal, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt announced that he has acquired semi-nude photos of U.S. Army private and former POW Jessica Lynch so that he can “keep them out of circulation,” Reuters reports. The pictures reportedly depict a topless Lynch frolicking with two men at Fort Bliss, Texas, where she had been stationed before being sent to the Middle East. Regarding the photos, Flynt said in a statement, “I purchased them at first with the intention of publishing them; however, I quickly changed my mind and decided simply to keep them out of circulation…If Jessica Lynch wants to join the army and see the world, and if she wants to have a good time while she’s at it, I’m not here to judge her.” Lynch was marked as a national hero after being wounded, imprisoned, and eventually rescued during the U.S. campaign against the Iraqi regime.

Timberlake Ventures Into Restaurant Industry

Justin Timberlake, 22, has become the latest high-profile celebrity to venture into the restaurant industry. According to the Associated Press, Timberlake is now a partner at Chi, a new hot spot on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. In his newest venture, Timberlake joins up with co-owners Art and Allan Davis, who already own three other clubs in the L.A. area. “Justin’s been frequenting our clubs for a few years now and we got to meet him and talk to him, and he loved the dim sum idea. He loved the look of the place and wanted to be involved. So we got him involved,” said Allan Davis. The Los Angeles Times has described the new club as “1930s Shanghai-meets-Blade Runner.”

50 Cent, Record Label Sued for $21M

According to AP, rapper 50 Cent, along with his record label Interscope Records, is being sued by a New York Post photographer who claims that he was attacked by the music star’s bodyguards on Aug. 27. In the lawsuit, which has been filed in state Supreme Court on Monday, James Alcom alleges that he was “assaulted and battered” by seven of 50 Cent‘s guards as he was photographing the rapper in New York City’s diamond district. The lawsuit accuses 50 Cent and his record label of “not exercising reasonable care and diligence in the employment” of his bodyguards.

Madonna Releases Second Children’s Book

Madonna‘s second book geared towards children, entitled Mr. Peabody’s Apples, is now available in bookstores, AP reports. Regarding the origins of her latest work, the 45-year-old pop singer said in a statement, “This book was inspired by a nearly 300-year-old story that was told to me by my Kabbalah teacher.” She continued, “When I began to write books for children, I decided to share the essence of this story in one of them. … I hope I have done his story justice.” The pop diva-turned-children’s author gave her first ever reading of the new book before over 300 fourth through eighth graders at a private school in Montclair, N.J., Tuesday morning. With her first book, The English Roses, already a best seller, Mr. Peabody’s Apples will be released in over 110 countries worldwide.

Joey Ramone To Be Memorialized on NYC Corner

According to Rolling Stone, Joey Ramone of the legendary punk rock band The Ramones will be honored in a ceremony at the corner of Second Street and the Bowery in New York City on Nov. 30. In the ceremony, the corner will be named “Joey Ramone‘s Place.” Ramone‘s new corner is located very near to CBGB, a well-known club that helped usher in punk music. Said CBGB owner Hilly Kristal, “As far as the city recognizing Joey, it’s about time…The Ramones meant a lot to this city and to music. They were the original punk rock band. Their longevity supercedes anybody who sold more records, and the consistency and meaning of their name is greater than anybody in the punk rock field.” Since the rocker’s death from cancer in April of 2001, fans of Ramone had been lobbying to get the corner named after him.

AMA Gift Baskets Valued at $31K Each

According to AP, gift baskets for this year’s American Music Awards show participants are worth an estimated $31,000–in honor of the show’s 31st anniversary. The baskets contain nearly 150 items including first-class plane tickets, karaoke machines and gift certificates for laser eye surgery. In a statement Monday, AMA executive producer Dick Clark said, “I understand it’s going to take at least two oversized bags for each of them to carry away the ‘loot.’ Heh, if it’s $31,000 now, I can’t wait to see what [Hollywood Connection, a company that specializes in assembling gift bags for awards shows] comes up with when the show turns 50.” The awards show is set to air Sunday on ABC, with comedian Jimmy Kimmel to host.

Screener Ban May Not be Affecting Indie Studio Practices

With the film awards season drawing closer, many independent film studios will be taking advantage of the fact that they are not required to adhere to the guidelines of the partial ban on “screener” videos that has been imposed by the Motion Picture Association of America, Reuters reports. While majors such as Disney, Universal, MGM and their subsidiaries must abide by the rules of the ban, smaller, “stand-alone” studios, such as Lions Gate Films and Magnolia Pictures, are not under the jurisdiction of the MPAA, and therefore are not required to follow