News, Nov. 13: Madonna To Develop Toy Line, Limbaugh Returning to Airwaves, Al Franken Considers Senate Run, More…

Top Story: Madonna Turns Book Into Toys

Ever-enterprising Madonna has signed a deal with Signatures Network Inc. to develop toys based on her hit children’s book The English Roses, The Associated Press reports. The toys will include dolls, apparel, accessories, cosmetics, stationery, room décor and back-to-school products aimed at preteen readers. “I’m excited about the opportunity to develop a range of beautiful products that will complement the book and continue to spread its positive messages to children,” the pop diva told AP. The book has been printed in 30 languages, released in over 100 countries and became the largest children’s book release in publishing history with a first printing of 1 million copies, AP reports. The Roses products begin rolling out in early 2004.

Limbaugh Dives Back Into Airwaves

Conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh, who left the airwaves five weeks ago to treat an addiction to prescription painkillers, will pick up the microphone once again to continue his daily radio show. Reuters reports Limbaugh plans to resume his regular schedule starting on Monday, Nov. 17. He told his listeners Oct. 10 he needed to take some time off to get cleaned up and also acknowledged that he was the subject of a criminal investigation but gave no further details, Reuters reports.

Downey Jr. To Wed

Looks like Robert Downey Jr. is heading down the aisle again. According to Access Hollywood, the 38-year-old star will wed producer girlfriend Susan Levin. The two met earlier this year on the set of Downey‘s upcoming thriller Gothika, also starring Halle Berry, on which Levin received a producing credit. Downey told USA Today, “She has a real life, and she’s really organized. It’s really cool.”

Senate Dives Into Piracy Issue

A bipartisan Senate duo, Sens. John Cornyn from Texas and Dianne Feinstein from California, have sponsored the Artists’ Rights and Theft Prevention Act as the latest attempt by lawmakers to address some of the problems created by copyright piracy, Reuters reports. The legislation, introduced Thursday, would make it a felony to use a camcorder to record a motion picture in a theater and make it easier to prosecute people who illegally distribute copyrighted material before its legitimate release.

Shanghai Next Disney Theme Park Destination

Further attempting to open China to the Western world, city officials in Shanghai, China, are in talks with the Walt Disney Co. to bring a theme park to the area in 2010, Reuters reports. “The parties are still holding talks and if everything goes smoothly, we hope to open a Disney theme park around 2010,” Li Wei, an official with the Shanghai government’s information office, told Reuters. Disney, however, has stated the ongoing construction of its Hong Kong theme park is its first priority, which opens in 2005/2006.

Franken Contemplates Senate Run

Political satirist Al Franken, whose latest book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, is selling like hotcakes, is considering moving back to his home state of Minnesota and running against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman in the 2008 Senate race, AP reports. “It’s a long way away, five years away,” Franken told the Minneapolis’ Star Tribune this week. “It might be crazy. I might not be the best candidate. Part of this is seeing what happens next year and what direction things are going.”

John Ritter’s Mother Dies

Actress Dorothy Fay Ritter, best known for starring B-movie Westerns of the ’30s and ’40s and mother to the late John Ritter, died Nov. 5 of natural causes in Los Angeles. She was 88.

Role Call: Freeman Could Be “Champ”

Rod Lurie has signed on with Paramount Pictures to rewrite and direct the drama Resurrecting the Champ as a possible starring vehicle Morgan Freeman. According to Variety, the story centers on a 30-year-old sports reporter whose desperation for a big story leads him to track down a homeless man he believes was once a famous fighter. The journalist and the reluctant subject form a father-son-type bond as the writer chronicles the boxer’s heartfelt story. When it turns out the subject wasn’t completely honest about his identity, the writer loses his job.