News Roundup: April 11


Top Story

The much touted New York premiere of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones will close the Tribeca Film Festival in lower Manhattan on May 12. According to Variety, Star Wars writer and director George Lucas has teamed up with the Tribeca Film Festival and the Children’s Aid Society to co-host the New York premiere of the film, which open in theaters May 16. There will be a morning screening for children and families affected by Sept. 11, another for youngsters from the Children’s Aid Society and a third in the afternoon to benefit the Children’s Aid Society. Tickets for the afternoon screening are $500 each. Lucas told Variety, “As a father and filmmaker, it’s my pleasure to offer the film in support of the children of New York City.” Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones will also premiere May 12 in 10 other cities in the United States and Canada.


Five days after giving birth by caesarian in London’s private Portland hospital, new mom Elizabeth Hurley has reportedly started playing house with friend Elton John. Hurley, 36, is said to be staying at the singer’s 37-acre house in Old Windsor while she recovers. Sky News also reports that Hurley has asked John to be the baby Damian’s godfather, but the story adds that neither side would confirm the reports.

Hunk George Clooney has reportedly dumped his Canadian girlfriend, actress Maria Bertrand, for former porn star Krista Allen. According to Sky News, Clooney threw a birthday party for Allen at a Los Angeles restaurant last week. Allen played Jenna on the Baywatch TV series and in the 1994 Emmanuelle adult entertainment series, she showed a group of aliens the art of making love. If you liked this series, we also recommend Beach Babes from Beyond.

Actor/rapper Will Smith and his brother, Michael Peck, are working on a proposal to build a 500-room minority-owned hotel in Broward County, Fla., The Associated Press reports. The project has been stalled since the county cut its ties with the hotel’s developer, but Smith and Peck’s firm, Treyball Developments, could to take over the project without any money from the county. Treyball Developments was also involved with a hotel project in Smith‘s hometown of Philadelphia.

Casting Call

Actress Nona Gaye, who starred alongside Will Smith in Ali, will portray the character Zee in the Matrix sequel The Matrix Reloaded, Variety reports. Late singer/actress Aaliyah, who was killed in a plane crash last August, had originally been cast in the role. Zee’s character will be introduced in the second film and will segue into the third installment, The Matrix Revolutions. Gaye, the daughter of Marvin Gaye, will begin shooting in Sydney, Australia, next week, joining stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne.

Mark Wahlberg will be starring in a remake of the 1969 caper The Italian Job by director F. Gary Gray. While the original picture centered on a gold heist set entirely in Europe, the modern version will begin in Italy with the robbery taking place in Los Angeles. According to Variety, Wahlberg will play career criminal Charlie Croker, who masterminds the robbery by creating L.A.’s largest traffic jam. Shooting begins Aug. 3 at Paramount Pictures.

Tube News

NBC has pulled out the big guns in the brutal battle for Nielsen’s May ratings sweeps and the 2001-02 season crown. The network confirmed that it will air its two-hour reunion special The Cosby Show: A Look Back from 9 to 11 p.m. on May 19, Variety reports. The show will be up against Fox’s two-hour The X-Files series finale, ABC’s The Practice two-hour season ender and CBS’ three-hour wrap of Survivor: Marquesas. Nielsen’s sweeps numbers help local affiliates set ad rates for the next few months, compelling networks to schedule their biggest programs during the November, February and May sweeps.

Tricon Global Restaurants Inc., who own the Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell restaurant chains, is the latest to follow the lead of Burger King and Office Depot and pull ads from FX’s cop show The Shield. The show’s lead character is a corrupt Los Angeles detective who plays as dirty as the crooks, drug dealers and murderers he busts. The show has been criticized for its vulgarity.

Music News

A controversial exhibit featuring nude paintings of Madonna was unveiled Wednesday at the Maclaurin Art Gallery, a small gallery in Scotland. Artist Peter Howson’s new collection features 10 portraits of Madonna, some of them of the pop icon in the nude. Although Madonna is a fan of Howson’s and previously posed for the artist clothed, these works are drawn from the artists’ imagination. Howson told the BBC he was disappointed that Madonna had not given him her reaction to the paintings.

Grammy-winning rapper Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, has settled a lawsuit brought against him by John Guerra, the man he allegedly assaulted for kissing his former wife Kimberly Mathers. The incident took place outside the Hot Rock Sports Bar and Music Café in Warren, Mich., in June 2000. Although neither party has admitted to any liability or wrongdoing in the settlement, both agreed that Eminem would pay Guerra $100,000 minus attorney’s fees rather than take the case to trial.

Celine Dion announced she is moving to Belgium for three months to rehearse for her to the stage next year, the AP reports. In an interview on a Belgian television show, Dion said that she had found a house in La Louviere, a gritty steel town located 30 miles south of Brussels. The 33-year-old Canadian singer is set to begin appearing at Caesar’ Palace’s new 4,000-seat coliseum theater in Las Vegas in March 2003, and her show is scheduled to run at least three years.

VH1’s annual Divas concert is moving from New York to Las Vegas, the AP reports. The concert will air live from the MGM Grand on May 23, with proceeds going to VH1’s Save the Music Foundation. This year’s headliners include Mary J. Blige, Celine Dion and Cher, who have performed in past Divas concerts. More performers will be announced later.

In Memoriam

Producer and writer Louis “Deke” Heyward died April 3 of complications from pneumonia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 81, Variety reports. Heyward wrote more than 50 motion pictures, 3,000 radio shows and a slew of television programs and novels. In 1977, Heyward won an Emmy for the television movie The Gathering and launched the television game shows Twenty-One and Tic Tac Dough. After a career that spanned more than half a century, Heyward spent his later years teaching writing and working with underprivileged children at Camp Kilpatrick in Malibu, Calif. He is survived by his wife Sandra, two children and five grandchildren.