News Roundup: April 25

Top Story

The self-proclaimed King of Pop, Michael Jackson, joined with ex-President Bill Clinton to raise money for the Democratic National Committee’s voter registration effort to the tune of $2.7 million. Jacko treated the 1,400 people in the crowd at the Apollo Theater to a brief performance before Slick Willie addressed the adoring throng. Tony Bennett and the punctuation-challenged k.d. lang also performed.


Matt Damon, following in the footsteps of thesps such as Nicole Kidman, Kevin Spacey and Daryl Hannah, will star in a West End (London) theatrical production. Damon, Casey Affleck and Summer Phoenix will take over the lead roles from Hayden Christensen (Star Wars), Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Paquin in This Is Our Youth.

Goodness gracious, great balls of fire! Rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, 66, is getting divorced for the sixth time. According to a press release, Lewis and his wife of 17 years, Kerrie, have split amicably.

In the Biz

Criminals, beware: Sgt. Joe Friday is making a comeback to the small screen. Dick Wolf, the brains behind TV’s successful Law and Order franchise, is reported to write the pilot and serve as executive producer for an updated primetime version of Dragnet.

The producer/director of last year’s charity gala America: A Tribute to Heroes and Not Another Teen Movie, Joel Gallen, is in final talks with MGM to handle–and perhaps helm–Romantic Comedy, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Gallen is also the creator/producer of the MTV Movie Awards.

Tube News

The View‘s Meredith Vieira is the frontrunner to host the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, The Los Angeles Times reports. Vieira, a former reporter for 60 Minutes, has allegedly been pursued by other networks to boost other struggling projects, most notably CBS’ The Early Show.

Peter Jennings may want to rethink his retirement strategy. According to Daily Variety, an insider says Jennings, host of ABC’s World News Tonight, should be expecting a drop in pay from his current salary of $10 million per year, although another insider was cited as saying a pay freeze, not cut, would be in effect.

Ozzy is a bona-fide hit! While bat-biting shock-rocker Ozzy Osbourne‘s music career may be on the wane, his TV career is on the rise. Tuesday’s showing of The Osbournes drew 7.8 million viewers, the most ever for an MTV series in its 20-year history. The numbers also give rise to ABC’s demise: MTV’s viewer tally matched that of Sunday’s The Practice re-run.

Speaking of ABC, it seems the alphabet network is ready to test the audience loyalty of surprise hit The Bachelor. Having risen to number 15 among 18- to 49-year-old viewers, ABC is airing a two-hour special on Thursday night, opposite such ratings stalwarts as NBC’s Friends and CBS’ CSI. Apparently, Enron’s bigwigs have found themselves new work as TV execs for ABC.

Four new series–The Elite; I, Detective; Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privilege and Justice; and Body of Evidence: From the Case Files of Dayle Hinman–have been ordered by Court TV for primetime airing, starting this summer. All four revolve around criminal investigations and forensics, the staples of already-popular TV shows Law and Order and CSI.

Music News

Pop diva Jewel, full name Jewel Kilcher, sustained a broken collarbone, broken rib and contusions when she was thrown from a horse Wednesday, The Associated Press reports. Atlantic Records co-president Ron Shapiro said Jewel is an experienced rider and was vacationing at her boyfriend’s ranch south of Dallas, Texas, when the accident occurred. Jewel will have to cancel a scheduled promotional tour for her new album and may miss a European tour slated to start May 10.

Rockers Alanis Morissette and John Mellencamp have no such health worries. Their respective North American tours were announced to start May 1 and July 3.


Also according to the AP, comedienne and talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell has been awarded the 2002 Montblanc Arts Patronage Award for her tireless efforts in encouraging the public to experience and patronize live theater. Each year, the Montblanc Cultural Foundation awards 10 individuals in 10 countries an honorific of $15,000 for their respective charities, based on their efforts to advance culture and arts.