News Roundup: Aug. 16

Top Story

UPN’s low-rated reality series Manhunt may have been faked and the $250,000 outcome rigged. Writer Peter Lance has come forward to say that the show’s producers were disappointed by the lack of sparks between the contestants during the January shoot in Hawaii and convinced 12 of the 13 contestants to do re-shoots in Los Angeles months later. In a joint statement, UPN and producer Paramount TV told Variety they “have not supported and would not support persons or practices designed to manipulate the outcome of the show.” Added “joint,” but can you confirm?


Plus-size model Emme gave birth to an 8-pound, 1-ounce baby girl, Toby Cole Aronson, on Aug. 9 after 28 hours of labor. Toby Cole is the first child for the 38-year-old Emme and her husband of 11 years, 38-year-old Phillip Aronson. The family lives in New Jersey.

In Courts

Veteran British actor Steven Berkoff, known for his roles as villains in Beverly Hills Cop and Octopussy, may be tried for rape in civil court in London after a ruling Wednesday. The assault allegedly occurred Sept. 4, 1994, according to Reuters. Berkoff maintains his innocence, and his lawyers are trying to have the case thrown out based on the fact the charges were not filed within the six-year time limit. However, it’s been ruled that the writ was filed in time and a civil case should proceed.

The “Godfather of Soul” is in trouble again. A judge Wednesday refused to throw out a $2 million lawsuit filed against singer James Brown by a woman who claims the entertainer fired her after she rejected his sexual advances. Plaintiff Lisa Agbalaya says she and other female employees were repeatedly subjected to “a pattern of discrimination and harassment” at The New James Brown Enterprises, Inc. Brown’s lawyers are maintaining Agabalaya is a disgruntled former employee looking to extort money from the singer.

Musician Paul Winter has sued the producers and composer Russell Landau of Survivor for improperly using parts of a song he recorded in 1987 for the show’s dramatic theme song “Ancient Voices.” Winter originally signed an agreement allowing Landau to use a portion of his song but now says he agreed to Landau using outtakes, not the released recording, which Winter claims is currently being used. He’s asking for $800,000 in compensation.

In General

The veteran English pop group Electric Light Orchestra has canceled plans for a North American tour, which would have been the first one in 15 years for the band, after the tepid response to their newest album, Zoom. The band had grand plans to stage a huge light show in about two dozen venues across the continent, but the album has sold only 52,000 copies since its June 12 release. “That’s like not even releasing a record when you’re at that level,” Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of concert trade publication Pollstar, told Reuters.

Janet Jackson has had to rearrange a Madison Square Garden concert date for her “All for You” tour due to a WNBA playoff game. Jackson‘s Tuesday concert has been pushed to Monday so the New York Liberty can play, but her Wednesday and Thursday dates will remain. This is the fourth time she’s had to change dates on the tour since it began in July.

Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez have signed up to perform at the 18th annual Video Music Awards Sept. 6. They will join rapper Ja Rule, rock band Staind, ‘N Sync, Missy Elliott, Alicia Keys and U2 as part of the entertainment lineup.

Luis Miguel, Alejandro Sanz and Thalia will join Nelly Furtado and Jon Secada in performing at the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards, set for Sept. 11.

Following the current reality programming trend, the Miss America pageant will be taking its cameras backstage. In one of the largest overhauls to date of the popular beauty contest, which first aired in the 1950s, viewers will watch as losing contestants get to judge the top 10 finalists live offstage in a “jury room” debate format. “Non-finalists” will cast votes on which of the top 10 will make it on to the top five.