News Roundup: Aug. 20


Top Story

The Associated Press reports Robert De Niro has filed a $1 million lawsuit Monday over a photo taken of him and actor Sean Penn blowing out birthday candles at a private party last year. The actors share the same birthday–Aug. 17–and were celebrating last year at a rooftop party in New York’s TriBeCa area when the photo was taken. Celebrity Vibe photo agency offered the photo for sale, and it has appeared in one newspaper and one national magazine, De Niro‘s lawyer told AP. The suit, which names Celebrity Vibe in the filing, claims someone sneaked into the party, while Celebrity Vibe maintains its photographer was invited.


The London Evening Standard reports Friends star Matt LeBlanc has announced plans to marry his girlfriend, Melissa McKnight, at Christmas. The pair have been engaged since November 1998.

Actor Jason Priestley remained in serious but stable condition Monday after undergoing six hours of surgery last Wednesday, reports. The actor fractured both feet and his spine Aug. 11 when his race car hit a wall at 180 mph, but his doctors have said the 32-year-old racing enthusiast is expected to make a full recovery and could start rehabilitation as early as this week. That just sounds painful, doesn’t it?


Lot 47 Films President Jeff Lipsky has resigned from the independent film distribution company he co-founded with his brother three years ago. Lot 47 has released films such as L.I.E., Scotland, PA and The Fast Runner. Variety reports he is leaving for “personal reasons,” but will remain on the company’s board.

Thanks to the success of Scooby-Doo, now there’s going to be Hong Kong Phooey. Director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour 2) will adapt the 1970s Hanna-Barbera cartoon about a clumsy dog detective who uses kung fu to stop the bad guys. It’ll be a smash, no doubt.

Tube News

American Idol producers are worried “power dialers”–so-called computer nerds with high-powered Internet connections and autodialing software–have been slamming the show’s voting system with thousands of votes, making it difficult for individuals redialing manually to get their votes through. “We know who these people are and we’re tracking them, and if it gets to a point where they’re starting to support a specific person over another, then there are steps that we have discussed that we may take at that time,” Michael Eaton, vice president of home entertainment for Freemantle Media, the show’s London-based producer, told

A porn star on the next Survivor? This could be interesting. CBS producers are defending their decision to allow porn actor Brian Heidik, who also had a guest stint on Days of Our Lives, to join the upcoming Survivor: Thailand edition.Said the network in a statement, “CBS was aware of his past film credits, but all of our survivors ultimately have the option to decide what elements of their background they do and don’t want written in their bios. Brian Heidik is certainly not the first actor to omit certain credits from his biography. While this is a part of his past, he is now a successful used-car salesman raising a family in the suburbs, and we feel he definitely brings something to the show.” What that something is, exactly, remains to be seen.

Music News

Attorneys for Courtney Love are expected to ask for another extension on Tuesday in the singer’s court dispute with her record label, Universal Music Group, as both sides continue talks to settle the case. Universal claims Love owes the company several more albums, while Love counters that the long contract terms are unrealistic.