Napster, the wildly popular Web site that allowed users to swap music files for free, will finally have a pay version ready this year despite its legal pummeling by the record industry. Thomas Middelhoff, chief executive of media giant and Napster backer Bertelsmann, said in his speech at the two-day Babelsburg 2001 conference, “Out of the onetime pirate, a business will be born. Of course, Napster will be put into a legal form that protects the rights of artists and producers.” Napster will be joining other fee-based music services such as Pressplay, backed by Vivendi Universal and Sony and independent distribution companies FullAudio and Uplister.
Anne Heche, the former girlfriend of comedian Ellen Degeneres, will marry cameraman Coley Laffoon on Saturday. A friend of Anne’s told a British news service, “Anne’s days as a lesbian have been purged from her memory…Anne’s wedding is a celebration of her re-entry into the world of heterosexuality.”
One of Spain’s best-known actors, Francisco Rabal, died in Bordeaux, France, Wednesday after the plane he was traveling in made an emergency landing to allow him to receive medical treatment. He was in his 70s. The cause of death has not been released.
American Pie star Tara Reid testified Tuesday in the grand jury hearing against publicist Elizabeth Grubman, who allegedly backed her sport utility vehicle into a crowd of people outside a trendy nightclub in the Hamptons on July 7, injuring several. The 26-year-old Reid was reportedly with Grubman at a party right before the crash. Grubman is being charged with assault and reckless endangerment.
The lawsuit filed by the American Italian Defense Association against the popular HBO series The Sopranos was brought to a Cook County Circuit courtroom Wednesday. The lawyer for the AIDA urged the judge to issue a declaratory judgement condemning the show as a violation of a clause in the Illinois Constitution guaranteeing individual dignity. AOL Time Warner, Inc.’s attorney, however, urged the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that “courts are not suppose to adjudicate the content of television programs,” according to Reuters.
George Harrison’s bid to stop his former business manager and partner from declaring bankruptcy was thrown out by Judge Barry Schermer of a St. Louis court circuit who refused the claim that the musician was too ill to give a local deposition. Harrison is trying to protect a settlement of $11 million that he won against Denis O’Brien, his business manager, for alleged mismanagement. Harrison will appeal the ruling.
Superstar Nicole Kidman arrived in style at the Venice Film Festival Thursday, dragging along six bodyguards, 22 pieces of luggage and reportedly getting a speeding ticket on her way to her hotel. The Italian newspapers had a field day as paparazzi pursued Kidman across the canals, desperate to get any tidbits from the redheaded actress about her three-week-old divorce from Tom Cruise. Kidman is at the festival to promote her new film The Others.
To generate excitement for the third installment of its hit reality series, CBS will air an hour-long Survivor special Thursday Oct. 4 at 8 p.m., one week before Survivor 3: Africa bows in the same time slot. Details for the show are still being worked out but apparently the special will focus on how to play the game and will give a preview of Survivor 3.
Michael Jackson‘s much-anticipated return to the music world with his new single “You Rock My World” has not been getting the wild reaction hoped for, according to many station programmers. Dave Morales, music director for KHKS-FM in Dallas, told Reuters, “We got the single, we heard it and put it on the air…and it was just sort of there. We’re not getting any more repeat requests for it.” However, for the “You Rock My World” video, Jackson apparently has snagged Marlon Brando and the cast of the The Sopranos. Brando stepped in when actor Robert De Niro had to back out. The video will also feature Benicio Del Toro and Chris Tucker.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are making a comeback with a $40-$60 million CGI feature film with John Woo and Terence Chang producing. A new animated Saturday morning TV series, a live-action miniseries to air on the Hallmark Channel and a series of next-generation video games are also expected to be developed.