News Roundup: Aug. 30


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The Associated Press reports Justin Timberlake says despite what the tabloids have reported, he hasn’t been making out with women in bars since his breakup with Britney Spears.”That’s the thing I laugh at–and sometimes I cry about it, too,” the ‘N Sync singer told Us Weekly for its Sept. 9 issue. “It’s happened for at least six months now, this whole image of everybody portraying me as a playboy. That’s not me. When I go out, I go out with my group of friends….Any girl who approaches me in a club and tries to win me over, I’m not gonna go for it.” The two pop idols split in March after four years as pop’s most high-profile couple. Since then, he’s been linked with Janet Jackson and dancer Jenna Dewan, but he insists he is single. “Make out in a club? I didn’t do that when I was with Britney,” Timberlake said. “Why would I do it with somebody I just met?”


Robert Blake is convinced he’ll be acquitted in the shooting death of his wife and will one day return to his young daughter “because I didn’t do it,” the actor said from jail Thursday, AP reports. Speaking from behind glass at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles, the star of the 1970s TV show Baretta talked about his relationship with wife Bonny Lee Bakley and his determination to be acquitted and “walk into the sunset” with his 2-year-old daughter Rose. He said he held no hostility toward his wife and credited Bakley, whom he met in a jazz club and later inadvertently got pregnant, with reviving his spirit, and he acknowledged that Rose became the focus of his life. “I had something to live for.”

Don’t expect any cosmic concerts from ‘N Sync star-turned-space tourist hopeful Lance Bass, who said he wants to use his voice aboard the international space station not for singing but for inspiring a new generation of astronauts and scientists, the AP reports. “The educational aspect of this whole mission is what inspires me the most,” Bass said Thursday. “The education that I’m going to be doing is more like physics studies on video, just being able to talk live with people down in their schools on the ham radio. Just letting them…see what it’s like to be in zero-gravity, to know what it’s like to train to become a cosmonaut/astronaut.” As for space motion sickness, “If I get sick, I get sick…but I have a stomach of steel.”


Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard will replace Liam Neeson in Morgan Creek Prods.’ Horror prequel Exorcist: The Beginning, The Hollywood Reporter reports. The project traces the story of Father Merrin (Skarsgard) and his first encounter with the devil while doing missionary work in post-World War II Africa. While there, Merrin’s post-war experiences cause him to lose his faith, and he fights to save his beliefs when he meets the devil. A new production schedule conflicts with Neeson‘s commitment to the British film Love Actually.

Variety reports that Brad Pitt has jumped ship on director Darren Aronofsky‘s The Fountain and will likely land at another Warner Bros. project, Troy, playing Greek hero Achilles for director Wolfgang Petersen. The actor apparently expressed concerns about the complex Fountain script, which Aronofsky cowrote. This is the latest problem The Fountain has had: the studio temporarily pulled the plug when the budget crept up, the script had development troubles and co-star Cate Blanchett became pregnant.


Just after CBS announced its planned reality-series revival of The Beverly Hillbillies, Variety reports Fox Broadcasting said it is developing a nonfiction comedy based on another hickfest, Green Acres. The show will take a rich, upper-class family or person–maybe a celebrity–and give them a new spartan lifestyle, most likely in the South. Cameras will follow the upper crust folks as they try to get a job, buy groceries and fit in with average Americans. “I see a limo with a U-Haul attached,” said Green Acres executive producer Jon Murray. “It’s like when the first George Bush went to the supermarket and (apparently) didn’t understand what a scanner was.”

American Idol fever was hot, hot, hot Wednesday as the Fox TV talent search narrowed its list of contenders to two, Reuters reports. In a development that fans called a no-brainer, fuchsia-haired finalist Nikki McKibbin was voted off the show, leaving Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini to vie for a major-label recording contract. An estimated 16.7 million people–the show’s biggest audience yet–tuned in to see Nikki get nixed, making Idol the most-watched show of the night and likely the most-watched show of the week, according to data-tracking firm Nielsen Media Research. Next Tuesday marks the show’s singing finale, followed by Wednesday’s two-hour finale broadcast live from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre.