News Roundup: Dec. 17

Top Story

The former lead singer of the group Big Country was found dead in a hotel room in Hawaii on Sunday, the BBC reports. Stuart Adamson, 43, was reported missing by his estranged wife last month from his home in Nashville, Tenn. In a statement on the Web site for Track Records, Adamson’s manager Ian Grant said he had no other information at the time and added: “I have just lost one of the finest people I have ever worked with or been lucky enough to know.” Adamson formed the punk rock group The Skids in the 1970s and later went on to form Big Country, which had a string of hits during the 1980s, including “In a Big Country” and ”Fields of Fire.”

In General

Not known for their discretion, British bookmakers William Hill are offering odds on which stars will walk down the aisle next. According to Sky News, Elizabeth Hurley, who recently dumped millionaire playboy Stephen Bing after a public feud over the paternity of her unborn child, has a 7-2 chance to marry ex-boyfriend Hugh Grant. William Hill’s odds also list Penelope Cruz as the favorite to exchange vows with Tom Cruise before the end of this year, while Gladiator star Russell Crowe is the favorite to marry Nicole Kidman by Dec. 31, 2001.

Bruce Willis will star in Revolution Studios’ $70 million movie Man of War, to be shot from March through mid-June in Hawaii, The Associated Press reports. In the film, Willis will lead a Special Forces unit into Africa to save a doctor before civil war reaches the small village where she is doing humanitarian work. Willis will star alongside Monica Bellucci.

Vivendi Universal announced Monday it is buying the entertainment assets of USA Networks Inc. in a stock-and-cash deal worth $10.3 billion. The deal will combine the USA and Sci-Fi cable channels as well as the TV production operation responsible for Law and Order and Jerry Springer with Vivendi’s own Hollywood-based Universal Studios. Vivendi, a former water utility, acquired Universal from Canada’s Seagram a year ago and hopes to expand its presence in the United States to compete with the likes of AOL Time Warner, Walt Disney and Viacom, AP reports.

Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman made their way to the top of the British music charts with their cover of Frank Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid,” Reuters reports. The success of the single gave Williams a double No. 1 with his album Swing When You’re Winning topping the charts for the fourth consecutive week.

The Walt Disney-owned ABC and ESPN have reportedly reached a four-year deal to carry NBA basketball games starting with the 2002-03 season. According to The Hollywood Reporter, ESPN will pay a reported $1.6 billion for the TV rights to 50 games a season, outbidding longtime incumbent NBC.

Former M*A*S*H star Loretta Swit is set to star in the West End production of The Vagina Monologues in London on Monday, Reuters reports. The play is a collection of different women’s stories and experiences involving their genitalia. Swit told the Guardian Newspaper, “It’s really time for us to grow up and discover our vaginas. Men are very proud of their genitals. Women’s have been in hiding all these years, but it has to stop.”

ABC has committed to 13 episodes of a new quiz show tentatively titled The Chair. According to Variety, the show requires contestants to control their heart rate while they answer general knowledge for money. The network is already searching for a host for the series, which is set to start sometime in 2002.

David Bowie has quit the Virgin Record label and set up an independent music company, Reuters reports. The new label, ISO, will release Bowie‘s upcoming album, which Virgin had scheduled for release March 12. Bowie has worked with many record labels in the past including RCA Records and EMI America. According to Bowie‘s Web site, his business manager sent a letter to Virgin on Thursday saying: “We respectfully decline your attempts to negotiate a new contract.”

Dame Edna, played by Australian cross-dresser Barry Humphries, will join the Fox television series Ally McBeal in the recurring role of Claire Otoms, an eccentric woman who is a plaintiff in a class-action suit against the nation’s phone companies over nuisance sales calls. Reuters reports that Edna’s addition will come after the Jan. 14 arrival of Jon Bon Jovi.


Black Hawk Down and In the Bedroom led the nominees for the American Film Institute Awards with five nominations each, AP reports. A Beautiful Mind, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Man Who Wasn’t There, Mulholland Drive, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and Gosford Park had four nominations apiece. The first-ever AFI Awards include nominees in 12 categories and winners will be announced Jan. 5 in a live broadcast on CBS.