News Roundup: Dec. 23

Top Story

An Internet reporter claims the Golden Globe-nominated film A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe deliberately leaves out gay themes present in the biography on which the film is based. The Sylvia Nasar novel chronicles the life of Princeton mathematician John Nash, played by Crowe, and includes many references to Nash’s implied bisexuality, including his 1954 arrest for indecent exposure and making sexual advances to a man in a public bathroom. According to PlanetOut, one GLAAD executive said, “It’s rather alarming in this day and age that Universal Studios and DreamWorks would find same-sex love too offensive to be depicted in a major motion picture.” Ironically, Crowe played a gay Australian football player hunting for a boyfriend in the 1994 film The Sum of Us.

In General

Photographic stills from the second Harry Potter film were reported stolen Saturday from a locked room at Leavesden Studios north of London where the film is being shot. Warner Bros., the production company behind Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, warned the media not to use the stolen pictures, but would not comment any further, AP reports.

Scottish authorities have registered an original blue, yellow, white and purple plaid tartan pattern with the Scottish Tartans Society Register to honor Madonna in thanks for the publicity they say she has brought to the Scottish Highlands, The Associated Press reports. The Scotland Tourist Board has reported a rise in the number of couples spending romantic holidays in Highland castles since Madonna and British film director Guy Ritchie tied the knot at Skibo Castle in Dornoch, Scotland, last year.

The film company which set a house on fire as part of rapper Eminem‘s upcoming movie 8 Miles has agreed to raze the abandoned house and two others at a cost of $20,000 and make a donation to the municipality that is located within Detroit. According to AP, residents of Highland Park thought the filming of a burning building would glorify a month-long arson spree that has already left many burned-out homes in the neighborhood.

Cowboy Pictures has picked up U.S. rights to the documentary Promises and is planning an aggressive grassroots push via Jewish and Arab organizations across the country, Variety reports. The picture portrays life in and around Jerusalem through the eyes of Palestinian and Israeli children who live 20 minutes apart but exist in separate worlds. The film is scheduled for release in March 2002.

In Courts

Exorcist director William Friedkin and screenwriter William Peter Blatty are suing Warner Bros. and accusing the studio of copyright violations and fraud in last year’s re-release of the 1973 horror film. Blatty and Friedkin claim Warner Bros. made false statements, including identifying the studio as the film’s author. They also claim they were not compensated for the 2000 version of The Exorcist and that the studio failed to register the film as a derivative of the original, AP reports.

Although a civil court jury found on Friday that Hard to Kill star Steven Seagal made defamatory statements about a woman who worked with him on a recording project, they declined to award her damages, AP reports. Patricia Nichols claims the actor directed inappropriate comments toward her and falsely accused her of embezzling from the production company. She plans to appeal.

Antiques dealer Russell Pritchard pleaded guilty Friday to swindling the family of Confederate General George Pickett and staging phony televised appraisals on the PBS series Antiques Roadshow. Pritchard also admitted to buying relics at artificially low prices from the descendants of Civil War officers and selling them for large profits to private dealers after assuring the families that they would go to a museum, Reuters reports.

A Massachusetts District Court judge sentenced a 17-year-old arrested for possessing a marijuana pipe to listen to Afroman’s “Because I Got High,” AP reports. Judge Nancy Dusek-Gomez told the teen Wednesday to listen to the “stupid rap song” and pay particular attention to the line, “Now, I’m a quadriplegic and I know why/Because I got high.” The judge continued the sentence for six months and said she would dismiss misdemeanor alcohol and drug charges if he completes a report on the song and stayed away from liquor and drugs.

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