News Roundup: Dec. 4

Top Story

Pop singer Britney Spears has officially left her teenage years behind her. She celebrated her 20th birthday with her friends and family at the Italian restaurant Solaia in Englewood, N.J., Sunday night, enjoying food, ambiance–and a male stripper. Sitting with her mother and 10-year-old sister Jamie, Ms. Spears giggled and blushed through a steamy dance by hunky stripper Steven Peters. “She told me, ‘This is the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten!'” Peters told Although her boyfriend, ‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake, was in Las Vegas rehearsing for the Billboard Music Awards, the singer talked to him on the phone while opening his gifts–Baccarat crystal glasses, a baby-blue teddy bear and silver candelabras.


Oscar winner Julia Roberts and music maven Madonna were the only two superstars to make The Hollywood Reporter‘s list of the 50 most influential women in show business, ranked No. 3 and 42, respectively. Universal Pictures chairman of production Stacey Snider ranked No.1, while Sherry Lansing, Paramount Pictures Motion Picture Group chairman, followed in the number two spot.

Kevin Spacey and Drew Barrymore were awarded with Star of the Year honors at the 61st annual Golden Apple Awards on Sunday. The Hollywood Women’s Press Club hosted the luncheon. Sour Apple award recipient Jerry Springer, however, was a no-show.


Rock ‘n’ roll lyricist Kal Mann, who co-wrote such classic songs as Elvis Presley’s “Teddy Bear” and Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again,” died of Alzheimer’s disease last Wednesday in Pompano Beach, Fla. He was 84.


Carol Burnett wed Brian Miller, a percussionist who is also a music contractor for the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, a few days before her CBS special aired Nov. 26, her spokeswoman told People. This is Burnett’s third marriage.

In Court

Mark Wahlberg is being sued by his former bodyguard, Leonard Taylor, for $2 million, Taylor’s lawyer told Reuters Monday. Taylor alleges the actor assaulted and beat him outside a lower Manhattan restaurant on Nov. 16. A spokesman for Wahlberg declined comment.

A U.S. District Court judge in Michigan reduced a $19 million judgement awarded to a Detroit publishing house for copyright infringement of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Jingle All the Way, ruling that “the bulk of the award was supportable neither by law nor in fact.” Writer Brian Alan Webster and Murray Hill Publications had sued 20th Century Fox, claiming they stole the idea from Webster’s screenplay Could This Be Christmas.

In General

British actress Elizabeth Hurley‘s ex-beau, Steve Bing, is questioning his paternity of Hurley’s baby, which she announced she was carrying last month. He released a statement Monday saying they were not in an exclusive relationship when she became pregnant but, “if indeed I am the father, I will be an extremely involved and responsible parent.”

Nathan Lane has signed on to star in a biopic of the late comedian Jackie Gleason for Mirage Enterprises, written by Rob Festinger (In the Bedroom). No director has yet been attached.

RealNetworks Inc. and three of the leading record labels–Warner Music, EMI Group and Bertelsmann’s BMG–will launch their online subscription venture MusicNet Tuesday. Subscribers will be able to get 100 Webcast sources and 100 downloads a month from a selection of over 75,000 songs.

DreamWorks’ smash animated hit Shrek looks to be the top-selling DVD of all time, having sold 5.5 million copies and raking in an estimated $110 million since its Nov. 2 release date.