News Roundup: Feb. 26


Top Story

The Eagles, Billy Joel, No Doubt, Eddie Vedder and the Dixie Chicks are just some of the music artists demanding better relationships with record labels. To that end, those artists will be performing at four concerts in Los Angeles with proceeds to benefit the two-year-old Recording Artists Coalition, which wants to be a watchdog agency for all musicians and was founded by Eagles frontman Don Henley. has learned that the bloated recording industry establishment hired Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman to be its spokesman. In his first act as spokesman, Neuman told reporters: “What, me worry?”

In General

King of Pop Michael Jackson won’t be performing at the Grammys, although he made plans to do so last month. Despite the fact he refused to perform at the American Music Awards in January so he would be allowed to perform at the upcoming Grammys, the awards show sponsor–the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences–confirmed Jackson won’t be among the entertainers. No word is forthcoming from Jackson‘s Neverland compound, but we think the King of Pop is still pouting after Bubbles told Jackson he likes Macaulay Culkin better.

Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf the Wizard from Lord of the Rings) told BBC TV Monday that his “money is absolutely on Lord of the Rings” to win the Academy Award for best picture. It’s rumored that evil Sauron the Dark Lord has bet all his money on his vision for Middle-earth: Moulin Rouge.

From the world of second, third and fourth chances, self-destructive Robert Downey Jr. is set to star in The Singing Detective, a Mel Gibson-produced film based on the BBC series of the same name. Michael Gambon originally starred as the title protagonist, who has a high fever that destroys his perception of reality. Downey should be perfect for this part: He knows all about altered mental states.

Director James Cameron (Spider-Man) is joining other celebs in the annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in Long Beach, which benefits a program for a children’s hospital in Long Beach and Orange County. Frankly, after what happened in Titanic, we’re surprised Toyota would let Cameron pilot anything bigger than a tricycle.

First Matthew McConaughey gets hitched, and now he’s about to be ditched. The co-star of The Wedding Planner is in negotiations to return to romantic comedy, as McConaughey is up to star opposite Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. The movie really wants to see made is, of course, How to Lose Your Mother-in-Law in 10 Days–now that would be a box office hit.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is celebrating 50 years of rule, and England’s throwing a big concert in her honor: two of them, in fact. Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Paul McCartney and opera star Kiri Te Kanawa are just some of the headliners set to fete the Queen for her Golden Jubilee with two open-air concerts in June. is sad to report that Britain’s own Herman’s Hermits isn’t on the list of performers.

West Wing producer Aaron Sorkin told The New Yorker magazine that “The media is waving pom-poms, and the entire public is being polite” with regard to President Bush, as the media have laid off “the bubblehead jokes” long enough.

A spokesman for Malcolm in the Middle star Jane Kaczmarek insists that it was a migraine, and not a salary dispute, that caused Kaczmarek to walk off the set of the Fox hit show two weeks ago. Kaczmarek has since returned to the set..

The personal writings of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain have been purchased by the Riverhead publishing label for close to $4 million. The 23 notebooks contain close to 800 pages of Cobain’s notes, and fans hope there’s some clue as to why the popular singer committed suicide in 1994 at the age of 27. (As if waking up next to Courtney Love each morning isn’t enough to send most men over the edge.)

Fred Durst, lead singer for band Limp Bizkit, has agreed to testify–either by written statements or via satellite video–at the Australia inquest of a 15-year-old girl who suffered a heart attack during a stage rush at a Bizkit concert in Sydney and died five days later. Durst said he was too busy to attend in person.

Diva Celine Dion‘s self-proclaimed retirement is at an end. The Canadian singer will perform at L.A.’s Kodak Theater this Sunday as part of a CBS TV special, along with Destiny’s Child. Dion also signed a reported $100 million contract to perform at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace five nights a week for three years. Looks like Wayne Newton will be facing some stiff competition.

Being a Hollywood star doesn’t mean much in London, but being ex-President Clinton’s daughter seems to count much more. Chelsea Clinton, 21, was the hit of the The Shipping News premiere Monday night, outshining some of Tinseltown’s luminaries. Clinton signed autographs and chatted with fans. ( has learned that some female fans really talked to Chelsea only to get her dad’s mobile phone number.)

Johnny Cash is nearly 70, but is feeling better than he has in a while. “I’ve felt really good these last few months, better than I’ve felt in the last three years,” Cash told the AP. Cash is currently working on finishing an album, American IV.

Warning: “ER” Spoiler

If they’re such good doctors, how come people keep dying? is reporting that Dr. Mark Greene’s (Anthony Edwards) exit from ER will be occasioned by his passing due to a recurrence of his brain tumor. Greene isn’t the first major character to be killed off: Med student Lucy Knight was brutally stabbed to death a few years ago. Edwards‘ departure leaves Noah Wyle the sole remaining original cast member who’s been on the show continuously since day one.