News Roundup: Feb. 28


Top Story

While the dark side will almost certainly grow stronger in Star Wars: Episode II – The Attack of the Clones, the film itself will still be a vehicle for good. Eleven sneak previews (in 11 different cities nationwide) for Episode II have been announced, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting local children’s charities. The previews will be held May 12, four days before the official release of Episode II. A Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox release quoted a pleased Chewbacca as saying “MMMRRAAAAHHHM.” We couldn’t agree more.

In General

Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient) is set to star in the romantic comedy The Chambermaid opposite super-sexy Jennifer Lopez. (To quote famous philosopher Homer Simpson, “Mmm, Jennifer Lopez.”) Ms. Lopez will play the titular chambermaid who becomes romantically involved with Fiennes’ politician character. (As if Jennifer would clean her own bathroom, much less someone else’s.)

New Jersey’s Bergen County Prosecutor William Schmidt, head of the victims’ family advisory board for his county, has requested that CBS not show graphic footage from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in its planned March 10 documentary on the subject. Writing on behalf of the United Way, American Red Cross and other groups, Schmidt said it would disrupt the healing process. In related news, scientists have observed that the ostrich’s penchant for sticking its head in sand in times of danger really doesn’t help.

During her routine at an Ovarian Cancer Research benefit, soon-to-be ex-talk show host Rosie O’Donnell proudly proclaimed, “I’m a dyke!” the USA Today reports. Wanting to shed her “nice” label, O’Donnell later ripped on Anne Heche at Carolines Comedy Club in NYC. Lampooning Heche‘s interview with Barbara Walters, in which Heche admitted she was “possessed,” O’Donnell attacked with “She couldn’t just say, ‘I was a lesbian for two years, it didn’t work out for me’?” We bow to the master.

Not-so-nice Jewish boy Al Goldstein, publisher of lurid Screw magazine, was convicted of six counts (and acquitted of six more counts) of aggravated harassment for graphically tongue-lashing with expletives an employee who had just quit. Our New York City correspondent, covering the trial in Brooklyn, filed this report: “I can’t f***ing believe they f***ing convicted his a** for some s****y curses. This is f***ing NYC, after all!”

Five former Screen Actors Guild presidents have publicly excoriated current SAG CEO Bob Pisano for jettisoning Lance Simmens, the now former government relations director. Ed Asner, William Daniels, Charlton Heston, Howard Keel and Dennis Weaver sent an open letter to all SAG members complaining that “Mr. Pisano and [SAG president] Melissa Gilbert have put their own agenda forward.” Pisano and Gilbert were unavailable for comment, other than to say they really enjoyed Dennis Weaver‘s recent turn as a guest voice on The Simpsons.

Despite a U.S. Senate threat to impose government legislation, the computer industry is asking the government to allow private negotiations to continue on how best to safeguard movies with the advent of digital TV. Senator Fritz Hollings, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and other legislators are frustrated with the stalled transition to digital TV. (Methinks they shouldn’t have bought those high-priced, new-fangled HDTV sets from Circuit City just yet. No wonder they’re frustrated.)