News Roundup: Feb. 3


Top Story

Bono, Irish rock band U2’s outspoken lead singer, was one of the key–and, of course, more exciting–participants at the World Economic Forum in New York this past week. He was there as a voice for the world’s poorer nations, for which Bono has been tirelessly campaigning for many years. He was trying to seek common ground among the conservative U.S. politicians and some of the world’s richest men. Of course, the rock star recognized the irony of his own presence.

“The great thing about hanging out with Republicans is that it’s very unhip for both of us. There’s a parity of pain here,” Bono said at a news conference Saturday, referring to his newfound conservative party friends, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates and U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill.

In General

Asia launched its first MTV Asia Awards Saturday, honoring their own homegrown talent. Some artists who picked up awards included Hong Kong singer Sammi Cheng, Philippines favorite Regine Velasquez and martial arts superstar Jackie Chan. Pop singer Mandy Moore and ex-Boyzone front man Ronan Keating hosted the event.

The English mystery The Others took top honors at Spain’s Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences awards, the country’s equivalent to the Oscars. It took eight awards, including best film and best director. Even though directed by Spanish Alejandro Amenabar, many Spanish filmmakers were upset by the film’s recognition.

Richard Gere is doing his part for the people of Tibet. He will speak at Germany’s parliament in April to discuss Himalayan human rights and further his fight against Chinese rule there. A devoted Buddhist and friend of the Dalai Lama, Gere has been actively protesting against China for their religious and cultural repression in the Himalayan region.

Musical theater composer Stephen Sondheim and his partner John Weidman settled a lawsuit against producer Scott Rudin and regained the sole rights to the musical Gold!. The Broadway show is about the 19th-century adventures and scams of brothers Wilson and Addison Minzer and will now move forward as planned.

Just when you thought it was safe…Canadian pop diva Celine Dion told Barbara Walters on ABC’s 20/20 that she is ready to make a comeback. The singer has taken the last two years off to live a normal life and have a child. Starting next year, Dion will appear five nights a week for three years at Caesar’s Palace hotel in Las Vegas for a reported $100 million.

The 16-year-old Robert Iler, who plays sulky teen A.J. Soprano on the hit HBO series The Sopranos, refused a no-jail misdemeanor deal from prosecutors. He is being charged with felony robbery for mugging two teens for $40 last July. Apparently, to cinch the deal, Iler would have to admit in court that he is indeed guilty, something he is not willing to do at this time.

Since the horrors of Sept. 11, contemporary Christian music sales are on the rise. Inspirational bands such as Plus One, Third Day, Jars of Clay and Christian pop singer Jaci Velasquez are topping the charts. “We all grew up in the church and we knew that God had given us a gift, whether it’s to sing or whether to play instruments musically,” said Plus One band member Jason Perry. “We wanted to be a part of something that we love, but also to bring glory to Jesus Christ.”

A Ft.Lauderdale, Fla. judge sent actor Brad Renfro (Ghost World) to jail Tuesday after he turned himself in for a probation violation. Renfro was serving probation for trying to steal a yacht in August 2000 and violated that probation when he got arrested Jan. 14 in Knoxville, Tenn. for driving without a license and public intoxication.

International German star Hildegard Knef, best known for starring as a concentration camp survivor in the 1946 Murderers Are Among Us, the first post-WWII German movie, died of a lung infection Friday in Berlin. She was 76.