News Roundup: Feb. 6


Top Story

The Berlin International Film Festival, one of the top three festivals in Europe, kicked off Wednesday with a homegrown film by German director Tom Tykwer. Heaven stars Cate Blanchett as an English teacher who tries to kill a heroin dealer who has been selling drugs to schoolchildren by planting a bomb in his office, killing four innocent people. Filmed before the September 11, it received scant approval from the 1,000 journalists who saw the press screening, Reuters reports.

In General

Despite leaving the show in December, Eriq La Salle may still be making the rounds in ER. The actor, who plays the role of Dr. Benton on the NBC medical drama, will reportedly appear in a late-season story line. No details about the episode content have been revealed, USA Today reports.

Influential writer Norman Mailer told Britain’s Daily Telegraph Wednesday that patriotism can go too far, calling America “the real religion in this country.” Mailer added that if anyone had benefited from the attacks on Sept. 11, it was America’s right wing. “If I were still a conspiratorialist, I would believe they’d done it,” he said.

Nicolas Cage, 38, and Lisa Marie Presley, 34, ended their 10-month relationship two weeks ago, USA Today reports. According to their reps, the two “hope to remain friendly.”

In the Bedroom and Memento have been ruled ineligible for Writers Guild of America honors because the writers weren’t members of the WGA at the time the films were made. The WGA contends that while it it’s difficult to pass up wonderful screenwriting, their objective is to protect writers.

CBS will air a two-hour special March 10 featuring exclusive video shot inside the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. According to The Associated Press, the material was caught on tape by French filmmakers Gedeon and Jules Naudet, who were in lower Manhattan shooting a documentary on New York City firefighters.

As NBC begins its coverage of the Salt Lake City Olympics Friday, the red, white and blue on-air peacock–changed after the Sept. 11 attacks–will go back to its original clear hue, Variety reports. Network executives didn’t want to keep such a visibly pro-USA symbol on the air during an international event that’s meant to promote global unity.

Director Frank Oz (The Score) has signed to shoot his first TV pilot for ABC, Variety reports. The pilot for The Funkhausers, which revolves around an eccentric yet tight-knit family, was written by Emmy-winning writers/producers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein (The Simpsons).

Nathan Lane, who is currently starring in the hit Broadway comedy The Producers, has signed on to a project at CBS. Party, a comedy about a passé TV star who wins a seat in Congress, is expected to get a pilot order from the network once it finalizes a deal with 20th Century Fox TV. Lane‘s contract with The Producers is up in March.

Singer James Brown testified Tuesday that he never touched a former employee who is suing him for alleged sexual harassment and wrongful termination, reports Reuters. The plaintiff, Lisa Agbalaya, 36, has accused Brown of making unwanted sexual advances and then firing her when she filed a complaint about his behavior. She is seeking $1 million in damages.

1980s pop idol Tiffany will appear in the April issue of Playboy. According to Reuters, the spread was designed to change her image from that of a 15-year-old performer to a 30-year-old wife and mother.

Singer Johnny Cash, who is currently in Jamaica working on a new album, turns 70 on Feb. 26. To commemorate his birthday, many album releases are in the works including, The Essential Johnny Cash, a retrospective look at his career, and the American Milestones series, which will release five classic Cash albums from 1959 to 1967.

Singer-songwriter Graham Nash celebrated his 60th birthday Saturday at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, CNN reports. More than 150 guests attended, including Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Bette Midler. Midler, along with a dozen other women, presented a musical tribute to Nash with “As Time Goes By.” Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s three-month Tour of America is slated to begin Wednesday in Detroit.

Rock ‘n’ roll legend Little Richard will be inducted into the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Hall of Fame on Feb. 23, Reuters reports. The Hall of Fame Award is given to artists who have excelled throughout their careers and have been creative and innovative forces in their respective fields.

Cult sci-fi actor George Nader, best known for his starring role in the kitsch sci-fi classic Robot Monster, has died at the age of 80 from pneumonia at the Motion Picture Country Home, near Los Angeles. Nader was also well known as one of the inner circle of late actor Rock Hudson.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and AOL Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, to promote the launch of his new action drama Collateral Damage. The film opens nationwide Feb. 8.