News Roundup: Feb. 7


Top Story

A man seen prowling around the grounds of pop singer Britney Spears‘ home in the Hollywood Hills was held briefly by private security guards on Monday but later released when Spears did not press charges, police told Reuters Wednesday.

When the incident took place, Spears had been in New York City receiving the “Fun, Fearless Female of the Year” award from Cosmopolitan magazine. In an interview with the TV show Extra Wednesday, Spears said the home’s security system had been turned off inadvertently during the weekend, “but they got the guy.” Spears also added, “it makes you appreciate your security and the people that are protecting you.”

In General

Black Hawk Down star Ewan McGregor has decided to let life imitate art. He’ll fly with his brother, a Royal Air Force pilot, in an RAF Tornado GR1 jet, one of Britain’s fastest warplanes, to raise money for children’s hospices in Scotland. Brave lad.

Director Lasse Hallstrom has dropped out of the Universal/Miramax drama Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe and has committed to helming Miramax’s screen adaptation of David Liss’ novel A Conspiracy of Paper instead. The story centers around the inception of the stock exchange in 18th-century London. Hallstrom switched gears when production on Cinderella was delayed.

Ed Harris will be joining Nicole Kidman, Anthony Hopkins and Gary Sinise in Miramax/Lake Entertainment’s The Human Stain. Based on the novel by Philip Roth, the story centers on a light-skinned black professor (Hopkins) who passed himself off as Jewish for many years. Let’s hope the NAACP doesn’t get upset that Hopkins is playing a light-skinned black man.

John Cusack will be starring in the new thriller I.D. with Amanda Peet and Ray Liotta, a whodunit revolving around a group of 10 strangers who find themselves running from a desert storm into a Bates-like motel, where they are then picked off one by one by an unknown killer. Sounds like these people are having an extraordinarily bad day.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is puzzled by the brief disappearance of Whoopi Goldberg‘s Oscar–and frankly, so are we. Apparently the little gold-plated guy was being shipped Friday via UPS to be refurbished by the Academy and was stolen sometime during the process. The Oscar turned up later in a Los Angeles International Airport trash bin and is now safe in a vault. Goldberg said she won’t ever let the Oscar leave her house again.

Looks like Saturday Night Live alumni will be dominating the NBC 2002 fall comedy development slate. The network has greenlit several half-hour pilots, executive produced by such SNL players as creator Lorne Michaels and Adam Sandler. The network is also looking at casting old-school favorite Chevy Chase and Norm MacDonald.

Late night talk show host Conan O’Brien may be looking at a $8 million annual paycheck to stay on the air with NBC for another four years. If finalized, he’ll be the highest paid host in the 12:35 a.m. time slot. Not bad for a guy everyone thought would fail miserably when he first went on the air in 1993.

Newswoman Greta Van Susteren told People magazine she decided to have blepharoplasty (more commonly known as an eyelift) on a whim, to do something just for her. “It’s the first time since I was 17 that I had a month off and no responsibilities,” she said. Van Susteren will be the new host of Fox News Channel’s show On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.

Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, stars of the hit Broadway show The Producers, will be bowing out of the musical after playing to packed audiences for a year. Lane, who won the Tony for best actor, will be replaced by British actor Henry Goodman, while a replacement has yet to be cast for Broderick.

The U.S. Department of Labor has launched a full-scale investigation into the Screen Actors Guild election debacle last November, where poll administrators and union staffers allegedly mishandled ballots. A call for a new election was passed by a guild committee, but this investigation could result in a ruling on whether a rerun of the SAG election is actually necessary.

Country singer Alan Jackson’s album Drive is still No. 1 on the album charts, with Creed’s Weathered and Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory coming in at second and third, respectively. Mary J. Blige’s No More Drama jumped from the 28th spot to No. 10.

French-Canadian diva Celine Dion launched her first new song in two years. “A New Day Has Come” was released for radio play on Wednesday, and her new album will reach stores March 26.