After 14 years at the company, Tommy Mottola announced Thursday he has stepped down from his post as Sony Music chairman and chief executive to start his own music label. Mottola, best known for discovering and signing Mariah Carey–whom he later married and divorced–had been in contract negotiations with Sony for several months. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mottola was seeking a five-year renewal to his contract, which was due to expire next year, but when his bid was turned down he decided to leave and form his own record company. Sony is expected to be a partner in the venture and is letting Mottola out of his contract early. “I have been thinking about taking up this new challenge for about a year and really made the decision to go forward only recently,” Mottola said in a statement, adding that the focus of his new venture is to create “a total entertainment company” that will cover music and branding opportunities. Before joining the company in 1987 when it was still CBS Records, Mottola managed artists such as Hall & Oates, Carly Simon and John Mellencamp. Andrew Lack, NBC president and COO, has been tapped to replace Mottola.
Friends star Courteney Cox and husband David Arquette are coming to the defense of actor Paul Reubens, who was charged in November with a misdemeanor count of possessing child pornography. According to Reuters, Cox and Arquette told the syndicated show Extra that they had seen Reubens‘ erotica collection and said it was harmless and kitschy. “Paul has never been interested in anything improper involving children, or sexually. He doesn’t deserve this,” Arquette said.
Hugh Grant is among the 1,000 new entries in the latest edition of Who’s Who, Britain’s bible of the rich and famous, Reuters reports. The actor lists football and singing among his hobbies and reveals two middle names–John and Mungo–in the 2003 edition to be published Friday. The book has been published annually since 1849 and lists more than 32,000 autobiographies of important folk in British society. Actress Emily Watson also made this year’s edition.
Former Baywatch star Yasmine Bleeth discusses her addiction for the first time in the latest issue of Glamour magazine, People.com reports. “I’d spend hours plucking my eyebrows, putting on tanning cream, doing a facial. But mostly, I’d shop on the Internet…. Shopping was instant gratification,” she writes. “Just like drugs.” Bleeth made headlines over the past two years for her drug problems and pleaded guilty in Nov. 2001 to possessing less than 25 grams of cocaine and to driving while impaired.
Film composer Ron Goodwin died suddenly at his home near Reading, west of London, Wednesday night at the age of 77, The Associated Press reports. He had suffered from asthma for many years. Goodwin composed some 60 movie scores in his 50-year career, including Alfred Hitchcock‘s Frenzy, but was best known for the themes to a string of 1960s war films, including Battle of Britain and Operation Crossbow. Since the 1970s, Goodwin toured as a conductor performing classical works and popular hits, from James Bond themes to Abba.
Brad Pitt is set to produce and possibly star in Warner Bros.’ The Madman of Alcatraz, based on the true story of the psychiatrist who treated Robert Stroud, Alcatraz’s notorious Birdman. According to Variety, the film would examine the relationship between the Birdman and his shrink, who nearly lost his own sanity after spending two years with him on the island. Vanity Fair scribe Ned Zeman will write the script.
Halle Berry and Penelope Cruz will team up for the horror film Gothika, Variety reports. The film revolves around a criminal psychologist (Berry) who wakes up in the institution where she works with no memory of the murder she is accused of committing. Cruz will play a fellow mental patient. The project is out to directors.
A faulty overhead light ignited a fire on the set of NBC’s The West Wing Thursday, prompting the evacuation of the Warner Bros.’ soundstage, the AP reports. About 100 people fled the building but no one was hurt. A studio representative said the stages involved were the White House situation room and a cafeteria setting, but was unsure which actors were present. The fire cause about $100,000 in smoke and fire damage.
The Dixie Chicks will sing the national anthem at Super Bowl XXXVII Jan. 26 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, the AP reports. “Anyone who tells you there’s no pressure to sing the national anthem live to one of the biggest television audiences on the planet is not telling the truth,” member Emily Robinson said. Organizers also announced that country singer Shania Twain will perform during the halftime show, with other performers to be announced later.