News Roundup: Jan. 17


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As the Sundance Film Festival rounds out its first week Wednesday, many stars were on hand to promote their films at the famed indie festival, co-founded by director/actor Robert Redford.

The fabulous 21-year-old Christina Ricci was there hawking her new film Pumpkin (a big buzz at the festival) and talked about independent films being less “indulgent” in 2002 than in previous years (sure). Others in attendance included Jennifer Aniston, promoting her film The Good Girl, with hubby Brad Pitt along for the ride; and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, hyping their film Stolen Summer, which was made by Pete Jones, the $1 million winner of the Project Greenlight contest co-sponsored by the dynamic duo.

Robin Williams, supporting his film One Hour Photo, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to provide a little zany comedy for the Sundance crowd as he ran up on stage to perform, pointing out a woman’s llama coat and calling it “Genghis Kahn’s road kill.” The festival ends this Saturday with an awards ceremony.

In General

When the ninth season wraps in May, Fox has decided to end its serial on paranormal investigation and close shop on the Emmy-winning The X-Files. What? No more alien abductions? The series will end its primetime life with a special two-part episode penned by creator Chris Carter.

Outspoken lesbian Ellen DeGeneres has admitted that she would like to have children someday, in an online interview on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Web site. Good for her. Still, she acknowledges the fact “the kid is going to have a hard time at school” by having a lesbian mother.

In related news, TV’s Enterprise star Scott Bakula, along with other famous Star Trek captains, including Patrick Stewart and Kate Mulgrew, bemoaned the lack of gay characters in the Star Trek series, to MetroSource magazine. Stewart said, “Given what growth and advancement has been made in the past 20 years even in the most rigid male bastions…one would have thought that Star Trek would be the ideal environment [for a gay character].” Data finally gets a boyfriend!

Hot off the critical success of his veddy British film Gosford Park, director Robert Altman is looking at his next project, Voltage, a comedy about corporate America based on Robert Grossbach’s novel A Shortage of Engineers. He’s already compiling an ensemble cast with Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Liv Tyler, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Tony Shalhoub and Bob Balaban.

A plaque to be given to actor James Earl Jones at a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. day had one teeny-weeny typo on it: it read, “Thank you James Earl Ray for keeping the dream alive.” Of course, we all know James Earl Ray was the man who shot and killed King in 1968. Oops. The manufacturers of the plaque, Merit Industries, have said the mix-up was an “honest error.” Hey, guys, don’t upset Darth Vader or the NAACP.

HBO executives announced some of their programming plans Wednesday at the Television Critics Assn., including placement a 13-episode order for the new police drama The Wire, from the creator of the successful HBO miniseries The Corner, due for a summer or fall launch. HBO has also picked up the comedy series The Mind of the Married Man for another season.

Barbra Streisand feels a need to get closer to one of our country’s founding fathers, George Washington (oh, don’t we all). At a Sotheby’s auction, Babs outbid the Mount Vernon Ladies Association to buy an oil painting of our first president to hang in her Malibu home.

Pop singer Dido has had her nomination for best-newcomer from the Official U.K. Charts Company taken away Wednesday, mainly because she’s not all that “new.” The 30-year-old had actually been nominated for best female artist the previous year. Those goofy British.

Actor Brad Renfro, 19, is in trouble again. He was arrested and charged Monday with public intoxication and driving without a license in Knoxville, Tenn. after being stopped for a traffic violation. Last year Renfro was sentenced to two year’s probation for trying to steal a yacht in Florida.

The Boss gets his own musical. That’s right, the songs of rocker Bruce Springsteen have been fashioned into a musical called Drive All Night, with Springsteen’s blessing. A first reading will take place in March after a three-week rehearsal.

The myths and legends of Native American folklore will be made into a $30 million-plus miniseries for ABC. The four-hour epic will center around a 100-year-old Native American grandfather telling his 17-year-old grandson about such myths as the story of a rain god who falls in love with a mortal woman and an outcast child who tries to tame a water beast. The targeted air date is November 2003.

Fashion designer extraordinaire Giorgio Armani, creator of some of the world’s most lavish clothes, says he is tired of luxury. “Luxury disgusts me,” he told an Italian newspaper Thursday. “I want to pay homage to the workers, to the dignity of workers…” Does this mean Armani is giving up the private jet?

Publicist Lizzie Grubman, who injured 16 people by backing her SUV into a crowd of people outside a Hamptons nightclub last year, has been hit with another lawsuit related to that incident. Grubman’s vehicle hit the outside structure of the establishment and pieces of the wall fell and injured Dabney Mercer, who brought the suit.