News Roundup: Jan. 31


Top Story

In its first major move under new entertainment president Susan Lyne, ABC has picked up seven drama pilots and four comedy pilots. According to The Hollywood Reporter, nine of the 11 projects come for ABC’s sibling studio Touchstone Television, but Lyne said she didn’t even look at the name of the studio when reading the scripts. The Touchstone-heavy slate could be a welcomed addition for ABC, considering the success of recent Touchstone-produced shows like My Wife and Kids, According to Jim and Scrubs. The network’s ratings hit the skids this season after Who Wants to Be a Millionaire‘s downfall and a decline of most of their established comedies.

In General

Richard Linklater, who directed the original cult classic Slacker in 1991, believes the new film Slackers directed by Dewey Nicks, will damage the long-term value of his first movie. He told, “No one ever asked for my permission…because they know I would have said, ‘Go to hell!'”

A study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism reports that while the media did a terrific job of covering the events of Sept. 11 in a factual way, TV news got worst once the bombing in Afghanistan was underway. “Analysis and opinion swelled–so much so that the level of factualness declined…journalists often seemed to luxuriate in sounding not like knowledgeable experts on TV stages, but like anybody else standing in a barroom,” the reports states.

Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger will star in the comedy Down With Love helmed by Bring It On director Peyton Reed. The film is set in New York during the 1960s and pays homage to the Doris DayRock Hudson capers Pillow Talk and Love Come Back, Variety reports.

Wearing biker clothes, Ray-Bans and a longshoreman’s hat, Bruce Willis fronted a band of bluesmen at B.B. King’s Tuesday night. According to, Willis, 46, sang his heart out for 2 ½ hours and covered hits such as “Kokomo Blues” and “Who Do You Love.”

NBC has ordered up a full season (22 hour-long episodes) of Fear Factor, Variety reports. The reality show, hosted by Joe Rogan, proved a surprise summer success and drew big ratings on Monday nights. The network is airing a special Playboy Playmates episode of Fear Factor opposite Fox’s Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 3.

U2, Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige and Marc Anthony are just some of the acts lined up for this year’s Super Bowl. In fact, the lineup is so long it makes the football game look like a sideshow. The celebrity overflow is due in part to the events of Sept. 11 and the game’s patriotic theme.

Michael Jackson, who in 1994 paid a multimillion-dollar settlement to resolve a child molestation case, thinks there should be a global holiday for children. The idea was one of the cornerstones of Jackson‘s Heal the Kids charity, which he launched in 2000, but it never gained momentum with U.S. lawmakers Reuters reports. The charity is now on hiatus.

U2 has backed down from its fight to save its Dublin recording studios from being demolished. While the Irish rockers had initially opposed the idea of the redevelopment of the Honover Quay site, the band said Thursday they would join in talks with the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, the AP reports.

Alan Jackson, Creed and Linkin Park held on to the top three spots in the album sales chart, Variety reports. According to SoundScan figures, country crooner Jackson’s Drive sold 23,000 units for the week that ended Sunday.

Former pro wrestler and current Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is providing input for the script and songs of a Broadway musical about his life, Reuters reports. The musical will explore Ventura‘s upbringing and his relationship with his wife Terry. No one has been cast in the role of Ventura yet.


Eddie Murphy‘s wife Nicole gave birth Tuesday to the couple’s fifth child. Bella Zahra, who weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces, was born at an undisclosed Los Angeles hospital. Both mother and child are doing fine, the couple’s publicist said in a statement.

Andy Garcia and his wife Marivi Lorido Garcia welcomed their fourth child, a boy, at a Los Angeles area hospital on Monday. Andres Antonio Garcia joins three sisters and weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces at birth.