News Roundup: July 20

News Roundup: July 20

In Courts

Rapper Jay-Z must wait until Sept. 5 to face assault charges related to the alleged December 1999 stabbing of music executive Lance “Un” Rivera, reports. The trial was originally scheduled to start Monday, July 16.

In General

The King of Pop is once again making noise about making movies. Michael Jackson will lend his voice to a character in the $75 million animated ecological fantasy The Way of the Unicorn, the Endangered One, The Associated Press reports. Jackson‘s character, Sailor, is an orphan who tries to save the planet with the aid of a group of endangered animals. Jackson, who flirted with acting with 1978’s The Wiz and 1986’s Disney 3-D theme park offering Captain Eo, tried unsuccessfully in the late 1980s and early 1990s to launch a film career.

Like Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite is feeling animated these days. The former news anchor will voice Benjamin Franklin in a new PBS animated TV series called Liberty Kids, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The show chronicles the American Revolution through the eyes of two teens toiling in Franklin’s print shop.

Guess Napster is no longer the music industry’s whipping post. U.S. album sales dropped a total 2.8 percent during the first half of the year, with current releases-less than 18 months old–dropping 8 percent, Reuters reports. With the controversial online song-swap service out of commission for much of the year, industry insiders blame the decline in sales on the sluggish economy and the absence of big-name sellers.

Will Friedle doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. The former Boy Meets World star thought he was joining the cast of the WB sitcom Off Centre, and was even set to go to Pasadena, Calif., this week to promote the show before TV critics. Then he learned that UPN is exercising a prior commitment for him to headline another sitcom, Random Years, according to Variety. UPN, which has not placed Random Years on its fall schedule, denied accusations that it is preventing Friedle from working. “This had absolutely nothing to do with the WB,” UPN CEO Dean Valentine said. UPN recently poached Buffy the Vampire Slayer from bitter rival the WB.