News Roundup: July 25


Actress Katharine Hepburn will probably be released by the weekend, Reuters reports. The Academy Award-winning actress was hospitalized last week for a urinary tract infection but is responding well to treatment. Hepburn, 94, was going to be released last week but lost strength while being hospitalized and underwent a brief course of physical therapy.

In Court

A judge has accepted evidence that actor Jason Priestley has completed a three-month alcohol treatment program, BBC News reports. The former Beverly Hills 90210 star was sentenced to five days in prison last year by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor for a drunk driving conviction. Priestley also was ordered to serve three years probation and enter a drug and alcohol treatment program. In December 1999, Priestley crashed his silver Porsche into a lamppost and a parked car in the Hollywood Hills. The actor claimed he swerved to avoid a deer in the road. Chad Cook, a friend and passenger in the car, suffered a broken arm. Priestley appeared in Aaron Spelling‘s teen drama Beverly Hills 90210 and recently acted in London’s Apollo Theatre in the Broadway play Side Man.

An Indianapolis homebuilder will have to pay more than $98,000 restitution to rocker John Mellencamp for allegedly falsifying billing invoices, The Associated Press reported. Timothy O. Eldredge is scheduled to appear Sept. 14 in Marion Superior Court and is expected to plead guilty to theft. Prosecutors charge that Eldredge double-billed John and Elaine Mellencamp after the couple hired The Eldredge Group of Indianapolis to build a $2.5 million home near Lake Monroe. If convicted, Eldredge could face up to three years in prison.

Missouri’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Access Resources Services Inc., the Florida company that promotes TV’s Miss Cleo’s tarot psychic reading, The Associated Press reports. Attorney General Jay Nixon said Missourians were billed for free services and that the company misrepresented rates and waiver fees. Some Missouri residents complained that they were billed for time spent on hold waiting to speak to a psychic or being billed without ever having requested the service. Attorney Sean Moynihan says the state has no basis for the lawsuit and blamed billing errors on telephone companies.

In General

Sen. Joseph Liebermann (D-Conn.) will convene on a hearing on entertainment ratings on Wednesday, Variety reports. Lieberman has been a longtime critic of Hollywood, claiming that the separate ratings used for films, music, TV programs and video games are too confusing and therefore not effective in shielding children from sex, violence and vulgarity. Nearly the entire entertainment industry opposes the idea of a universal rating system, arguing that movies, video games and music are fundamentally different. The House Telecom Subcommittee on Friday asked RIAA president Hilary Rosen to read aloud lyrics to Eminem’s song “Kill You,” but Rosen refused, arguing that words in such songs are not meant to be taken literally. It is the first time the House of Representatives has weighed in on the Federal Trade Commission study of Hollywood’s marketing practices.

Justin Timberlake of ‘N Sync wants to do a duet with gal pal and pop sensation Britney Spears, Rolling Stone magazine reports. Timberlake said he is helping Spears, 19, move away from bubblegum pop in favor of a harder sound. He said they would record together when the timing is right. “I want it to be somethin’ new that they haven’t heard us do, that they don’t think we could de,” he told the magazine, “It would be huge.”

Bruce Willis is officially dating 23-year-old Versace model Emily Sandberg, Entertainment Tonight reports. The two have been dating since November, but her identity was kept under wraps until now. Apparently, Willis‘ ex-wife Demi Moore has given her stamp of approval on the lanky blonde. According to US Weekly magazine, Willis invited Sandberg to celebrate July Fourth in Hailey, Idaho, with Moore and their children.

Ray Romano wants to appear on a celebrity version of CBS’ hugely popular show Survivor, according to Reuters. The network is contemplating an all-star installment of the reality show but CBS president Leslie Moonves was sketchy on details about when the show would air or how it would look. Several other celebrities have expressed interest but did not want to be named just yet. The shooting of the celebrity series would have to be compressed to about 10 days, Moonves said, without assistants, phones or faxes. Someone would be voted off every two days. Moonves joked that being voted off in front of 20 million viewers would be devastating for an actor. The concept for a celebrity Survivor is currently on the backburner while producer Mark Burnett focuses on the show’s third and fourth editions. Survivor: Africa is currently in production in Kenya and will premiere Oct. 11. Survivor 4 will be shot at an unspecified location this fall and will air in March.

Nicole Kidman is committed to star in Lars von Trier‘s Dogville and is denying rumors that she was dumped from the movie, Reuters reports.
The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet said Tuesday that executives at von Trier‘s production company Zentropa grew frustrated with delays in getting the actress to sign a contract. Daily Variety also reported that talks with Kidman had broken down, prompting producers to search for a replacement. “We’ve had enough of the Hollywood system. It may be commonplace in major movies that stars play the diva and don’t bother to sign contracts, but we can’t handle that, either psychologically or financially,” Zentropa chief executive Peter Aalbaek Jensen told Aftonbladet. Kidman‘s publicist insists the actress is still doing the film, but has not yet signed on the dotted line.

Lawyers for actors Bradley Whitford, Allison Janney, John Spencer, and Richard Schiff are in advanced talks with producers for Warner Bros.’ West Wing, the New York Post‘s reports. The new contracts would earn the actors about $1.4 million each a season. A rep for the actors said that while they are still negotiating, talks are not too far apart. The four actors failed to show up for work when production began on its third season two weeks ago. Rumors swirled that the actors were unhappy with their $30,000 per episode salary.