News Roundup: Mar. 4

Top Story

The Producers Guild of America bestowed its top honors on the musical extravaganza Moulin Rouge Sunday night at the 13th Annual Producers Guild Awards. The wild Rouge–about a turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub and produced by Martin Brown, director Baz Luhrmann and Fred Baron–is also nominated for an Academy Award. PGA best picture winners have gone on to win the Oscar nine out of 12 times.

Other winners of the evening included NBC’s The West Wing, winning best television drama, HBO’s Sex and the City, winning best television comedy, and HBO’s Band of Brothers, winning best television movie, miniseries or other long-form television.

In General

Grammy winner Alicia Keys, Luther Vandross, Gerald Levert, India.Arie and comedian Cedric the Entertainer will kick off this year’s Essence Music Festival at New Orleans’ Louisiana Superdome. The three-day event starts July 4, while other performers such as Mary J. Blige, Al Green and comedian Steve Harvey will take the stage over the course of the festival.

Roger Moore, the suave ’70s and ’80s James Bond, will be taking on a new role in his next film–an over-the-top gay man. The 74-year-old actor will appear in the Cuba Gooding Jr. comedy Boat Trip, about two straight guys who end up on a gay cruise, due out this summer. Moore told the Associated Press he hopes his performance “will make the audience raise their eyebrows a little bit.” Sounds like a good bet.

Akira Kurosawa‘s The Seven Samurai is getting another Hollywood treatment from Miramax Films and MGM, Variety reports. The classic Japanese epic about a small village hiring seven samurai to protect them from thieving bandits was remade into 1960’s The Magnificent Seven, starring Charles Bronson, Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen. Miramax Films co-chairman Harvey Weinstein described Samurai as “the mother of all ‘guys on a mission’ movies.”

In the world of celebrity boxing matches (yes, apparently there is one), ice-skating terror Tanya Harding, who had her opponent Nancy Kerrigan’s knee smashed prior to the 1994 Olympic trials, will fight Paula Jones, the first woman to accuse former president Clinton of unwanted sexual advances in 1991. Harding was supposed to have fought Amy Fisher, the young girl who shot her lover’s wife in 1992. But no can do. It’s Jones and Harding all the way. Fox Television will air the match March 13.

After the South African premiere of Ali, South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela praised the legendary boxing champion Muhammad Ali as being one of the people he most admires. Mandela told Reuters, “He (Ali) brought a new kind of legend to boxing, and I am very happy indeed to be here to join you in paying tribute to my hero and the hero of millions right across the seas.”

President Bush and leading politicians were treated to an evening of entertainment Sunday to showcase American pop culture. The gala event, held at the legendary Ford’s Theater and hosted by Frasier‘s Kelsey Grammer, had an all-star line-up, including performers such as Stevie Wonder and David Copperfield.

U2 lead singer Bono met with White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to discuss African debt relief in his ongoing campaign against Third World poverty. He has been trying to get Washington to drop the debt of some of the world’s poorest nations for many years and has been using the success of his band’s music to help the effort. U2 just won four Grammy awards, including record of the year.

A documentary about the hard-rock band Metallica is looking to be as juicy as Madonna‘s Truth or Dare. Filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have been trailing the band since last April, while the band was in the studio cutting a new album. Since filming began, however, traumatic events have shaken the band, including the departure of bassist Jason Newsted after 14 years this past January and lead singer James Hetfield’s rehab woes. No release date has been set.

Pop star Will Young, the 23-year-old singer who was discovered on the reality-based TV show Pop Idol, has sold more than a million copies of his first record in a week, making it Britain’s fastest-selling single ever. The single “Anything Is Possible/Evergreen” has sold 1,108,269 copies. Who is Will Young, you ask? Guess we’ll get to know more about Will soon enough.

In regard to the death of a teenager at a Sydney, Australia, concert Jan. 26, 2001 where Limp Bizkit and other bands were playing, Alexander Murdoch MacLeod, Limp Bizkit’s tour manager, blames the concert venue for being understaffed and poorly managed. At an inquest into the death of 15-year-old Jessica Michalik, who was caught in a rush to the stage and suffered a heart attack, he told the court he thought the staff was insufficiently trained for a crowd breakdown.