News Roundup: March 12


Top Story

Calling all eligible bachelors: Nicole Kidman is looking for someone to take to the Academy Awards. The 34-year-old actress, who has been recently accompanied by Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann to many events and brought her father to the Golden Globes, confessed she is dateless for the March 24 main event. Kidman received her first Best Actress nomination for her role as the doomed courtesan Satine in Moulin Rouge.

When asked at the Oscar nominees luncheon Monday whom she was planning on taking, Kidman responded to, “I’m not bringing Baz,” she laughed, “but I don’t really have anyone to bring at this point. I’m looking.” Pay attention, gentlemen!

In General

Britney Spears has denied rumors circulating that she and her beau, Justin Timberlake, have broken up. On Monday, she told MTV Europe that the rumor was not true, even though several news wires reported that unconfirmed sources say the two split last week due to hectic work schedules.

Francis Ford Coppola will be producing an international version of Suriyothai, the current box office smash hit in Thailand. Directed by Coppola‘s friend Chatrichalerm Yukol, the film’s story centers around a 16th-century Thai queen who sacrifices herself to save her king during a bloody attack by the Burmese. Coppola told Variety, “I hope the changes I suggest retain the exotic beauty and continuity of the original.”

In a study conducted by the British medical journal Tobacco Control, evidence was found that major tobacco companies encouraged actors to smoke to influence moviegoers. reported on the study, saying that a 1980 internal document from R.J. Reynolds showed the company gave free cigarettes to 188 celebrities. And a similar 1989 document from another tobacco company, Philip Morris, quoted the company as saying it needed to “exploit” actors.

The CBS documentary 9/11 received huge ratings on Sunday. Nearly 39 million viewers tuned in to watch the special about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, as never-before-seen footage from filmmakers Jules and Gedeon Naudet aired. Not surprisingly, there was strong viewership from the New York City area, comprising about 35% of all the households around the country.

Beverly Hills, 90210 alumni Tori Spelling and Tiffani Thiessen, Oscar winner Martin Landau and actress Mary Stuart Masterson are making their way to the small screen. Spelling will star in WB show Way Downtown, about a struggling writer, while Thiessen will star in Fox action/drama Fast Lane. Landau will be starring in an untitled ABC drama, playing a key adviser to a media family, and Masterson will star in CBS show R.U.S./H., about an elite LAPD squad. Oh, goody.

Sally Jessy Raphael has to hang up her microphone. Her long-running daytime talk show has been canceled after being on the air for nearly 20 years. The show is currently in ninth place in the ratings.

Wes Scantlin, the lead singer for the rock group Puddle of Mudd, and his fiancée, Michelle Rubin, were arrested Sunday for fighting. The couple was booked on domestic-violence charges when witnesses called in that a man was forcing a woman into a car on a highway shoulder in Ventura County, Calif. The reason for the argument has not been disclosed, according to the Associated Press.

R&B soul singer Lauryn Hill will be performing at the May 11 St. Lucia Jazz Festival. She’ll be joining other artists performing during the festival, including Smokey Robinson, Stephanie Mills, Branford Marsalis and India.Arie. The West Indies island festival runs May 3-12.


Maybe she’s not guilty, after all. There’s a twist in the case of the ill-fated December shopping spree made by actress Winona Ryder, in which she has been accused of shoplifting from a trendy Beverly Hills store. As reported by TV show Extra Tuesday, store surveillance videos did not corroborate police reports. Extra obtained more than an hour of footage of the incident, where Ryder is shown putting on hats and lipstick, not removing security tags from clothes and putting them in her bag, as the police allege. The actress is currently out on bail, and a preliminary hearing is due to be scheduled this week.

Singer Connie Francis, who has been dealing with mental-health problems since her rape and torture in a hotel room in 1974, has sued Universal Music Corp. for allowing her music to be licensed for use in porno movies. She alleges the company is taking advantage of her because of her mental problems.

A man, who was a guest on the Jerry Springer Show in May 2000 about secret mistresses, has gone on trial for murdering his ex-wife. Hours after the episode aired July 24, 2000, Ralf Panitz, who appeared with his ex-wife and current wife, went to his ex-wife’s house and beat her to death. Double yikes.