News Roundup: March 14


Top Story

In a mammoth deal, NBC has signed an agreement to have its hit show Will & Grace on the air for three more seasons. The network will pay a license fee of nearly $4 million per episode to its in-house producer NBC Studios, for a deal valued at more than $300 million. The comedy will stay on the air through May 2005–into its seventh season. This makes Will & Grace the fourth most expensive series, behind ER ($8 million per episode), Friends ($6 million per) and Frasier ($5.2 million per).

In General

As if we expected anything differently, Tonya Harding, the ice-skating terror who likes to maim her competition, won her celebrity boxing match against former Bill Clinton accuser Paula Jones. The Fox TV special, which aired Wednesday, also had Todd Bridges (Diff’rent Strokes) pummeling rapper Vanilla Ice, and Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family) annihilating Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch). A stellar night of entertainment.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell won her lawsuit against her former personal assistant Vanessa Frisbee, who allegedly revealed personal details of Campbell’s life, breaching her contract of confidentiality. Frisbee was Campbell’s assistant for three months between January and April 2000 and, once let go, sold her story, including details of Campbell’s sex life, to News of the World. Frisbee is ordered to pay damages.

A cause for the mysterious virus that affected many attendees of the Academy Awards Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards banquet March 2 has yet to be determined. About 200 of the 500 guests were afflicted with symptoms of nausea and diarrhea that lasted a few days, including the Oscar show’s executive producer, Laura Ziskin. Host Charlize Theron was not affected.

A man who slipped on a puddle of urine and water at a U2 concert at Soldier Field in Chicago was awarded $2.6 million for the disfigurement of his leg after many knee surgeries. U2 is not liable, and the man, Steven Chang, maintains he is still a huge fan of the Irish rock band.

Hearts are breaking all over. Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean told VH1 that he is engaged to singer Sarah Martin. Seems McLean is getting his life in order after entering a drug-rehabilitation program last July. The two plan to tie the knot sometime in 2003, aiming to be married on the anniversary of the day they met. Isn’t that sweet?

Cristian Saliadarre, 28, and Anthony Alvarez, 27, two actors from the TV show America’s Most Wanted, pleaded guilty Wednesday to having sex with a minor at an abused children’s shelter. The plea was made so that in return the two would also not be charged with sodomy and oral copulation. Very nice.

Janet Jackson was named Entertainer of the Year by the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters on Friday, reported. She told the audience in Washington D.C., “I believe that one of the greatest treasures we have as a people is the freedom to express ourselves and the opportunity to share that expression. Thank you, NABOB.”

The battle over Jerry Garcia‘s guitars hit one more snag. The Grateful Dead rocker, who died in 1995, had four cherished guitars–Tiger, Wolf, Rosebud and Headless–and had left them to their maker, Doug Irwin, but Grateful Dead Productions maintains the guitars belonged to the Dead, not Garcia. The two parties reached a compromise of taking two guitars each, but a new question of Irwin paying taxes has arisen and will be dealt with accordingly.