News Roundup: March 17


Top Story

Brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the masterminds behind Miramax Films, had a difficult job to do on Friday–fire about 75 employees a week before the Oscars. A spokesperson for Miramax told, “It was cost-cutting. Since October, we had increased staffing 17 percent, and so we reduced it by almost the same amount. It was simply growing pains–we grew too fast and we needed to take a step back and streamline our operations.” The spokesperson insisted, however, the firings did not have anything to do with the $50 million Miramax blew on Talk magazine. A now ex-Miramax employee told that many of them knew the end was nigh in December when “they stopped giving us free bottled water.”

In General

A man who broke into a Malibu home thinking it was owned by actress Meg Ryan pleaded no contest Friday to trespassing, Reuters reports. John Hughes, 30, believing he is married to the Kate & Leopold star, broke into an unrelated family’s house to wait for Ryan to come home. He claimed she had “forgotten to leave him a key under the doormat.” Ryan had a restraining order placed against him in January and psychiatrists have deemed him a threat to the actress’ safety.

Euro Disney in Paris opened a new theme park and resort dedicated to world of cinema and television on Saturday. Walt Disney Co.’s executives, including Michael Eisner and Roy Disney, were on hand to celebrate the opening. It also coincided with the 10th anniversary of Disneyland Paris, which has become one of Europe’s top tourist attractions.

Organizers of the biennial Arab and Iranian Film Festival in Seattle, Washington, which had its opening night Friday, hoped the festival would show Americans how real Arabs live beyond what they see on television. Said Washington Rep. Jim McDermott at the festival’s opening,”We are all together in this. Once we start pointing at anybody…we are in serious trouble.” Films from countries such as Morocco, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Syria, the United States and Palestine will be screened during the seven-day festival through March 21.

Rocker Neil Young, down with the flu, had to postpone the Tour of America concert tour with fellow bandmates David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash in Washington and Oregon. The dates have been rescheduled for April 28 and 29, respectively.

Although some British legislators were opposed to the idea, Grammy winner Alicia Keys performed a short concert for an audience of reporters and schoolchildren at London’s Portcullis House, a building next to Parliament. Older lawmakers felt the concert demeaned the establishment while lawmaker David Lammy, 29, who organized the event, hoped it would show Parliament as being “hip,” not dull, reports The Associated Press.

Russell Crowe likes to groove to his music, but apparently no one else does. His new album with his band Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts, Clarity, will not make it into the U.K’s Top 100, having only sold 156 copies after being in stores for two days. Stick to acting, Russell.

Veteran singer/actress Connie Stevens received the Army’s Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service Medal for her tireless USO efforts during the Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf wars. That’s what you get for entertaining the troops.


Sylvester “Pat” Weaver, the creator of NBC’s Today and Tonight shows, as well as shaping how Americans watched television, died of pneumonia Friday night in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 93. He is survived by his daughter, actress Sigourney Weaver, wife Elizabeth, son Trajan, five grandchildren and a great-grandchild.