News Roundup: May 15


Top Story

Frank Ramaesiri, the St. Louis jewelry salesman who sold the video of a topless sunbather to Penthouse, telling the magazine it was Anna Kournikova, testified on Tuesday he mistakenly thought the woman was the tennis star due to the diameter of her nipples. Now how would Ramaesiri, a non-professional photographer, know the diameter of Kournikova‘s nipples, you may ask? Reuters reported that the salesman told the court he had seen pictures of the Russian beauty in a sweat-soaked tennis dress revealing her nipples, and “the diameter matched what we had on film,” he said. Plus, he added, the sunbather looked Russian.

The “sunbather” was actually Judith Soltesz-Benetton, the daughter-in-law of fashion designer Luciano Benetton. While Penthouse has issued a formal apology to both Kournikova and Soltesz-Benetton, the women are still pursuing cases against the infamous magazine for damages.


Steven Spielberg is finally making his life complete–he’s graduating from college. After dropping out nearly three decades ago to pursue his career, the famed director, 55, will receive a bachelor’s degree from California State University Long Beach, where he recently finished courses in the film and electronic arts major.

Jason Alexander, on the other hand, wants to teach college. The former Seinfeld star will be instructing other young actors on the University of Southern California campus under the George Burns Distinguished Visiting Professor in Performance program.

Rapper Jay-Z won’t be moving into that $6.5 million penthouse in New York’s trendy TriBeCa complex, after all. He pulled out of the deal without giving a reason, but owner Peter Arnell blames neighbors for sabotaging the deal. Arnell claims two tenants, Lynn Fisher-Hill and Lewis Taffer, posted notices in the halls, referring to the rapper’s criminal record and lifestyle of violence, The Associated Press reports.

Jennifer Lopez shelled out the dough for her new Miami home. She recently bought a $9.5 million waterfront mansion in Miami Beach, with a view of Biscayne Bay. Her celebrity neighbors include Lenny Kravitz, Ricky Martin and the Bee Gees, Barry and Robin Gibb.

Casting Call

Bernadette Peters and Gregory Hines, two veterans of the Broadway stage, will be hosting the Tony Awards June 2. This marks the second time for Hines, who co-hosted with Glenn Close and Nathan Lane in 1994. It’ll be the first hosting gig for Peters.

Anne Heche may be heading for Broadway lights. She could replace the departing Jennifer Jason Leigh in David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Proof at the Walter Kerr Theater in New York. Mary-Louise Parker originated the play’s lead role of Catherine, the grief-stricken, troubled daughter of a math genius, in spring 2000.

In the Biz

Another large ensemble piece for Robert Altman? Go figure. Variety reports the veteran director may sign up to helm The Company, a large ensemble project about ballet dancers, with Neve Campbell (Scream) attached to star as a young dancer distracted by other things. Apparently, there are about 50 roles to be had–piece of cake for Altman.

Music News

Jay Kay, the lead singer of the funk band Jamiroquai, was involved in an altercation Wednesday at the post-premiere party for Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones in London. Kay’s agent told Reuters the singer found his new car damaged and confronted the suspected culprit. Kay suffered some facial injuries.

There is no love lost between rapper Eminem and Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne Cheney. She has been very vocal in her criticism of the recording industry, often citing Eminem’s music as offensive. He countered by flinging a four-letter word at her in his song, “White America,” on his soon-to-be released album The Eminem Show. Now, now, Marshall.


In a rare appearance, three of rock and roll’s greatest legends–Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bo Diddley–were honored by Broadcast Music Inc. They received BMI’s Icon Awards at the 50th annual pop music awards show Tuesday and were recognized for their “unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers,” Reuters reports.