News Roundup: May 23


Top Story

Hollywood producer Steve Bing sued the UK newspaper The Daily Mirror for $10 million in January for printing his phone number and urging readers to call him, but Britain’s press watchdog ruled Thursday that the tabloid did not violate his privacy by doing so. In the suit, Bing said he received death threats after The Daily Mirror launched its “Hunt for Bing” campaign, labeling him Bing Laden for crimes against actress Elizabeth Hurley after he questioned whether he was the father of her baby. While the commission said it regretted any distress caused to Bing, it stated the tabloid had a right to argue that the phone number was already in the public domain and that publishing it had not broken the newspaper industry’s code of conduct.

Casting Call

James Franco, who plays the role of Peter Parker’s best friend, Harry, in the box office hit Spider-Man, is in talks to star in the World War II drama The Great Raid alongside Benjamin Bratt. The film will be directed by John Dahl from a script written by Hossein Amini, Variety reports.

In the Biz

Gladiator director Ridley Scott‘s next epic-sized film will be a period Western, according to Variety. The project is part of a pre-emptive six-figure deal between 20th Century Fox and Scott‘s Scott Free banner, to be written by scribe Bruce C. McKenna.

Tube News

USA Network will produce a telefilm based on former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman’s investigative novel Murder in Greenwich: Who Killed Martha Moxley?, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The book revisits the 1975 murder of Moxley, who was bludgeoned to death with a golf club near her family’s Connecticut home after going out with Michael Skakel, the nephew of Ethel Kennedy. Skakel was charged with her murder in 2000 and is currently on trial for the crime.

ABC and Turner’s TNT/TBS have acquired exclusive broadcast rights to Steven Spielberg‘s upcoming Minority Report under a five-year deal beginning in February 2005, Variety reports. HBO gets the pay TV rights because of a long-term output deal it has with the movie’s co-financier, DreamWorks.

The hour-by-hour television show 24 won the drama ratings competition in key demos with its season finale Tuesday, beating out NYPD Blue, The Guardian, Smallville and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Variety reports. But according to Nielsen, the show failed to attract the occasional viewers and was watched instead by its usual core following.

NBC has finally removed Scott Sassa as its top West Coast entertainment executive after more than a year of speculation, Variety reports. The network has handed over all his responsibilities to Entertainment President Jeff Zucker. Sassa will remain a Los Angeles-based consultant to NBC.

Music News

Britney Spears and Destiny’s Child singer Beyoncé Knowles will release leadoff singles from the soundtrack to Austin Powers in Goldmember, reports. Knowles will release “Work It Out” first, followed by Spears‘ remixed version of “Boys,” which originally appeared on her 2001 album Britney. A spokesman for the project told MTV the track list for the rest of the soundtrack is not yet available.

Celine Dion is getting ready for her Las Vegas stint at the new 4,000-seat Colosseum built by Caesars Palace hotel/casino. According to The Associated Press, the 600-show engagement will involve a flying piano and 70 dancers. Tickets for the show, which opens in March 2003, go on sale Thursday and are priced at $87.50, $127.50 and $150.

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs‘ new album, We Invented the Remix, debuted at the top of the album charts, selling 256,000 copies for the week ending Sunday, according to Five other new albums also debuted in the top10, including Cam’ron’s Come Home with Me, which came in a close second, Weezer’s Maladroit, following in third, Moby’s 18, debuting in fourth, and Rush’s Vapour Trails, coming in at No. 6.

The four members of Alien Ant Farm were injured while on tour in Spain after their bus collided with a parked truck on a highway near Navalmoral de la Mata, Reuters reports. The driver of the bus was killed, and six crewmembers suffered assorted injuries. Alien Ant Farm’s cover version of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” peaked at No. 23 on the Hot 100 pop singles chart last year.


Hannibal star Julianne Moore will be honored at the 2002 Gotham Awards given out by the Independent Feature Project on Sept. 26, the AP reports. The award honors a New York actor who has made significant contributions to the city’s film community. Moore‘s films include Boogie Nights, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, World Traveler and The Shipping News.

In Memoriam

Joe Cobb, who played the chubby-cheeked, beanie-cap-wearing boy named Joe in dozens of Our Gang comedy films of the 1920s, died Tuesday at the age of 85, the AP reports. The Oklahoma native’s acting career ended in the early 1940s, but he appeared in a 1986 documentary that looked back at the Our Gang actors and other screen comedians, entitled Classic Comedy Teams.