News Roundup: Nov. 14

Top Story

Twentieth Century Fox has set the domestic release of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones for Thursday, May 16, one day earlier than expected. “Around the world, many territories open on Thursdays,” Bruce Snyder, Fox’s president of domestic distribution, told Reuters. “And because Star Wars is such an international phenomenon, it seemed to make sense to go out on a standard date in as many places as possible.” Many foreign markets, like Japan and South America, will have to wait until June or July to see the second prequel to George Lucas‘ franchise.


Alicia Keys leads this year’s American Music Awards with five nominations, including best female artist, new artist and best album for the year, The Associated Press reports. Among other nominees are Janet Jackson‘s All For You (best R&B album of the year); Lenny Kravitz (best male artist) and Dave Matthews Band, ‘N Sync, and U2 (best band, duo or group). The 29th annual American Music Awards will be broadcast live on ABC on Jan.9 from Los Angeles.


R&B singer Usher has been forced to delay the start of his U.S. tour for three months after he underwent surgery on Monday in a Los Angeles hospital for a shoulder injury sustained during tour rehearsal, his publicist told AP on Tuesday. The tour, scheduled to kick off on Dec. 6 in Minneapolis, will now begin in April.

In Court

Record producer Phil Spector was ordered to pay $3 million to The Ronettes, the 1960s trio he discovered, managed, and allegedly cheated after the trio was paid next to nothing while Spector earned millions, AP reports. Justice Paula Omansky of the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division ruled Tuesday that Spector violated his 1963 contract with the trio after keeping the rights to all Ronnettes recordings. Spector sold the recordings for use as background music in movies, videos and advertising.

In General

Michael Jackson is reportedly heading to Canada next year to co-direct a low-budget flick about an 8-year-old orphan boy called Home of the Angels, the Toronto Star reports. Jackson, who is also financing the film, has chosen former Canadian child star Bryan Michael Stoller to co-direct the picture.

The CBS reality show Survivor doesn’t seem to be pleasing many of its fans-it’s no longer at the top of the ratings every week, Reuters reports. According to Nielsen Media Research reports, Survivor Africa averages between 20.7 million viewers per episode and 10.8 million among advertiser-coveted 18- to 49-year-olds. That is almost a 30 percent decrease from last spring’s Survivor: The Australian Outback, which averaged 29.8 million total viewers and 16 million during its run.

Dan Rather found himself working up a sweat on Monday after the American Airlines crash in Queens forced area airports to close and his flight from Texas to La Guardia airport was diverted to Philadelphia. Rather, who desperately wanted to get to New York to cover the story, slipped $100 to a Philadelphia cab driver to get him from the airport to the railroad station in a flash. “In the rear window you’ll find sweat from the back of my head,” Rather told the Philadelphia Enquirer about his speedy ride to the train station.

CBS execs are pleased enough with the direction of The Ellen Show to pick it up for a full season, Reuters reports. Although its Sept. 24 premiere was low rated, the show did record ratings on Nov. 9th; its first airing since the Emmys. The episode averaged 6.9 million viewers and a 2.5 rating among 18- 49-year-olds, the sitcom’s best showing in its regular time period.

Jami Gertz will portray the late comedian Gilda Radner in ABC’s upcoming biopic of the Saturday Night Live star tentatively titled It’s Always Something: The Gilda Radner Story. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Janet Brownell wrote the script for the film based on Radner‘s autobiography of the same name. Merv Griffin Entertainment and Winsome Entertainment, in association with Jaffe/ Braunstein Films Prods., will produce the film, which will begin shooting next January in Toronto.

Fans of the ABC sudser General Hospital will be able to view the memorable 1981 wedding of its characters Luke (Anthony Geary) and Laura (Genie Francis) on Nov. 16, People magazine reports. Although GH‘s favorite couple is now divorced, Geary‘s character will flash back to his wedding vows on his 20th anniversary date. In related news, the wedding, which the magazine says remains the most-watched soap event in history, will be shown in its entirety on the SoapNet cable channel on Nov. 23, when it airs a 12-hour Luke and Laura marathon including highlights of their two-decade relationship.