News Roundup: Nov. 2

Top Story

Anne Robinson, host of TV’s The Weakest Link, has become one of the UK’s highest TV earners, the BBC reported. Robinson took home an estimated 6.5 million pounds last year, beating out Hollywood stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sean Connery and Michael Caine.

In Courts

The legal battle for the Grateful Dead guitars may finally be coming to an end. According to Reuters the legendary rock group has reached a tentative settlement with guitar maker Douglas Irwin that will allow him to auction off two guitars he built for Jerry Garcia. In turn, Grateful Dead Productions will have the right to match the highest bid so that the guitars can be kept together as a collection.

Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes settled a lawsuit against Sandals Resort International over commercial use of a rendition of their song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”, The Associated Press reports. Medley and Warnes alleged that performers were coached to mimic their voices, leading to the impression that the duo endorsed the Sandals resort. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

A three-judge panel of the California Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that programs like DeCSS, which removes the encryption from DVDs so they can be copied, are pure speech and therefore protected under the First Amendment. The ruling means Internet sites can post DeCSS on the web–a major blow to Hollywood studios hoping to contain the spread of the DVD hacking programs, Variety reports.

Producer Peter Guber‘s former chauffeur has been sentenced to one year in county jail for first-degree residential burglary, grand theft by embezzlement and receiving stolen property, The Associated Press reported. Sammy Archer III was arrested on May 3 after he tried to sell a 1937 Picasso ink-on-paper drawing valued at $100,000. A Christie’s auction house employee found the work listed as stolen on a police Web site.

In General

Michael Jackson asked ABC to cut his performance from the United We Stand concert special set to air Thursday night because of his own concert special planned later this month on CBS. According to The Associated Press, Jackson was to appear as one of several performers at the end of the show.

Former Smashing Pumpkins singer Bill Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin have started a new band, Zwan, Reuters reported. Zwan also features Matthew Sweeney, the former singer/guitarist from Chavez, and a bass player identified as Skullfisher. The group will play three small club dates in the Los Angeles area later this month.

Screen Actors Guild elections will proceed Friday despite polling irregularities, Variety reported. The union has decided to postpone a request to impound ballots due to alleged violations of procedure until after the elections. Results will be announced as early as Friday night; the key race is between Melissa Gilbert and Valerie Harper for president.

Danny DeVito is teaming up with Simpsons writers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein for an ABC comedy pilot, Variety reported. The series is being targeted for early spring or fall 2002.

Top U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers denounced plans by the Federal Trade Commission Thursday to allow public television stations to use some of their new digital airwaves for commercial purposes, Reuters reported. The federal government, as well as corporate and philanthropic underwriters currently fund public television stations which do not run advertisements.

Thomas Jane and Tom Sizemore will star in Castle Rock Entertainment’s feature adaptation of Stephen King‘s The Dreamcatcher. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the project goes into production in January in Vancouver.