News Roundup: Nov. 25

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Liza Minnelli has an exciting new year waiting for her, as she prepares for a wedding and a television tribute in March.
Minnelli plans to wed producer David Gest in New York, whom she met in Spetember when she appeared on Gest’s production of Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special, Gest’s publicist Warren Cowan told The Associated Press. Jackson will reportedly serve as one of Gest’s best men. It will be Minnelli‘s fourth marriage and Gest’s first. “I am the happiest I’ve ever been,” Minnelli, 55, said in a statement. “Everything I’ve been through was worth it to find David.” In addition, Minmelli will star on her own television tribute, which was planned before Minnelli and Gest decided to marry and will feature Jackson and Minnelli in a dance number.


Ben Stiller has been named the “sexiest funnyman,” according to People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive 2001” poll. “It’s quite an honor to be in that subdivision of the not really sexy man but sexy funny man. It’s almost sexy,” Stiller, told Reuters. The actor next stars in Wes Anderson’s upcoming comedy-drama, The Royal Tenenbaums, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Gene Hackman and Bill Murray.


American-born pop singer Melanie Thornton, vocalist for the dance group La Bouche, died on Saturday night in a plane crash near Zurich.”It is true that Miss Thornton was on the passenger list. She is not among the survivors,” Zurich police spokesman Karl Steiner told Reuters. Nine people survived out of the 33 aboard the Crossair jet, and police said the remaining 24 were presumed dead. Among Thornton’s biggest singles were “Sweet Dreams,” “Falling In Love” and ” Be My Lover.” Thornton, 34, was on tour to publicize her solo album “Ready to Fly.” Her latest single, ” Wonderful Dream” is the song for a new Coca-Cola commercial and was due in stores Monday.

Jazz promoter, producer and manager Norman Granz, who recorded most of the major names in jazz including Louie Armstrong, Count Basie and Billie Holiday, died Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland, of complications from cancer, Virginia Wicks, a Los Angeles-based publicist, told Reuters. He was 83. “To Norman it wasn’t the color, it was the music that mattered,” Wicks said. “We would have less than half of the jazz music that we have today if it hadn’t been for Norman Granz.” Granz is survived by his wife Greta.


Comedian Rodney Dangerfield had a heart attack on Thursday, his publicist, Warren Cowan, has confirmed with AP. His heart attack comes one day after his appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, who dedicated a show to the comedian and taped birthday greetings from actors and fellow comics. According to Dangerfield’s publicist, he will undergo an x-ray of the blood vessels on Monday, when doctors will determine what treatment he requires.