News Roundup: Sept. 18

Top Story

Veteran newsman Dan Rather was visibly shaken during a guest appearance on CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman Monday night. The CBS news anchor briefly lost his composure twice during his conversation with the talk show host about last Tuesday’s attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. An also choked-up Letterman clasped Rather’s hand and told him, “I know you’re a great newsman, Dan, but you’re also a human being.”

In General

Opera singer Luciano Pavarotti told a Milan court Monday that he does not feel guilty for not declaring earnings of $17-$19 million between 1989 and 1995, Reuters reports. Pavarotti delivered a $4.5 million check in person to the Italian treasury in hopes of ending his legal woes with the tax authorities. The criminal proceedings, however, had already started. “I am a citizen who works abroad. I have always believed that a tax evader was someone who earned in Italy and took his earnings abroad,” he told the court. “I earn my money abroad and take it into Italy.”

The New York Friar’s Club Celebrity Roast of Hugh Hefner, which will be held Sept. 29 at the New York Hilton, will feature Drew Carey, Adam Carolla, Gilbert Gottfried, Rob Schneider, Sarah Silverman and Cedric the Entertainer as “roasters.” The roast will be shown on Comedy Central at 10 p.m. Nov. 4. The network’s previous roasts of entertainers including Carey, Jerry Stiller and Rob Reiner, are Comedy Central’s highest rated original special, Variety reports.

A revision by music tracking firm SoundScan has changed the order of US pop album charts. According to Reuters, System of a Down’s second album Toxicity originally debuted at No. 2 with sales of 170,000 units for the week ending Sept. 9. SoundScan later adjusted the data by including 50,000 units of a limited-edition enhanced CD of Toxicity which had not originally been included. This moved the Los Angeles band’s album to the top of the charts, surpassing Alicia Keys’ Songs in A Minor.

Video game makers Activision, Ubi Soft Entertainment, Microsoft Corp. and Electronic Arts are removing images of any destruction involving New York City and Washington. According to The Associated Press, copies of Electronic Arts’ war game “Red Alert 2” are being changed because the cover depicts the World Trade Center and the New York skyline in flames. Makers of the game, which came out more than a year ago, are offering retailers the chance to trade in the old covers for new ones.

More films and TV programs are being altered in light of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks. Variety reports that a Law and Order miniseries on Gotham terrorism has been canceled. Meanwhile, the first installment of Bill Maher‘s Politically Incorrect, on which news commentator Barbara Olson was a frequent participant, has been turned into a tribute. Miramax’s People I Know starring Al Pacino also contains footage that has been rendered unusable. The World Trade Center is seen throughout the film, including one shot in which the twin towers are seen upright, then turned sideways as the vantage point changes. The shot was meant to convey Pacino’s world turned on end.

London Vanishes, a mass-participation interactive Web-based play which was launched last Tuesday, will go on as scheduled, Reuters reports. The play, which is based on the disappearance of a capital city, is a move to get theatergoers to go online and write a collective plot. The complete work will be dedicated to the victims of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks.

In New York, theater producers were faced with dismal box office figures.Variety reports that off-Broadway productions were hit the hardest, with business dropping off 80 percent. On Broadway, four shows posted closing notices including A Thousand Clowns, If Ever You Leave Me, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Blast!. For the first time in its four-year run, The Lion King did not sell out.