News Roundup: Sept. 27

Top Stories

Saturday Night Live‘s executive producer Lorne Michael plans to address the terrorist attacks during the season premiere in an emotional way, The Associated Press reports. The show is rethinking some of its topical humor this year and so far, no Will Ferrell skits portraying President Bush have been written in. Reese Witherspoon will host the 27th season opener with Alicia Keys as the musical guest.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer responded to Bill Maher‘s comments on past U.S. missile attacks on his show Politically Incorrect, calling them terrible and unfortunate. According to Variety, Fleischer admitted he had not seen the PI broadcast, but was relying on media reports on the controversy. “There are reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that; there never is,” he said.

President Bush’s speech to Congress about the war on terrorism last Thursday drew 82 million viewers, AP reports. The event was telecast on nine separate networks.

Blockbuster Inc., the nation’s largest video chain, has cut down orders for Warner Home Video’s Swordfish. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Blockbuster will place shelf-talkers where the movie is displayed, warning customers of its terrorist/antiterrorist theme. Ironically, films like Die Hard and The Siege were flying off the shelves after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In Courts

Arnold Schwarzenegger filed a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles against International Game Technology Inc., for unauthorized use of his picture and voice in advertisement and marketing materials, Reuters reports. IGT produces a Terminator-themed slot machine under licenses with Canal Plus in France. The suit seeks more than $20 million in damages.

Major Charles Ingram, a contestant accused of cheating on the British Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, has begun his legal battle against the show’s producers. According to Reuters, Major’s lawyers have served a writ on the solicitors of the show, demanding that it pay his 1 million pounds prize plus interest.

In General

Ben Stiller‘s new comedy Zoolander may never reach movie screens in Malaysia because of a plot that involves an assassination attempt on the county’s prime minister, AP reports. In the film, Stiller plays a male supermodel who is brainwashed into killing the Malaysian leader for threatening the fashion industry by raising the minimum wage of workers in his country. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also came under fire by American Jewish groups for banning Schindler’s List in 1994.

The WB network has ordered an hour-long pilot for the United Kingdom’s TV franchise Top of the Pops. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the show features live performances from top music stars. Vanessa Minnillo and Richard Trapp will host the WB pilot.

The group Gorillaz, formed by Blur’s Damon Albarn, is up for six awards in the MTV Europe awards, including best band, Reuters reports. The group rarely makes public appearance and is represented in videos by animated apes. Gorillaz goes up against Destiny’s Child, Limp Bizkit, REM and U2 in the “best group” category.

Prince William, who on Monday began a four-year art history course at Scotland’s St. Andrews University, is said to be furious over a camera crew following him around. According to Reuters, the intrusion breaks privacy guidelines agreed upon between the media and the royal family. When university officials confronted the crew, they admitted to be working for Ardent, a production company owned by Prince Edward. Edward has run Ardent since 1993 and has been widely criticized for using his royal connections to earn commissions.