News, Sept. 15: ABC Considers Fate of Ritter’s “8 Simple Rules,” Madonna Launches Children’s Book, Christopher Reeve Honored, More…

Top Story: ABC Considers Fate of Rules

As the world of entertainment mourns the loss of John Ritter, who died Friday from a heart defect, ABC and Touchstone Television are having to make tough decisions about the fate of Ritter‘s hit sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter just days before the network launches its fall lineup. One top TV exec told Variety ABC shouldn’t feel guilty to keep the series running.
“Shut down production for awhile to pay respect and mourn and figure the whole thing out. But I don’t think there’s anything disrespectful (about continuing). There are a lot of people whose livelihoods depend on the show.” A few scenarios to keep the show moving have already been discussed, such as bringing in another father figure or another family member to fill the void. Most agree, however, the show should deal with the loss of Ritter‘s character, which would definitely change the tone of the series. “The show’s so irreverent, it’s hard to imagine the (daughters) on the show still being as shallow as they seem and people finding that appropriate,” one industry insider told Variety. “Audiences have to feel these characters are real. They can’t pretend dad is off on a business trip.” In the meantime, ABC plans to air an hourlong tribute to Ritter, hosted by Diane Sawyer, Tuesday night.

Madonna Launches Roses

Entering the world of children’s literature, pop diva Madonna is celebrating the launch of her children’s book The English Roses, the first of five she has written, The Associated Press reports. Roses, which follows the friendship of four 11-year-old girls and their mutual envy of a beautiful classmate, is being released Monday in 100 countries with the initial print run of more than 750,000 copies in the United States, and 1 million worldwide, according to publisher Callaway Editions. A second book, Mr. Peabody’s Apples, will be out in November, AP reports.

Michael Jackson Hosts Neverland Event

The King of Pop hosted a spectacular charity fund-raiser at his Neverland Ranch Saturday, where guests such as Mike Tyson and Patti LaBelle paid $5,000 to attend, AP reports. The proceeds will go to Make-A-Wish Foundation, Oneness and E Ai Como E Que Fica, a Rio de Janeiro organization that provides food, clothing and medical care for poor children.

Reeve Honored for Research Efforts

Actor Christopher Reeve will receive a public service award from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation for his “perceptive, sustained and heroic advocacy” for medical research and disabled people in general, AP reports. Reeve was paralyzed in a riding accident in 1995 and since then has championed research on spinal cord injury, creating the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. “He has demonstrated great courage in a truly bleak situation, finding a way to exert tremendous power even though his body has lost much of its vigor,” the board told AP. “He … has transformed himself from one type of Superman into another.”

MacLaine Recovers From Back Injury

Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine is recovering from a slipped disk that caused her “terrible pain,” her publicist Dale Olsen told AP. The actress was following doctors’ orders to rest and remain still for several days until the injury repaired itself, Olson said Friday. “It’s not really serious,” he added. “Painful but not serious.”

Stamos Heads to Broadway

John Stamos will replace leading man Antonio Banderas in the Tony Award-winning Nine starting Oct. 7, Reuters reports. “I was a little leery about replacing someone again because I’ve done that in the past and I kind of wanted to create my own thing, but this show is still so fresh and has so much energy behind it that I thought, ‘How can I not be a part of this show?”‘ Stamos told Reuters.

Harrison’s Guitar Auctioned

George Harrison‘s fabled “Let It Be” guitar, used in the last public performance by the Beatles, sold for $434,750 in a public auction Saturday, a press release announced. “The guitar is a custom-made Fender Rosewood Telecaster,'” said Bill Miller, president of Odyssey Auctions of Corona, California, a division of Collectors Universe, Inc. Odyssey Auctions conducted the sale in Hollywood and on eBay.

Deauville Film Fest Hands Out Honors; New Festival in Two Rivers

France’s Deauville Festival of American Film gave two dark films about teen girls top honors, Reuters reports. What Alice Found, a drama about teen prostitution, nabbed Grand Prix for Independent Film, while the Jury Prize went to Thirteen, the indie gaining momentum for its depiction of teen angst. Meanwhile, the Two River Film Festival in Monmouth, New Jersey, a charity fundraising film festival, will start its inaugural run Oct. 10, with Jim Sheridan‘s semi-autobiographical In America starring Samantha Morton, kicking off the event. The festival will present quality cultural programming in addition to raising the funds to support them.