News, Sept.16: Britney Performs Surprise Vegas Show, Cash Mourned at Private Service, Sheen and Richards Expecting, More…

Top Story: Britney Spears Performs Surprise Las Vegas Show

Britney Spears was back in the spotlight this weekend after giving a surprise performance Sunday morning at the Palms hotel-casino in Las Vegas–and the pop princess gave the 1,800 patrons at the Rain nightclub something to drool over. Rain co-owner Scott DeGraff told MTV News the DJ stopped the music at about 1 a.m. as a group of five or six dancers took the stage, shielding Spears, who then broke out from behind them to a roaring crowd. During her 30-minute performance, Spears and her dancers pretended to make out with one another on a giant daybed lounger and ended with one of the dancers ripping Spears‘ top off, exposing her red bra. The singer belted out some tunes from her still-untitled upcoming album, including “Me Against the Music” and “Breathe on Me.” Spears‘ new album was originally slated for release November 25 but a statement on her official Web site says that the record’s release had been postponed.

Johnny Cash Mourned at Private Service

Music legend Johnny Cash was remembered at a private 2 1/2-hour service Monday at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn., the same church where services for Cash‘s wife, June Carter Cash, were held after her death in May. Cash, 71, died Friday of respiratory failure caused by complications from diabetes. According to The Associated Press, more than 1,000 mourners attended the funeral and listened to tributes from Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson, preacher Franklin Graham, former Vice President Al Gore and other family members and friends. Also paying their respects were Vince Gill, Hank Williams, Jr., Dwight Yoakam, the Oak Ridge Boys and actress Jane Seymour. A public memorial is still being planned.

Schwarzenegger Tries To Woo Women Voters

Arnold Schwarzenegger wife Maria Shriver appeared on Monday’s season premiere of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Schwarzenegger and Winfrey discussed old magazine articles that have resurfaced in which he describes a party-hardy lifestyle. The Republican said the comments reflected a 1970s strategy to pump up interest in the sport of bodybuilding. “We really were out there doing crazy things. We were trying to get the attention,” Schwarzenegger said. “At that time I didn’t think I was going to run for governor.” According to the AP, polls show the Republican is struggling to win over women, the show’s primary audience.

Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards Expecting

Actors Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards, who were married in June 2002, are expecting their first child early next spring, a publicist told the AP Monday. Sheen, who appears in the new CBS series Two and a Half Men, also has an 18-year-old daughter, Cassandra, from his first marriage. Richards, 32, and Sheen, 38, first worked together on 1993’s Loaded Weapon 1 and met again while shooting the independent film Good Advice in 2000. They began dating after she guest-starred on Sheen‘s former sitcom, Spin City. The couple is also co-starring in Scary Movie 3, which opens Oct. 24.

Man Tries To Derail Blaine’s London Stunt

A 40-year-old man was arrested Tuesday for causing criminal damage in attempting to derail magician David Blaine‘s planned 44-day fast in a glass box suspended from a crane in London, Reuters reports. Police said the man climbed nearby scaffolding and spent half an hour trying to sabotage Blaine‘s bid by attempting to cut through water pipes and power cables attached to the box. Since Blaine began his isolation challenge 10 days ago, he has been pelted with eggs, had golfballs driven at him, been teased by topless women and has endured late-night revelers waving the scent of fish ‘n’ chips at him.

NBC Preps Van Helsing Drama

In an unprecedented move, Universal has pacted with NBC for a drama series based on the studio’s summer 2004 tentpole, the monster actioner Van Helsing, Variety reports. The film is set in the late 19th century and finds Bram Stoker’s fabled monster hunter Van Helsing summoned to a distant Eastern European land to vanquish evil in the form of Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man. The pact is unusual because the pilot commitment precedes the release of the film by eight months.

Role Call: More Trouble for Exorcist Prequel, G.I. Joe Gets Movie Deal

There is no end in sight for the problems that have plagued the production of Exorcist: The Beginning. According to The Hollywood Reporter, director Paul Schrader is no longer working on the project, which completed principal photography in February and is scheduled for release early next year. Schrader took over the project when the late director John Frankenheimer became ill, but he and producers James G. Robinson and Guy McElwaine have since run into creative differences in post-production. No replacement director has been named … Go Joe! Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has been recruited by Hasbro to make a movie deal for G.I. Joe. Di Bonaventura, who is expected to pitch a live-action film based on the greatest American hero, was drafted by the toymaker because of his experience as a Warner Bros. executive in managing such franchises as The Matrix, Harry Potter, Scooby-Doo and the Batman films.