News, Sept. 29: Pixar, Disney Reconciliation “Unlikely,” Chaka Khan’s Son Freed, Melissa Etheridge Eyes Sitcom, More…

Disney won’t accept Pixar’s deal

There will be no meeting of the minds between Disney and Pixar. According to a report on CNBC, Walt Disney Co. president and chief operating officer Robert Iger said it is “unlikely” Disney will strike a new distribution deal with Pixar Animation Studios, The Associated Press reports. Earlier this year, Pixar broke off talks with Disney on extending their partnership after the two couldn’t agree on new terms that would be more favorable to Pixar. The animation giant has since met with other studios and says it has plenty of time to strike a new deal. Pixar’s next film under the Disney pact is The Incredibles, opening in November. Their last film under the distribution deal with Disney is Cars, which will be delivered in 2005.

Chaka Khan’s son freed

Damien Patrick Holland, the 25-year-old son of R&B singer Chaka Khan, was freed from custody Tuesday after prosecutors declined to file murder charges against him, pending further investigation in the slaying of a teenager, AP reports. “There’s not sufficient evidence at this time to file criminal charges,” Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office told AP. The victim was identified Tuesday as 17-year-old Christopher Baily of Los Angeles. Police earlier had said the victim was 18. Holland and Baily were fighting and both struggled to control a gun, which fired and struck the teen, police said. Baily was taken to a nearby hospital where he died.

ABC to develop sitcom starring Melissa Etheridge

ABC has just signed a commitment to develop a sitcom for openly gay musician Melissa Etheridge. According to Reuters, the untitled project, to be written by scribe Linda Wallem, is described as a reversed Will & Grace–with a kid. The skein centers on a gay woman (Etheridge), a music teacher who lives with her best friend, a straight man. The two are raising the daughter of another friend. Etheridge made headlines in 1993 when she came out publicly, and again for her recent marriage to actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, from the defunct WB show Popular. Besides a few cameo appearances on shows like Ellen, Frasier and King of the Hill, the show will be Etheridge‘s first foray into sitcom land.

Bookie suspends bets on Apprentice winner

The Antigua-based betting site has suspended wagering on the winner of the second season of NBC’s The Apprentice after detecting an unusual betting pattern from accounts originating in New Hampshire. “We don’t know if this is some kind of link to the contestants or some way involved with the production,” wagering director Stuart Doyle told AP Tuesday. “When this has happened before, it’s because someone has known the outcome.” This is the fourth time has had to suspend wagering on a reality TV show because of unusual betting patterns. The company suspected something was up when a maximum bet of $300 was placed on two candidates. According to Doyle, typical bets are about $25.

Hip-hop moguls eye MTV series

Hip-hop moguls Russell Simmons and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs are teaming for an MTV reality project tentatively titled Simmons Inc: The First Family of Hip-Hop. Reuters reports the series is to be in the vein of the cabler’s reality hit The Osbournes, but will chronicle the life of a hip-hop family. Simmons is the driving force behind HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, which features up-and-coming and seasoned poets performing their work onstage in front of a live audience, and is an executive producer for Court TV’s Russell Simmons Presents: Hip Hop Justice, a documentary exploring the truth, legend and speculation that exists within the crossroads of hip-hop music and crime.

Cat Stevens criticizes airport screening procedures

In an opinion piece published in the Los Angeles Times Tuesday, Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, called the United States’ system of screening airline passengers for potential terrorists indiscriminate. “The unbelievable thing is that only two months earlier, I had been having meetings in Washington with top officials from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to talk about my charity work,” wrote Islam, who was barred from entering the country last week because his named appeared on a government security watch list. “Had I changed that much? No. Actually, it’s the indiscriminate procedure of profiling that’s changed.” Islam said there have been repeated efforts to link him to violent causes and groups since he converted to Islam in 1977.

The Producers to begin production in Brooklyn

Mel Brooks, who announced Tuesday the film version of his Broadway hit musical The Producers would be the first major project filmed at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., credited subsidies for keeping the production in the Big Apple. “Without tax breaks, the horrible truth is this movie would have been made in Kabul or wherever the cheapest place in the world was to shoot the movie,” Brooks said. Gov. George Pataki signed a bill providing a tax credit of up to 15 percent to film and TV companies that complete 75 per cent of a production in New York. “It was breaking my heart to think that we would have had to go to Bucharest, or to Toronto or to Vancouver to somehow mimic this incredible city,” he said of New York, adding: “The bagels, just the bagels alone. You go to Toronto, they’re mushy.”

Kit Bowen contributed to this report.