The Simpsons' creator, Matt Groening, is denying a report that appeared Monday in British newspaper The Financial Times that implied he was winding up the series because it was getting harder and harder to surprise the audience. "I was misquoted and misunderstood," Groening said in a telephone interview with Reuters. "I don't want anyone to think I am predicting the demise of the Simpsons. They will live on with new adventures for years to come." The cartoonist added that his comments were ones he often made before but were taken out of context and misunderstood. "After 300 episodes, it is more difficult to remain true to the characters. We are trying to top ourselves after all those great shows, and the shows are as good now as they have ever been," he said.
Eccentric Icelandic singer Bjork and her American filmmaker boyfriend, Matthew Barney, are expecting a child in September, Reuters reports. Bjork, 36, joined the band Sugarcubes in 1987 but later quit the band to go solo. She has a teenage son from her marriage to fellow Sugarcubes band member, Thor Eldon.
Aussie darling Nicole Kidman won a spot on the cover of People magazine's "The 50 Most Beautiful People" special issue, which hits newsstands Friday. Also included in this year's list are celebs Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Cindy Crawford, Denzel Washington, Britney Spears, Mandy Moore and Sharon Osbourne.
In the Biz
Seinfeld writer/producer Larry Charles is making his directorial debut in Masked & Anonymous, which is scheduled to go into production in Los Angeles this July, according to Variety. The film's cast so far includes Penelope Cruz, Jessica Lange, Luke Wilson and Bob Dylan, with Jeff Bridges in negotiations to join.
Brett Ratner, who helmed the hugely successful Rush Hour 2 starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, is in early negotiations to direct Paycheck for Paramount Pictures, Variety reports. The film, a futuristic tale about a man who has part of his memory erased, is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick.
Meanwhile, Jerry Bruckheimer and the Walt Disney Co. are in final negotiations with director Gore Verbinski to helm Pirates of the Caribbean. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film focuses on a daring attempt to rescue someone from dangerous pirates trying to reverse an ancient curse.
Steven Spielberg will be wrapping up the shoot on his thriller Catch Me if You Can in Canadian cities Montreal and Quebec City over the next few days, Reuters reports. The big-budget film stars Tom Hanks as an FBI agent who tracks down the young con artist Frank Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie is slated for a late fall release.
Fans of MTV's phenomenal reality series The Osbournes will finally be able to find out what exactly Ozzy Osbourne is mumbling between bleeps. The show is being closed-captioned for the hearing "non-impaired," Knight Ridder Newspapers reports.
Following the success of its drama Queer As Folk, the Showtime network is teaming up with MTV to launch a new gay-oriented premium service, the AP reports. The two Viacom outlets will be racing against Canada's existing Pridevision TV to reach the gay market first in the United States.
In a bid to save the recently canceled ABC series Once and Again, fans have purchased a billboard ad in West Hollywood, Calif., that reads: "Dear ABC, Bring back the magic 'Once and Again.'" The ad, which cost fans more than $12,500, will stay up for a month, according to the AP. The series, which stars Sela Ward and Billy Campbell, was canceled because of low ratings.
MTV has scheduled a free concert for 7-10 p.m. May 10 in New York's Battery Park in lower Manhattan as part of the Tribeca Film Festival, the AP reports. Performances at MTV's Rock and Comedy Concert include those by Sheryl Crow, the Counting Crows, Robin Williams and Jimmy Fallon. The festival, which is organized by Robert De Niro, runs from May 8-12.