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News, Aug. 27: Michael Jackson Opens Neverland, Garrett Settles With "Raymond," States Ask Hollywood To Ban Screen Smoking, More…

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Aug 27, 2003 | 10:49am EDT

Top Story: Jackson Opens Personal Amusement Park

The eternally young Michael Jackson will open up his carnival-style Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif., to 500 guests for one day, The Associated Press reports. The invitation-only event, set for Sept. 13, will include dinner, magicians, games and a tractor-trailer full of stuffed animal prizes plus the amusement park rides already on the property. Jackson's publicist Stuart Backerman told AP that tickets for two people will cost $5,000 with $1,000 from each sale being divided among three charities--Make-A-Wish Foundation for sick children; Oneness, dedicated to erasing racism through art and music; and E Ai Como E Que Fica, a Rio de Janeiro group that provides food, clothing and medical care to impoverished children. The rest of the money will go to Jackson--to pay for the cost of the party, Backerman said. Interestingly, Jackson's former financial advisers recently settled a major lawsuit against the singer, which claimed, among many things, that Jackson was in deep debt and near bankruptcy, AP reports. Many speculated the Neverland property, recently assessed at $12.3 million, would go on the market.

Garrett Ends Strike

Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett returned to work Wednesday, ending the revolt by the CBS hit show's disgruntled supporting players that delayed production for the upcoming eighth season, Reuters reports. Although official details have not been released, the Emmy-winning Garrett apparently worked out a salary increase with the show's producers, which was reported by the trade papers to have been raised to $250,000 an episode, as well as a back-end profit deal. The other actors--Patricia Heaton, Doris Robert and Peter Boyle--had already accepted a multimillion-dollar profit-sharing offer and returned to work last week.

Fear Lives On

NBC and the producers of the hit reality show Fear Factor have stuck a lucrative deal that will keep the series that pits contestants against their fears to win big cash prizes around through May 2007, Variety reports. "Fear Factor has been one of the huge reality successes of the past couple seasons, and it's one of the most underestimated shows in all of television," NBC prez Jeff Zucker told Variety."And from an economic standpoint, it's become one of the most financially important shows to us."

Whitney Houston Defends Husband

Pop diva Whitney Houston confronted police after her husband, Bobby Brown, was arrested for probation violation outside an Atlanta restaurant Friday, AP reports. "She was outwardly frustrated…yelling and screaming and pointing fingers at one of our officers," Sgt. Chris Lagerbloom told AP. "We deal with emotions like that from family members all the time." Brown, who Lagerbloom says "was as calm and cordial and professional as you could be," was picked up on a warrant for failing to show for his court-ordered community service, drug treatment and random drug test, stemming from a drunk driving conviction earlier in the year.

States Seek To Reduce Film Smoking

Attorney generals from 24 states across the nation sent a letter Tuesday to the Motion Picture Association of America's president Jack Valenti asking that the film industry reduce the amount of smoking in films to thwart teens from taking up the habit, AP reports. The letter cited a study from Dartmouth Medical School that said children who watch movies in which actors smoke heavily are three times more likely to smoke themselves than those exposed to less smoking on-screen. AP reports MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor said Valenti had received the letter and would respond appropriately.

Real World Cast Member Arrested

Adam King from the current cast of Real World: Paris was arrested Aug. 18 in Statesboro, Georgia, for loitering and public drunkenness, after flagging down a police officer and then running away from him, AP reports. The 24-year-old was later released on bond.

The O.C. Continues Ratings Climb

The new Fox drama The O.C. gathered more steam in its third episode, boosting its audiences by 100,000, AP reports, putting it at No. 31 on the ratings list for the week of Aug. 18-24. Meanwhile, CBS won the ratings week as top network with 8.7 million viewers with repeats of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Without a Trace followed by NBC ( 7.5 million); ABC (6.6 million); Fox (6 million); UPN (2.7 million) and the WB (2.5 million). The top 10 shows were: CSI, CBS; Without a Trace, CBS; TV-movie Code 11-14, CBS; 60 Minutes, CBS; Law & Order, NBC; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS; CSI: Miami, CBS; NFL Pre-season game: Tampa Bay at St. Louis, ABC; King of Queens, CBS and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, NBC.

Role Call: Biel Cuts Like a Knife

TV's 7th Heaven star Jessica Biel, who is starring in the upcoming remake Texas Chainsaw Massacre, will try her hand at avoiding more sharp objects in Blade: Trinity, the third installment in the Marvel Comics-based franchise about a vampire hunter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Biel will play Abigail, the daughter of Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) who inherits the vampire slaying duties that once belonged to Blade (Wesley Snipes).

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