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News, Sept.25: "8 Simple Rules" Premiere Gets Top Ratings, Public Memorial Set for Johnny Cash, Malibu Man Claims "Bachelor" Trashed His Home, More...

Sep 25, 2003 | 10:19am EDT

Top Story: "8 Simple Rules" Premiere Gets Top Ratings

ABC's airing Tuesday night of first of the late comedian John Ritter's final episodes of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter was a ratings hit for the network. According to early ratings data released Wednesday from Nielsen Media Research, the family comedy drew an average of 16.86 million viewers and a 21 percent share of the 18-year-old to 49-year-old audience-more than any other program on air on the six major broadcast networks that evening. On Sept. 11, Ritter collapsed on the set of the show from a heart condition and died. After his death, the network decided to air the three episodes Ritter had taped and then write his death into the series. The hit show, now in its second season, was expected to be a major focus of ABC's fall lineup.

Public Memorial Set for Johnny Cash

A public memorial service for Johnny Cash is set for Nov. 12 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., The Associated Press reports. The memorial will be open to the public and tickets will be free of charge. The date for the public memorial was delayed because and the family wanted to be involved, but Cash's son, John Carter Cash, is touring in European until early November. The 71-year-old country music legend died Sept. 12 of respiratory failure caused by complications from diabetes. A private funeral was held Sept. 15 near his home in Hendersonville just north of Nashville.

Malibu Man Claims "Bachelor" Trashed His Home

A Malibu homeowner who agreed in June to rent his house to Warner Bros. Television for the taping of The Bachelor said the company trashed his house. When attorney Kenneth Chyten returned to the family estate, he claims he found cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, holes in the walls, a rodent and poisonous spider infestation, discarded feminine hygiene products, and other assorted damage and trash, the AP reports. The production paid $45,000 to use the six-bedroom, 7,000-square-foot home, which sits on 1.5 acres and offers panoramic views of the ocean, mountains, a valley and a waterfall. Chyten seeks $5 million in damages.

Letterman's Real Stupid Pet Trick

David Letterman told viewers on CBS' Late Show that he found a bear rummaging around his kitchen of his Montana cabin over the weekend and needed help from a local teenager to get the animal to leave. After Letterman and his friend and ranch manager, Chip Kearns, chased the bear around the house for a few hours, they finally called upon 17-year-old Brandon Lightner, who dropped M-80s, large firecrackers, into a room where the bear was sleeping, chasing it out. "If you ever are in that situation, call a high school kid," Letterman said.

Anthony Hopkins Gets Hollywood Star

Anthony Hopkins, who stars in The Human Stain, a feature adaptation of Philip Roth's novel, received a star Wednesday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the AP reports. Hopkins, 65, won an Academy Award for his role as Hannibal Lecter in 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs. "This is synonymous with the dreamland of the movie business, and that's where I always wanted to come," Hopkins told a crowd at the ceremony outside the Kodak Theatre, home of the annual Oscars telecast.

Charleton Heston Recipient of Charleton Heston Award

The recipient of the American Film Institute's first-ever Charlton Heston award went to none other than ... Charlton Heston. The AFI will dole out the award, intended to acknowledge people who have made distinguished contributions to movies and television and the AFI itself, periodically to recipients deemed worthy by the institute. The 80-year-old actor, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, received the award at his home Tuesday. He was AFI board chairman from 1971-82 and AFI president from 1983-2002. He also was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1965-71.

Elton John Goes Minimalist, Sells Belongings

After a lifetime of flamboyant extravagance, singer Elton John is going minimalist and selling off the contents of his London home. And that means all of it: Elizabethan paintings, Art Deco beds, lamps, gilt mirrors, glass baubles, candelabras, tables, clocks, statues, a full dining suite and dinner service, two complete sitting rooms and several bedrooms. The items will be auctioned off through Sotheby's auction house on Sept. 30. The items will not be as personal as the sale of John's entire wardrobe in 1988. "He bought everything in a six-month spree and told his decorator to make something of it," a Sotheby's spokeswoman told Reuters.

Role Call: "Underworld" Could Soon Become Trilogy

Screen Gems is spinning off last week's box office champ Underworld into a trilogy. According to Variety, the studio has made a deal for scribes Danny McBride and Len Wiseman to pen the sequel to the werewolves vs. vampires thriller, with a possible third film, a prequel, to follow. Wiseman, who made his writing and directing bow with Underworld, is set to direct the sequel, but no deal is in place yet for star Kate Beckinsale, although she has reportedly expressed interest in reprising her part.

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