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News, Dec. 16: Ryder Praised, Ozzy on Six-Month Road to Recovery, Lions Gate Buys Artisan, More...

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Dec 17, 2003 | 5:18am EST

Top Story: Ryder Praised by Judge

Judge Eldon Fox had nothing but praise for Winona Ryder regarding her adherence to the requirements of her probation after her shoplifting conviction last year, AFP reports. At the progress hearing, Judge Fox, complimented Ryder on her completion of the required counseling sessions as well as the 480 hours of community service Fox ordered at her sentencing hearing in November of last year. "Probation has indicated that you are involved in all the requirements as imposed by the court, and it appears that your participation in counseling issues and others have served to make this a very positive report on your behalf," Fox said. Ryder's lawyers requested that her original felony shoplifting conviction for stealing $5,000 of merchandise from a Beverly Hills' Saks Fifth Ave. be reduced to a misdemeanor. This will likely be discussed at a future hearing.

Ozzy on Six-Month Road to Recovery

Ozzy Osbourne will need six months to recover from the ATV crash he had Dec. 8, his wife Sharon said in an interview on GMTV news in England, although Osbourne is off the ventilator and on the mend: "He's awake and he's causing havoc. He's busy telling jokes all the time, he's already asked two nurses to marry him," Sharon said on the news and chat show. The former Black Sabbath frontman and reality show star was seriously injured when the ATV he was riding hit something in the road and flipped over on him breaking several ribs, his collarbone, and cracking a neck vertebra. In happier news, the 55-year-old rocker's duet, "Changes," with daughter Kelly, entered the English charts at #1 this weekend, a first in his over 30-year career.

Lions Gate Buys Artisan

Independent studio Lions Gate has finalized the purchase of fellow indie Artisan-- a month and a half after the deal was announced, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The deal will cost Lions Gate over $200 million with $150 million to be paid outright and $50-$60 million in debt to be acquired by Lions Gate. In an expected move, Artisan CEO Amir Malin said he would be leaving now that the merger is complete. He did not specify his future plans. The combined company will go by the name Lions Gate Entertainment, though the Artisan name may be used in the future for certain projects.

Theater Screens One of Ritter's Last Roles

One of John Ritter's last roles, shot two years before his untimely death at 54 from an undetected heart ailment in September, is screening in Los Angeles and may soon screen elsewhere, filmmakers Straw Weisman and Andy Goldberg told the Associated Press. Man of the Year, a drama-comedy shot in one night on a budget of $25,000 with 20 digital cameras and as many actors, centered around Ritter's character, a wealthy man whose dinner party thrown for friends leads to the unraveling of his life. Though directors Weisman and Goldberg had an outline of the story, all the actors improvised their roles. Says Weisman, ""Every actor was told, `You're the star of your story line and if you do a great job, then you're all over the movie. And if you don't do a great job, you're not in the movie." Ritter became involved when Goldberg approached him with the idea for the film. He was intrigued and signed on for $100.

Native Americans Praise Dialect in The Missing

Apaches are praising the accurate dialog and portrayal of their culture in the Ron Howard Western The Missing, AP reports. Though Apache characters have long appeared in Hollywood films, clear and accurate use of the Chiricahua dialect of the Apache native tongue is nearly nonexistent. New Mexico's Mescalero Reservation councilman Berle Kanseah and Chiricahua linguist Elbys Hugar acted as technical advisers on the film, the first they could recall in which Apache dialog was spoken well enough to be understood. Apache leaders are celebrating the film and a number of screenings have been held at reservations, prompting many Apache adults and children to become interested in the ancient tongue. Fewer than 300 people today speak Chiricahua.

Von Bondies Duke It Out With White Stripes

Jason Stollsteimer, lead singer for the rock group Von Bondies, was left with a bloody nose and a black eye after a scuffle with White Stripes' frontman Jack White Saturday night at a Detroit music venue, AP reports. Stollsteimer, 25, told police that White punched him seven times in the face while White, 28, claimed self-defense. Stollsteimer's manager, Rick Canny, said regarding the night's conflict: "This was not a fight, this was an attack." Alison Zero, spokesperson for the White Stripes singer, songwriter, and guitarist, declined to comment. A police investigation will determine if charges will be filed, say prosecutors.

Vandross Wants To Go to the Grammys

Multi-nominated artist Luther Vandross wants to go to the Grammy Awards despite ill health due to a severe stroke earlier this year, Associated Press reports. The 52-year-old singer is in good spirits after receiving a platinum plaque for over a million sales of his album, Dance With My Father, for which he is also nominated for five Grammy Awards. In November, his mother accepted two statuettes on his behalf at the American Music Awards. Clive Davis, Vandross' record company boss, is guarded about whether or not the singer will be able to attend the ceremonies Feb. 8th. "He would be eager to go if the doctors clear it. There is a possibility. I would not hold out hope one way or the other." If Vandross does attend the Grammy Awards it will mark his first public appearance since his stroke in April.

Role Call: Foxx on Stealth Mission

Jamie Foxx, currently in production on the Tom Cruise starrer Collateral, has signed on to star with Josh Lucas and Jessica Biel in Stealth, Variety reports. The film, which is due to begin shooting sometime early next year, centers on the three leads and their quest to down a robot-piloted stealth aircraft. Foxx says he was drawn to the role in Stealth based on director Rob Cohen's work on the Vin Diesel action flick, xXx.

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