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News, Jan. 15: Two More Academy Screeners Online, Law Stronger and Happier Post-Divorce, Spears Blames Vegas Vibe for Shotgun Wedding, more…...

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Jan 15, 2004 | 1:17pm EST

Top Story: Two More Academy Screeners Online

Hot on the heels of the revelation that two screeners intended for Academy members' use only were available online comes the news that two more screeners have been found floating around on the Internet, Associated Press reports. A VHS copy of House of Sand and Fog was found up for sale on eBay, and Cold Mountain was found available for download. The Los Angeles Times reports that while the latter has not been traced, House was found to belong to Ivan Kruglak, an Academy member who firmly denies putting the video on eBay, blaming the duplication house that made his copy. The DVD/video screeners, so dubbed because they allow Academy members to screen and judge Oscar contenders without having to attend theater screenings, have been the subjects of vociferous debate since their ban and its subsequent repeal last year. The Academy added tracking codes to each tape so any Academy member's copy found for sale or online for download could be easily traced back to its owner. Earlier in the week, the Academy said copies of Something's Gotta Give and The Last Samurai had been posted online.

Law Is Stronger and Happier Post-Divorce

In the wake of his breakup with Sadie Frost, his wife of nearly seven years, Jude Law says he is happier and stronger than before, AP reports. The 31-year-old star of Cold Mountain is looking on the bright side when it comes to his divorce: "It changes your life, I think, when you enter into a marriage and it can change it just as much as when you're part of a breakup," he said on British TV, "But I certainly feel stronger emotionally and happier in myself, if not a little battered and bruised." Frost cited Law's "unreasonable behavior" for adding to her post-natal depression after the birth of their third child, Rudy. They were divorced in October of last year.

Spears Blames Vegas Vibe For Wedding

Speaking on MTV's Total Request Live, Britney Spears claimed it was the atmosphere of Las Vegas that made her marry her childhood friend Jason Alexander in a late night ceremony, AP reports, and her belief in the institution of marriage remains unshaken. "I do believe in the sanctity of marriage, I totally do," said Spears, "(But) I was in Vegas, and it took over me." The marriage between the 22-year-olds was annulled two days after the January 3rd ceremony at the Little White Chapel. Spears declined to comment on her feelings for Alexander saying that information was "personal."

White Stripes Singer Pleads Innocent

Jack White, lead singer of the band the White Stripes, pleaded innocent in the misdemeanor aggravated assault case against him, AP reports. The Detroit native is charged with assaulting Von Blondies singer Jason Stollsteimer at a Detroit concert last month. White reportedly punched Stollsteimer in the face seven times, leaving him with a swollen eye and a bloody nose, according to police. White claims he struck in self-defense. The 28-year-old faces up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted. White is currently appearing in a small role in the film, Cold Mountain and will soon attend the Grammy Awards where he and fellow Stripe Meg White are nominated for three Grammys.

Diana Ross' Ex-Husband Killed

Diana Ross' ex-husband, avid mountaineer Arne Naess, was killed Tuesday in a mountain climbing accident in South Africa, AFP reports. Naess, who was in his 60s, fell to his death sometime around 12:30 p.m. in the Western Cape Province town of Franschoek where he was visiting. The Norway native was married to Ross for 13 years in a union that produced two sons. The couple divorced in 1999. A formal inquest will be held to determine what lead to Naess' death.

The Passion To Open on 2,000 Screens

In an unusual move for a partially self-financed non-studio film, Mel Gibson's directorial effort The Passion of Christ will open in 2,000 theaters on Feb. 25, Reuters reports. The film, which depicts the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus and features Latin and Aramaic dialog, had trouble even finding a distributor due to its controversial subject matter. Gibson's own Icon Productions and independent distributor Newmarket Films will distribute the film, which has been praised by Christian religious groups for its accuracy. Some Jewish groups have expressed concern that the film might promote anti-Semitic feeling with its depiction of Jesus' death according to the New Testament.

MTV Reality Shows for Diaz, Duff

After the recent shuttering of Ashton Kutcher's successful Punk'd, MTV is ready to find new reality programming. MTV will begin airing a new round of programming this year starring such teen and teen-friendly stars as Cameron Diaz, Hilary Duff and Frankie Muniz, Variety reports. Diaz will be featured traveling the world, while Duff's project remains unspecified. Frankie Muniz of Fox's Malcolm in the Middle will co-create and star in a show in which high-school students get to live out their fantasies. All the projects are still listed as being in development.

Trump Slams CBS Boss Moonves

Real-estate mogul and newly minted reality star Donald Trump lashed out at CBS head Leslie Moonves Wednesday at a press conference to promote his NBC show, The Apprentice, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Trump, whose first attempt at reality programming seems to be a hit, attacked Moonves repeatedly during the press conference, calling CBS top dog, "the most highly overrated person in television." Moonves apparently incurred Trump's wrath when he failed to renew his contract to air Trump's Miss Universe pageant as well as two other beauty pageants also owned by the tycoon. "If Les Moonves was a contestant [on Apprentice], he would have been fired by the third episode," Trump told reporters, who responded with a mixture of gasps and nervous laughter.

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