Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, secretary to Pope John Paul II, said Tuesday the 83-year-old pontiff never endorsed Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ saying, "It is as it was," after viewing the film, The Associated Press reports. Dziwisz, who has served as the Pope's secretary during his 25-year term, confirmed that the John Paul II had indeed seen the controversial film that depicts the last hours of Jesus' life, but he had made no such statement that the film is accurate in its portrayal of the crucifixion of Jesus. The Vatican press office has declined to comment on the Pope's opinion of the film, stating they do not report on "the private activities of the Pope." Gibson has long defended his film as being faithful to the Biblical account of the crucifixion. Some Jewish organizations have raised concerns about the film stirring up anti-Semitic sentiment due to its portrayal of Jewish involvement in the death of Jesus. The film opens on Ash Wednesday, February 25th.
Frances McDormand To Head Berlin Jury
Oscar winner Frances McDormand will head the seven-member jury at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, AP reports. The indie-favorite actress is currently starring in Something's Gotta Give which will play at the festival out of competition. McDormand will join Italian actress Valeria Bruni Tedeschi; Ethiopian director Maji-da Abdi; Iranian director Samira Makhmalbaf; Italian director Gabriele Salvatores; movie theater director Dan Talbot, and German film producer Peter Rommel to select, among other awards, the winner of the Golden Bear top award. The festival runs February 5-15.
Dan Rather Treated for Skin Cancer
Dan Rather, longtime anchor of the CBS Evening News, said Monday he had surgery to remove cancerous cells from his nose, AP reports. Rather has been absent from the nightly newscast for several nights, but reappeared Monday and spoke about his condition on the air. Basal skin cancer often develops after years of prolonged skin exposure, but is highly treatable if detected early. Rather urged viewers to be examined for skin cancer and said the whole experience was "humbling." A full recovery for the 72-year-old is expected.
Moonves Orders More Survivors
In a less than shocking move, CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves has renewed the network's contract with Survivor until at least 2005, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The new deal as well as the locations of the ninth and tenth editions of the show were hammered out while Moonves and Survivor creator Mark Burnett rode an escalator in the hotel where the two are doing press for CBS. In addition to the new Survivor shows, CBS has also ordered full seasons for freshman shows Two and a Half Men and Navy NCIS. It was also announced that CBS' hit CSI will spin off once again with CSI: New York. Moonves has been criticized for some of his programming choices recently namely his decision to pull the Reagan miniseries from CBS The Reagans after the project came under fire. The biopic later aired on sister pay channel Showtime. The new season of Survivor starring past winners and popular contestants will begin airing following the Super Bowl on February 1st.
Nick and Aaron's Mom Arrested
Jane Carter, mother of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and poplet Aaron Carter, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with battery after breaking into her estranged husband's home and attacking his new girlfriend, Launch Radio Networks reports. Ms. Carter allegedly broke into the house, walked into the bedroom where Robert Carter and his girlfriend Ginger Elrod where sleeping. Ms. Carter then allegedly pulled Ms. Elrod out of the bed by her hair and proceeded to beat her with a remote control. Aaron's twin sister Angel was present during the occurrence and told police she had indeed seen her mother "physically beating" Ms. Elrod. Jane Carter is already in hot water with Aaron, who charged that she removed $100,000 from his bank account without his permission. This disagreement was resolved Sunday. Robert Carter is now being sued for libel and breach of contract by talent manager Eliot Weisman, who claims he was cut out of Aaron's career only after he had gotten them representation at the William Morris Agency. Jane Carter's arraignment hearing for the battery charge is February 3rd.
Kid's Choice Awards Nominees Named
Preteen pop favorites Bow Wow, Nick Cannon and Justin Timberlake will be at the mercy of children when the Kid's Choice Awards are handed out for best male singer April 3rd, AP reports. Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Lopez, Ashanti and Hilary Duff will compete for best female singer. Best song contenders are B2K for "Bump, Bump, Bump," Outkast for "Hey Ya," Beyonce for "Crazy in Love," and "Where is the Love" by Black Eyed Peas.
Role Call: Baldwin To Direct Hoodz
Stephen Baldwin plans to make his directorial debut this summer with a project based on his own idea, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Baldwin revealed little about the upcoming project except that it will center around the attempt by a Mexican-American skateboarder to rally his fellow skater boys and girls to save their local skate park. Baldwin has a television series in the works and would probably shoot the project, titled Robbin' Hoodz, during that show's summer hiatus. Says Baldwin, "Commercially, no one has accomplished something that truly speaks to the true subculture of skating."