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News, April 21: Madonna's Label Loses Big Bucks, Kim Basinger Sells Engagement Ring, Cannes Releases Film Lineup, More…

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Apr 21, 2004 | 12:52pm EDT

Top Story: Madonna's Label Tagged Unprofitable

As part of an ongoing feud between Madonna and Warner Music Group, unsealed court documents revealed that the singer's record label, Maverick Records--which handles not only the Material Girl but Alanis Morissette and Michelle Branch as well--has lost $66 million since 1999, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Last month, Maverick sued Warner Music for $200 million, claiming breach of contract and fraud, but Warner retaliated by filing a preemptive claim asking a judge to find that the company had fulfilled its commitment to Maverick. The latest documents show that in order for Maverick to get out of its joint venture with Warner Music, which is up at the end of the year, Maverick will have to pay $92.5 million, in addition to the value of Warner's interest in the label. The price tag includes the $66 million in losses, a $20 million loan and $6.5 million in unrecouped fees, the trade paper reports.

AIDS Scare Fuels Calif. Porn Film Probe

The recent HIV infection of two porn stars has prompted local health authorities to seek unprecedented inspections of California's multibillion-dollar adult film industry and press for mandatory condom use during sex scenes, officials told Reuters on Tuesday. A crackdown of this nature, however, will not necessarily lead to safer sex, industry representatives told Reuters. More than likely, it will drive away many of the adult film production houses that flourish in Southern California and employ some 6,000 people, including about 1,200 performers, and/or force them to go underground and away from mandatory HIV testing. "If there is a mandatory condom law put in place, these people will scatter and go underground and we will not be able to test them," Sharon Mitchell of the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare (AIM) Foundation told Reuters. "If you want to see an influx of disease that may affect the general population, then you put a mandatory condom law into effect…I've very concerned about government intervention in this respect."

Basinger Auctions Off Engagement Ring

Cha-ching! Actress Kim Basinger sold a 3.7-carat diamond engagement ring given to her by ex-husband Alec Baldwin to a Beverly Hills jewelry dealer for a hefty $59,750 at a benefit auction, Reuters reports. The Oscar-winning actress, a noted animal rights activist, auctioned the modern Tiffany & Co. ring and some other jewelry at Christie's to raise money for The Performing Animal Welfare Society.

Cannes Film Festival Announces Slate

The Coen brothers' comedy The Ladykillers will be among the 18 films competing for the Cannes Film Festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, The Associated Press reports. Others on the list include the Thai film Tropical Malady, the animated Shrek 2 and The Motorcycle Diaries by Brazilian Walter Salles. Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 2 will be among films shown outside of competition, and Tarantino will preside over the jury at this year's festival, which runs May 12-23.

Ex-Pogues Singer Attacked in London Pub

Shane MacGowan, the former lead singer of Irish rockers the Pogues, suffered facial injuries Monday after being assaulted by two men at a London pub, Reuters reports. London's The Evening Standard reported that MacGowan suffered a fractured cheekbone after being kicked, punched and hit with a metal bar. Police told Reuters they were not aware of any motive for the attack.

Scandal Strikes USA Today

One of USA Today's senior editors, Karen Jurgensen, handed in her resignation Tuesday in the wake of an investigation in which a former star reporter allegedly fabricated portions of major international stories, Reuters reports. Foreign correspondent Jack Kelley, who resigned from the paper Jan. 6, was found to have made up substantial portions of eight major stories from around the world, lifted material from other publications, lied in speeches given for the paper and conspired to mislead the team of senior journalists investigating his work, USA Today said.

Disney Tries To Jump-Start Struggling Network

In an effort to boost ABC's dismal numbers, parent company Walt Disney Co. has replaced the network's primetime programming chiefs and reorganized the television operations, Reuters reports. ABC cable networks group president Anne Sweeney and ESPN sports cable network president George Bodenheimer were named to newly created positions as co-chairs of the media networks unit that includes ESPN, ABC and Disney's cable operations. Disney president Bob Iger hopes the promotions will help ABC rise in the ranks, since falling to No. 4 in 2000 when Who Wants to be a Millionaire failed.

Kwame Is Sitting Pretty

Even though he may not have been chosen by Donald Trump as his Apprentice, that hasn't stopped The Apprentice runner-up Kwame Jackson from getting a rush of offers, AP reports. In a phone interview with AP, Jackson said he is weighing offers from another famous billionaire, Mark Cuban, as well as the KFC fast-food chain. He's also starting his own company. "[The Apprentice] was basically a chance to have NBC pay for a 15-episode Kwame commercial in a business environment," Jackson said. The ambitious businessman is starting an entertainment company, Legacy Communications Group, to produce films, video games and live events with a focus on concert series.

Starship Song Tops Worst Songs List

Blender magazine has named Starship's '80s rock song "We Built This City" as the worst song ever, AP reports. The magazine's "50 Worst Songs Ever!" list were were selected for their melodies, others "are wretchedly performed" and "quite a few don't make sense whatsoever," the magazine said. The list, which appears in the May issue, includes songs by New Kids on the Block, Meat Loaf, The Doors, Lionel Richie, Hammer and The Beach Boys, among others.

Role Call: Sonnenfeld's Heartbreak

Director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) is in negotiations to direct a remake of the 1972 comedy The Heartbreak Kid, which starred Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd, written by Neil Simon and directed by Elaine May. The story follows a man who hastily weds a local girl whom he thinks is perfect--until he falls in love with another girl during the honeymoon.

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