General News

News, April 28: Downey Jr. Gets Divorced, Marcia Gay Harden Welcomes Twins, Elton John Thinks "American Idol" May Be Racist, More…

By:
Apr 28, 2004 | 10:26am EDT

Top Story: Downey Jr. Ends Marriage

Actor Robert Downey Jr. and his estranged wife, actress-model Deborah Falconer, have officially called it quits after 12 years, Reuters reports. The couple, who have been separated for eight years, filed divorce papers this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, publicist Alan Nierob said. "This is more or less just a formality," he told Reuters. Downey, 39, and Falconer were wed in 1992 after a 42-day courtship. Their 10-year-old son, Indio, will continue to live with his mother, but Downey "remains very involved in the upbringing of his son," Nierob said.

Gay Harden Gives Birth to Twins

Oscar-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden and her husband, Thaddaeus Scheel, welcomed twins--a boy, Hudson Harden Scheel, and a girl, Julitta Dee Harden Scheel--last Thursday in Los Angeles, The Associated Press reports. "Everyone is doing fine," Harden's publicist Carri McClure told AP. "They're not getting a lot of sleep, but everyone is doing well." The couple also have a 5-year-old daughter, Eulala Grace.

Joel Expected To Pay for Damages

A 93-year-old woman whose house singer Billy Joel slammed into over the weekend expects the singer/songwriter to pay for repairs, AP reports. Maria Dono of Bayville, New York, returned from a shopping trip Sunday afternoon to discover the accident and told the New York Post, "He hit my bushes and the wall. He'd better come fix it. I'm sure he has money." Claire Mercuri, a spokeswoman for Joel, said the Joel's "main concern" was to repair the damage. "He's taken immediate steps to make sure it's repaired as quickly as possible," Mercuri told the Post. Joel apparently skidded on the wet road and hit Dono's house, with no evidence of alcohol or drug involvement.

Elton John Calls Idol Racist

Elton John thinks American Idol's voting system by the national viewing audience may be "incredibly racist," Reuters reports. John, who was a guest judge on the hit show a few weeks ago, was among the many who voiced their shock at the dismissal of talented contestant Jennifer Hudson last week. "The three people I was really impressed with, and they just happened to be black, young female singers, and they all seem to be landing in the bottom three," said John, commenting on the tally in which the lowest vote-getter is eliminated. "They have great voices. The fact that they're constantly in the bottom three--and I don't want to set myself up here--but I find it incredibly racist," John said at a news conference promoting his Radio City Music Hall concert. The other two singers grouped in the bottom three of the seven remaining American Idol finalists last week were divas La Toya London and Fantasia Barrino. Black singer Ruben Studdard won the title last year.

Crowe Helps Out Fire-Bombed School

Upon learning of a Jewish elementary school bombing earlier this month in Montreal, Russell Crowe immediately offered aid to the school, Reuters reports. "He said he was very upset about what had happened that a place of learning should be attacked that way," Shelley Paris, a spokeswoman for the United Talmud Torahs elementary school told Reuters. The Oscar-winning actor, on location in Toronto filming Ron Howard's Cinderella Man, made a donation to help rebuild the school's library. Police said a note with anti-Semitic comments was found on the outside wall of the gutted library after the bombing.

Mohamed Al Fayed Rails Against CBS

Mohamed Al Fayed, the father of Dodi Fayed, who was killed with Princess Diana in the fateful 1997 car crash, has filed suit against CBS for emotional distress, Reuters reports, citing the network's broadcast last week which showed a photo of Diana as she lay dying. Fayed's lawyer Fred Gaines said on Tuesday that a lawsuit claiming invasion of privacy and emotional distress was filed in Los Angeles late last week. Although no pictures of Dodi were shown, Fayed had been concerned that CBS also planned to show pictures of his son dying. The CBS program examined the number of conspiracy theories in the princess' death, put forward principally by Fayed, including his belief Diana and Dodi were murdered because their relationship was an embarrassment to the British royal family.

Comcast Isn't Buying Disney Out

Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, withdrew its unsolicited $48.4 billion to buy Walt Disney Co. Wednesday, after the Mouse House refused to open negotiations, Reuters reports. "Unfortunately it has become abundantly clear that Disney does not share our interests," Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts told Reuters on a conference call. "I am very comfortable with our decision to withdraw even though it is not the outcome I had hoped for." Speculating where Comcast may set its sights on next, Reuters reports Roberts gave investors a hint when he said he expected Comcast to take a serious look at Adelphia, the bankrupt cable company that recently announced it was seeking a buyer.

CBS Continues to Lead the Pack

Despite some strong showings from NBC's Friends and Fox's American Idol, CBS still came out on top in total viewership as the television season winds to an end, AP reports. CBS had 11.7 million viewers followed by NBC (11 million), Fox (8.8 million), ABC (7.1 million), the WB (3.4 million) and UPN (2.8 million). For the week of April 18-25, the top 10 shows included: American Idol (Tuesday), Fox; Friends, NBC; American Idol (Wednesday) Fox; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS; CSI: Miami, CBS; Survivor: All-Stars, CBS; Friends, NBC; ER, NBC; Law & Order, NBC; Will & Grace, NBC.

Role Call: Theron's Jinxed

Charlize Theron is in negotiations to star in and produce Jinx, a film based on the comic book of the same name. The comic book centers on a bounty hunter who must learn to trust a wanted criminal so they can team up to find millions of dollars of abandoned mob money in order to start a new life together. Brian Michael Bendis, who spent two and half years writing and illustrating the comic, will adapt his own work for Universal Pictures. "This is not the traditional comic book movie, which tends to be more about concept," Bendis told the Hollywood Reporter. "This is a crime novel that is illustrated so you're more interested in the voice of it."

More General News