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News, Oct. 19: Britney Spears Is Taking a Break, Melissa Etheridge Recoups After Surgery, Jon Stewart Feuds with CNN's Tucker Carlson, More…

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Oct 19, 2004 | 9:16am EDT

Britney plans to take it down a notch

Newlywed Britney Spears has decided to take a break so she can "enjoy life" and "chill" with her new husband, Kevin Federline. In an open letter on her official Web site, the pop princess said, "My prerogative right now is to just chill and let all the other overexposed blondes on the cover of Us Weekly (magazine) be your entertainment." Spears's publicist told Reuters on Monday that the singer was merely keeping a low profile until the first of next year to "spend some time with her husband." "Going and going and going is all I've ever known since I was 15 years old," Spears wrote on her site. "Right now…I really want to watch (the film) Saved! with Mandy Moore and reruns of Sex and the City. I want to enjoy all the simple things that I missed over the past few years due to working way too much."

Etheridge recoups from breast cancer surgery

Rocker Melissa Etheridge is recovering at home after undergoing two surgeries for breast cancer, Reuters reports, and is planning to begin chemotherapy soon. "The good news is they took out the tumor and a few lymph nodes, only one of which was positive (for cancer)," Etheridge, 43, said in a statement posted on her Web site on Friday. "I still have both of my breasts, and whether I will keep them is a bridge I have to cross later." The singer says she'll continue to work on an upcoming greatest hits album, as well as develop a pilot TV comedy for ABC in which she'll play a single lesbian raising a child with a straight roommate.

Stewart, Carlson squabble

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart and CNN's Tucker Carlson had it out Friday on CNN's Crossfire, slinging insults at one another and accusing each other of being politically biased, The Associated Press reports. On the show, Stewart said he thought Crossfire was "partisan hackery" and did little to advance the cause of democracy. "You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably," Stewart told Carlson on the show, to which Carlson responded, "You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think." "You need to go to one," Stewart shot back. Carlson on Monday said The Daily Show host looked ridiculous during his CNN appearance and was a sellout for publicly backing Democrat John Kerry for president. Stewart wasn't talking about the confrontation on Monday, a spokesman told AP, but Comedy Central executive Tony Fox said Stewart has been a longtime critic of cable news networks and their political argument shows.

Disney heads into a courtroom battle

After many years of legal maneuvering, the lawsuit regarding Michael Ovitz's brief tenure at the Walt Disney Co. is finally making its way into a small Delaware courtroom, Variety reports. The suit, filed by the Walt Disney Co. shareholders against the company's board of directors, claims that Disney chief Michael Eisner in 1995 engineered the deal to hire his friend Ovitz, one of Hollywood's most powerful talent agents and co-founder of Creative Artists Agency, as president. But when things didn't work out, rather than firing him, Disney's board awarded Ovitz a $140 million severance package, a major faux pas in the eyes of the shareholders. They seek $200 million from Ovitz and the board. "We think the trial should be a textbook on how corporations should not be run," Steven Schulman, the lead attorney representing the shareholders, told Reuters.

Lane rescues London's Producers

Tony-winning Nathan Lane rushed to London to take over The Producers role he immortalized on Broadway, after actor Richard Dreyfuss had to pull out due to a herniated disc in his shoulder, Reuters reports. In the demanding role of Max Bialystock, Dreyfuss had been set to sing and dance with his co-star, British comedian Lee Evans, as Leo Bloom. "The trouble is I'm not actually here," Reuters reports Dreyfuss quipped during rehearsals. "I am here in London but my body hasn't actually arrived yet." The show will still open as scheduled on Nov. 9 with Lane stepping in on a temporary basis for two months.

Lawsuit against Bardot thrown out

A French court has thrown out a defamation lawsuit against Brigitte Bardot, ruling that the former sex kitten had been provoked into calling Marc-Olivier Fogiel, the host of Radio Courtesy, "a little jerk," during a broadcast in 2003, AP reports. Fogiel was pressuring the actress to discuss her best-selling controversial book Un cri dans le silence (A Cry in the Silence), and while the judge said the off-the-cuff remark was "injurious," it could be excused. Bardot was convicted in June, however, for inciting racial hatred through her book. The court said her comments amounted to comparing Muslims to "invaders, cruel and barbaric." Bardot and her publishing house, Editions du Rocher, were fined $6,050 each, AP reports.

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