General News

Quick Takes: News in Brief

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Dec 31, 1899 | 7:00pm EST
1. Weakest Link
2. P.Diddy
3. NYPD Racial Profiling?
4. 'Suge' free
5. Napster
6. Guinness Bisexual
7. Star Wars
8. Giant Records
9. WGA
10. Batman
11. NBC
12. Monday Night Football
12. 'NSYNC

Robinson's "Weakest Link"

Comments made about the Welsh by Anne Robinson, host of the new NBC game show The Weakest Link, have not been deemed racist by Britain's Broadcasting Standards Commission, according to the BBC News. By calling the Welsh "irritating and annoying," however, Robinson "came close to the boundaries of acceptability," the BSC said.

Protests exploded when Robinson called the Welsh one of her pet hates on the BBC show Room 101.

"I've never taken to them. What are they for?" she reportedly said.

Parliament, Welsh MPs and North Wales police criticized Robinson for inciting racial hatred.

The BSC ruled that "neither the overall content nor the style of this programme was racist."

Robinson has since made amends with the Welsh community by giving free services to a Welsh Tourist Board Easter publicity campaign. She wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the message "Wales Open for Easter."

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P. Diddy in trouble again

After his months-long trial on bribery and gun possession charges, of which he was acquitted, rapper Sean Combs cannot seem to stay out of court.

He was pulled over Saturday night for allegedly making an illegal lane change while driving a scooter along Miami Beach's Ocean Drive. Police charged Combs with driving without a suspended license. He had to sign "a promise to appear" form for a court date, the police told Reuters. The date has yet to be set.

This was after he had been stopped Tuesday for allegedly speeding in Golden Beach, Fla., where he was carrying a suspended New York driver's license. Police did not arrest Combs because he said he did not know he had a suspended license.

Combs' license had been suspended in February because of failure to pay a parking fine, according to the Miami Herald.

Combs told Miami Beach police that he thought his New York attorney had straightened out his license problem.

"Because of the holiday weekend, paperwork that was processed in New York regarding the license had yet to reach the national system," Natalie Moar, Combs' spokeswoman, told the Miami Herald.

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Guiliani denies NYPD is gunning for rappers

Mayor Rudolph Guiliani dismissed claims that the New York Police Department is looking to nail rappers such as Jay-Z, who was arrested last week on a weapons charge after leaving a Manhattan nightclub.

"The NYPD targets people who illegally possess [and use] guns, and they target people who kill each other. They criminally profile. Every bit of evidence suggests that…Here's a way not to get in trouble with the NYPD: Don't shoot anybody, don't rob anybody, don't rape anybody and don't carry guns illegally." Guiliani told NYPost.com.

Police, who arrested Jay-Z and three members of his crew early Friday, said they found a loaded Glock 23 .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun in Jay-Z's Chevy Suburban. They were released Friday afternoon after their arraignment.

Jay-Z and his camp later insinuated that the police may be "profiling" rappers - watching or pulling them over to try and get some illegal activity, NYPost.com reported.

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"Suge" Knight happy to get out

Multimillionaire rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight will be released from prison this week after serving five years of a nine-year sentence on assault-related charges.

"The first thing that I'm gonna do when I get out of here is take an hour-long bath. I'm sick of showers," Knight, the co-founder of the rap label Death Row, told The Associated Press.

"Then, I'm going to get me a double cheeseburger and some chili-cheese fries. I've been thinking about them…for five years."

He is scheduled to spend up to two months in a halfway house or work-release program and should be free and clear by midsummer.

Knight produced several platinum records by the late rap star Tupac Shakur, whose just-released Until the End of the Time hit No. 1 its first week in stores.

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Napster talks to the experts

A conference call between the popular song-swapping Web site Napster and a court-appointed technical expert was held Friday to resolve disputes over the injunction against Napster in the trading of copyrighted songs on the service.

Reuters reported that both sides declined comment and that the U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered the transcript of the call sealed.

Robert Frackman, attorney for the recording industry, told Reuters on Thursday that the conference call was to "set the protocol and parameters for the technical expert going forward."

Napster had come under fire after the March 5 injunction, with the court complaining that it was not working quickly and successfully enough to stop the trading of copyrighted songs completely, as ordered.

Napster said it is doing the best it could to comply but blamed record labels for not identifying songs to be blocked in total compliance. Judge Patel hoped the call with the technical expert would help Napster to understand alternatives available to them.

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Sir Alec Guinness' secret

Apparently, one of Britain's best-loved actors, Sir Alec Guinness, was bisexual according to three new biographies due out next year, the BBC News reported.

The actor, who died last year at 86, was charged with a homosexual act in a public restroom in 1946, right before he was to play his debut film role in Great Expectations.

Guinness was able to keep it out of the press. Had the news been widely spread, it would have certainly stifled a career that was just starting out.

His bisexuality was known by his family and friends, according Garry O'Connor, whose biography is due out next year.

"He escaped into his acting and the church as comfort ... [it gave] him much needed security from the demons of his sexuality" O'Connor told Britain's Sunday Times newspaper.

Guinness received a knighthood in 1960. He had one child with his wife, Merula.

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"Star Wars" on display

The 34-foot Naboo starfighter model used in the making of the 1999 film Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace will be on display from April 28 through June 24 at the Arts and Industries Building of the Smithsonian Institution. The exhibit also will include an interactive kiosk, showing the creative process of creating the starfighter and the film in general.

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Giant Records closes shop

Giant Records, the Nashville record label home to the Wilkinsons and bluegrass great Johnny Staats, has packed up and called it a day.

Current clients, including Clay Walker, Neal McCoy and Georgia Middleman, will move to the Nashville office of Warner Bros., Music Row magazine reported. About 15 Giant employees lost their jobs.

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Writers receive input from politicos

Leaders of the Writers Guild of America aren't afraid of a little political interaction.

According to a report by the Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan sat down Thursday with top honchos from the to discuss what measures might be taken to avoid a writers' strike.

The WGA met Friday with California's director of the department of industrial relations Steve Smith to talk about the potential work stoppage.

A study that quantifies the negative fiscal impact of the looming writers' strike will likely be released this week by Riordan's office.

"The mayor was great. He's leaving office soon, but he is not overlooking his responsibility to the city of Los Angeles," WGA spokeswoman Cheryl Rhoden told the Hollywood Reporter.

Talks between the guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers have been stalled since March 1, but are scheduled to resume Tuesday. The current agreement between the WGA and the AMPTA expires May 1.

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"Batman" producer loses his wings

Jon Peters, producer of such box office hits as A Star Is Born, Caddyshack, Batman, and The Witches of Eastwick, has lost his lucrative production deal with the Warner Bros. Studio, Variety reports.

Currently producing Columbia Pictures' Ali, starring Will Smith and Jon Voight, Peters' arrangement with Warner Bros. quietly ended on March 6. Peters will continue to develop projects for Warners, including remakes of Superman, A Star Is Born, and Around the World in 80 Days.

Peters' career as a producer began in 1976 with the Barbra Streisand vehicle, A Star Is Born. Peters, partnered with Peter Guber, produced Batman, The Witches of Eastwick, and Vision Quest for Warner Bros.

Peters and Guber tried to buy out MGM in 1988 and ran Sony Pictures from 1989 to 1994, but returned to Warner Bros. after each failed foray.

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Despite ratings gain, NBC's profits fall in Q1

The nation's economic slowdown has reached the high-flying world of network television.

Despite being the top-rated network, NBC's parent unit General Electric said Thursday that profits during the first quarter of 2001 were $48 million less than the same quarter in 2000, dropping from $394 million to $346 million. Revenues remained relatively stable at $1.35 billion for the quarter.

According to Variety, NBC has for the fourth straight year won the sweeps for the key demographic, adults 18-49. NBC has the five most popular comedies on telelvision (Friends, Will & Grace, Just Shoot Me, Frasier, and The Weber Show), the highest-rated drama (ER) and the newsmagazine that most people watch (Dateline).

In GE's report, NBC claimed to be the only network with ratings growth over 2000.

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"Monday Night Football" schedule remains rigid

ABC isn't complaining.

ABC, host of Monday Night Football, will air three games featuring reigning Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens three times during the 2001-02 NFL season. The New York Giants (NFC Champions), the Minnesota Vikings (AFC Central Champions) and the St. Louis Rams (Super Bowl XXXIV Champs) also will each play three Monday night games. Three times is the maximum number that a team can appear on Monday night in one season.

ABC had hoped for a more flexible approach to the schedule, whereby the network could choose the matchup in the waning weeks of the season, according to Variety. This would have allowed ABC to choose games with playoff implications to keep ratings high.

While ABC wasn't granted that option, it did receive ratings relief, with permission to broadcast the final two games on their slate on Saturday night. The last two Monday nights of the season fall out on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, when TV ratings traditionally drop precipitously.

ABC also will broadcast two wild-card games on Jan 3 and the Pro Bowl on Feb. 3.

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*NSync frontman's hoop dreams

If his girlfriend can do it, why not Justin?

In the wake of girlfriend Britney Spears' success as an author (A Mother's Gift, co-written by Spears' mom), *NSync singer Justin Timberlake has signed a reported seven-figure deal with Ballantine Books to pen his own novel, according to Rolling Stone Magazine.

With the working title Crossover Dribble, Timberlake's tome centers around a professional basketball star, Jason Windriver, trying to take his team to the championship. Ballantine hasn't released any other details.

There's no set date for the release of Timberlake's novel, according to the report.

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