Top Story: Country Singer Glen Campbell Arrested
Country singer Glen Campbell, best known for his hit single "Rhinestone Cowboy," was arrested Monday in Phoenix, Ariz., on suspicion of extreme drunken driving and hit and run, Reuters reports. Campbell, 67, was also booked into jail on suspicion of aggravated assault on a police officer for allegedly kneeing a sergeant in the thigh while at the station. According to police, Campbell's BMW slammed into a Toyota sedan at an intersection and failed to stay at the scene. Campbell was later arrested at his residence at the Biltmore Estates in a posh area of Phoenix and was released on bond at 12:30 a.m. after a midnight hearing. The singer's blood alcohol level was not immediately released, but the legal limit for drivers in Arizona is .08, with extreme drunken driving more than .15. Campbell's official Web site says that the singer has given up alcohol and smoking cigarettes.
Survivor's Elisabeth Joins The View
Former Survivor: The Australian Outback castaway Elisabeth Hasselbeck, previously known as Elisabeth Filarski, has been named a co-host on ABC's Emmy-winning The View, now in its sixth season. The View's executive producer Barbara Walters, who made the announcement on air Monday with the rest of the co-hosts, held an open casting call for a fifth host to join the daytime show after Lisa Ling left last December. Hasselbeck was one of three finalists in the search for a new host, which also included contenders Rachel Campos of MTV's Real World: San Francisco and actress Erin Hershey Presley of ABC's defunct soap opera Port Charles. Hasselbeck, who was the host of the Style Channel's The Look for Less, will begin her hosting duties today.
Jonathan Brandis' Death a Suicide
The Los Angeles county coroner's office concluded Monday that the Nov. 12 death of 27-year-old actor Jonathan Brandis, who starred in two seasons of Steven Spielberg's SeaQuest DSV, was a suicide, The Associated Press reports. Brandis, who died Nov. 12, hung himself, the coroner said. The actor started his career with a recurring role on the soap One Life to Live at age 6, and went on to make guest appearances on L.A. Law, Who's the Boss? and Murder, She Wrote. His film credits included the starring role in 1991's The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter, the Rodney Dangerfield comedy Ladybugs and the martial arts comedy Sidekicks with Chuck Norris.
Meat Loaf Recovering From Surgery
Rock singer Meat Loaf, who collapsed in the middle of a sold-out concert at London's Wembley Arena last Monday, is recovering from heart surgery to treat Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a defect of the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat. Reuters reports the 56-year-old singer, best known for his hit single "Bat Out of Hell," is recovering at a private location in London after undergoing surgery last Friday. Meat Loaf is expected to give more details about his condition and future tour plans after additional tests later this week to determine the success of the surgery, his record company said.
Men Plead Guilty to Posing as Boy Band Members
Two men who posed as former members of the boy band New Kids on the Block in southern Nevada have pleaded guilty to fraud charges and begun serving sentences at separate federal prisons, the AP reports. In October 2002, Ward claimed his wallet was stolen and identified himself as NKOTB member Jonathan Knight, providing Las Vegas police with Knight's Social Security number and date of birth. He then used the report to obtain a Social Security card and Nevada driver's license in Knight's name and a credit card he used it to make purchases. Veskovic admitted to the same scheme involving the identities of NKOTB member Daniel Wood and Kevin Richardson, a member of the Backstreet Boys. A judge sentenced Patrick Ward, 24, to 18 months in prison and Michael Veskovic, 20, to six months in prison, and ordered the defendants to pay nearly $138,000 in restitution
Small Movie Companies Sue Over Screener Ban
More than a dozen small movie companies sued the Motion Picture Association of America Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, claiming the partial ban by Hollywood studios on sending screeners to awards groups will "chill the financing of independent films" by limiting the awards they can receive. According to the AP, the lawsuit seeks at least $25 million in damages and claims the MPAA was conspiring to monopolize the film industry, restricting trade through unlawful and unreasonable agreements with its governing members. The lawsuit said the MPAA's actions toward the small movie producers "were outrageous and were taken with evil motive." Among the 14 plaintiffs are Talking Wall Pictures, Sandcastle 5 Productions and Salty Features.
Role Call: Diesel's Child-Rearing Role, Punk'd Pranksters Hit Big Screen
Vin Diesel is set to star in the Disney action/comedy The Pacifier. According to Variety, Diesel will play an undercover agent who, after failing to protect an important government scientist, learns the man's family is in danger. He agrees to take care of the man's children in an effort to redeem himself, and discovers his toughest mission yet: childcare ... Former Punk'd pranksters Dax Shepard and Al Shearer have set up an untitled project at Fox Searchlight Pictures based on their own pitch. According to The Hollywood Reporter, they will star as two guys from different racial backgrounds who find out they are actually brothers--and who must compete against each other for an inheritance.
You would think that after last summer's insane brouhaha that was "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace", the masses would breathe a sigh of relief.
But the commotion is brewing for the second prequel (yet to be titled), which won't be released until summer 2002. Although it isn't inspiring 'round-the-block lines just yet, it is scheduled to begin filming at Fox Studios Australia this June, so this brings us to the most talked-about casting decision of the year: Who will play the grown-up Anakin Skywalker?
We'll know soon enough. Casting for "Episode II" is going on right this second, according to Jeanne Cole, spokeswoman for Lucasfilm. Casting director Robin Gurland has been seeing "hundreds of actors" for the past month, but no decision has been made yet.
A casting memo that circulated around the Internet -- and was confirmed to be true, according to USA Today -- described to talent agents that candidates should look around 19, since the film takes place 10 years after "Episode I." They should be "self-determined, extremely intelligent and forthright" and "should resemble Jake Lloyd [who played "Episode I's" Anakin]." "Episode II," which is still being written by George Lucas, will focus on the love story between Anakin and Queen Amidala, played by Natalie Portman. As the story goes, Anakin and Amidala eventually marry and spawn Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. By "Episode III," Anakin turns to the Dark Side and becomes the ominously wheezing Darth Vader.
Now before die-hards eager to romance Portman onscreen run out and get their headshots, we're sorry to say that only professional actors with an agent are being considered. This narrows the field to actors who remotely look the part, everyone from Christian Bale to Jude Law to those sons from "Home Improvement."
Now, distinguishing "Star Wars" fact from fiction is harder than distinguishing any phrase out of Jar Jar Binks' Gungan tongue. But we're gonna try our best and give you the rundown of the most talked-about names connected to the Anakin role -- the famous ones, because they're the most amusing -- and what they've reportedly said about it. (For the record, Lucasfilm says the reports of the casting of these actors are "all rumors.")
Name:Leonardo DiCaprio Age: 25 Who?: Star of the upcoming "The Beach" and, uh, that Big Sinking Boat movie. Status: He confirms that he once spoke to Lucas about the role, but not recently, according to the Calgary (Alberta) Sun. "I don't know where I stand for that project," DiCaprio has said. He told IGN Movies that he thought the first prequel "was interesting. I think there's more that can be done, though" and said he was waiting to see the script. Likelihood:: Leo's celebrity power contradicts Lucas' tradition of casting no-names in main roles. Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford were unknowns at the time of the first "Star Wars." But DiCaprio can look younger if he wants to, he bears passing resemblance to Lloyd, and he's proven he can play dark-hero roles.
Name: Jonathan Jackson Age: 17 Who?: Brooding Lucky Spencer on the soap opera "General Hospital" and Michelle Pfeiffer's brooding son in "Deep End of the Ocean." Status: According to the United Kingdom's Empire magazine, Jackson recently let slip on the set of his latest film that he's supposed to meet Lucas in Los Angeles to discuss the role. Initially, he dismissed casting reports as rumors, but because he accidentally said "I haven't even met George Lucas ... yet," according to the magazine, Jackson finally admitted his plans. "Well, yeah, of course I'll take it if I'm offered. Who wouldn't?" he reportedly said. Likelihood: He's not a big name, he's the right age, and he has the face that can emote innocence and danger at the same time. He's won three Daytime Emmys for "General Hospital," so he has acting chops. Newsweek has reportedly said he's the one to beat. We're saying his chances are pretty good.
Name: Jesse Spencer Age: 20 Who?: Recently left popular Aussie soap opera "Neighbours." Status: Rumors ran that Spencer was already on the list as Anakin, and that it was all timed to his departure from the show and his move to a house in Sydney which is apparently only five minutes from Fox Studios Australia. But Spencer's Internet publicist (yeah, the guy has an Internet publicist), Luke Connell, reportedly says it's all false and that he won't be in "Episode II." Likelihood: He's the right age and is virtually unknown in the United States. We had to look him up to see what he looked like, and the Aussie actor looks like a cross between Ryan Phillippe and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys. We can't tell from his smiling photos whether he can play dark or not.
THE (RUMORED) LONGSHOTS
Names: James Van Der Beek and Joshua Jackson Age: 22/21 Who?: Hunky stars of the WB's "Dawson's Creek." Van Der Beek, who plays the idealistic, earnest Dawson Leary, starred in "Varsity Blues," while Jackson, the wisecracking Pacey, appears in the upcoming "Skulls." Status: Names were thrown out very, very early in the "Episode II" rumor mill, but no one has named them as remote possibilities of late. Said Van Der Beek in a chat with ET Online: "I can neither confirm nor deny that report. Best way of saying that." Jackson was more forthright in Big Hit Magazine: "I could see how it would be OK for me to play Darth Vader. I would be OK with that. I think there would be many capital offenses that I would be willing to commit for that. But as far as being approached by Mr. George Lucas, it hasn't happened yet. But the door is always open. If he is listening or watching from anywhere nearby ... please?" Likelihood: They're around the right age, but wouldn't working for Lucas contradict Dawson's idolization of Steven Spielberg?
Names: Jonathan Brandis and Ryan Phillippe Age: 23/25 Who?: Blond star of former TV show "SeaQuest DSV" and blond star of "Cruel Intentions," respectively. Status: Both were early mentions. Brandis reportedly told a college paper a while back that he read for the role, but that's unlikely since casting just started. Likelihood: Very slim. Brandis looks nothing like Jake Lloyd, and Phillippe -- well, his baby face is so fragile-looking we're afraid a disapproving look from Yoda alone might kill him.
Names: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck Age: 29/27 Who?: Best friends and hunky stars of "Good Will Hunting"; Damon's in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" while Affleck's in the upcoming "Boiler Room." Status: "No one's called me about that," Affleck told Hollywood.com at the Sundance Film Festival. But if they did, the young Darth Vader wouldn't be his first role of choice. "I think [I'd like to play] Chewie -- you know what I mean? He's a nice anonymous thing." Likelihood: Very, very unlikely -- they're too famous, too old, and we don't want to risk those Boston-bred voice inflections showing up: "I am a Jedi! I'll never turn to the Dahk Sah-ide!"
Names: Russell Crowe, Rick Schroder and Sean Patrick Flanery Age: 35/29/34 Who?: Likely Oscar nominee for "The Insider," former "Silver Spoons" child star-turned "NYPD Blue" tough detective and former "Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" star, respectively. Status: Again, names thrown out by wishful thinkers only. Likelihood: Are you kidding us?
Series set in the year 2018 which follows the adventures of a gigantic submarine as its crew explores new worlds beneath the sea, including colonies and mining operations. The maverick captain of the sub, Nathan Bridger, was coaxed back to the military from his quiet life researching dolphin behavior after the sudden loss of his wife and son.