News, Nov. 10: Hilton’s Marriage Annulled, Zellweger To Take a Break, Minnelli Sues Former Chauffeur, More…

Nicky Hilton’s marriage to Todd Meister annulled

To think they had appeared so happy. Hotel heiress Nicky Hilton’s flash-in-the-pan marriage is officially over–after less than three months. Hilton, 21, married New York hedge fund manager Todd Meister, 33, in an unexpected shotgun wedding in Las Vegas on August 15. Reuters reports a judge granted the annulment Monday. Representatives for the couple have been quoted as saying: “Both parties have ended their marriage amicably, and they remain good friends.” Us Weekly reported first Hilton was seeking an annulment last month. The magazine quoted unnamed friends as saying Hilton thought she was too young to be married and her relationship with Meister had been essentially platonic. But in the November issue of Stuff magazine, Hilton claimed that her August wedding was planned and that her sister “Paris orchestrated everything.”

Zellweger plans break from acting

Renee Zellweger, who stars in the upcoming Bridget Jones sequel, said she is taking an extended break from acting. Zellweger told Reuters in a recent interview she wants to step away from the limelight and learn what it is like to be just a regular person. “I don’t see myself climbing into a makeup chair any time soon and taking another role. I feel like I need to take a minute and have a little bit of life experience,” she said. The 35-year-old star, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar earlier this year for her role as farm girl Ruby Thewes in U.S. Civil War drama Cold Mountain, declined to say how long her break from filming would last. She next appears in Ron Howard’s The Cinderella Man, which opens June 3, 2005.

Minnelli sues former chauffeur

Liza Minnelli filed a breach-of-contract suit Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court against her longtime personal assistant, Reuters reports. The lawsuit comes one month after M’hammed Soumayah, Minnelli‘s former chauffeur, reportedly accused the entertainer of beating him during alcohol-fueled rampages. Minnelli is seeking at least $250,000 in damages and a court order against Soumayah and accuses him of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Soumayah, 56, filed suit against Minnelli last month but the case that was immediately sealed by a judge.But according to media reports at the time, his attorney was quoted as saying Soumayah was repeatedly assaulted by Minnelli when she was drunk.

Cat Stevens receives apologies form Americans

Yusuf Islam, the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens, says he has received numerous apologies from Americans who are embarrassed the U.S. government deported him over potential terrorism links. “I have got more apologies from Americans since that time than you can count,” Islam, 57, said in an interview with Reuters Wednesday. “So, I’m quite satisfied with the spirit of most people and probably it was a mistake.” Islam, who received a peace award in Rome from a group of Nobel Prize winners, was traveling on a commercial plane from London to Washington when it was diverted to Bangor, Maine. U.S. Homeland Security deported him after his name turned up on U.S. “no fly” lists because of activities they said could be potentially linked to terrorism.

ABC looking good in TV sweeps

Backed by Desperate Housewives, Lost and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ABC won the coveted 18-49 year old demographic in the first ratings “sweeps” month of the new season, the AP reports. CBS won the week, averaging 12.9 million viewers followed by NBC (11.3 million); ABC (11 million); Fox (6.3 million); the WB (4.1 million); and UPN (3.6 million). The top 10 shows were: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS; Desperate Housewives, ABC; Without a Trace, CBS; Survivor: Vanuatu, CBS; Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, ABC; Lost, ABC; Cold Case, CBS; 60 Minutes, CBS; ER, NBC; The Apprentice 2, NBC.

Douglas, Lewis earn medal for blacklist fight

Their courageous stand against the Hollywood blacklist has earned veteran actor Kirk Douglas and producer Edward Lewis the Freedom of Expression Medal from the Institute of Modern Letters. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the pair received a standing ovation Monday when they accepted the honor in recognition of their decision to let blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo use his real name in the screenplay credits for Spartacus in 1960, which, at the time, was a serious risk for Douglas, who starred in the film and helped produce it with Lewis. “The most precious thing in our land is freedom,” Douglas told a receptive audience at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Patty Duke recovering from heart surgery

Actress Patty Duke, who won a best-supporting Oscar in 1963 for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, was released from an Idaho hospital after undergoing single heart bypass surgery earlier this month, the AP reports. Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Johnson said Duke, 57, was released on Tuesday–six days after the Nov. 3 surgery. “She’s looking forward to recuperating at home for a few weeks,” a message posted on Duke‘s Web site said. Duke, who was married to John Astin from 1973 to 1985, is the mother of Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin.

Kit Bowen contributed to this report.