News, March 14: Michael Jackson Ordered To Pay $5.3 Million, Eminem Won’t Play at the Oscars, Halle Berry is “Catwoman,” More…

Top Story: Jackson Loses $5.3 Million in Lawsuit

Michael Jackson took another hit when a California jury ruled in favor of the German concert promoter who sued the pop oddity over a series of canceled millennium concerts, Reuters reports. The promoter’s attorney Skip Miller told Reuters the jury in the city of Santa Maria awarded Marcel Avram nearly all of the $5.9 million in lost profits he had been seeking after six and a half days of deliberations. Jackson‘s attorney, Zia Modabber, told Reuters the verdict was in a way a victory for the entertainer, since Avram had sued Jackson for more than $21 million. “He’s fine with it,” Modabber said. “He stood up for himself and went to trial and Mr. Avram didn’t get nearly what he wanted.”

Britney in Battle Over Roller Skates

Britney Spears and footwear company Skechers USA are in a lawsuit battle over an agreement to design and sell custom Britney 4 Wheelers skates, The Associated Press reports. The pop princess sued the company Dec. 26 for $1.5 million, claiming Skechers used her to plug their own line of roller skates and not the ones she designed. Now, Skechers has filed a countersuit claiming fraud and breach of contract relating to product designs and advertising for the skates, as well as claming Spears pushed them into sponsoring her 2001-2002 concert tour.

Eminem a No-Show at Oscars

Claiming he’ll still be on vacation, Eminem will not perform his Oscar-nominated song “Lose Yourself” from the film 8 Mile at the Academy Awards ceremony March 23. While this throws a tiny kink in the proceedings, the show’s producer, Gil Cates, who usually persuades the artists nominated in the Best Song category to perform, told USA Today, “There’s no rule that the nominees have to sing or that you even have to include all of the numbers in the show, I could do a medley or no songs at all….It’s a very fluid show with few constraints.”

Role Call: Catwoman, Superman Cursed

Halle Berry will get in touch with her feline self as she takes on the title role in Catwoman for Warner Bros. She replaces Ashley Judd, who had committed to the Batman spin-off but dropped out to do the play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. At least we know Berry will look great in a catsuit…Director Brett Ratner is down to two choices to play the red-caped Superman in the upcoming Warner Bros. franchise: Brendan Fraser and soap opera star Matthew Bomer (The Guiding Light). The other major contender, The Fast and the Furious‘s Paul Walker, took himself out of competition…Christina Ricci just landed the lead in Wes Craven‘s Cursed. Craven reunites with his Scream writer Kevin Williamson in a film that is a throwback to classic horror tales, following three strangers whose fates collide on a moonlit night in contemporary Los Angeles.

Role Call, Part Deux: Martin Shops, Ward Dirty Dances, Eckhart, Kilmer Go Missing

Steve Martin is finally getting his novel Shopgirl made into a feature film with the Walt Disney Co. With no director attached as yet, the story revolves around a girl selling gloves at a Neiman Marcus store who falls for an older, divorced rich man…Sela Ward has joined the cast of Havana Nights: Dirty Dancing 2, playing the mother of an American girl who moves with her family to Cuba and falls hard for a local dancer (Y Tu Mama Tambien‘s Diego Luna)… Aaron Eckhart and Val Kilmer join Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones in Revolution Studios’ The Missing, a story set in 1885 Mexico about a woman who teams up with her estranged father to track down the psychopathic killer who kidnaps her daughter.