Top Story: Moore Has Unused Footage of Interview With Beheaded American
Filmmaker Michael Moore, whose Fahrenheit 911 condemns President Bush for making a mess of the war on terror, said Thursday he has video footage of a 20-minute interview with Nicolas Berg, the American civilian recently beheaded in Iraq, that was not used in the documentary. Neither Moore nor his representatives went into detail about the nature of the interview, but Berg is known to have held staunch pro-war views. Moore said in a statement he would not be releasing the footage to the media, saying “It is not in the film. We are dealing privately with the family.” Fahrenheit 911, which was awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in France last week, chronicles America’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks and links the Bush family to Osama bin Laden. It also accuses the Bush camp of overlooking terrorism warnings before 9/11 and of provoking fears of more attacks to garner American support for the Iraq war. Fahrenheit 911 initially got Moore into hot water with Disney, which refused to let subsidiary Miramax release the documentary. The two sides eventually reached an agreement that allows Miramax to acquire the rights to the film, giving co-chiefs Harvey and Bob Weinstein freedom to look for another distributor.
Radcliffe Predicts Death of Harry Potter
At a press conference Thursday in London to promote the upcoming Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, star Daniel Radcliffe told reporters he believes Harry will die at the end of the series. “People are going to hate me for saying this but I’ve always had the suspicion that Harry might die,” he said. “Harry and Voldemort have got the same core in them, which you see in the fourth book. The only way Voldemort could die is if Harry dies as well.” The young wizard’s fate in the seventh and final book is a closely guarded secret, but author J.K. Rowling has included more and more intriguing connections between Harry and his archenemy, Voldemort. The film opens nationwide June 4.
Idol Finale Ratings Down From Last Year
Although a whopping 31 million viewers tuned in to see the soulful Fantasia Barrino crowned the winner of Fox’s American Idol Wednesday, viewership was down 18 percent from the 38.1 million who watched last year’s slim victory by Ruben Studdard over Clay Aiken. Citing Nielsen Media Research, Fox said the finale drew a 13.2 rating in the coveted 18 to 49 demographic, a drop of more than 20 percent from the 16.8 rating posted for the end of the second edition last season. The network said the decline was due in part to the finale being aired a week later in the season, when fewer people are watching TV. The third edition of American Idol, however, is the third-biggest nonsports audience of any program this season, behind the Friends finale and the Academy Awards.
Singer Marc Anthony Files for Divorce
Singer Marc Anthony was in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic Thursday to file for divorce from his wife, former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres, the AP reports. Anthony, 34, signed autographs when he left the courthouse but declined to speak with reporters. Torres, a native of Puerto Rico, filed a petition for dissolution of marriage with children on Jan. 20 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. It is not clear how the Dominican petition would affect the one in Florida, but Dominican divorce proceedings, which allow some nonresidents to file for divorce, are generally quicker. The couple were married in a civil ceremony in Las Vegas in May 2000 and briefly separated in 2002, only to later renew their vows in Puerto Rico. They have two young sons, Cristian and Ryan.
E! Chief Resigns Amid Controversy
Mindy Herman, president and CEO of E! Networks, stepped down from her post Thursday under allegations she misused company funds for her personal use, including a lavish baby shower in her honor. An article in Thursday’s Los Angeles Times said Herman’s reign was very turbulent, leaving many employees demoralized by what anonymous sources characterized as bizarre and autocratic behavior. In an interview with the Times, Herman declined to address specific allegations, but questioned the accuracy of the Times report. “There were numerous things, even though I didn’t read the story, that appeared untrue to me,” she said. Herman claims she is leaving due to the direction E!’s parent company Comcast Corp. was taking, especially after they withdrew their bid for the Walt Disney Co. “I’m a startup person,” she said. “I’m not sure how dynamic from a business-building standpoint the next five years would be.”
Sony Needs More Time To Buy MGM
With their 15-day exclusive negotiation period officially over, Sony has asked for an extension to continue talks in its $5 billion bid to take over MGM. According to the Hollywood Reporter, it was unclear whether MGM’s partners, Texas Pacific Group and Providence Equity Partners, would grant the full two-week extension Sony is said to have asked for, but those familiar with the deal said it is likely the two will continue talking exclusively at least through next week. The trade paper reports that according to sources, outstanding issues include the exact size of each partner’s investment along with the crafting of an exit strategy for Sony’s two private equity firm partners.
Ricky Martin Rallies Against Abuse
Latin heartthrob Ricky Martin has launched a campaign through his foundation, People for Children, against sexual exploitation and trafficking of children, AP reports. The 32-year-old crooner presented a series of TV ads Thursday about the subject–which sees two million children a year becoming victims of human trafficking, primarily for the sexual tourism trade–in Spanish, English and Portuguese. They are to be aired soon in the United States, Puerto Rico and some Latin American countries.
Role Call: Simpson Perfect as Daisy Duke
Jessica Simpson says she’s at the top of the list to play Daisy Duke in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard. In an interview with AP, Simpson said, “That’s looking very, very good and that will happen after my tour. As of right now, I’m [in] the No. 1 slot for Daisy, so hopefully nothing changes,” she said Wednesday. Britney Spears is reportedly also in contention. Catherine Bach played the original sexy Duke cousin in the series which ran from 1979-1985.
Kit Bowen contributed to this report.