News Roundup: Aug. 28

Top Story

Actress Angelina Jolie was named as goodwill ambassador by the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Geneva on Monday, Reuters reports. Jolie was apparently close to tears when she recalled her trips to refugee camps in Pakistan and Sierra Leone, describing the conditions as frightening and shocking. Other goodwill ambassadors have included Sophia Loren and Richard Burton.


French actor Philippe Leotard died Saturday in a Paris clinic from respiratory failure at the age of 60, Reuters reports. Leotard appeared in films such as Les Miserables in 1995 and French Connection II in 1975. President Jacques Chirac said in a statement, “For all French people, Phillipe Leotard will remain one of our most moving artists.”

In Court

A Marin County Superior Court is refusing to dismiss a lawsuit over the ownership of five of Jerry Garcia‘s guitars, the Associated Press reports. Grateful Dead Productions, the company representing the surviving band mates, asked Judge Michael Dufficy to dismiss a lawsuit by Doug Irwin for custody of the guitars. Irwin, a custom guitar maker who built the instruments for Garcia, says he is the guitar’s rightful owner. Garcia left the guitars to Irwin in his will but Grateful Dead Productions claims to have bought the guitars and that they were not for Garcia to give away. Dufficy ruled last week that the company had not proven that Irwin’s three-year statute of limitations to claim the guitars had expired.

A federal appellate court dismissed a lawsuit by producer Kevin McClory against MGM and Danjaq Prods. that claimed he was the co-creator of the James Bond character. According to Variey, Monday’s decision upheld a lower-court ruling last year dismissing the suit on the grounds that McClory took too long to assert his rights to the Bond character. McClory collaborated with writer Ian Fleming in the 1950s on a script for Thunderball, and obtained some rights to the story in 1963.

The Dixie Chicks are countersuing Sony Music Entertainment and accusing the company of “systematic thievery” for duping them out of more than $4 million in royalties, according to AP. The country music trio is also seeking to end a seven-album deal with Sony. The company sued the Dixie Chicks in July for breach of contract and accused the group of trying to leave the label by trumping up claims that they had been underpaid. The suit also said that the Dixie Chicks demanded the company renegotiate their contract despite being paid millions.

In General

In the ongoing battle for the Screen Actors Guild presidency, Valerie Harper has turned down Melissa Gilbert‘s invitation to take part in a public debate, Variety reports. Harper said that SAG issues are private and should not be reduced to fodder for the media. Gilbert responded to Harper‘s statements by saying it would be inappropriate to expect members to vote without having the opportunity to hear the candidate’s views on relevant issues. Gilbert has chosen MASH star Mike Farrell as her running mate.

Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham is hitting the bookstores in double doses. According to Reuters, the self-promoting ex-Spice Girl is publishing an autobiography entitled Learning to Fly on September 13. That is 11 days before an unauthorized biography, Victoria’s Secrets, hits shelves. Written by Virginia Blackburn, the tell-all Victoria’s Secrets is based on interviews with ex-boyfriends, friends and former dance teachers. Posh also has a new single coming out on Sept. 17 called “Not Such an Innocent Girl.”

The WB network has decided to shelve the 13-episode season of the animated series Baby Blues, as well as six episodes held over from last season, Variety reports. The show reportedly did not fit in with WB’s five new live-action, adult-oriented shows this fall.

The Cuban artists and bands that were nominated for the Latin Grammy awards have all been cleared to travel to attend the Sept. 11 event in Los Angeles and are awaiting entry visas from the US government, Reuters reports. The show was moved to Los Angeles from Miami because of concerns that protests from Cuban exile groups could jeopardize the safety of performers and guests.

Jennifer Lopez, Celia Cruz and Lou Diamond Phillips have been added as presenters for the 2nd Annual Latin Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in next month. Artist Alejandro Fernandez and his father Vicente Fernandez will also perform together for the first time in the U.S., joining previously announced appearances by Juanes, Luis Miguel, Alejandro Sanz and Thalia. The Latin Grammy Awards will be telecast on CBS on Sept. 11.

In a boy band first, the Backstreet Boys are preparing to release a greatest hits album. According to ABC News, the compilation is scheduled for release on Oct. 23 and will include the new single “Drowning” from their latest album Black & Blue. The Backstreet Boys have released four albums so far.

Whoopi Goldberg‘s online gift currency company will file for bankruptcy, according to its Web site. According to a message posted on the site, the company blames changes in capital markets and a general slowdown in the economy for the setback. However, a New York Times report noted that the Web site became a target for thieves in both Russia and the Philippines who used stolen credit cards to buy $300,000 in Flooz during the past three months.