News Roundup: Dec. 20

Top Story

The speculation is over: Today co-host Katie Couric renewed her contract with NBC on Wednesday, which will reportedly pay her $60 million over 4 1/2 years. Couric has hosted the early-morning program since 1991.

In General

Is the best picture of 2001 Black Hawk Down? According to star Josh Hartnett that could be the case. The young heartthrob told W magazine in a recent interview that he’s confident the war flick will snag an Oscar nomination in that category.

Muslim leaders are outraged over CNN‘s Wednesday-night broadcast of a segment showing Afghan children looking at pictures of a scantily clad Jennifer Lopez. The segment was intended to gauge the kids’ reactions to the photos in an effort to provide some cultural commentary. Yeah, that’s the ticket: J.Lo as cultural commentary.

The mother of late Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain is publicly blasting the band’s other two members–Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl (both of whom have moved on to different bands)–for their recent lawsuit concerning the profits of an upcoming boxed set of Nirvana‘s music. Novoselic and Grohl filed a lawsuit against Cobain‘s widow, Courtney Love, demanding that she not receive a share of the boxed set’s sales, prompting Cobain‘s mother to call the move a “total betrayal,” Reuters says.

It’s no surprise that People named such celebs as Nicole Kidman, the cast of Friends and fictional tyke Harry Potter to their “25 Most Intriguing People of 2001” list. But this year political figures also made an impressive showing, as New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and President George W. Bush joined the mix.

In a Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, actor Steven Seagal denied allegations issued by a former female coworker that he made “inappropriate comments and actions toward her.” No ruling in the case has been made.

Mega-producer Dick Clark is suing the head of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Michael Greene, who oversees the Grammy Awards‘ selection process, for attempting to coerce big-name musical acts, such as Britney Spears, from appearing on Clark‘s upcoming American Music Awards. Spokespersons for the Academy deny they did anything wrong.

On Wednesday, Comcast Corp. acquired AT&T’s cable unit, AT&T Broadband, for $72 million, forming AT&T Comcast Corp. The new company immediately becomes the largest cable provider in the country, serving 22 million customers.

According to Variety and SoundScan figures, 34 of the top 40 albums in the country showed increases in sales–a good sign for the retail economy–with Creed‘s “Weathered” holding the top spot for the fourth week in a row.

The suspect who Va. police believe stole and crashed rapper Missy Elliott’s new Lambourghini Diablo, valued at $311,000, was arrested on Wednesday, according to People. The man, Joseph Thomas Johnson, will be jailed in Henrico County, Va. until his hearing on Jan. 22.

Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar‘s thriller The Others racked up 15 nominations for Spain’s equivalent to the Oscars, the Goya Academy Awards. The film is up for best film, best actress (Nicole Kidman), best director and many…others.

Sheryl Crow, Billy Joel, Elton John, the Eagles and many more will hold a handful of benefit concerts at various Los Angeles venues on Feb. 26, one night before the Grammys, in support of the Recording Artists Coalition, which fights for the creative and legal rights of entertainers.