News Roundup, Dec. 20: Murder Victim Believed To Be Dr. Laura’s Mom

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A badly decomposed body of an elderly woman was found Friday in the Beverly Hills home of Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s mother, Yolanda, Reuters reports. Although her identity has not been confirmed, police are operating on the assumption that the body is that of the talk show host’s mother. An autopsy revealed she had been murdered although cause of death has not been released. Beverly Hills Police Lt. Gary Gilmond said the state of the body and home suggested that the woman had been dead for a “substantial period of time,” possibly several months. Police found the woman’s body Monday after concerned neighbors said they had not seen her in several weeks. Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who hosts a syndicated talk-radio show dispensing advice to her listeners, has reportedly been estranged from her mother and was unavailable for comment.


The anonymous buyer who scooped up Bette Davis‘ Oscar for her 1935 film Dangerous at a Sotheby’s auction in New York turned out to be none other that Steven Spielberg, The Associated Press reports. The filmmaker shelled out $180,000 for the golden statuette, which he will donate to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


Audiences heading out to see the Martin Scorsese‘s epic Gangs of New York this weekend will also get a glimpse of Quentin Tarantino‘s highly anticipated thriller Kill Bill. The film, slated for release in October 2003, stars Uma Thurman as a former assassin who swears revenge on her boss, who shot her in the head and put her in a coma for four years. This is Tarantino‘s first feature since the 1997 drama Jackie Brown.

Oliver Stone‘s Alexander the Great starring Colin Farrell won a key battle yesterday in its race to beat Baz Luhrmann‘s rival project to the big screen, Variety reports. Warner Bros. is closing a deal to become Stone‘s movie’s domestic distributor, allowing producer Intermedia to greenlight the film for a June start. Luhrmann‘s project is financed by DreamWorks and Universal and would star Leonardo DiCaprio. Both films are among the most expensive films ever attempted, with budgets between $100 and $150 million.

Lord of the Rings‘s Elijah Wood is set to star in Focus Features’ The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, written by scribe Charlie Kaufman. According to Variety, the film revolves around a failed couple who attempt to rekindle their romance through a treatment that erases painful memories from the brain. Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Wilkinson and Mark Ruffalo also star in the film.

Venice residents are upset over U.S. director F. Gary Gray‘s canal stunts for the film The Italian Job starring Mark Wahlberg. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gray is shooting scenes of high-speed motorboat chases and gondola crashes in historic waterways, prompting residents to accuse the city’s mayor of selling his soul to Hollywood. Shooting will continue in coming weeks in the Italian Alps and later in Los Angeles.


The proposed Latin Emmy Awards has created a feud between East and West Coast television groups, The Associated Press reports. The New York-based National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences filed an arbitration demand on Thursday, claiming the Los Angeles-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is refusing to cooperate in establishing Emmys honoring Spanish-language programs. ATAS denied the allegation, calling the “self-serving” action by its Big Apple counterpart a “charade.” Any new Emmy format requires the approval of both groups.


Bono, Eve, Ludacris, Nelly Furtado, Coldplay, Shaggy, Joe Strummer, Queen and others will perform at Nelson Mandela’s historic Mandela SOS concert on Feb. 2, reports. The concert will take place on the site of the maximum security prison on Robben Island, South Africa, where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.


The Harry Potter books, which have topped the annual best-seller list in Britain for the past three years, have been knocked down a few notches. According to Nielsen BookScan, Pamela Stephenson’s book Billy, a biography of her husband, comedian/actor Billy Connelly, sold 517,811 copies this year. Nick Hornsby’s How To Be Good was second on this years list with 477,522 copies sold, followed by J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which sold 464,985 copies.