News Roundup: March 10


Top Story

Former Little House on the Prairie star Melissa Gilbert was elected the 23rd Screen Actors Guild President, defeating opponent Valerie Harper. A total of 91,054 ballots were mailed to eligible voters nationwide, and by the March 8 deadline, 37,742 ballots were returned. The 41 percent turnout represents one of the highest returns of election ballots in the guild’s 69-year history. Gilbert won a SAG election held in November, but a revote was called after the union election committee threw out the results alleging balloting irregularities. Elliott Gould was elected as Recording Secretary and Kent McCord was named as Treasurer.

In General

After a slew of films, including The Shipping News and Iris, Judi Dench says she is taking a long-needed break. The Oscar-nominated actress said that she has immersed herself in work since her husband of 29 years died of cancer in January 2001, and she needs time to face up to his death, reports the BBC.

A strange illness has affected at least 100 guests who attended a pre-Oscar ceremony at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills on Saturday. Everything on the menu is being examined, from the fish and beef to the desserts and wines, the Associated Press reports. Guests experienced symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and nausea, which lasted one to two days.

Tonight, viewers will finally be able to see the 2 1/2 minute trailer for Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, which showcases elaborate special effects and battle sequences. The commercial will air on Fox between new episodes of Malcolm in the Middle and The X-Files.

Robert Iger, the president of Walt Disney Co., said Friday that while he is not sorry for ABC’s pursuit of David Letterman, he regrets letting comments denigrating the relevancy of Ted Koppel‘s Nightline fester for so long. “If there were mistakes, it was in allowing statements like that live in the public eye without addressing them immediately, and for that I take full responsibility,” he told AP.

A source who recently spent some time with the boy band ‘N Sync claims the group may be disbanding as early as this fall. MSNBC’s gossip-guru Jeanette Walls reports that the boys are interested in pursuing solo careers, especially Justin Timberlake. “Britney‘s very supportive of him being solo, but I don’t think she’s a divisive factor. She’s not Yoko Ono, ” Walls reports the source as saying.

Meg Ryan‘s stalker has been found competent to stand trial for breaking into a home he thought belonged to the actress. John Michael Hughes broke into the Malibu home of Tomas and Andrea Ryan on Jan. 6, where police found him eating ham and green beans, AP reports. He also had a night vision scope and was dressed in black.

Movie props from a London film prop shop will be auctioned off at Sotheby’s from March 13 through 15. According to Reuters, items include a century-old clock in a full-sized coffin (with its own skeleton) from 1975’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show and a small gilded Buddha that appeared in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

All 75,000 tickets for the first five shows in Paul McCartney‘s “Driving USA” tour sold out within 30 minutes of going on sale, Reuters reports. Fans bought the tickets for the shows, which include Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, via the telephone and the Internet. The tour kicks off on April 1 and will stop in 19 cities, ending in Florida on May 18. It’s the former Beatle’s first American tour in 10 years.

Mariah Carey is on the rebound. After the back-to-back flops of her debut film Glitter and its soundtrack, the sometimes troubled singer is negotiating for a new label. Among the companies that have made offers are Warner Music Group’s Elektra and Warner Bros. Records, and Universal Music Group’s label Island Def Jam.

Political scandal stories that went by the wayside after the events of Sept. 11 are suddenly resurfacing. First it was Monica Lewinsky’s 90-minute interview feigning irritation at her lack of privacy. Now, according to columnist Michael Musto, wide-eyed U.S congressman Gary Condit is following up his stultifying interview with Connie Chung with a new tell-all book.