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June 2002
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DIANA ROSS IN REHAB

News reports say Diana Ross has entered a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center before she begins an international summer tour. The 58 year-old star voluntarily entered the Promises center "to clear up some personal issues," according to a statement. "She wants to be in great shape because she is someone who feels a sense of responsibility to her family and her fans," said the statement. No other details were released. Ross is scheduled to begin her tour on June 26 in Germany.


BRANDY DONATES SHOWER GIFTS

Those expensive shower gifts that singer/actress and expectant mother Brandy registered for from her radio-sponsored baby shower are being donated to the Jenessee Center, which operates three women's shelters in Los Angeles. "Well, my Mom had mentioned it to me," she said. "I've always been into battered women, and children, and (have) always been supportive of things like that, charities like that. And what they do for women and what they do for children is just fabulous. You know, it's great to give back. Especially to people who really need it." No word on whether or not the Neiman Marcus gifts will be donated. Items on the list include $395 sterling silver necklace and matching $220 bracelet, cashmere sheets and designer outfits valued at $250. Topping the list of extravagance for the May 18 shower is a $700 diaper bag.


SAMUEL L. SAYS LET UP ON JAR-JAR

"Episode II - Attack of the Clones" star Samuel L. Jackson, who plays Jedi Mace Windu in the latest "Star Wars" installment, is happy with the film's box office pull, but not with the criticism that co-star Jar Jar Binks has received. In an Associated Press article, the actor said he wishes people would just leave the animated character alone. Binks' character had been criticized for having racist connotations when he debuted in "Episode I" in 1999, and was named one of the most annoying characters ever on the big screen. His role in "Episode II" was significantly decreased, and a number of critics have failed to mention him in reviews. Jackson, an opponent of racism and criticism regarding Jar Jar, is happy with the neglect his co-star is getting.


DOGG GETS FINE AND JAIL - SUSPENDED

Singer/actor Snoop Dogg received a $250 fine and a suspended 30-day jail sentence after pleading no contest to marijuana possession charges stemming from an October arrest in Ohio, after state troopers stopped his tour bus in a Cleveland suburb. The troopers found marijuana and drug paraphernalia on the bus.


MUHAMMAD AND MICHAEL GO TO HILL

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali and actor Michael J. Fox appeared on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, last month, urging top lawmakers to have open debates about stem cell research to help find a cure for Parkinson's Disease, which both celebrities suffer from. Fox addressed the politicians present, while Ali, because of his condition, let his wife do the talking. The actor told congressmen, "The debate is not about promoting one type of research over others. It's about protecting researchers from being demonized and criminalized so they can go about their work exploring new opportunities to treat illness and disease."


STARZ GETS "UNDERCOVER BROTHER"

Starz Encore Group's movie channel BLACK STARZ!, has acquired exclusive television rights from Urban Entertainment to premiere all 12 episodes of their popular online animated comedy series, "Undercover Brother." The show, hosted by the film's star, comedian Eddie Griffin, will air at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 30, on Black STARZ!. It will re-air throughout the month of June. The "Undercover Brother" series was originally created for Urban Entertainment's website by writer John Ridley ("Three Kings"). "Undercover Brother" is a Universal Pictures release.


JANET CELEBRATES NAKED

According to reports, singer/actress Janet Jackson celebrated her 36th birthday with a harem of nude dancers, both male and female. The dancers were part of the entertainment at Jackson's birthday party, held in New York. According to PageSix.com, partygoers included Missy Elliot, Jermaine Dupri and Ashanti. The website said guests received their invitations on CDs, which included a phone number recited by Dupri. Guests had to call the number to learn where the party would be held.


WARWICK DROPPED FROM SHOW

Dionne Warwick used to talk about rappers promoting bad habits like weed smoking, among other things, but reports say Warwick was dropped from July's "ChildLine Children's Charity Concert" in Somerset, Britain, beacause, a spokesman for the ChildLine children's charity concert said, "She's been arrested and charged for possessing drugs and, with the ChildLine link, we can't have anything like that." Dionne Warwick was arrested last month after screeners at Miami International Airport found 11 marijuana joints in a silver lipstick vial in her carry on, reports the Miami Herald. Ruth Bowen, a theatrical agent and friend of Warwick, told the Herald that the pot was "medicinal." She said the 61 year-old singer uses marijuana to treat glaucoma. ''She's not a drug abuser,'' Bowen said.


MEN IN BLACK II SOUNDTRACK

"Men in Black II" is coming and so is the soundtrack. Will Smith will be featured on the video for the single "Black Suits Comin." The Francis Lawrence-directed video will feature Smith, performing for people and creatures around the galaxy at a huge concert. Along with Smith's son Tre, the video features Guy Bluford, the first black astronaut, and Bernard Harris, the first black man to walk on the moon, in cameos. The "Men in Black II" soundtrack comes out July 2. The movie hits theaters July 3.


AALIYAH'S PARENTS FILE SUIT

The parents of Aaliyah, Diane and Michael Haughton, filed a lawsuit against Virgin Records and others last month. The suit alleges negligence in not preventing the plane crash that killed the singer/actress and 8 others last year, claiming the overloaded plane was the wrong one for the charter flight to Florida and that the pilot was unqualified to fly it, and that Virgin and the other companies named knew that the pilot was inexperienced and that the 10-seat Cessna 402-B was not an appropriate aircraft, factors that "could and would result in a crash." Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the Bahamian government is wrapping up its investigation and plans to cite pilot error, inexperience and excess weight as the three main contributing factors to the crash.


THE ROCK IN COURT?

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson could be called to testify in the Ft Lauderdale, Florida trial of a teenager accused of drowning a 5 year old autistic child. Attorney Ellis Rubin said the victim and two other children had watched a wrestling program featuring The Rock two days before the death. "Little boys imitate what they see on TV. If they hadn't been watching wrestling, none of this might have happened," Rubin said. Gorman Roberts is accused of pushing Jordan Payne into a canal on Feb. 10, then walking away laughing as the boy struggled. Jerry McDevitt, an attorney for the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, formerly the World Wrestling Federation), called the subpoena attempt "harassment" and said The Rock will not appear in court. No trial date has been set.


ANTI-DISCRIMINATORY MEASURES FOR CABBIES

With Operation Refusal, spearheaded by actor Danny Glover, New York cabbies can have their licenses snatched after a hearing. When the rule was initially instituted, drivers cited for passing up minority fares had their licenses suspended on the spot, however, District Judge Raymond Dearie has determined that while the Taxi and Limousine Commission can still suspend or revoke for a first refusal-of-service infraction, they can only do so only after a hearing.


CELEBRITIES BOYCOTT CINCINNATI

An economic boycott organized by The Coalition for a Just Cincinnati seeks to reform of that city's police department. The coalition was formed after the civil uprising last April following the killing of a 19-year old black man by local police. Celebrities who have honored the economic boycott include Wyclef Jean, Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Wynton Marsalis, Smokey Robinson, the O'Jays and the Temptations.


PEOPLE'S MOST BEAUTIFUL

Halle Berry, Julia Roberts, and Denzel Washington made People Magazine's "The 50 Most Beautiful People" issue. It's Roberts seventh time (a record), Berry's sixth, and Washington's fifth. Others include Nicole Kidman, Britney Spears, Cindy Crawford, and Olympic gold medallist, bobsledder Vonetta Flowers.


SAMUEL L. JACKSON RESPECTS SHAOLIN KUNG FU

Samuel L. Jackson watched kung-fu movies and studied the real Shaolin monks of China to get in the mood to play his character Mace Windu in new film "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones." The actor says he imagines Jedi Knights, including Windu, as similar to the very real Shaolin Monks of China. Apparently, he rejected other martial arts disciplines in his studies. He says, "I actually try and treat my Jedi character like I would imagine most Shaolin monks. I tend to see a correlation between how they meditate and work and train - and when they become men of action, they become men of very definite action."


BERRY DEFENDS NUDE SCENES - AGAIN

Halle Berry won a Best Actress Academy Award for her role in the racial drama "Monster's Ball," but some of her love scenes with Billy Bob Thorton were so intense that American censors cut them. She says, "You know, it's such a contradiction. In America, people are happy to watch a film in which someone blows someone else's head off, but these same people have a problem watching the most natural thing in the world – people making love." Although she feared filming the scenes would be difficult, Berry says she actually grew as a performer from her experience. She adds, "I was able to get to a place where I wasn't one bit concerned about what I looked like. I completely shed all those inhibitions, and it was really cathartic."


WILL SMITH WANTS GOOD NEWS

Oscar-nominated star, Will Smith is tired of the negative news on TV and wants to bring more positive items to light in a new half-hour TV series called "Good News." Smith's Overbrook Entertainment claims the series will tell stories "about the unique struggles and triumphs of inspirational individuals." Studios USA Domestic TV to produce a syndicated strip, "Good News." The project is being developed for roll out for the 2003-04 season.