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May 2001
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MORGAN FREEMAN HAS THE BLUES

   Morgan Freeman has plans to open The Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, MS where he lives. Freeman told Wall of Sound it will be "a traditional blues, gut-bucket juke joint," and he hopes to have the club open sometime this summer. The town is supposedly where blues originated, so Freeman said that he and his business partners named the club accordingly.



BRAXTON A BRIDE

   Toni Braxton, 32, tied the knot with Mint Condition's Keri Lewis, 28, in a private outdoor ceremony in mid April. The two met four years ago while Braxton and Mint Condition were on tour. There were about 250 invited guests at the ceremony that included Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, Monica, Mack 10, Usher, Donell Jones, Tionne "T-Boz'' Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli'' Thomas. Toni wore an ivory satin gown with a notched and beaded bodice, and a beaded train and matching veil designed by Vera Wang. She also wore diamond-crusted gems designed by Stephen Russell.



LAUREN HILL DEPRESSED?

   Lauryn Hill could be fighting depression. But according to the NY Daily News Hill is doing fine, working on music for her next album. But, EUR reported that Hill could be suffering from depression and has cut off her locks, fired her management, and disassociated herself from her mother as a result of the condition. It has been confirmed that the Grammy-winning singer did shave her head and that she let her management, 7 Days Entertainment, go. But there's been no confirmation on her emotional health or an estrangement with her mother.



WILL SMITH CREW RESCUES BOY

   A film crew working on "Ali," a movie based on the life of Muhammad Ali and starring Will Smith, rescued an 8-year-old boy whose foot got stuck under a hotel escalator rail. Nicolas Potolsky was on an upward escalator in the Fontainebleau Hilton late Wednesday when his rubber beach shoe got sucked under the rail of the top step, hotel spokeswoman Lisa Cole said. Crew members filming a victory scene in a nearby ballroom heard the boy scream and ran to help. A hotel worker shut off the escalator, and about a dozen movie workers used crowbars to pry the rail open and free the child. Nicolas was taken to Mount Sinai Medical Center for X-rays, investigators said, but only suffered bruises and cuts.



MELVIN VAN PEEBLES STILL AT WORK

   Melvin Van Peebles, pioneer of African-American cinema, directed the 1967 film "The Story of a Three Day Pass," and he directed "Watermelon Man" in 1970. His controversial work "Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song" (1971), which he financed independently, was followed by successful work in musical theater and commodities trading. Today Van Peebles is still busy.
"I just finished a movie that won the Acapulco Black Film Festival," said Van Peebles. "It's a French movie and I'm gonna bring it out here fairly soon. It's called "A Belly Full." (translated from French) It's a sly, coming of age story."



MTV MOVIE AWARD NOMINATIONS

   The 10th Annual MTV Movie Awards (bronzed popcorn trophies) will be handed out on June 2 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and will be broadcast June 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.
   The nominees include Omar Epps, Best Male Performance, (LOVE & BASKETBALL,) Martin Lawrence (BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE) and Eddie Murphy (NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS) for Best Comedic Performance. Halle Berry got a nod in the Best On-Screen Team category for X-MEN, along with castmates Hugh Jackman, James Marsden and Anna Paquin. Sean Patrick Thomas' performance (SAVE THE LAST DANCE) earned him a Breakthrough Male Performance nomination. Breakthrough Female Performance nods went to Aaliyah (ROMEO MUST DIE.) The opening cheer (BRING IT ON) and the club scene (SAVE THE LAST DANCE) also earned Best Dance Sequence nods.
   For a complete list of nominations, visit MTV at </http:www.mtv.com/>.



FREDRO STARR ARRESTED

   Rapper/actor Fredro Starr was recently arrested in Los Angeles for not obeying a stewardess' repeated requests to sit down while on a flight. Police were waiting for Starr when the plane landed and after a scuffle in which an officer was hurt, Starr was arrested. Among the other charges against him, he was charged with resisting arrest.



DAMON TO BE A GRANDPA

   The 40 year-old Damon Wayan's has learned he's going to be a grandpa, thanks to his teenage son, Damon Jr. The soon to be grandpa told E! he was shocked by the news, but pleased.



TODD BRIDGES A HERO

   Todd Bridges got some positive press when the former "Diff'rent Strokes" star was credited last month with saving the life of a paraplegic woman whose wheelchair had lurched into the Balboa Park Lake in the San Fernando Valley after her fishing line caught on the chair's controls.
   Bridges, whose run-ins with the law made him a tabloid favorite in the mid-'80s and '90s, was fishing a few feet away with his brother James. Both jumped in to help.
   "I was thanking God that he was there," said Kline."
   "We felt God put us there at the right time to save this lady's life, because there was no one else around," Bridges said.



SEINFELD MC'S COSBY BENEFIT

   Comedian Jerry Seinfeld was the master of ceremonies at a benefit for the Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation. The event was co-hosted by fellow comedian Bill Cosby and his wife Camille. The Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation was established to celebrate the life and fulfill the goals of Bill Cosby's slain son Ennis Cosby, who was killed by Mikhail Markhasev on Jan. 16, 1997, on a Bel-Air, Calif., roadside as he attempted to change a flat tire. Markhasev was convicted of first-degree murder and attempted robbery on July 7, 1998, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Proceeds from the benefit will go towards a graduate-certificate program at Fordham University that trains teachers working in kindergarten through second grade classrooms. Ennis Cosby was a graduate of Columbia
University's Teachers College and was working towards a doctorate in education at the time of his death.



BLACK PROMOTERS TAKING CASE TO THE UN

   In 1998, The Black Promoters Association filed a lawsuit against 11 booking and talent agencies, and 29 rock and pop concert promoters citing anti-trust violations and civil rights discrimination stemming from a long history of excluding black promoters from bidding for the services of major white acts.
"The federal court declared that the black promoters had a valid case and have urged the defendants to settle this matter out of court as soon as possible," said industry insider Wayne Garfield.
The Association's next step is to place the issue on the agenda at the upcoming United Nations World Conference Against Racism (UNWCAR). The UWCAR is a group that lobbies member states of The United Nations.



LIEBERMAN TARGETS HOLLYWOOD WITH BILL

   Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) says the entertainment industry hasn't kept its promise to quit marketing sex and violence to kids, so now he's pushing for a bill that would penalize companies that continue the practice.
   The bill has already been introduced and would expand the Federal Trade Commission's authority to crack down on businesses that engage in "false and deceptive advertising practices." Entertainment companies found to be marketing adult material to minors would be subject to fines of $11,000 per day.
   The FTC issued a report recently that was critical of the film and video game industries but really singled out the music industry as the worst offender. Hilary Rosen, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, acknowledged shortcomings but said the industry is working to strengthen its guidelines.
   The Motion Picture Association of America plans to oppose the bill by Lieberman and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) on grounds it infringes on free-speech rights. "Senator Lieberman is a defender of the First Amendment, so how can he square that with this legislation?," asked MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor.



HARVEY'S HONORED FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE

   Comedian/actor Steve Harvey and wife Mary Lee Harvey were honored at the 12th Annual Benefit for Shelter Partnership Dinner. The event took place at the Biltmore hotel, downtown Los Angeles. The Harvey's were recognized for service to the needs of the community.
   "We are pleased to honor Steve and Mary L. Harvey for their heartfelt generosity to the homeless and economically challenged in our community," said Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director.
   The event was attended by over 1,000 celebrities, politicians and well-wishers.



SINGLETON CHAIRS USC BLACK ALUM AWARDS

   John Singleton is a proud alum of USC and gave back to his alma mater by contributing money and time to the 23rd Annual USC Black Alumni Awards. Money raised by the event will be used to fund 52 graduate and undergraduate scholarships for black scholars attending USC.



"O" HAS FIRST BIRTHDAY

   Oprah Winfrey's successful magazine "O," has reached its first anniversary. To celebrate, Winfrey and friends Iman, Quincy Jones, Diana Ross, and Ashford and Simpson, and others, threw a big party. Winfrey told attendees, "Acclaim and profit are nice, [but] what means the most are the readers themselves. My goal with this magazine was to let women know that they are okay ... all you have is within you."



BRACING FOR A STRIKE

   Representatives of the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers ended talks at the end of the month without bridging a $100 million gap between their respective demands.
   With both sides participating in a news blackout, it's unclear at press time whether they had made any progress in averting a strike. If talks break off, a strike authorization vote and a walkout could take place. A strike may keep favorite comedies and dramas off the air in the fall.
   If the writers walk out, the first victims would be daily soap operas and late-night variety shows, followed by sitcoms and hour-long dramas if a strike drags on. Studio officials and WGA leaders have said they are willing to compromise - but only a little.



BERRY AND BENET SUE TABLOID

   Halle Berry and new musician husband Eric Benet are suing the "Star" for libel. The tabloid reported their four-month marriage as "on the rocks." The couple also struck back at the 'Star' in a statement at Berry's Hallewood.com website.
   "The 'Star' must be held accountable for their publication of the completely false and baseless story about our marriage. The fact that this story also includes false statements about our child enrages us and compels a response. We will not tolerate this irresponsible and reckless reporting, which has prompted our filing of a defamation lawsuit against the 'Star.'"
   The article reported that Benet had moved out of Berry's house and was looking for a condo of his own. The suit calls for $5 million in damages.



FREEMAN UNHAPPY WITH WOODY ALLEN

   Oscar winner Morgan Freeman, who stars in the current thriller "Along Came A Spider," spoke out recently that Woody Allen's films don't feature enough black characters/actors.
"Woody Allen doesn't have black people in his movies so much," Freeman said in Entertainment Weekly.
"'Deconstructing Harry,' there was a black person -- a prostitute ... a fairly stereotypical character."
But Freeman also compliments Allen's filmmaking, saying, "I will go see his movies, just for lessons on camera work."



CUBA GOODING JR. "BOND – JAMES BOND?"

   Former James Bond, Roger Moore, has nominated Cuba Gooding Jr. to take over the role of the legendary British agent once Pierce Brosnan, who currently fills the 007 shoes, steps down as expected.
   Moore told the entertainment website 'Popcorn', "It's about time there was a black James Bond." He also feels that Gooding is the man for the job (if he can assume the British accent.) Another possible contender includes Oscar winner, Russell Crowe.
   But casting agents close to the project believe a lesser-known actor will succeed Brosnan.