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September 2003
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A White House operative, apparently angered over a report on ABC's World News Tonight about morale problems among U.S. troops in Iraq, alerted Internet gossip Matt Drudge to the fact that the reporter who prepared the story, Jeffrey Kofman, is gay and a Canadian, the Washington Post recently reported. Drudge confirmed to the Post that "someone from the White House communications shop tipped me to it." He added: "The White House press office ... has become slightly more aggressive about contacting reporters. [The ABC] story has certainly become talk radio fodder about the cultural wars-slash-liberal bias in the media." An ABC insider told the newspaper: "Playing hardball is one thing. But appealing to homophobia and jingoism is simply ugly." If White House operatives are after the reporters, how soon before they go after movies and film stars?


DirecTV has filed nearly 9,000 lawsuits in the U.S. against people who have purchased "smart cards" over the Internet that allow them to pirate the company's signals. Former FBI agents hired by the company and who work out of its Office of Signal Integrity have raided businesses selling piracy equipment, seizing their customer lists. It claimed that innocent researchers, including a physician who wanted to set up a smart-card system to limit access to patients' files, have been snared in DirecTV's dragnet. Some of them reportedly do not even own DirecTV equipment.


Jam band the String Cheese Incident has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster, claiming that the concert ticketing giant is monopolizing the industry. The band is suing Ticketmaster on behalf of its Boulder, Colo.-based company SCI Ticketing. The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver. The complaint alleges that SCI Ticketing "has become the target of an all-out effort by Ticketmaster to foreclose it from competing in the relevant market" because it has ceased to release blocks of tickets to SCI Ticketing. The suit states that it is common industry practice that -- at an artist' request -- a venue will hold back a block of tickets that the artist can sell directly to fans. A Ticketmaster representative declined comment on the suit.


The number of roles for black and Latino actors increased last year, propelling the share of minority actors to its highest level in SAG history, according to an annual diversity report released last month. Women over 40 also made gains, but roles for Asian-Pacific Islanders and Native Americans dropped. Together, the four minority groups accounted for 24.2% of all theatrical and television roles last year, a 2.1% gain over 2001. "We look forward to the day when all of the employment statistics truly reflect the American scene in realistic and positive ways," SAG president Melissa Gilbert said. While only adding 39 roles, a gain of about 1%, blacks accounted for 15.5% of all roles, exceeding the black population of the United States, which stands at a little less than 13%. Latino actors got cast in 379 additional roles last year, bringing their share up to 6%, a 1.2% increase that was largely attributed to advances in episodic television. Latinos account for 13.6% of the U.S. population. Native Americans' share dropped to 0.2% from 0.37%. Asian-Pacific Islanders made no gains last year and still account for 2.5% of total roles. The report, based on all television and theatrical productions (excluding commercials and animation) reported to the guild via casting data reports, also breaks down the numbers by gender and age. Women 40 and over got 29% of all female roles, a 2% increase over last year. At the same time, women received 38% of all roles, while they represent more than half of the U.S. population. The latter statistic has not changed much in recent years, and men were said to work 68% more days than women. About 72% of all roles go to those under the age of 40.


Marion "Suge" Knight, who's been in prison since June 27 for a parole violation, was ordered last May to pay the law firm of Kopple and Klinger $142,000 for unpaid legal fees. According to the suit, Knight allegedly sold or gave away property to avoid paying the judgment. Properties in Beverly Hills, Malibu, and Encino were transferred to friends for little or no compensation to "hinder, delay or defraud" his creditors. Knight's publicist, Jonathan Wolfson, as well as attorneys representing the firm have all declined to comment.


Movie audiences are used to seeing Emmy award winning actor Ving Rhames play a tough guy, but now he’s narrating a new documentary which examines some of the lives of hip-hop's tough guys. Various rappers, including 50 Cent, DMX, Mobb Deep, Ice T, NWA, Cypress Hill, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Jay-Z, KRS-One, MC Shan, Busy Bee, and Kool Moe Dee, discuss their favorite beef in the documentary and their personal lives in the industry. The DVD, titled "Beef," is the third installment in a 12-part series produced by QD3 Entertainment and Image and is scheduled for a September release.


Antwone Fisher has been selected for the $25,000 Himanitas prize for his contribution to the film and TV industry. Fisher won for for his first-time screen play "Antwone Fisher," the autobiographical account of his own search for healing and acceptance.


Actor William Marshall, most widely known for his role as "Blacula," has passed away in Los Angeles. A memorial service was held for the actor at the First AME Church in Los Angeles.


Teenage rapper/actor Bow Wow, recently performed for free in Bryant Park, on 42nd street in New York City. The noontime event, sponsored by HBO, included an announcement of a donation to be made by Bow Wow to the not-for-profit Computers for Youth (CFY) program. The organization provides computers to children in New York's middle schools, as well as training, support and Internet access. "Anyone who knows me knows how much time I spend on computers. I'm a computer addict," Bow Wow says in a statement. "Every young person deserves to have a computer in his or her home. It's cool that CFY will also make sure that they learn how to use them."


VH1’s 200 Great Pop Culture Icons show named Oprah Winfrey as the reigning pop icon. She was followed by Superman in second place and Elvis Presley in third. Other notable names included Eminem at No. 31, Bill Cosby at 30th, and No. 32 was President John F. Kennedy. The list was assembled by the VH1 staff. Network Deciding factors included: Can you dress as them for Halloween? Would you recognize them by a one-word name? And has "Saturday Night Live" ever parodied them? Other curiosities included: JFK Jr. (No. 24) who beat his father, and Albert Einstein (108) who beat Jimi Hendrix (109) and former president Bill Clinton (18) who came in way ahead of former White House intern Monica Lewinsky (161).


Top-ranked female tennis player Serena Williams will make her cable TV debut on the Showtime original series "Street Time," as a reformed gang member on parole. The episode is scheduled for Wednesday, October 1 at 10PM ET/PT. "As a fan of Street Time, I told myself that if given the opportunity, I&Mac226;d love to be on the show," said Williams. "I am taking this role very seriously, because I want to excel and because I have respect for the series."


Whoopi Goldberg self-titled comedy, which debuts this fall on NBC, will for the first time since September 11, shine a spotlight on people of Middle Eastern descent visiting or living in America. "We are going to tackle as many things as we can. People may not like it, but they will talk about it, kind of like 'Archie Bunker of 2003.' There isn't anything we don't feel we could do," stated Goldberg. In the show, Goldberg will star as a small hotel owner in New York, with actor Omid Djalili playing her Arab handyman Nasim, and yes, many of the terrorism and Middle East jokes are planned to come from Djalili's character.


"Scary Movie 3" producers hired a Michael Jackson look-alike to parody the entertainer, but the guy didn't get a chance to deliver his lines before onlookers began to scream"Child abuser!" The actor tried to protest, saying, "I'm not Michael Jackson -- I'm just an actor who looks like him!" But the crowd continued their verbal abuse until security hustled the poor guy back to his dressing trailer until his actual camera time.


During the filming of Jamie Foxx's upcoming TV movie "Unchain My Heart," in which he plays Ray Charles, the crew worked hard to turn an L.A. house into an authentic '60s set. Everything was fine until daily’s revealed a deliveryman in the background, lugging big plastic bottles of water in and out of nearby houses. In the '60s you could get glass containers of milk delivered to your doorstep, but water delivery had yet to be envisioned.


Singer/actress Beyonce Knowles was joined by Craig David, Shania Twain, and David Gray as the group sang for the sake of disadvantage children at London’s Hyde Park for the Prince’s Trust’s "Party in the Park." The show raised more than $1.6 million for the charity headed by England’s Prince Charles. Though the park was filled with screaming teens, the Prince did attended.


She amply filled an orange bikini in "Swordfish," and wore a figure outlining number in "X-Men," and got sooo naked in "Monster's Ball." And now the Oscar winning actress has won the E! Television poll as having the Best Body of 2003, beating out the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Brad Pitt. Voters ranked the top 30 Best Bodies in the entertainment industry. The top five were: 1. Halle Berry, 2. Brad Pitt, 3. Jennifer Lopez, 4. Jennifer Garner, and 5. Hugh Jackman.


The New York Post reports that Ice-T is launching his own malt liquor brand. It's moniker is Royal Ice. To cover the non-alcoholic front, Mr. Tracy Marrow (Ice-T’s real name), is also introducing Liquid Ice, the rapper/actor's energy drink which was launched at a party in New York. "A true hustler needs energy to keep his game tight," Ice-T said.


Soul music legend and sometime actor, James Brown, is one of five recipients receiving this year's Kennedy Center Honors award on December 7. Other recipients include veteran actress/comedian Carol Burnett, country legend Loretta Lynn, graduate director Mike Nichols, and violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman. James A. Johnson, chairman of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, stated that the five talented honorees were selected "for the unique and extremely valuable contributions they have made to the cultural life of our nation." Traditionally, the award recipients join the President and first lady for a White House reception, followed by a star-studded celebration at the Kennedy Center Opera House.


Legendary dancer, actor and singer Gregory Hines has died in Los Angeles of cancer. He was 57. Hines, Tony Award winner, NAACP Image Award winner, and Emmy Award winner, was described as charming and graceful by colleagues. Born Gregory Oliver Hines on Feb. 14, 1946, in New York City, he took dance lessons as a toddler and by age six, he and his brother were performing jazz tap at Harlem's Apollo Theater and soon after joined the cast of the Broadway musical The Girl in Pink Tights. Hines said his mother urged him and his older brother toward tap dancing because she wanted them to have a way out of the ghetto. I don't remember not dancing," Hines said in a 2001 interview. Gregory Hines is survived by his fiancé, two former wives, his daughter, his brother, and his father.


Film actress Alfre Woodard is moving to the stage for the Broadway play "Drowning Crow." This will be Woodard’s Broadway debut. Performances begin February 19, 2004.


Mariah Carey has agreed to sing the theme for the next Bond flick, with one condition. She wants to have a cameo in the film. "Mariah has had meetings with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. She was asked if she'd consider singing the theme tune for 'Bond 21,' a Bond source confirmed. "Mariah said she wanted a part in the new film although the story hasn't been discussed yet." "Bond 21," will is rumored to be the final one in the spy series to star Pierce Brosnan (though he denies it) in the lead role, and will be released in 2005. Filmmakers say they will begin concentrating on film after they finalize plans for the Bond spin-off featuring "Die Another Day" actress Halle Berry.


Larenz Tate and his brothers headed up a Chicago benefit to aid Larabida Children’s Hospital & Research Center’s Sickle Cell Anemia Fund. Larenz, Lahmard & Larron Tate, via the Tate Brothers Foundation, held a celebrity filled weekend to help raise money for the fund at the NFP 2nd Annual Celebrity weekend. Also on hand were Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker, Flex Alexander, Tyson Beckford, Kenya Moore, Anthony Anderson, and more.


Ice-T is scheduled to host a new TV show based on the newly formed auto race league, Bad Azz Drivers (B.A.D.). Racing legend Jay Penske, television producer Andre Jetmir and advertising executive Peter Stranger, have described the show as the WWF of the auto racing world. The events will be hosted on closed courses that resemble city streets, complete with oil slicks, rain showers, downed trees and pot holes. "Compared to NASCAR, which is 75 percent racing and 25 percent entertainment, B.A.D. will be more like the WWF of auto racing where racing and entertainment run 50/50 and personality makes the difference," Jetmir said. "The street racing that has become so popular is dangerous when done in an uncontrolled environment."