SPLITTING First Howard Stern, and now Ted Turner: What’s happening to our marriage role models? Turner and his wife of eight years, Jane Fonda, have announced that they are separating, but stress that they are not divorcing. ”While we continue to be committed to the long-term success of our marriage,” the couple said in a statement, ”we find ourselves at a juncture where we must each take some personal time for ourselves. Therefore, we have mutually decided to spend some time apart. We ask that you respect this decision.”
CASTING Elizabeth Hurley has joined Brendan Fraser in a reworking of the 1967 comedy ”Bedazzled,” in which Hurley plays a powerful witch who helps a nerd (Fraser) win over the woman of his dreams (played by ”Mansfield Park”’s Frances O’Connor).
NEW JOB? Jamie Tarses, who last year left ABC after a controversial reign as entertainment president, is negotiating to head the film and TV division of Maverick Records, Madonna‘s company. If Tarses is looking for a low-maintenance job for a change, she might be searching in the wrong want ads.
NEW YEAR WINNERS It was a very patchouli New Year: Phish was the top-grossing concert act for New Year’s Eve, according to Amusement Business magazine, raking in an estimated $11.6 million for its Dec. 30-31 stint at the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in Florida. Western rock came in second, with an Eagles/Linda Ronstadt/Jackson Browne bill pulling in $6.2 million at L.A.’s Staples Center. And in third place was Billy Joel, playing a hometown gig at Madison Square Garden and pulling in $4.4 million. And how much did you make by getting drunk and singing karaoke?
GUNS TROUBLE The management company for the intermittently defunct Guns N’ Roses is suing former members Slash and Duff McKagan, claiming the duo owes it $400,000 in album royalties. However, Slash’s lawyer told MTV News that the company, Big F D, no longer represents the two, and presented their contract that says it expires either three years after the signature, or three years after the last tour, whichever comes last; the contract was drawn up in 1992, and the last GN’R tour ended in 1993, so either way it seems moot. But the Big F D lawyers claim that the last tour date still hasn’t happened, since Axl Rose, the sole remaining member of the band, is currently finishing a new album under the GN’R name and plans to tour, so even though Duff and Slash are no longer in it, the band’s contract still holds. Looks like Y2K hasn’t affected loophole technology.
LAWSUITS A woman claiming to be the illegitimate daughter of the late trumpeter Dizzie Gillespie has filed suit to gain co-ownership of his music royalties from his widow. Jean Bryson Tomas claims her mother had an affair with the jazzman and alleges that he admitted he was her child and supported her financially until she was an adult, according to Reuters. State law in New Jersey, where Gillespie died in 1993 at age 75, says that even children out of wedlock have the rights to a parent’s estate, but the trumpeter’s widow Lorraine reportedly will not recognize Tomas as a daughter and refuses to give up any royalties. (The couple had no children of their own.) A DNA test and cheek-elasticity check should clear up this mystery quickly…. A 57-year-old woman is suing Universal Studios for $15,000, claiming that the haunted house at its annual Halloween Horror Nights event was too scary. Yes, you read that right: Too scary. According to the Associated Press, Cleanthi Peters and her 10-year-old granddaughter were chased out of the House in 1998 by an employee wielding a chainless chainsaw. The two slipped on the ground, and the man continued to stand over them waving his harmless saw. Peters claims unspecified physical injuries, and says that the event inflicted ”extreme fear, emotional distress, and mental anguish.” No word yet if she’s planning on suing Sea World for being ”too fishy.”