VIOLENT FEMME Ahhh, to be young, beautiful, and have a temper that can melt paint: Naomi Campbell pleaded guilty to an assault charge in a Canadian criminal court for beating up her assistant while filming the movie ”Prisoner of Love” in Toronto in 1998, according to the Associated Press. The assistant, Georgina Galanis — whose $2 million lawsuit against the model was settled in New York in March — claimed that in the nine days she worked for Campbell, she was hit in the head with a telephone twice, punched in the shoulder, and had her neck grabbed and head shook. Campbell (who had previously denied the charges) expressed remorse and was released without a fine, sentence, or criminal record. Campbell has reportedly undergone anger-management training since then, but we still wouldn’t let her near any sharp lip gloss.
DIVERSITY WATCH If it were up to Regis Philbin, his show would be called ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire… Who Isn’t a White Dude.” There have been precious few minority or female contestants on the show, and Tuesday night he pleaded to the camera for them to ”get into the game!… I’m a white man, so you know I have nothing against them, but come on. We would really like a little more diversity.” Seeing as how the selection process is blind, with contestants earning a place on the show by calling a 1-800 number and being the fastest caller to answer a question, there’s no bias on the part of the program. ”We don’t know what the explanation is,” a show spokesperson told Reuters. ”If we knew, we would do something about it. The… process is something we’re very proud of because it’s fair.” On the other hand, there’s no such color-blind call-in process for minorities to get onto ”Dharma & Greg,” which brings us to our next story…. Under pressure from the NAACP, Fox and CBS will announce plans to increase the minority presence in front of the cameras and behind the scenes of their TV shows, according to Variety. Unlike the initiatives previously announced by NBC and ABC, these two networks will also appoint a vice president in charge of diversity to oversee the changes. ABC says it has had a director of diversity since 1997, and NBC says plans for one are ”under consideration.” Meanwhile, NAACP president Kweisi Mfume said that he will next target the film studios. ”I don’t think we need more ‘black movies,”’ he told Variety. ”I believe we need more opportunity for black, Latino, and Asian talent in mainstream, major-market movies.”
CASTING Charlize Theron will play a dying woman who takes on a new lover a month, one of whom is Keanu Reeves, in ”Sweet November.” No one tearjerks like Keanu. Or at least that’s what the press release will claim…. Mark Wahlberg has joined the cast of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg’s WWII HBO miniseries, ”Band of Brothers”…. Edward Furlong (”American History X”) will star as a medieval messenger searching for a relic in ”The Knights of the Quest.” Judging by Furlong’s usual delinquent characters, might we guess that this one will smoke a medieval butt and steal a six-pack of mead?
LAWSUIT The mother of Kid Rock‘s child is fighting him for custody, according to Michigan’s Macomb Daily, a paper in the area where Rock (real name Robert Ritchie) grew up. Kelley South, who was never married to the rapper, proved he was the dad in a 1994 paternity suit, and he currently has full custody of the child, Robert Jr. South’s lawyer says that ”given the amount of time [Kid Rock] travels, he’s not there to take care of the child.” South is allegedly supposed to have the Kid’s kid while he’s on tour, but lately that hasn’t been happening, and that’s why she’s suing for custody. According to the Daily, Rock’s lawyer says that a hearing will be held on Feb. 7, and his label had no comment because it wasn’t familiar with the suit.
ON STAGE In the ultimate prequel to ”Scent of a Woman,” Al Pacino may go blind in an Off Broadway production of ”Oedipus Rex.” He’s been rehearsing the play in New York with Dianne Wiest, Mary Beth Hurt, B.D. Wong, and David Strathairn, and director Estelle Parsons tells Variety she hopes to launch it commercially in a couple of months, but it will depend if the actors are still available. Harrumph… In my day, actors MADE time for patricide and incest.
NO COMEBACK ABBA are having nothing to do with their own revival: The original members have turned down an incredible $1 billion offer for a reunion tour. ”It is a hell of a lot of money to say no to, but we decided it wasn’t for us,” band member Benny Andersson told the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet. (The offer was made by an American/British group that wanted the quartet to do 100 concerts.) However, it’s not like the group is hard up for cash: Everything from the proliferating ABBA cover bands to an ABBA hit musical in London is increasing sales of the band’s catalog, especially their greatest-hits album, ”ABBA Gold.” ”We have never made a comeback,” said member Bjorn Ulvaeus. ”Almost everyone else has. I think there is a message in that.” A message that Styx might have done well to heed.
EDITED After its appeal was rejected by the MPAA, Lions Gate is trimming ”American Psycho” to avoid an NC-17. The studio’s copresident Mark Urman said the problematic footage was ”a few seconds of a not-very-long [group sex] scene.” The bludgeoning, the hacking, and the spraying blood, apparently that’s all hunky-dory.
REEL DEAL Todd Solondz (”Happiness,” ”Welcome to the Dollhouse”) will film his next movie this summer for New Line. The plot is top-secret, and the studio will only say it’s his ”most commercial venture yet.” Well, considering his last two films, all that tells us is that it’s not a snuff film.
OBITUARY Superhero cartoonist Gil Kane, who drew such megamen as the Green Lantern, the Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man, died on Sunday from cancer at the age of 74. Considered one of the great comic-book artists, Kane wrote for all of the major publishers, including Marvel and DC.
FORBIDDEN FILM Under pressure from Catholic groups, the government of El Salvador has banned the movie ”Stigmata” after a week of release in that country for its portrayal of crucifixion and its questioning of the Church. ”It is an attack on public order,” said the director of the country’s office of Public Performances. The office would be wise to look into ”Isn’t She Great,” which is an attack on public brains.