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Monitor

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SPLITS
After 13 often-stormy years, floppy-haired actor Hugh Grant, 39, and pacifier-sucking actress Elizabeth Hurley, 34, have called it quits. Her publicist says the split is ”amicable and mutual” — and temporary. The unwed pair still share a London house and co-run a production firm…. Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, 33, announced May 23 the band will break up at year’s end.

ACCIDENTS
Hours after his release from a hospital May 6 for reported severe flu and stomach pains, Friend Matthew Perry, 30, swerved his Porsche to avoid a car and crashed into a front porch in L.A.’s Hollywood Hills. He was not injured and no report was filed. ”Matthew is fine,” said his publicist, ”and the porch was treated and released.”

ARRESTED
Brit director Guy Ritchie, 31, was arrested May 17 for allegedly assaulting Jonathon Sanders, 20, a rabid fan of his enceinte girlfriend Madonna, 41, outside her London home. His publicist says Ritchie (due in court June 1) lost his temper and shoved Sanders, who he claims had been following the couple.

FIGHTS
The production company of Gladiator director Ridley Scott and brother Tony (Top Gun) took out an ad in the trade mag Shoot, suggesting producers avoid the Screen Actors Guild strike against advertisers by shooting abroad. The controversial ad featured a photo of an elderly black woman’s breasts and the caption ”In South Africa, this is what SAG means.” The Scotts later apologized, adding they personally knew nothing about the ads.

LAWSUITS
Funnyman Dana Carvey, 45, claimed in a San Francisco court May 18 that surgeon Elias Hanna operated on the wrong artery during his ’98 double bypass, necessitating a later angioplasty. Carvey sued last June for $7.5 million in damages. Hanna’s lawyers, who reportedly blamed the problem on Carvey’s ”unusual anatomy,” could not be reached for comment…. Godfather of Soul James Brown, 67, was slapped with a $2 million lawsuit May 19 by Lisa Ross Agbalaya, 34, who ran his L.A. office for seven years. She alleges she was fired after declining his sexual advances — including a demand that she don zebra-print panties while he massaged her with oil. His lawyer calls the charges ”untrue.”

DEATHS
British actor John Gielgud, 96, of natural causes, May 21, in Aylesbury, England…. Prolific romance queen Barbara Cartland, 98, after a short illness, May 21, near Hatfield, England. She wrote — or, more typically, dictated — 723 primly passionate books that sold an estimated 1 billion copies in 36 languages…. French-born flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, 78, whose 1975 version of Claude Bolling’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano stayed on Billboard’s album chart for 10 years, of heart disease, May 20, in Paris…. Director Paul Bartel, 61, who helmed the 1982 dark comedy Eating Raoul, after a bout with liver cancer, May 13, in Manhattan.

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