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Ricky Martin will host an AIDS awareness program for MTV

Plus, Elton John burns through his fortune, Marc Anthony faces a lawsuit, and more

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Ricky Martin
Martin: Paul Smith/Feature Flash/Retna

SEX ED Ricky Martin will lead an MTV campaign to teach teens about AIDS, the network announced yesterday. For World AIDS Day on December 1, the Latin superstar will present a documentary on the music channel about six young AIDS victims from around the world. The ”Staying Alive” documentary targets people 15 to 25, since that age group makes up a scary 50 percent of new HIV infections. Arriving in Stockholm, Sweden, for MTV’s Europe Awards, Martin said: ”AIDS continues to be a serious issue and there is still a lot of work to be done to raise awareness around the world.”

LEGAL BRIEFS Elton John testified in a London court Wednesday that he spends as much as $2.15 million a month on his lifestyle. ”I have no one to leave the money to. I’m a single man. I like spending my money,” John, 53, said, according to the AP. Sir Elton is suing his accountants, firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, and former manager Andrew Haydon for negligence in overseeing his financial affairs. Defense lawyers, however, claim John is a lavish spender with little understanding of his finances. John acknowledged he’d spent $43 million in 20 months from 1996 to 1997. That’s a ”budget” of $537,500 a week…. Freelance photographer Wendell Wall, 28, has sued celebrity couple Barbra Streisand and James Brolin for supposedly conspiring with Los Angeles authorities to have him arrested early this year. Wall, who was suspected of stalking Streisand, spent three nights in jail last January in lieu of paying a seemingly high $1 million bond. According to Reuters, prosecutors dismissed the case on the fourth day saying there was a ”lack of evidence of a credible threat.” The lawsuit filed Tuesday seeks punitive and general damages, plus a $25,000 civic penalty against Streisand, Brolin, and several members of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Streisand and Brolin released a statement Wednesday claiming they had never ”requested his incarceration.”… A judge in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has ordered salsa singer Marc Anthony to appear in court to face charges that he assaulted a local TV gossip columnist. Leo Fernandez III alleges that Anthony battered him at a July press conference after he asked the singer if his wife, former Miss Universe Dayana Torres, was pregnant. Fernandez, who is seeking unspecified damages, was apparently right: The couple later announced that they are expecting their first child early next year. Guess Fernandez just needed to know.

KNIGHTED Queen Elizabeth II knighted Oscar winner Michael Caine earlier today at Buckingham Palace. Sir Michael, knighted for his service to the dramatic arts, has appeared in more than 100 films since the early 1960s. Not bad for a Cockney kid born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite to an East End fish porter and his wife.

FESTIVAL ”Rock in Rio for a Better World,” a five tent international music festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has announced a slate of 151 acts for the event, scheduled for January 12 through 14 and 18 through 21. Sting and James Taylor are among the acts opening the festival. Beck and the Foo Fighters headline January 13; and Guns N’ Roses, Oasis, and Papa Roach perform on the 14th. After a three day break, the concerts pick up again on January 18, with pop stars ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, 5ive, and Aaron Carter. The rest of the lineup includes singer songwriters Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, and Dave Matthews.

CASTING Brad Pitt may reteam with his ”Seven” and ”Fight Club” director David Fincher. Fincher’s new film, ”Seared,” is loosely based on Anthony Bourdain‘s book ”Kitchen Confidential” about his life as a New York celebrity chef. Finally, a Fincher film free of blood soaked fights and murders…. Lanky ”Scream” star Matthew Lillard is in talks to play Shaggy in Warner Bros. upcoming live action ”Scooby-Doo” pic. Couple Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar are also in negotiations to star as Fred and Daphne. If Lillard and Prinze both sign on, it will be their fourth on screen pairing (in addition to ”She’s All That,” ”Wing Commander,” and the not yet released ”Summer Catch”). Director Raja Gosnell (”Big Momma’s House”) will start shooting in February…. Amanda Peet (”The Whole Nine Yards”) will star opposite ”Kiss the Girls” pals Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd in the thriller ”High Crimes.” Carl Franklin (”One True Thing”) will start directing later this month in San Francisco and Los Angeles. An adaptation of Joseph Finder‘s suspense novel, the film follows a renowned defense attorney (Judd) who’s forced to defend her husband after he’s accused of a war crime. Freeman will play a retired military lawyer, and Peet will take on the role of Judd’s younger sister.

REEL DEAL Anjelica Huston has struck a deal with Joe Roth‘s Revolution Studios to develop and direct the WWII era drama ”A Time to be Born” for Julia Roberts. The story looks at a lower middle class woman (Roberts) who weds a rich New York City newspaper scion after breaking up his first marriage. As she rises in society, her old friends continue their small town lives. Sounds like the biography of most actresses.

TUBE NEWS The WB is close to picking up a pilot from ”Clueless” director Amy Heckerling starring Tori Spelling. Without a script for the possible pilot, there isn’t much to report except that one reported concept is a ”Laverne & Shirley” type sitcom that pairs Spelling with another actress. Too bad Shannen Doherty is already on a WB show.