WEDDING BELLS The British tabloid The Sun claims that Madonna and boyfriend Guy Ritchie will wed on December 22 at Dornoch Cathedral in northeast Scotland, with a castle reception to follow. The 42 year old bride will reportedly wear a wedding gown designed by her pal Stella McCartney, while the groom, 32, will don a traditional kilt. Her only confirmed bridesmaid: 4 year old daughter Lourdes.
RECORD SHOW In more Madonna news, approximately 9 million fans logged on to watch her concert webcast on Tuesday night. According to Microsoft’s MSN website, the peak audience set a record for such live music events. The Material Girl’s first British performance in seven years took place at London’s Brixton Academy and consisted of a six song, half hour set. Among the 2,800 contest winners and celebs present were Sting, Kylie Minogue, and Mick Jagger.
RECORD ALBUM With 1.6 million copies of ”Black & Blue” sold domestically, the Backstreet Boys didn’t break rival boy band ‘N Sync‘s record setting 2.4 million units for first week sales. But don’t cry for them yet, girls: According to their publicist, BSB set another record, for worldwide sales, where the album moved 5 million copies.
COMEBACK Robert Downey Jr. returned to the ”Ally McBeal” set on Tuesday, just three days after his arrest for drug possession at a Palm Springs resort. Downey will apparently finish shooting his last two appearances on the David E. Kelley series before he is due in court on December 27 for an arraignment hearing. News of Downey’s unfortunate circumstances was actually good for ”Ally”; Monday’s episode (Downey’s fourth appearance on the show) was the highest rated in eight months, attracting 14 million viewers.
HELD ODB won’t be using any get out of jail cards this time. During his arraignment in Philadelphia on Tuesday, the rapper, whose real name is Russell Tyrone Jones, was ordered held without bail pending a Dec. 8 extradition hearing. Jones, a member of the Wu Tang Clan, was arrested on Monday night at a Philadelphia fast food joint on warrants from New York and California. In California, Jones fled a court ordered rehab center and missed an Oct. 17 court hearing. He is also wanted on four warrants in New York City, including one alleging a drug offense in Queens County. According to an AP report, Jones lawyer Peter Frankel said he had not spoken to his client and therefore had no comment.
WRITING Children’s author extraordinaire J.K. Rowling has officially started writing the fifth installment of the Harry Potter series. According to Rosamund de la Hey, head of children’s sales and marketing at Bloomsbury Publishing in London, Rowling is writing, but won’t even hazard a guess on a release date.
CASTING Academy Award winners Cuba Gooding Jr. and Judi Dench will voice characters for Disney’s upcoming animated Western feature ”Sweating Bullets.” Sarah Jessica Parker and Ja’Net DuBois have also signed on to the musical, about a united group of cows that collaborate to save their farm. Randy Quaid is currently in negotiations to join the cast. Production has not started yet on the feature…. ”Deadline” star Oliver Platt is in final talks to costar with Michael Douglas in the action thriller ”Don’t Say a Word” for director Gary Fleder (”Kiss the Girls”). Based on Andrew Klavan’s novel, ”Word” follows a New York psychiatrist (Douglas) as he attempts to save his kidnapped daughter (Brittany Murphy). Shooting is scheduled to start in New York on Dec. 8, and then moves to Toronto…. ”Jack Frost” star Kelly Preston (a.k.a. Mrs. John Travolta) will star opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in Miramax’s latest Paltrow film, the comedy ”A View From the Top.” Brazilian director Bruno Barreto (a.k.a. Mr. Amy Irving) will helm the project, which begins shooting next month. Preston will play a veteran flight attendant in the story of an ambitious social climber (Paltrow) who rises from poor white trash to become an internationally known flight attendant…. Dennis Dugan (”Big Daddy”) is in talks to direct ”National Security,” a mismatched buddy comedy (is there any other kind?) starring Martin Lawrence. Steve Zahn (”Happy, Texas”) is negotiating for the buddy role in the Columbia film (one of two, including ”Blue Streak 2” that the studio is paying Lawrence $20 million plus to do). ”National Security” starts production early next year.
REPLACED Actor Kevin Dunn, who played Bette Midler‘s husband on her eponymous CBS sitcom, left the show as of last week, when the series went on a three week hiatus. CBS spokeswoman Beth Haiken has publicly called it a mutual decision between him and the producers. Dunn will be seen through the 10th episode of ”Bette,” which airs on Jan. 3, 2001. Show producers then hope to do a ”Bewitched” like switcheroo, recasting the Divine Miss M’s mister.
TUBE NEWS William H. Macy and his writing partner Steven Schacter, who’ve written the TV movies ”A Slight Case of Murder” for TNT and ”The Con” for USA, are developing a drama for CBS. Titled ”Put-in-Bay,” the hourlong series will star Macy’s wife Felicity Huffman (”Sports Night”). The offbeat show is based on the life of Huffman’s best friend, actress Mary McCann, who grew up in the small town Put-in-Bay, Ohio. What a bummer for Mary — the show’s based on her life and the job still goes to someone else…. Fox has ordered 13 episodes of an edgy half hour comedy from ”Just Shoot Me” producer Steve Levitan. Called ”Greg the Bunny,” the show is described as ”The Larry Sanders Show” meets ”Sesame Street.” Based on a New York public access program, the series will be set behind the scenes at a fictional children’s show. The catch? The puppets are living creatures…. NBC has picked up a full season of its new Thursday night comedy ”Cursed.” The order is only the second NBC has issued (the first was for the eccentric hourlong comedy ”Ed”). Despite being any network’s highest rated new sitcom (averaging 17.5 million viewers in four weeks), ”Cursed,” like most of its time slot predecessors, continues to lose a chunk of the ”Friends” audience.
TOURS Hey hey, they’re still the Monkees! (Well, sans Mike Nesmith.) Only a daydream believer would have ever thought it would happen again, but Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork will kick off a 15 city tour next March called ”Monkee Mania Returns 2001.” The scheduled tour is the TV formed group’s first reunion in four years. One of the concerts on the upcoming tour will be filmed for a TV special and home video release. Hey, O-Town, this could be you in 30 years!