ADOPTIONS On March 11, eccentric couple Angelina Jolie, 26, and Billy Bob Thornton, 46, adopted their first child together, a 7-month-old Cambodian boy they named Maddox. Thornton has three children from two previous marriages.
ENGAGEMENTS Beleaguered Backstreet Boy AJ McLean, 24, reportedly is engaged to singer Sarah Martin and plans to dance down the aisle in 2003. McLean’s rep could not be reached for comment.
ELECTIONS Half-pint’s back! On March 9, actress Melissa Gilbert, 37, was once again declared 23rd president of the Screen Actors Guild, routing her Rhoda rival, Valerie Harper, 61. Gilbert was initially declared the winner in November, but a revote was ordered when evidence of voting irregularities surfaced. In her concession statement, Harper said, ”In this election, rerun in a fair and uniform manner, the real winner is the democratic process.”
ANNOUNCEMENTS Break out the cigars, CBS. At the taping of his March 11 show, David Letterman, 54, declared he’ll stick with the net, spurning an offer from ABC to take Ted Koppel’s Nightline slot. During his monologue, Letterman joked, ”When I drop dead there won’t be this much press.” CBS agreed to pay the host more than $30 million annually over five years and to market his show more vigorously. Koppel, whose fate has been publicly debated, minced no words in his response: ”Collateral damage has been done.” In a lukewarm statement, ABC said, ”Nightline will remain in its time period, where it will continue to provide its distinctive brand of journalism for the network.”…Kiss those red glasses goodbye. On March 11, Studios USA announced plans to yank Sally Jessy Raphael, 59, and her daytime gabfest after nearly two decades on the air. During February sweeps, The Sally Jessy Raphael Show placed ninth in ratings among talk shows, alongside Ricki Lake…. Speaking of daytime drama: Oprah Winfrey, 48, announced she’ll retire her top-rated show in 2006, after 20 years of national syndication.
DENIED Pop princess Britney Spears, 20, told MTV Italy that U.S. reports that she and ‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake, 21, have parted ways are ”not true.” The diva clarified: ”Me and Justin did not split up.” Neither Spears’ nor Timberlake’s reps would comment further.
SPLITS 9021-uh-oh. On Feb. 28, Beverly Hills’ Ian Ziering, 37, filed for divorce from his wife of four years, model Natalie Jo Schieler Ziering, 30, citing irreconcilable differences.
ARRESTS Dirty business: On March 10, Puddle of Mudd lead singer Wes Scantlin, 29, and companion Michelle Rubin, 31, were arrested on charges of domestic violence when Ventura County cops found them allegedly shoving each other on the shoulder of California’s Highway 126. The two, who’d been en route to a video shoot, were released on bail of $20,000 each. Neither Scantlin nor Rubin could be reached.
COURTS Who’s your P. Diddy? On March 12, actor-rapper Sean Combs, 32, promised a Manhattan judge he’d provide for his son, Christian Casey, 3. Combs reportedly had been threatened with jail time for skipping several court hearings to finalize the settlement of a paternity suit brought last December by an ex-girlfriend, model Kim Porter, 31. Combs’ rep called the settlement ”amicable” but would not discuss terms…. On March 12, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. agreed to pay $325,000 to settle a fraud suit brought by the state of Connecticut over studio ads last year featuring blurbs by a fictitious movie critic, David Manning of Connecticut’s Ridgefield Press. In a statement, a spokeswoman noted the studio ”acted voluntarily to tighten its advertising policies last June, shortly after management learned of the David Manning incident.”…On March 11, erstwhile pop starlet Connie Francis (”Who’s Sorry Now?”), 63, sued Universal Music Group for $40 million, accusing the label of damaging her wholesome image by farming out her songs to ”pornographic and offensive motion pictures.” She claims the use of her songs in two R-rated films, 1995’s Postcards From America and 1999’s Jawbreaker, jeopardized her mental health (Francis is manic-depressive). The singer also claims the company has underpaid her royalties for years. A Universal spokesman declined to comment.