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Celebrity news for the week of February 23, 2007

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EXPECTING
Kevin Costner, 52, and his wife, handbag designer Christine Baumgartner, 32, are expecting their first child together.

HIRED
Aftermath Records CEO Dr. Dre (né Andre Young), 42, signed a multiyear deal Feb. 8 to produce movies for New Line. Dre — who’s nurtured the careers of Eminem and Snoop Dogg — plans to develop dark comedies and horror films.

EXIT
Jim Samples, 44, the head of the Cartoon Network, resigned on Feb. 9 — nine days after a guerrilla marketing campaign for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force film prompted multiple bomb scares in Boston. Samples said he stepped down ”in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch.” His replacement has not been named.

TOURING
Fresh off their Grammy performance, The Police announced Feb. 12 that they’ll embark on a 14-date North American jaunt starting May 28.

COURTS
On Feb. 7, a judge ordered O.J. Simpson, 59, to stop spending the estimated $880,000 he received for his controversial unpublished book If I Did It. The decision was prompted by the family of victim Ron Goldman, who say Simpson still owes them money for a $33.5 million suit they won in 1997, which holds him liable for Goldman’s death. Says Simpson’s lawyer: ”We fully expect this case to be dismissed.” The Goldmans, meanwhile, have subpoenaed all the major movie studios for information about Simpson’s residuals…. Paula Abdul, 44, is being sued for breach of contract over her upcoming Bravo reality show Hey Paula. Pilgrim Films and Television, which produces Discovery Channel’s American Chopper, claims she stole its series idea and sold it to Bravo. Pilgrim seeks unspecified damages and an injunction to stop the show’s production. Abdul’s reps did not return calls for comment.

ROBBED
On Feb. 12, police were alerted to a burglary at the L.A. house belonging to country couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, both 39. The thieves, who’ve yet to be caught, made off with an unspecified amount of money. No one was home at the time.

RECOVERING
R. Kelly, 40, underwent an appendectomy after giving a concert Feb. 4 in Miami. The hospital stay forced the singer to miss a Feb. 7 status hearing about the 14 counts of child pornography he faces, stemming from a 2002 arrest. Kelly has pleaded not guilty; a trial date has yet to be set.

DEATHS
Scottish actor Ian Richardson (PBS’ Bleak House), 72, a founding member of the Royal Shakespeare Company who was most recognizable for his Grey Poupon TV ads, of undisclosed causes, Feb. 9, in London…. Pedro Knight, 85, a lead trumpet player for the legendary Cuban band La Sonora Matancera and husband of the late Celia Cruz, of undisclosed causes, Feb. 3, in Arcadia, Calif…. Oscar-nominated costume designer Donfeld (Prizzi’s Honor), 72, of undetermined causes, Feb. 3, in Temple City, Calif.


HIRED
Tiki Barber Makes a Play for Today
Running back, all-time leading rusher for the New York Giants, and now full-fledged TV personality. Tiki Barber, 31, announced Feb. 13 that in his first post-NFL gig since retiring, he’ll be a news correspondent for NBC’s Today show (starting in April) as well as an analyst for the network’s Football Night in America. ”My dream has always been to be on the Today show,” Barber told reporters. ”[Matt Lauer] is the kind of person I want to be.” — Tanner Stransky

LEGACY
Anna Nicole Smith 1967-2007
In a 2002 interview with EW, Anna Nicole Smith explained her reaction when E! said it wanted to do a reality show about her life. ”I was like, ‘Hmm, I love cameras,”’ said Smith, who died on Feb. 8 of undetermined causes at the age of 39. ”So why not?”

A bubbly Texas native and former exotic dancer who idolized Marilyn Monroe, Smith (n?Vickie Lynn Hogan) rose to fame in the early ’90s as a Playboy centerfold, Guess? jeans model, and sometime actress. She became a tabloid fixture in 1994 when she married octogenarian oilman J. Howard Marshall; his death a year later thrust Smith into a still-unsettled legal battle for her part of Marshall’s estimated $1.6 billion estate. (In May 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow her to continue pursuing her claim.)

In recent years, her outrageous antics — on two seasons of E!’s The Anna Nicole Show and as a pitchwoman for TrimSpa weight-loss products — earned Smith copious media attention. Unfortunately, so did a personal tragedy: On Sept. 10, 2006, just three days after daughter Dannielynn’s birth, Smith’s son, Daniel, 20, died in the Bahamas. (His death resulted from an apparent accidental overdose of antidepressants and methadone.)

In the wake of Smith’s death, her 5-month-old daughter is now at the center of a messy paternity battle: With at least four men (including Smith’s lawyer and partner Howard K. Stern) claiming to be Dannielynn’s father, a California judge has ordered that Smith’s body be preserved for potential DNA tests until a Feb. 20 hearing. It’s a bizarre and sad ending for Smith, who ultimately fell victim to the fame and fortune she so happily pursued. ”I’ve made my goals,” she once said. ”I’ve done everything I wanted to do.” — Margeaux Watson

Indy 4 Saves the Date
Fedoras versus fast cars: Looks like 2008’s first summer box office battle has officially begun. On Feb. 6, Paramount Pictures announced that Steven Spielberg’s long-gestating, highly anticipated Indiana Jones 4, starring Harrison Ford, will hit big screens May 22. The only hitch: Warner Bros. has already slated its own potential blockbuster — an adaptation of TV’s Speed Racer, helmed by Matrix masterminds the Wachowski brothers — for release the next day. Neither studio has backed down yet, but history favors Spielberg. In 2005, his War of the Worlds was slated against Fox’s Fantastic Four on the July 4 weekend, but Fox pushed its comic-book flick to a week later. — Tim Stack

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