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Celebrity news for the week of March 30, 2007

Brief updates on births, divorces, court dates, and more

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On March 15, Angelina Jolie, 31, added Vietnam-born Pax Thien, 3, to her burgeoning family with Brad Pitt, 43. Jolie will return home with her new son after he receives a U.S. passport.

Actress Diane Farr (Numb3rs), 34, and her husband, marketing exec Seung Yong Chung, 36, greeted their first child, son Beckett Mancuso, on March 16.

The King of Queens star Kevin James, 41, and his wife, model Steffiana de La Cruz, 32, will welcome their second child, a daughter, this summer.

Regis Philbin, 75, is on the mend after undergoing triple-bypass heart surgery on March 14 in NYC. His Live With Regis and Kelly cohost Kelly Ripa, 36, said that he made it through ”with flying colors.” Philbin is expected to return to the show in about a month…. CNN regular Larry King, 73, resumed desk duties on his L.A.-based program, Larry King Live, on March 19, just three days after getting surgery on a blocked artery in his neck.

The London-based shoot of Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd has been shut down while leading man Johnny Depp, 43, tends to daughter Lily-Rose, 7, who’s recovering from an undisclosed illness. The actor’s return date hasn’t been determined, but production will continue on March 26, with Burton, 48, filming scenes that don’t require the actor.

The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences announced March 20 that actors must appear in at least 5 percent of a TV program to qualify for a prime-time Emmy nod. The mandate comes after Ellen Burstyn, 74, who appeared in HBO’s Mrs. Harris for 14 seconds, was nominated for supporting actress in 2006.

L.A. police are investigating a March 19 accident in which Keanu Reeves, 42, allegedly struck an unnamed photographer with his car while pulling out of a parking spot. According to authorities, Reeves, who was driving less than one mile per hour, warned the lensman to move. The shutterbug was treated for minor injuries. Cops say the photographer may be cited for obstructing traffic.

Collaborating artists Clifton Mallery, 52, and Amnau Karam Eele, 44, sued NBC Universal and the creators of Heroes on March 15. The duo claim that the show based the character of artist Isaac Mendez on a character featured in their short story, painting, and film — exhibited in NYC in ’04 and ’05 — about a painter whose work predicts the future. Says an NBC rep: ”We intend to defend [our case] vigorously.”… Jury selection began on March 19 in L.A. for the trial of music producer Phil Spector, 67. Spector, who’s free on $1 million bail, has pled not guilty to the February 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson. Last month, a judge ruled that the trial can be televised…. On March 13, a judge ordered that O.J. Simpson, 59, must auction off the rights to his aborted book If I Did It and give the money to Fred Goldman, 66. (Goldman is still owed money 10 years after winning a $33.5 million civil suit against Simpson. The ruling found Simpson liable for the 1994 murder of Goldman’s son, Ron.) The auction could take place within 30 days, after which time the book could also land in stores. Simpson’s lawyer did not return calls for comment…. Clothing designer Anand Jon Alexander, 33 — a guest on season 1 of America’s Next Top Model — was charged March 19 in L.A. with 15 felony counts for a series of alleged sexual assaults that occurred between 2004 and 2007. (Among the accusations: performing a lewd act on a 15-year-old girl.) He could face life in prison. Says his lawyer, ”He will enter a plea of not guilty on all charges.”

Lanna Saunders, 65, best known as Sister Marie on Days of Our Lives, of complications from multiple sclerosis, March 10, in Sherman Oaks, Calif…. British actor Gareth Hunt (The New Avengers), 65, of pancreatic cancer, March 13, near London…. Director Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke), 79, of a heart attack, March 15, in Beverly Hills…. Mystery writer Richard S. Prather, 85, who penned the popular Shell Scott series in the ’50s and ’60s, of respiratory disease, Feb. 14, in Sedona, Ariz. — with additional reporting by Stewart Allen

Former Madonna Nanny Loses Her Crown
On March 15, Crown Publishing backed out of a book deal to release a tell-all by Madonna’s former nanny Melissa Dumas, after rumored pressure from Madge’s legal team. EW.com first reported that Dumas was shopping a proposal featuring intimate details about the Material Girl’s home life. A rep for Madonna had no comment on Dumas’ book, which could still find another publisher, and Random House-owned Crown did not return calls. — Hannah Tucker

Burnett Has ‘Family’ Issues
Carol Burnett, 73, filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against Twentieth Century Fox on March 15, claiming that an April 2006 episode of its animated series Family Guy deliberately lifted The Carol Burnett Show‘s famous Charwoman character and featured an altered version of her show’s theme song. Burnett says the parody was written to ”disparage” her (and her signature ear tug) after Fox’s request to use the theme was denied. She’s seeking $2 million in damages. Fox issued this statement: ”We are surprised that Ms. Burnett, who has made a career of spoofing others on television, would go so far as to sue Family Guy for a simple bit of comedy.” — Tim Stack

Lost ‘Universe’?
A Beatles-related battle is brewing, and it has nothing to do with Yoko Ono. This time, the tussle is over Across the Universe, a movie musical set to the Fab Four’s tunes, starring Evan Rachel Wood and directed by Julie Taymor (Frida, Broadway’s The Lion King). Last June, Taymor delivered her version to Revolution Studios, which is producing the film. Revolution chief Joe Roth later edited his own shorter take of the trippy flick, and held a test screening last week. According to The New York Times, the exec (a director himself) recut the movie without Taymor’s approval, and she is now considering removing her name from the project. But Suzanne Todd, a producer on the film, says: ”She had full knowledge. Joe Roth decided to do another cut as part of the regular postproduction process. A lot of movies do this.” Taymor had no comment, and Todd says the movie is still slated for a Sept. 28 release. Perhaps both parties should heed one particular Beatles track: ”We Can Work It Out.” — Michael Endelman