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Monitor

Ellen DeGeneres’ wedding and Leroi Moore’s death made news the week of August 25, 2008

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MARRIED
Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, 50, and actress Portia de Rossi, 35, wed on Aug. 16 in L.A. The couple began dating four years ago.

BIRTHS
Daddy’s got another little girl: Matt Damon, 37, and wife Luciana, 32, welcomed Gia Zavala on Aug. 20 in South Florida. She joins Isabella, 2, and Alexia, 10, Luciana’s daughter from a previous relationship…. On Aug. 21 in L.A., singers Gwen Stefani, 38, and Gavin Rossdale, 42, brought home another rock star — literally: son Zuma Nesta Rock Rossdale. He has a big brother, Kingston, 2…. Ricky Martin, 36, is now the father of twin sons. The boys, whose names haven’t been released, were born via a surrogate.

HIRED
The screenwriting fellowship behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy — Peter Jackson, 46, Philippa Boyens, 45, and Fran Walsh, 49 — has officially reunited for a new pair of Middle-earth adventures. They’ll join writer-director Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy 2), 43, in penning a two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit; del Toro will helm both movies.

COURTS
The Office‘s Craig Robinson, 36, pleaded guilty to felony drug possession on Aug. 20 in L.A. (The actor, who plays Darryl on the sitcom, was arrested during a traffic stop in Culver City, Calif., in June.) He’ll enter an 18-month treatment program, after which his case is expected to be dismissed…. Felicia Pearson, 28, best known as The Wire‘s Snoop, was charged with marijuana possession in Baltimore on Aug. 21. Police entered her home (where they say they found the drugs) with an arrest warrant stemming from her alleged refusal to cooperate as a witness in an unrelated murder trial. Pearson was released the next day; she’s due in court on Sept. 25 for the drug charges, and Sept. 17 for the murder trial.

RECOVERING
On Aug. 15 in London, singer Annie Lennox, 53, underwent successful spinal surgery to repair a pinched nerve. Upon returning home Aug. 20, she blogged about her hospital visit. ”Actually, if you really need to escape from the world, I’d highly recommend it,” Lennox wrote on her website. ”The only restriction is that you have to have a health issue before they’ll let you in.” She has postponed the release of her greatest-hits album from September until next spring.

DEATHS
Legendary music producer Jerry Wexler, 91, died of heart failure Aug. 15 in Siesta Key, Fla. Wexler has been credited with coining the term rhythm & blues to describe the sounds he helped create in the 1950s and ’60s with such artists as Ray Charles and Otis Redding. In a statement, Aretha Franklin called him ”a very conscientious producer who knew how to mix fun with business…. He was real and I valued that highly.”… Fred Crane, 90, who played Scarlett O’Hara’s suitor Brent Tarleton in Gone With the Wind, of complications from diabetes, Aug. 21, in Barnesville, Ga…. Television and stage scribe Tad Mosel, 86, of esophageal cancer, Aug. 24, in Concord, N.H. Mosel wrote for live ’50s programs like Playhouse 90 and Studio One, and in 1961 won a Pulitzer for his drama All the Way Home. Friend Ted Walch recalls a memorable visit with Mosel earlier in the summer: ”A doctor told him, ‘Dying is harder than writing a play,’ to which Tad answered, ‘Not really.”’… Andre Young Jr., 20, the son of rap producer Dr. Dre, of unknown causes, Aug. 23, in Woodland Hills, Calif.
with additional reporting by Beth Johnson and Jeff Labrecque


LEGACY
Leroi Moore
(1961-2008)
Moore’s jazzy saxophone runs were a key ingredient in Dave Matthews Band’s sound from day one, when he cofounded the alt-rock act in 1991. Even though he hadn’t been performing with the group this summer — he suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung after an all-terrain-vehicle accident in June — the beloved horn man’s Aug. 19 death took fans by surprise. (The cause was complications from the crash.) ”We will miss him forever,” Matthews told a crowd of L.A. concertgoers on the night of Moore’s passing. ”It’s easier to leave than be left.”
SVL


DIVIDED ARTISTS
Less than two years ago, Tom Cruise and producing partner Paula Wagner relaunched MGM’s specialty arm United Artists to much fanfare. The duo boasted of their intent to return UA — the house that Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford built — to its former glory. Armed with a $500 million credit line, they aimed to release four films a year, from $100 million actioners to low-budget art-house fare. Yet on Aug. 13, Wagner confirmed that she was negotiating her exit as head of UA and going back to producing. (Cruise will remain a partner at the studio.) ”I have longed to return to my true love, which is making movies,” she said in a statement. While a source at MGM swears Wagner was not forced out, one thing is certain: She had a tough time getting projects to the big screen. Under her watch, UA put out one: the starry (Cruise, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford) but poorly received Lions for Lambs. UA’s big gamble, the $90 million Cruise-starring WWII epic Valkyrie, has ping-ponged all over the release schedule, now landing on Dec. 26. Cruise will have to fight this crowded Christmas holiday without one longtime agent, Rick Nicita (Wagner’s husband), who recently took control of troubled production company Morgan Creek. (CAA’s Kevin Huvane remains at the helm of Cruise’s agency team.) At least there’s Tropic Thunder. Cruise’s outrageous cameo in the $66 million-grossing DreamWorks comedy may be the only bright spot in his otherwise dreary summer.
Nicole Sperling

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