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Monitor: R.I.P. Phil Harris of 'Deadliest Catch'

Plus Nicole Richie, Charlie Sheen, and more stars making news the week of Feb. 19, 2010

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ENGAGED
After more than three years of dating and two children together, Nicole Richie, 28, and Joel Madden, 30, confirmed that they’re planning to tie the knot.

IN TREATMENT
Charlie Sheen‘s wife, Brooke Mueller, 32, reportedly checked into a Malibu, Calif., substance-abuse clinic Feb. 9. The troubled pair were allegedly involved in a domestic dispute on Christmas Day in Aspen, Colo.; Sheen, 44, has been charged with felony menacing and two misdemeanors. He has not yet entered a plea and is due back in court on March 15…. Chynna Phillips, 42, of the pop group Wilson Phillips, checked into rehab for anxiety last weekend.

RECOVERING
Former president Bill Clinton was hospitalized in New York City Feb. 11 after feeling chest pains. The 63-year-old Democrat, who had coronary-bypass surgery in 2004, underwent a procedure to insert two stents in one of his arteries and was released the next day…. Kiefer Sutherland, 43, underwent surgery for a ruptured cyst near his kidney early this week. Production halted temporarily on 24, but the actor is expected to be back on set soon…. Alec Baldwin, 51, was taken to an NYC hospital Feb. 10 after his daughter reportedly called 911 from the 30 Rock actor’s Manhattan apartment. Baldwin’s rep, Matthew Hiltzik, called the situation a simple ”misunderstanding.” The actor returned to the 30 Rock set the following day and is slated to host the Academy Awards March 7 on ABC.

COURTS
A lawyer for Brad Pitt, 46, and Angelina Jolie, 34, said Feb. 8 that the couple plan to sue News of the World for ”false allegations about their relationship.” On Jan. 24, the British tabloid reported that Jolie and Pitt had visited a divorce lawyer. According to the actors’ attorney, the lawyer in question says he’s never met with either star…. On Feb. 9, Jamal Rashead Trulove, 29, a contestant from VH1’s I Love New York 2, was convicted of shooting and killing a man in San Francisco in 2007, three weeks after he wrapped the reality show. Trulove, who could face life in prison, is due for sentencing March 19.

AILING
Louis Gossett Jr., 73, best known for his Oscar-winning role in An Officer and a Gentleman, revealed Feb. 9 that he is battling prostate cancer. Gossett is in treatment, his manager tells EW, and he expects to ”walk out clean.”

DEATHS
Jockey-turned-crime novelist Dick Francis died of natural causes Feb. 14 on Grand Cayman Island. The author, who had 41 best-selling novels in his four-decade career, was 89…. Movie exec Gareth Wigan, whose career included behind-the-scenes work on Star Wars, Alien, and Chariots of Fire, passed away Feb. 13 after a brief illness in L.A. He was 78…. Rockabilly pioneer Dale Hawkins, 73, famous for his hit ”Susie-Q,” died of colon cancer Feb. 13 in Little Rock, Ark…. Olympic hopeful Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, died during a training run in Vancouver Feb. 12 when the Georgian luger’s sled veered off the Olympic track. The official investigation concluded that the accident was caused by human error, but the track was subsequently altered to lower the competitors’ sled speeds. The Games’ opening ceremony was dedicated to Kumaritashvili’s memory.
With additional reporting by Stewart Allen


BIRTHDAYS
Jeff Daniels, 55
Feb. 19

Cindy Crawford, 44
Feb. 20

Drew Barrymore, 35
Feb. 22

Dakota Fanning, 16
Feb. 23

Abe Vigoda, 89
Feb. 24


Deadliest Catch‘s Phil Harris (1956-2010)
Fans of the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch are still mourning the loss of Capt. Phil Harris, the rough-and-tumble chain-smoking skipper of the crab-fishing vessel Cornelia Marie, who passed away Feb. 9 at the age of 53 — but they haven’t seen the last of him. Catch‘s cameras have been filming season 6 of the Emmy-winning reality series since mid-October, chronicling Harris and his shipmates as they worked the king-crab season. The fishermen had moved on to the opilio (or snow crab) when Harris suffered his Jan. 29 stroke while in port off-loading at St. Paul Island, Alaska. ”[Our cameras] were there the entire time. We were there at the hospital,” Catch executive producer Thom Beers tells EW. In fact, when Harris defied odds and awoke from a medically induced coma Feb. 2, the camera crew offered to give him privacy. ”He couldn’t talk, but he wrote on a piece of paper. It said, ‘No, we need a great finish to this story,”’ Beers says, with a laugh Harris would’ve appreciated. ”He’s just come out of a coma, and he’s producing [the show].”

The new season of Deadliest Catch is slated to premiere in April. Producers will decide later whether any of the hospital footage will air, once input from Harris’ sons, Josh and Jake, both deckhands on the Cornelia Marie, is factored in. (Their dad was never camera-shy: He even allowed the crew to film in 2008, when he was hospitalized for a blood clot that traveled through his heart.) In the meantime, Josh and Jake will honor their father and captain with a public memorial at this spring’s second annual CatchCon fan event in Seattle, Beers says. Even more fittingly, they plan to spread their dad’s ashes on the Bering Sea this fall, when the new crab season begins.
Mandi Bierly


Doug Fieger (1952-2010)
Doug Fieger, lead singer of the Knack, died Feb. 14 after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 57. ”Doug was devoted to rock & roll — a walking encyclopedia,” Sharona Alperin, his ex-girlfriend and the inspiration for the band’s 1979 hit ”My Sharona,” tells EW. ”He [died] too young,” adds Alperin, now a real estate agent in Los Angeles. ”But I’m grateful he’s out of pain.”
Annie Barrett