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Maura Tierney heads back to television

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SEPARATED
Divorce drama — or just a publicity stunt? The HillsHeidi Montag, 23, filed for legal separation from husband Spencer Pratt, 26, June 8 in Santa Monica.

CONTROVERSY
In a June 13 interview with England’s News of the World, Joe Jackson, 80, blamed his wife, Katherine, for Michael Jackson’s death. The family patriarch said he had begged his wife to get their son into rehab for his alleged addiction to prescription pills. ”I said, ‘If you had listened to me, Michael would be living now!”’ Jackson told the paper. Their pop-star son died last June after going into cardiac arrest. Katherine’s lawyer responded: ”Joe Jackson’s statements and conduct…are outrageous. The world knows Mrs. Jackson has always been a loving and caring mother…and she had a very special relationship with Michael.”

ACCIDENT
January Jones, 32, lost control of her car while being pursued by paparazzi and hit two cars June 10 in L.A. Police said alcohol was not a factor, and the Mad Men actress was not charged in the incident.

COURTS
On June 11, an L.A. judge found the Florida man accused of harassing Olympic gymnast and Dancing With the Stars champ Shawn Johnson, 18, guilty of felony stalking, burglary, and two misdemeanor concealed-weapon violations. Because the judge determined Robert O’Ryan, 36, to be legally insane at the time of his arrest, he is expected to serve his sentence in a mental hospital…. An L.A. judge sentenced Chidi Benjamin Uzomah Jr. — a 26-year-old who pleaded no contest to stalking American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, 35 — to two years in prison June 14…. A Beverly Hills judge issued a bench warrant for Lindsay Lohan, 23, June 9 and upped her bail to $200,000 after the actress’ court-mandated alcohol-monitoring device went off during the June 6 MTV Movie Awards. (Lohan has denied drinking alcohol.) The warrant was recalled the same day a bail bondsman put up the additional cash. Lohan is due in court July 6 to determine whether she violated probation by skipping a court date last month…. On June 11, Jodie Foster, 47, denied claims that she assaulted an L.A. teen last month. The actress said that the 17-year-old was a professional paparazzo who snapped photos of her and her children at a mall. ”She touched him on the elbow in an attempt to take him aside to…tell him to stop,” says Foster’s rep. ”He scared the kids.” The boy’s parents have said he’s not a photographer, just a fan with a camera…. On June 11, the American Federation of Musicians filed a suit in an L.A. court against American Idol producers for $500,000 in back pay, claiming that the show has sold downloads and ringtones of songs while failing to pay ”new use” fees to the union musicians who originally played on them. Fremantle, which produces Idol, had no comment.

DEATHS
Jimmy Dean, the country-music icon and famous sausage entrepreneur, died June 13 in Henrico County, Va. Dean, who scored his biggest country hit with ”Big Bad John” in 1961, was 81…. Broadway actress Christine Johnson Smith, who originated the role of Nettie Fowler in Carousel in 1945, died June 9 in Owensboro, Ky., of natural causes. She was 98…. Abraham Nathanson, creator of the popular word game Bananagrams, died from cancer June 6 in Narragansett, R.I. He was 80. — With additional reporting by Stewart Allen


BIRTHDAYS
Roger Ebert, 68
June 18

Zoë Saldana, 32
June 19

Nicole Kidman, 43
June 20

Dan Brown, 46
June 22

Joss Whedon, 46
June 23


Welcome back, Maura Tierney. We’ve missed you!
Good news for TV fans: Maura Tierney is heading back to the small screen one year after taking a hiatus to undergo treatment for breast cancer. The 45-year-old ER veteran and Emmy nominee — who’s a master at mixing drama, comedy, and dry wit — will play prosecutor Kathryn Peale in ABC’s fall legal drama The Whole Truth, replacing Joely Richardson, who appeared in the original pilot but left the show to spend more time with her family. The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced series puts a new spin on the Law & Order approach, chronicling cases from the perspective of both the prosecution and the defense team. Tierney’s character will go up against Numb3rsRob Morrow, who plays scrappy criminal lawyer (and Kathryn’s former Yale law school classmate) Jimmy Brogan.

The role marks Tierney’s first series-regular gig on TV since being diagnosed with breast cancer last summer and subsequently dropping out of the NBC dramedy Parenthood. (She was replaced by Gilmore GirlsLauren Graham.) Truth is just the latest project on Tierney’s calendar. Since successfully completing treatment, she’s been hard at work — first on stage with Frances McDormand in the Wooster Group’s experimental piece North Atlantic, and then in a return to her well-received role on FX’s Rescue Me, which has already been shot, although it won’t air until the show’s final season next year. The whole truth: You can’t have too much Maura Tierney on television. — Jennifer Armstrong

”Old Spice Guy” Lands NBC Deal
He’s got a boat, two tickets to that thing you love, a horse — and now, a talent deal with NBC. After a series of Old Spice ads transformed Isaiah Mustafa — a.k.a. ”The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” — from unknown actor to small-screen sensation, NBC signed him to a contract that could lead to a role on an existing show or in future pilots. ”They’re going to push me in comedy. I love that,” says the 36-year-old former NFL player, who has had small parts on shows including Days of Our Lives, Ugly Betty, and NCIS. ”Their Thursday night would be a great place for anyone.” Who knew Old Spice smelled like success? — Kate Ward

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