Plus, Dr. Dre, James Brown, Cat Stevens, Charlize Theron, Cher, and more

By Lori Reese
July 17, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT
Spears: Joseph Marzullo/Retna Ltd. USA

TOUR EFFECTS Britney Spears canceled a sold out July 26 gig in Denver because the venue was apparently too small to handle the revolving stages, extra large props, and special effects laden videos in her megaproduction. The move was bitterly disappointing to some 9,000 expectant fans who snatched up tickets earlier this year to her performance at the Red Rocks Amphitheater. ”Telling my 7 year old daughter that Britney wasn’t coming was the hardest thing I’ve had to do all year,” said one promoter. That which does not kill us…. Snazzy effects are the cause of many a recent woe. Dr. Dre made good on his threats, filing a lawsuit against the city of Detroit for more than $25 mil. Dre says that his First Amendment rights were trampled when Motor City police prevented him from airing one of the videos — featuring semiclad babes and a staged liquor store robbery — in his Up in Smoke show. You’ve got to fight for the right to a good vid.

SURVIVOR SPOILED If you don’t even want a hint of a clue about who might be ”Survivor”’s $1 million winner, DON’T READ THIS. (AND WE MEAN IT!) It seems that an enterprising young hacker (with a lot of time on his hands) has come up with a theory about who will be the sole remaining contestant. On CBS’ ”Survivor” website, producers have apparently archived photos for the Tribal History page that bear a tell-tale red X next to the head of each losing contestant. By tracking the site’s imaging code, the smartie discerned that the only contestant who didn’t wear the losing mark was that lazy, no-good, ”makes slurs about women” guy Gervase. CBS told New York’s Daily News that it will not be commenting on the report: ”We won’t confirm any reports of speculation about who won ”Survivor,”’ a spokesperson said. ”We are allowing the press to run inaccurate information.” For more ”evidence” check out the spoiler site.

CRIME A utility worker is accusing James Brown of some very weird behavior. According to police, the man went to Brown’s house in response to a complaint that the power was out. After entering through an unlocked security gate, he encountered the 67 year old Godfather of Soul, who told him to wait. When he returned, Brown was carrying a suit and said ”That means I’m a government agent, and can lock you up for trespassing and sneaking around my property.” The singer then allegedly wielded a steak knife at the man and pinned him against a wall. The utility company says that there was nothing wrong with Brown’s electricity and that they are not sure who called in the complaint. Brown’s lawyer declined to comment on the accusation. That means he’s not a government agent.

DIGITIZED Sony Music Entertainment said that it is likely to lay off some 500 of its 13,500 employees worldwide, in what may be the first example of the changes wrought by digital distribution networks. The company said downsizing will help it ”meet the new challenges brought about as the industry continues to evolve”…. On Tuesday, the world’s third largest label, EMI, will become the first major record company to sell a large selection of its albums over the Internet. The company says it will release 100 albums and 40 singles by everyone from Snoop Dogg to Frank Sinatra in a bid to woo fans away from the likes of Napster and

THE CAT MAN Yusuf Islam, the man once known as Cat Stevens, denied Israeli officials’ previously reported accusation that he gave money to a militant Islamic group, and criticized those who ejected him from the country. ”I want to make sure that people are aware that I’ve never knowingly supported any terrorist groups — past, present or future. It’s simply an attempt to cast doubt again on my character and good intention.” Islam had arrived in Israel last week with a VH1 film crew, which was traveling with him for work on a ”Behind the Music” special. They must have been delighted — alleged terrorism is an even better plot twist than descent into drug crazed madness.

CASTING ”Magnolia”’s Philip Seymour Hoffman and Donovan Leitch have committed to star in a $1 million digital feature about political campaigns called ”Last Party 2000.” The film will be presented on the Internet, TV, and in theaters…. Charlize Theron and ”I Dreamed of Africa”’s Vincent Perez are set to star in ”The Husband I Bought,” a feature based on the Ayn Rand novella, according to the Hollywood Reporter. It will be the first time a Rand book has been adapted for the screen since 1949’s ”The Fountainhead.” If the author were alive, we’re sure this would be a great ego boost to her.

CHER-ING Some 500 Cher devotees descended on Chicago last weekend at a convention held in honor of, um, Cher. The gathering, which rivaled Trekkie meetings for its slew of impersonators, wannabes, and look-alikes, was organized by three star worshipers who had found each other over the Internet. Every day we see how digital networks truly broaden our horizons.

OBIT ”Petticoat Junction” star Meredith MacRae died of brain cancer at home in Manhattan Beach, Calif. She was 56.