The FBI is investigating a plot to kidnap Russell Crowe
Plus, ''Frasier'' will stay at NBC for three more years, ex- Destiny's Children form Angel, tragedy on the set of ''Spider-Man,'' and more
MOST WANTED The FBI has announced that it is investigating a plot to kidnap Oscar nominee Russell Crowe. Laura Bosley, a Los Angeles FBI spokeswoman, told the press Tuesday that the actor has become the target of an abduction scheme. The Bureau doesn’t ordinarily comment on pending investigations, but since recent media reports have covered the Crowe case, the FBI decided to make an exception. ”In light of that, we have confirmed that we have an investigation into a plot to kidnap him,” Bosley said. Bosley also confirmed that federal investigators had briefed Crowe on the ongoing probe.
Robin Baum, Crowe’s publicist, told Reuters: ”We’re aware of [the plot] and the FBI has been helpful in guiding us, and he has taken the necessary security precautions.” That explains the army of security guards that flanked Crowe at the Golden Globes. And we thought he just wasn’t a people person.
TUBE NEWS America’s favorite pompous psychiatrist siblings will be on the air for another three years. NBC and series producer Paramount Network Television made a $374 million deal to keep ”Frasier” on the air through the 2003 – 2004 season. The Peacock agreed to pay Paramount $5.2 million per episode, nearly 10 percent more than the network currently pays. Meanwhile, Kelsey Grammer and the gang will appear in 24 episodes per season, but not necessarily in the same timeslot. According to Variety, the deal does not guarantee that ”Frasier” will remain at 9 p.m. Tuesday nights. The renewal will keep the Emmy winning Cranes in Seattle for a total of 11 seasons.
NEW GROUP Former Destiny’s Child members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson (and a third party yet to be named) are reinventing themselves as a trio called Angel. Luckett and Roberson are collaborating with Brian and Brandon Casey, the twins from Jagged Edge. Angel, according to SonicNet.com, will focus on R&B dance songs with strong harmonies (sound familiar?). The Casey brothers met Luckett and Roberson while touring with Destiny’s Child a couple of years ago. The women also appear in Jagged Edge’s video ”Let’s Get Married.” So far, the embryonic (and incomplete) trio has yet to snag a record deal.
SET DISASTER A welder working on the set of Sony Pictures’ ”Spider-Man” died Tuesday after a large crane collapsed on top of a smaller crane holding him. The accident occurred at approximately 9 a.m. PST in Downey, California, the suburb of Los Angeles where the film’s crew was building the set. A crew member on the smaller crane was unharmed. The as yet unidentified welder was killed instantly by a blow to the head. Safety investigators looking into the accident have temporarily suspended set construction. Sony said in a statement : ”The studio and filmmakers are deeply saddened and send condolences to all involved — we are cooperating fully with the authorities investigating the accident.” ”Spider-Man” pits Tobey Maguire as the superhero against Willem Dafoe as his nemesis, the Green Goblin.
CASTING Wesley Snipes, Linda Fiorentino, and Oliver Platt have signed on star in ”Liberty Stands Still,” the first feature produced by Gary Pearl, a former William Morris agent. According to Variety, the film — budgeted at $11 million — began shooting last week in Vancouver, British Columbia. Written and directed by Kari Skogland, a Canadian commercials director, the thriller follows a father (Snipes) who avenges the death of his daughter.
Noah Wyle will star opposite Jennifer Lopez in the Columbia Pictures’ thriller ”Enough” for director Michael Apted (”The World Is Not Enough”). The ”Sleeping with the Enemy” clone, which began shooting this week, is Wyle’s project while on hiatus from ”ER.”
SIGNED Cable channel Bravo has outbid larger networks TNT, USA, and A&E for the cable network rights to NBC’s Emmy winning drama ”The West Wing.” Bravo has agreed to pay series producer Warner Bros. Television a record $1.2 million per episode. ”West Wing” will fit into a new Bravo programming block called ”The Art of Television,” which kicks off in fall 2002 with reruns of Garry Shandling’s ”The Larry Sanders Show.” The Bravo deal exceeds the $1.15 million TBS paid for episodes of ”Seinfeld” and the $800,000 TNT coughed up for ”ER” three years ago. So far, 52 million households carry Bravo, more than 35 percent less than the 80 million homes that have TBS, Discovery, and ESPN.
SETTLED A Michigan jury ordered 20th Century Fox to pay $19 million for copying a local high school teacher’s ideas to make ”Jingle All the Way.” The 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger family movie grossed $183 million. The Christmas comedy was credited to one Ed McQueen, who Fox claimed was script reader Randy Kornfield. But a U.S. District Court jury decided Tuesday that the film was actually based on Detroit biology teacher Brian Webster’s copyrighted script, ”Could This Be Christmas,” which was sent to the studio in 1994.
During the six week trial, the jury heard testimony from a University of Michigan film professor who found 36 overlapping points between ”Jingle” and ”Christmas.” Fox spokeswoman Florence Grace told the Associated Press that Fox will appeal: ”Fox copied nothing, infringed nothing, and in no way violated any of the plaintiff’s rights.” Meanwhile, Murray Hill Publications, which bought Webster’s script, claims those 36 similarities included dialogue, plot, and even character names. Webster can shelve those Bunsen burners: He’ll receive an undisclosed share of the $19 million.
STALKED? A young French woman was charged Tuesday with trespassing at Pamela Anderson‘s Malibu, Calif., beach house last weekend. Christine Evelyn Roth, 27, was arrested Sunday, March 4, after she allegedly entered Anderson’s guest bedroom. The former ”Baywatch” star called the police to report an intruder in her home. Roth was also spotted on Anderson’s property on Feb. 17, but managed to leave before authorities arrived. She has not been officially charged with stalking because there wasn’t enough evidence to support that case, Reuters reports.