Plus, ''Simpsons'' stars get a raise, Paul Simon and Brian Wilson will tour together, and more

By Sandra P. Angulo
Updated May 02, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Eddie Van Halen
Credit: Eddie Van Halen: Dan Steinberg/Zuma Press
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ILL Eddie Van Halen has confirmed that he has cancer. In a statement posted on the group Van Halen’s website, the 46 year old guitarist admits he is battling the disease: ”I was examined by three oncologists and three head and neck surgeons at Cedars Sinai just before spring break, and I was told that I’m healthier than ever and beating cancer.” Van Halen did not mention what kind of cancer he was diagnosed with, although previous reports have speculated about his tongue. ”Although it’s hard to say when, there’s a good chance I will be cancer free in the near future,” he added.

Former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth told the press he was shocked to find out about Eddie: ”I was stunned this morning to learn that Eddie Van Halen has cancer,” Roth said in a statement posted on his official website. ”My condolences. You can whip this, champ. See ya down the road.”

HONORED Sting will receive an award from the Arab American Institute May 5 in Washington D.C. Group spokeswoman Jenny Salan announced Sunday that Sting will be presented with one of its 2001 Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity awards in recognition of the singer’s ”commitment to indigenous people and the environment, as well as his efforts to promote cross cultural understanding.” Sting’s hit song ”Desert Rose” features Arabic instruments, lyrics, and Algerian singer Cheb Mami, who has performed with the British pop star at many high profile events, including the 1999 Grammy Awards.

According to Reuters, record producers initially asked Sting to remove the Arabic lyrics, but he refused and the single broke Billboard’s Top 10. ”Sting is obviously one of those extraordinary individuals who uses his talent to raise awareness and bring people together,” AAI President James Zogby said.

KA-CHING! The actors who voice characters on ”The Simpsons” are closing deals that will ensure the Fox comedy will stay on the air through its 14th season. Each cast member will receive $100,000 per episode (or $2.2 million a year), a 43 percent hike of $30,000 from their current $70,000 salaries. The deals also include an option for a 15th season that would pay $125,000 per show. Oh, and Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Hank Azaria (Apu, Moe, et al.), Harry Shearer (Ned Flanders, Mr. Burns, et al.), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Julie Kavner (Marge) and Nancy Cartwright (Bart) will also each get a $1 million bonus. Now that’s a lot of D’oh! The long running series remains Fox’s top rated comedy and is the highest rated comedy in television among adults 18 to 49.

TOURING Paul Simon and Brian Wilson are teaming for a joint summer tour of North America. The collaboration stems from two months of mutual admiration: in February, Wilson sang Simon’s ”The Sound of Silence” at a NARAS charity gala where Simon was named Person of the Year. Then in late March, Simon was one of the many musicians who paid tribute to Wilson at Radio City Music Hall, where Simon sang the Beach Boys hit ”Surfer Girl.” The tour, which promotes Simon’s Grammy nominated ”You’re the One” album and Wilson’s upcoming live recording ”Live at the Roxy,” due in record stores June 16, kicks off June 9 in George, Washington and culminates July 24 in Long Island’s Jones Beach.

PILOT REPORT After more than a year of negotiations, PBS has decided to carry the Latino themed television drama ”American Family.” Developed by director Gregory Nava (”Mi Familia,” ”Selena”) for CBS last year, the show didn’t make the Eye’s final cut. Now, PBS has ordered 12 episodes of the series, whose pilot featured an all star cast led by Oscar nominee Edward James Olmos, Constance Marie, Sonia Braga, Esai Morales, and Raquel Welch. The producers are currently trying to close new deals with the pilot actors. Morales, for example, is now a regular on ABC’s ”NYPD Blue.” Nava told the Hollywood Reporter he respects CBS chief Leslie Moonves for releasing the rights to the show and handing over the pilot to PBS. ”I feel like we’re being pioneers,” Nava said. ”[PBS President] Pat Mitchell has said she wants to shake things up and make PBS more relevant to audiences that have not been served before. We think this is fantastic.”

TUBE NEWS Just two weeks before the networks announce their fall lineups, two regular performers are having renewal woes: CBS’ ”JAG” and ABC’s ”Dharma & Greg” have yet to resolve their negotiations. CBS, which currently pays $1.2 to $1.3 million per ”JAG,” is battling producer Paramount TV, which wants approximately $2.5 to $2.8 million a show, Variety reports. Meanwhile on ABC, the network is stuck in a stalemate with 20th Century Fox TV over ”Dharma.” ABC, which pays somewhere around $900,000 per half hour episode, is apparently unwilling to shell out the amount the studio is demanding, citing that the sitcom hasn’t been a Nielsens winner this year. So far, Fox TV has received two offers from other networks, making a ”Buffy” like jump a possibility.

CASTING Rupert Everett is in final talks to play — what else? — a British nobleman in the comedy ”South Kensington.” Everett will play a Brit of noble birth but empty coffers. The $7 million film starts shooting in London this July for Italian filmmaking brothers Carlo and Enrico Vanzina.

Jean-Claude Van Damme has signed on to star in the independent kung fu pic ”The Monk” for director Ringo Lam (”City On Fire”). Set to begin production Nov. 1, the $25 million action film follows a Shaolin monk’s journey to America that leads to a battle with an evil crime lord (is there any other kind?).

An American Family

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