PASSING NOTES Jack Lemmon, the versatile, two-time Oscar-winning actor who enjoyed a 50-year career of playing ordinary guys with comic or tragic neurotic streaks, died last night of complications from cancer. The 76-year-old star was best remembered for the seven movies he made with director Billy Wilder (including ”Some Like It Hot,” ”The Apartment,” and ”The Front Page”) and the nine films he made with Walter Matthau (from ”The Fortune Cookie” and ”The Odd Couple” to the ”Grumpy Old Men” movies). The Harvard-trained actor’s career began on soap operas and live dramas in the early days of television, and it ended on television, too, in a string of prestigious TV movies capped by his Emmy-winning role as a dying professor in 1999’s ”Tuesdays with Morrie.” (That was his final appearance, though he also did an uncredited voiceover for last year’s movie ”The Legend of Bagger Vance.”) Lemmon died at a Los Angeles hospital surrounded by his family. He is survived by actress Felicia Farr, his wife of 39 years, their daughter Courtney, and his son Chris, by a previous marriage.
Barbara Eden‘s son Matthew Michael Ansara, a 35-year-old bodybuilder and sometime actor, was found dead in his pickup truck outside a gas station 20 miles east of Los Angeles Monday night. Police doubted there had been any foul play, but determination of the cause of death awaits the results of yesterday’s autopsy. He had appeared in a handful of TV shows and movies, including an episode of his mom’s ”Harper Valley PTA.” He most recently appeared in ”To Protect and Serve,” an unreleased film currently on the festival circuit. He was engaged to be married on September 1. He was the only child of the ”I Dream of Jeannie” star, who was married to his father, TV character actor Michael Ansara, from 1958 to 1973.
SWEETHEARTS NO MORE Does nothing last in Hollywood? Apparently, Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt have split up after nearly four years. ”It’s true, they are no longer together,” Bratt’s spokeswoman told the New York Daily News. It’s a weird example of life imitating art, since Roberts is about to do publicity to promote her upcoming movie ”America’s Sweethearts,” in which she plays the sister of a star (Catherine Zeta-Jones) whose break-up with her costar (John Cusack) on the eve of their new movie’s release threatens to become a public relations disaster.
By the way, just how long has Zeta-Jones been in this country? Last night on ”Late Night with David Letterman,” the Welsh actress accidentally called the host ”Jay.” She apologized profusely and hid her head in her hands. To quote a great American: ”D’oh!”
TO TELL THE TRUTH Comedian Paula Poundstone is free on bail after being arrested yesterday in Malibu on three charges of lewd conduct on a girl under age 14 and a charge of child endangerment of two other girls and two boys. Police didn’t give any further details about the allegations or the three incidents over the last month that led to the arrest. Since the police have declined to identify the kids because of their ages, it’s not clear if any of the children involved were Poundstone’s; the frequent game-show panelist is a single mom who adopted two girls in 1997 and has served as a foster parent for as many as eight kids since 1993. In fact, she has said she became interested in being a foster parent because she was a foster child herself and worked for a time at a home for abused families. If convicted, Poundstone faces 13 years in prison. A Poundstone spokeswoman called the charges ”unsubstatiated and without merit.”
CHART DEMONS In its first week of release, the debut record of Eminem‘s posse D12 didn’t sell the half-million copies retailers expected, nor the nearly 2 million copies ”The Marshall Mathers LP” sold during its first week. Still, ”Devil’s Night” sold enough to take possession of the top spot on the Billboard chart, selling 371,875 units, according to SoundScan. Staind‘s ”Break the Cycle” held at No. 2 (189,950 CDs), while last week’s topper, Blink-182‘s ”Take Off Your Pants & Jacket,” dropped to No. 3 (165, 875 copies).
Other strong debuts this week include Luther Vandross‘s self-titled CD at No. 6 (which sold 135,375 copies, his best first-week sales in his 15-record career), Sisqó‘s ”Return of Dragon” at No. 7, Stone Temple Pilots‘ ”Shangri-La Dee Da” at No. 9, and 311‘s ”From Chaos” at No. 10. Rounding out the top 10 were Destiny’s Child‘s ”Survivor” at No. 4, the ”Moulin Rouge” soundtrack at No. 5, and the St. Lunatics‘ ”Free City” at No. 8.
‘SURVIVOR’ WATCH Enterprising journalists and angry locals have discovered the location for the third season of ”Survivor.” The show is set to start shooting next month at the Shaba Game Reserve in Kenya, 140 miles north of Nairobi. It’s the place where ”Born Free” was filmed, and where ”Born Free” author and wildlife expert Joy Adamson was murdered in 1980. CBS confirmed the location on Tuesday. Last week, Kenyan reporters and protestors from the Waso Land Project, a local environmental organization, were detained by the show’s security forces but were later allowed to discuss with producers their concerns over the show’s impact on the environment. Producers assured the protestors that they’ll leave the park in as good condition as when they found it, and they asked that the reporters not take pictures. Guess CBS has survived its first immunity challenge.
BIRTH DAY ”Today” cohost Matt Lauer has a new reason to get up early. Jack Matthew Lauer was born on Tuesday, weighing 7 pounds, 3 ounces. He’s the first child for Lauer, 43, and his wife, model Annette Roque Lauer, 35.
CHILD PROOF ABC has agreed to cut a segment from John Stossel‘s ”Tampering With Nature” report this Friday in response to the complaints of the parents of children Stossel interviewed for the segment. The parents had granted ABC permission to interview their kids for a segment on environmental education but claim they were misled, that they didn’t know Stossel was to be the interviewer, and that Stossel asked leading questions to get the kids to indicate they had been scared by their teachers’ doomsday environmental propaganda. Prompted by the Environmental Working Group, the parents sent a letter to ABC on Monday, two months after the interview took place. This marks the second time ABC has declined to stand behind Stossel’s environmental reporting; the network made him apologize on air last year for a report downplaying the health benefits of organic produce based on research that never happened. To replace the kids’ segment, which was only about a minute long, Stossel plans to discuss the parents’ complaint. ”I’m not happy, but I see their point,” Stossel told Fox News last night. ”We had no legal obligation to kill it, but if parents don’t want their kids on, who are we to force them?”
SHOW ‘EM WHO’S BOSS Just like Christina Aguilera, Bruce Springsteen doesn’t want you to hear his embarrassing, pre-fame work. A U.S. District Court Judge has awarded him copyright control over 24 songs he recorded between 1970 and 1972, which Pony Express Records had released in England on an album called ”Before the Fame.” An old manager of Springsteen’s had sold the songs without the Boss’ permission. The judge used a 1998 decision giving Springsteen control of the album in the U.K. as a precedent. As a result of the ruling, Pony Express must destroy all remaining copies of the record and pay damages.
DIRTY POP Things you probably didn’t want to know about ‘N Sync: First, that Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé Knowles of Destiny’s Child once had a make-out session. ”He’s adorable — I am a big fan,” she told the U.K. newspaper The Sun. ”He’s a good kisser, too.” She adds, ”Don’t get the wrong idea. It was once at a party. He’s doing his thing with Britney now.” Who knew he was doing anything with Britney?
Second, J.C. Chasez doesn’t wash his socks or underwear, or so he tells J-14 magazine. ”I wear them once and throw them out. When you’re on the road, you don’t want to mix…I’m just so used to throwing them out that I wouldn’t even think of washing them.” No doubt the used undergarments will show up on eBay, along with copies of that Springsteen record.
WE’LL BE WATCHING YOU Sean ”Puffy” Combs has a lot of officials to win over. According to Talk magazine, he’s the subject of three ongoing investigations. The IRS is pursuing him for possible criminal tax evasion, the Las Vegas police is considering a gun possession warrant, and the Los Angeles police want to know if he withheld information regarding the 1997 murder of his protege, the Notorious B.I.G. But the folks Puffy really wants to impress are Academy voters. Launching an acting career that begins with a small role as a gangster in the movie ”Made,” due July 13, the hip-hop mogul says he expects to win two Oscars someday. He told Access Hollywood, ”You know, I don’t want to come off cocky or arrogant, but I’m gonna really [work hard] to be the best actor that I can be and I gotta set my goals and my dreams high.”
HOT FEET Jennifer Lopez isn’t the only performer who’s reportedly insured her best asset. Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley has insured his legs for $50 million. The 42-year-old Riverdancer is currently touring with his production ”Feet of Flames.” So, did he get fire insurance? And how much is his head worth?
JERSEY DEVILS Who knew Jeff Foxworthy was so cutting-edge? Some punchlines from one of his ”You Might Be a Redneck” routines, printed on the T-shirt of high school student Tom Sypniewski, offended school officials, who suspended the Washington, New Jersey student for three days over the shirt’s ”message of racial stereotyping.” Sypniewski, who considers himself a redneck and denies that he’s a racist, is suing the school board for violating his free speech rights.
Speaking of rednecks in New Jersey schools, saxophone player Bill Clinton joined Mariah Carey and India.Arie at a Newark elementary school last week as part of VH1’s ”Save the Music” initiative to promote music education in public schools. The cable channel also donated 750 musical instruments to the city’s schools. The former president has been hanging around with a lot of pop divas lately; recently, he introduced Stevie Nicks at a music convention.