Plus, Chet Atkins has died, Woody Allen goes on tour, and more

By Gary Susman
July 03, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Pierce Brosnan: Armando Gallo / Retna

BOND OF LOYALTY Eon Productions makes the James Bond movies, so the company has a license to kill rumors that it plans to replace Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007. ”Pierce Brosnan will play James Bond in the forthcoming production and for the foreseeable future,” said a spokeswoman for producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. The most recent rumor had it that Scottish actor Gerard Butler (”Dracula 2000,” USA Network’s ”Attila the Hun”) was taking over the role. Butler claims the press misinterpreted a joking comment he made. The remark was: ”I’ve chatted with Barbara Broccoli, and she knows that I’ll only do it if [Tory politician] Ann Widdecombe can be my Bond girl. She’s off thinking about that right now.” But would she be as believable as Denise Richards’ nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones?

PASSING NOTES Country giant Chet Atkins died at his Nashville home on Saturday. The 77-year-old had battled brain and colon cancer in recent years. His fingerpicking guitar style influenced countless country and rock musicians, while as a producer and record label executive, he was instrumental in transforming Nashville into Music City U.S.A. and designing the ”countrypolitan” sound that helped country cross over from a raw, regional music into a less edgy, more urbane, nationally popular music. He is survived by wife of more than 50 years Leona Johnson Atkins and daughter Merle Atkins (named for his fingerpicking idol, Merle Travis). A funeral will be held tomorrow at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, former home of the Grand Ole Opry….

Latin jazz pioneer Chico O’Farrill died of respiratory failure at 79 on Wednesday in Manhattan. One of the first composers to mix Cuban rhythms and arrangements with American jazz, O’Farrill found renewed popularity as a bandleader in recent years and was featured in the film ”Calle 54.” He is survived by son Arturo O’Farrill, a pianist, wife Lupe, and daughter Georgina….

Jazz tenor saxophone master Joe Henderson died Saturday in San Francisco of heart failure following a long struggle with emphysema. Henderson, who played in a classic, lyrical style that recalled Stan Getz and Lester Young, was 64. He won a Grammy in 1992 for ”Lush Life,” his album of Billy Strayhorn compositions.

LEGAL BRIEFS Another day, another probation sentence for a pop star. Cedric Hailey of K-Ci and JoJo was sentenced Friday to two years’ probation and fined $910 for exposing himself to an audience full of teens and younger children last December at a Christmas concert sponsored by Los Angeles pop radio station KIIS-FM. Hailey pleaded no contest in May to four counts of lewd conduct. ”His shows are normally of a sexual nature,” said his lawyer. ”He didn’t realize there would be so many young people out in the audience.” At the show, which also featured such kid appeal acts as Christina Aguilera and 98 Degrees, many parents with cell phones were also in attendance, and police got an earful as soon as Hailey allegedly dropped trou. One parent is still suing the station, claiming that KIIS promoted the ”Jingle Ball” as a family event but hired K-Ci anyway, knowing of his criminal record. In 1993, he pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated sexual contact against a woman who allegedly had been held at gunpoint by a fellow member of his then group, Jodeci….

Ja’Marc Antoine Davis, founder of the Christian hip-hop band Raze, has been charged with several counts of rape and molestation of one of the group’s former backup dancers. He is accused of having a sexual relationship with the girl starting four years ago, when he was 22 and she was 13. Her family had asked Davis to tutor the girl and her siblings, who also had a Christian band. Davis waived his right to a preliminary hearing so that the girl wouldn’t have to testify. He’ll be arraigned July 9.

REEL DEALS Not content with merely booking movies on dozens of screens at Magic Johnson Theatres across the country, Magic Johnson is starting to produce movies as well. In the works is ”Brown Sugar,” a romantic comedy to star Sanaa Lathan (”Love & Basketball”) as a magazine editor who falls in love with a hip-hop record executive. The film will reunite her with ”The Wood” writer/ director Rick Famuyiwa….

Just a few weeks before its scheduled Aug. 17 release, the remake of ”Rollerball” has been pushed back to spring 2002. MGM marketing chief Robert Levin denied that the movie’s down to the wire effort to complete its F/X heavy postproduction schedule caused the delay. Rather, he said he wants to ”really do the job right” selling the film. Like, say, actually making a trailer….

Despite his legendary aversion to the West Coast, Woody Allen and his Dixieland jazz band will tour Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles next month. Eddy Davis & His New Orleans Jazz Band, with whom Allen plays clarinet every Monday night in New York, will play a show in each city, with proceeds going to local music charities. Each event will also coincide with a screening of Allen’s new movie, ”The Curse of the Jade Scorpion,” which opens Aug. 10. Allen will introduce each screening of the 1940s set romantic comedy, in which he stars with Helen Hunt, Charlize Theron, and Dan Aykroyd….

Fans of ”L.A. Confidential” author James Ellroy will get to see a lot of his work on the big and small screens in the near future. Director Robert Greenwald is planning a feature film adaptation of ”My Dark Places,” based on the author’s investigation of his mother’s murder, as well as directing a miniseries, ”James Ellroy’s Los Angeles,” to air on the USA Network in the fall of 2002, which will weave real and fictional characters into a typical Ellroy web of crime and corruption. Also, the makers of the British documentary ”James Ellroy’s Feast of Death” are looking for an American distributor.

STRIKE WATCH Although their contract expired Saturday at midnight, Hollywood actors continued negotiating on Sunday with producers, diminishing even further the possibility of an industry crippling strike. Despite the media blackout surrounding the talks, analysts speculate that the actors will strike a deal similar to that reached by the Writers Guild of America two months ago, including a modest raise in residual payments for rebroadcasts on basic cable, Fox TV, and foreign TV, but not DVDs. Talks continue today.

KNOW AIR MAN Liverpool will honor a favorite son by renaming its airport Liverpool John Lennon Airport when a new terminal opens next spring. The terminal will feature several paintings and sculptures paying tribute to the slain Beatle, including a self portrait captioned with the ”Imagine” lyric ”Above us, only sky.” It’ll be the first airport in England named after an individual. Similar plans are underway Stateside for Detroit’s Kid Rock trailer park, Kentwood, La.’s Britney Spears shopping mall, and Jacksonville, Fla.’s Fred Durst tattoo parlor.

BOX OFFICE REPORT Nothing ”Artificial” about the appeal of Steven Spielberg’s take on the late Stanley Kubrick’s project ”A.I.” Though not meeting first weekend expectations, the sci-fi fantasy came out on top. Read all about it in today’s weekend box office report.