Plus, more Jackson family squabbling, George Harrison says he's not dying, and more

By Gary Susman
Updated July 26, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
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Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston: Chris Delmas/ZUMA Press

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IRATE EXPECTATIONS Don’t expect the pitter-patter of little Pitts anytime soon. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are denying a report in the German edition of Marie Claire magazine that quoted Pitt as saying ”No. 1 is already on the way.” A Pitt publicist acknowledged that the actor spoke to the magazine’s reporter months ago when he was promoting ”The Mexican,” but she says he said only that the couple planned on having kids ”someday…when we’re both ready,” and that the magazine mistranslated the reporter’s story. ”The writer read me what she had written, which was completely different from what they printed,” said Pitt spokeswoman Cindy Guagenti. ”We’re asking for a retraction.” Rumors of an Aniston pregnancy have run rampant since the season finale of ”Friends” a couple months ago, when it was revealed that Rachel, Aniston’s character, had a junior Friend on the way.

JERMAINE ISSUE The Jackson family seems to be closing ranks over Michael Jackson‘s tribute concerts, with Jermaine on the outs but Randy back in the fold. On Friday, a statement attributed to Jermaine and Randy on the subject of Michael’s September celebrations at Madison Square Garden commemorating his 30 years as a solo artist complained that the ”exorbitant” ticket prices would shut out true fans, that no charitable beneficiary had been named, and that the brothers shouldn’t have to share the long-awaited Jacksons reunion with some 200 other performers. But yesterday, Marlon Jackson said in a statement, ”I am very sorry for the confusion my brother Jermaine has caused by his statement, which he also attributed to my youngest brother, Randy. Randy has never seen the statement that Jermaine sent out …. We wish Jermaine all the best on his solo career.” Marlon also noted that it was Jermaine who elected to stay behind at Motown in 1975 when the other brothers left for Epic Records, adding Randy to the lineup and changing the quintet’s name to ”The Jacksons” (Motown owned the name The Jackson Five). A spokeswoman for producer David Gest confirms Marlon’s implication that Randy is in the show and Jermaine is out, saying that Gest ”only wanted people [in the show] who are happy doing it” and interpreted Jermaine’s remarks to mean that he ”did not want to participate in the event.”

HEALTH WATCH George Harrison denied a weekend report in British newspaper The Mail that quoted his friend, Beatles producer George Martin, as saying that Harrison was preparing for an imminent death from cancer. A Harrison spokesperson issued a statement, saying, ”The reports were unsubstantiated, untrue, insensitive and uncalled for, especially as Mr. Harrison is active and feeling very well in spite of the health challenges he has had this year,” adding that ”George Martin … has emphatically denied speaking to any newspaper.” Harrison, 58, has been treated in recent months for a brain tumor and lung cancer. His old bandmate Ringo Starr says he saw Harrison three weeks ago. ”He was recouping. His energy was fine, and that’s all I know,” Starr told Variety….

Although doctors say Katharine Hepburn has recovered from the urinary tract infection for which she’d been hospitalized last week, they’ve postponed her release until she’s up and walking again. The 94-year-old Oscar winner was supposed to be discharged from Hartford [Conn.] Hospital on Monday, but four days in bed had apparently left her unsteady on her feet.

MOON MAN MARCH ”Weapon of Choice,” the Spike Jonze-directed Fatboy Slim video that features an atypically effervescent Christopher Walken dancing and vaulting through an empty hotel lobby, leads the pack among MTV’s Video Music Award candidates with nine nominations. Earning six nominations apiece were Missy Elliott‘s ”Get Ur Freak On,” ‘N Sync‘s ”Pop,” and the ”Moulin Rouge” cover of ”Lady Marmalade,” featuring Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, and Pink. Dido also got six nods, one for ”Thank You” and five for her collaboration with Eminem on ”Stan.” Tying with Slim Shady’s five nominations were U2 for ”Beautiful Day” and Destiny’s Child for ”Survivor.” The VMA Moon Man trophies will be handed out September 6 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. Confirmed performers include Alicia Keys and U2. No word yet on which potty-mouthed comic will host.

TUBE TALK Conan O’Brien apologized over the weekend to the TV journalists gathering in Pasadena for allowing a racial slur to air on his show without silencing the offending word. In a segment earlier this month, comic Sarah Silverman made a joke about pretending to be a bigot to get out of jury duty, but the joke’s use of the word ”chinks” riled the Media Action Network for Asian Americans, which demanded an on-air apology.

NBC issued a statement of regret, saying its standards and practices department should not have aired the word, but Conan told the TV journalists, ”The ultimate responsibility … on something like that is mine. It’s my show … so I take the hit for failing to drop audio on the offensive word.” Silverman has issued her own statement, saying she meant no offense and that the word has been taken out of its satirical context. In comedy, ”context is everything,” O’Brien said, addding, ”I don’t think she has a racist bone in her body. We have a lot of really intelligent, bright people [on the show], and I’m very reluctant to edit people. In this case, I really should have done that.”…

Yes, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are mini-media moguls now, but what of John Stamos, who costarred with the twins for eight years on ”Full House”? ”You know, I’ve bugged them to borrow money and stuff. They’re rich,” Stamos told the TV journalists in Pasadena. Stamos, who will star in ABC’s ”Thieves” this fall, continued to butter up the 15-year-olds, saying ”They’ve just grown into the most beautiful, smart, humble, sweet kids. Really.” Asked if he’d consider working for them, he said, ”I do wash their cars on occasion.”

REEL DEALS Lucy Liu and Antonio Banderas, who costarred two years ago in ”Play It to the Bone,” are in negotiations to reunite in ”Ecks vs. Sever,” an action thriller about two competing assassins who unite against a common foe. Described as ”Bad Boys” meets ”The Professional,” the film will mark the American debut of Thai filmmaker Kaos. No doubt Kaos has experience with all this undercover spy stuff after all those years spent fighting Maxwell Smart….

LL Cool J is planning to star in a remake of the blaxploitation hit ”Dolemite.” Comic Rudy Ray Moore, who starred in the 1975 film and its two sequels, will serve as an adviser and appear in a cameo.

BULL SHOOT While American filmmakers take pains to assure that animals aren’t harmed on the set, in Spain, home of the bullfight, it’s a little trickier. Animal rights activists have filed a complaint against Oscar-winning director Pedro Almódovar for slaughtering four bulls on film during the shoot last month of his new movie, ”Talk to Her,” about a female bullfighter. Despite the apparent violation of a Spanish law against shooting real violence against animals, an Almódovar spokeswoman insisted that the producers had obtained the necessary permits and done nothing illegal in making the movie, and that a student matador performed the killings ”in the least painful way possible.” But activists claim that the student’s inexperience caused the bulls unusual suffering. Almódovar (”All About My Mother”) could face a fine of up to $13,513.

PASSING NOTES Eudora Welty, universally praised as one of the 20th century’s finest American authors for her finely observed portraits of Mississippi life, died of pneumonia at 92 on Monday at a hospital in her hometown of Jackson, Miss. Her work included such novels and short story collections as ”The Golden Apples,” ”The Ponder Heart,” ”Losing Battles,” and ”The Optimist’s Daughter,” which won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. She was also an accomplished photographer, publishing several books of her photos, including last year’s ”Country Churchyards.” She never married, and she left no survivors.

Animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams, who was the star attraction of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for 22 years, died of cancer at 66 at his home in Venice, Fla. The German-born showman, whose favored neckwear was a live leopard, appeared in the self-proclaimed ”Greatest Show on Earth,” from 1968 to 1990, training lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, horses, panthers, and other animals. He is survived by his wife, Sigrid, and son, Ringling Bros. animal trainer Mark Oliver.

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