Celebrity news for the week of March 9, 2007
Brief updates on births, divorces, court dates, and more
Naomi Watts (King Kong), 38, and Liev Schreiber (The Manchurian Candidate), 39, are expecting their first child…. Designer Trista Sutter, 34, and her firefighter spouse, Ryan Sutter, 32, who met on The Bachelorette, will greet their first baby this summer.
It’s fraternal twins for Desperate Housewives‘ Marcia Cross, 44, and her stockbroker husband, Tom Mahoney, 49. Daughters Eden and Savannah arrived on Feb. 20.
Univision Communications Inc., the nation’s largest Spanish-language broadcaster, has agreed to pay the FCC’s biggest-ever fine: $24 million. The FCC took issue with Univision classifying some of its telenovelas — such as Còmplices al Rescate, about tween twins who switch identities — as educational programming. (Broadcasters are required to air at least three hours of educational kids’ shows each week.) A Univision rep declined to comment.
The studios behind Dreamgirls wrote a mea culpa to Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr., 77, on Feb. 21 after label legend Smokey Robinson, 67, claimed that the film led viewers to believe its plot was based on Motown’s early days. Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks took out full-page ads in industry trade magazines apologizing for ”any confusion that has resulted from our fictional work.”
Singer Bobby Brown, 38, was arrested Feb. 25 in Massachusetts on a warrant for missing a child-support hearing in October. (Brown owes money to ex-girlfriend Kim Ward, mother to two of his kids.) ”Sometimes it’s not financially feasible for him,” says Brown’s lawyer. ”[But] the payment will be forthcoming.”… Universal Pictures sued gossip blogger Perez Hilton (né Mario Lavandeira), 28, Feb. 20 in L.A. for copyright infringement after he ran a topless photo of actress Jennifer Aniston, 38, on his site. The studio says that the image, an outtake from The Break-Up, was stolen, and wants the picture to be seized. No monetary damages have been specified. Hilton’s lawyer says his client has ”done nothing wrong” and that the snapshot had been published previously on numerous other sites…. On Feb. 15, FBI agents searched the Orlando home and offices of Lou Pearlman, 52, the Svengali behind the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync. Agents did not specify what documents they were looking for — or even what specific crimes they were investigating — but did say that the FBI would take over the probe into Pearlman’s Trans Continental companies. He’s been slammed with a suit on behalf of potentially 1,400 investors for what officials estimate is $100 — 300 million in losses. Pearlman, meanwhile, remains in Europe. His reps did not return calls for comment…. The fight over Anna Nicole Smith’s body is headed to court again. Smith’s mother, Virgie Arthur, 55, filed an appeal Feb. 26 in Florida to gain control of her daughter’s remains. Arthur wants Smith to be buried in the family plot in Texas, but a judge awarded that decision to a court-appointed attorney, who is acting as guardian to Smith’s 5-month-old daughter. As for the baby’s ongoing paternity saga: Lawyers for Larry Birkhead, 34, and Howard K. Stern, 38, will convene in the Bahamas in mid-March to argue their clients’ cases…. Actor-comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), 35, was sued for an unspecified amount on Feb. 9 in L.A. by an unnamed female acquaintance. The suit claims that Baron Cohen and HBO violated an agreement to remove a verbal reference to the plaintiff in a 2004 episode of Da Ali G Show. (The complaint alleges that a version with her name in it was still being aired.) HBO declares, ”We don’t believe this claim has any merit,” while Baron Cohen’s publicist says, ”We haven’t seen the suit.”
British drummer Ian Wallace, 60, who toured with Bob Dylan in the ’70s and ’90s, of complications from esophageal cancer, Feb. 22, in L.A…. Walker Edmiston, 81, one of the voices of the Keebler elves, of cancer, Feb. 15, in Woodland Hills, Calif…. Grammy-nominated audio engineer Ethan Willoughby, 30, who worked with Justin Timberlake, of car-accident injuries, Feb. 18, in Sherman Oaks, Calif…. Guitarist Al Viola, 87, who worked with Frank Sinatra and played the mandolin on The Godfather‘s soundtrack, of cancer, Feb. 21, in Studio City, Calif.
The Week in Britney
After her bald breakdown and rumors of two short rehab stints, Britney Spears, 25, reportedly checked into Malibu treatment center Promises on Feb. 22. (The news came after pictures surfaced in which Spears appears to bludgeon a photographer’s SUV with an umbrella.) Estranged husband Kevin Federline, 28, and their two children are said to have visited Spears at Promises, while her manager has said Spears isn’t on suicide watch and is ”[trying] to get better.” — Hannah Tucker
Monitor Hall of Fame
Busta’s been busted…again. Rapper Busta Rhymes, 34, pleaded not guilty after getting arrested on Feb. 22 in New York City for driving with a suspended license. Rhymes (né Trevor Smith) has a history of car troubles: He was reportedly ticketed last November for talking on his cell phone while driving in Manhattan; he allegedly roughed up a fan for spitting on his car in August; and a former chauffeur claimed he was beaten by the hip-hop star over money on Dec. 26. A judge is offering Busta probation as part of a plea bargain for the two assault charges, which his lawyer says he’s ”considering.” Either way, we consider this rap sheet worthy of our hall of fame.
Barba Burned: Inside the Latest ‘Idol’ Scandal
Is Antonella Barba this season’s Frenchie? The American Idol semifinalist and New Jersey native, 20, has been at the center of a controversy over photos that have recently turned up online in which a woman — who bears a striking resemblance to Barba, though the images have not been authenticated — is shown partially topless, as well as performing a sex act. While season 2 contestant Frenchie Davis was kicked off the show after it was revealed that she had once modeled for an adult website, Fox is not commenting on the Barba situation. Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe told EW on Feb. 23 that he had not seen any of the sexually explicit shots. ”We have really good background checks on everybody, and we deal with that every season,” he says. ”It’s sad, isn’t it, that your best friends are the ones that come forward with information that will go to Smoking Gun or put your photographs on the Web?” Then, on Feb. 26, Barba’s friend (and Idol audition partner) Amanda Coluccio told Newark’s Star-Ledger that some of the photos were not of Barba: ”The really bad ones aren’t her. I’ve studied them.” — Tim Stack