Richard Jeni, dead at 49
Plus: Ashton Kutcher and Neil LaBute may work together, Jenna Elfman and Darren Star plan TV comedy, and more...
Richard Jeni, dead at 49
The standup comedian, a frequent Tonight Show guest, died of a gunshot wound Saturday in Los Angeles, an apparent suicide. In addition to his many stops by Johnny Carson’s (and, later, Jay Leno’s) late-night show, Jeni appeared in the movies The Mask and The Aristocrats, had guest spots on TV shows including Married… With Children and Everybody Hates Chris, and was a writer on the 2005 Academy Awards. (CNN)
Ashton Kutcher, Neil LaBute in talks for thriller
The actor, who previously starred in the interracial-romance comedy Guess Who, is now in talks to star in the thriller Lakeview Terrace, about an interracial couple who are menaced by their neighbor, an LAPD officer (Samuel L. Jackson) trying to force them out of town. Kutcher would play the husband; Kerry Washington has signed to play the wife. LaBute (Nurse Betty, In the Company of Men) is in negotiations to direct the movie, which will be produced by Will Smith and James Lassiter’s company Overbrook Entertainment. (Hollywood Reporter)
Jenna Elfman, Darren Star team up for TV project
Tentatively titled Literary Superstar, the proposed comedy series — which is being shopped to networks and is, according to Variety, close to finding a home on ABC — focuses on the life of a dedicated book publicist (Elfman) and her quirky clients. Darren Star (Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, Sex and the City) would exec-produce, along with the show’s writer, Matthew Reilly. (Variety)
Norbit duo reunite
Comedian Katt Williams and Eddie Murphy, who appeared together in Norbit, are re-teaming for Marshals, a DreamWorks comedy about the first black marshals of the Old West. Williams will write and star, and Murphy will produce and co-star. (Hollywood Reporter)
Naomi Watts cast in book adaptation
The actress will star in the big-screen version of Kicked, Bitten and Scratched: Life and Lessons at the World’s Premiere School for Exotic Animal Trainers, whose author, Amy Sutherland spent a year with students learning to work with cougars, baboons, snakes, and the like. (Variety)
Eliza Dushku in Fox pilot
The Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum will star in Nurses, a one-hour dramedy about a nursing-school grad who joins the staff of the hospital run by her father. If it’s picked up, Nurses would be the second Fox series for Dushku; her Tru Calling ran on the network from 2003-’05. (Reuters)
Snoop Dogg held briefly in Sweden
The rapper was detained overnight in Stockholm on suspicion of narcotics use, but was released Monday after questioning and drug tests. Snoop was on his way to a post-concert party when the car he was riding in was pulled over by police, who said they found a small amount of narcotics in the vehicle. His drug test was sent to be analyzed; should it come back positive, the rapper faces a possible fine. (AOL Music News)
NBC to adapt British reality show
Baby Borrowers, which has been green-lit for six episodes, follows teenage couples as they go through the sped-up phases of parenthood — starting with gaining custody of a real infant. (Over the course of a few days, the couple then must watch over a toddler, a preteen, an older teen, and an elderly person.) The show was the center of controversy in the U.K. for its use of real babies, but scored healthy ratings when it aired on BBC3. (Variety)
IN THE GOSSIPS
Page Six: Apparently, the romance between Mandy Moore and DJ AM (Nicole Richie’s ex) is kaput.
Rush & Molloy: Jewish leaders are calling Russell Simmons a hypocrite after he co-chaired a Louis Farrakhan event in Detroit.
Ben Widdicombe: Donald Trump plans to build the biggest house in America — and the residents of Palm Beach are none too happy about it.