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Archive for Sunday, July 23, 2006

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July 23, 2006

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Tina Fey leaving anchor chair at 'Saturday Night Live'

Burbank, Calif. - Tina Fey is leaving the anchor chair at "Saturday Night Live."

Fey says she's quitting the show after six seasons as head writer and co-anchor of the "Weekend Update" fake news segment to focus on her new NBC prime-time series, "30 Rock."

"The new show's going to take a lot of time," Fey said while appearing on Friday night's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

"I wanted to stop doing 'Saturday Night Live' so I could spend more time with Star Jones," she joked, referring to last month's dramatic departure of "The View" co-hostess.

Fey, 36, first joined "Saturday Night Live" as a writer in 1997 and became head writer in 1999.

Actor Jackman's jeans sell for $22,476 at fundraiser

Sydney, Australia - A pair of old jeans owned by actor Hugh Jackman have been sold at a fundraising auction for $22,476, more than double the amount paid for Nicole Kidman's denim duds.

Jackman's jeans - decorated by a local artist and signed by the "X-Men" star - were among 17 pairs auctioned late Thursday at a "Jeans for Genes" fundraising event for the Children's Medical Research Institute in Sydney.

The Australian-born actor's pants were the hit of the evening, outselling Kidman's, which went for $8,200, and model Megan Gale's, which raised $7,500.

Calista Flockhart returning to TV on 'Brothers & Sisters'

Pasadena, Calif. - Calista Flockhart says it's time to get back to work.

The former "Ally McBeal" star has spent the past five years at home with boyfriend Harrison Ford and her 5-year-old adopted son.

She returns to TV this fall as a right-wing radio host turned pundit in the new drama "Brothers & Sisters." The show, which co-stars Sally Field and Rachel Griffiths, debuts Sept. 24 on ABC.

"I really want to go back to work. It just seemed like the perfect time and the perfect project," Flockhart told the Television Critics Assn.'s summer meeting this week.

She said she was especially happy to find a show with an ensemble cast of top actors.

"I wasn't going to be responsible for carrying the show, and I would have a better schedule," she said.

Field also has kept a lower profile in recent years.

"It's a very interesting time in television," she said. "Television obviously is having to compete with a lot of other things and it's having to change and grow and try new things."

John Stamos to become regular on NBC's 'ER'

Pasadena, Calif. - John Stamos will become a regular on "ER" this fall, when Sally Field, Andre Braugher and John Mahoney will make appearances during the NBC medical drama's 13th season.

Stamos resumes his previous guest role from last season as Tony Gates, a savvy paramedic and medical student, network officials announced at the Television Critics Assn.'s summer meeting this week.

Paula Malcomson ("Deadwood") will appear in a multi-episode arc as the widow of Gates' dead best friend and war buddy who is a single mother.

Stamos' previous series, "Jake in Progress," was left off ABC's fall schedule.

Field reprises her Emmy-winning role as the bipolar and problematic mother of Dr. Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) in the season's second episode.

Braugher ("Homicide: Life on the Street") will appear in a six-episode arc as a carpenter who arrives in the emergency room with a simple cough. But he suffers a stroke while waiting to be seen, and his life eventually falls apart as a result of his paralysis.

Mahoney ("Frasier") will portray a drag queen who wants to assume legal authority for his dying partner's medical care.

Singer Ani DiFranco announces pregnancy

Albany, N.Y. - Ani DiFranco announced she's pregnant while being honored for her contributions to the feminist movement at the National Organization for Women's 40th annual convention.

The 35-year-old singer said Friday she is due in February. The baby's father, Mike Napolitano, produced her upcoming album "Reprieve."

NOW presented DiFranco with the Woman of Courage award.

Latifa Lyles, NOW's vice president of membership, presented the award and called DiFranco an inspiration, not only for her music but for her independent ideals. DiFranco founded her own record label, Righteous Babe, in 1990 after becoming frustrated with other music labels.

Past recipients of the annual award include Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and playwright Eve Ensler. DiFranco, a Buffalo native, is the first musician to receive the honor.

Coroner in Princess Diana death inquest steps aside

London - The coroner investigating the death of Princess Diana says he is stepping down from that job because his workload is too heavy.

Michael Burgess, the coroner for the royal household and the county of Surrey, said he did not have enough time to do a thorough job on the inquest into the 1997 deaths of Diana and her companion, Dodi Fayed.

He has asked the government to nominate a senior judicial official to take his place on the inquest, his office said in a statement. He plans to remain a coroner handling other cases.

"The cases will demand a good deal of time and a clear focus, free of distractions and, consequently, Mr. Burgess has concluded that these two cases cannot properly be dealt with by a coroner who also has a heavy and constant workload of other cases," it said.

Lord Falconer, the head of Britain's judiciary, has agreed to nominate a replacement for Burgess.

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