'American Idol' axes another 4 contestants, leaves 12 finalists
New York - "American Idol" slimmed down the competition Thursday night, leaving 12 finalists to compete for the ultimate prize: a record contract.
Antonella Barba, Sabrina Sloan, Jared Cotter and Jason "Sundance" Head were voted off Thursday in phone voting, which drew about 37 million calls and text messages from viewers.
The performers who made the cut are Blake Lewis, LaKisha Jones, Chris Sligh, Jordin Sparks, Phil Stacey, Melinda Doolittle, Brandon Rogers, Gina Glocksen, Chris Richardson, Stephanie Edwards, Haley Scarnato and Sanjaya Malakar.
During the show's sixth season, men and women have been competing separately, with viewers voting off two of each sex weekly. When the dozen finalists return Tuesday, the sexes will be blended, with one singer voted off each week. The winner will be crowned during the finale in May.
Thursday's show also featured a performance by "American Idol" winner Carrie Underwood, who recently snagged a Grammy for best new artist.
Former CNN, MSNBC chief to produce CBS newscast
New York - The hiring of television veteran Rick Kaplan to run the "CBS Evening News" is a sign that the network wants to replace experimentation with a program its viewers can count on every day when they switch on Katie Couric.
CBS News President Sean McManus on Thursday hired Kaplan, whose lengthy resume includes six years as a "CBS Evening News" producer under Walter Cronkite, as the show's new executive producer. He starts Monday, replacing Rome Hartman.
Couric began as anchor in September with the bold promise of trying to shake up a staid genre, but ratings indicated many viewers felt shaken down. After winning the Nielsen races Couric's first two weeks, CBS has slipped to a distant third behind ABC and NBC. Viewership during last month's pivotal ratings "sweeps" period, used to determine advertising rates, was down 6 percent from the Bob Schieffer-anchored newscast in February 2006.
Actor Lane Garrison charged with manslaughter in car crash
Beverly Hills, Calif. - "Prison Break" actor Lane Garrison was charged Thursday with manslaughter and drunken driving for a crash that killed a 17-year-old boy in his car last year.
The 26-year-old performer was accused of felony vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, felony driving under the influence causing injury to multiple victims and felony driving with a blood-alcohol level above the .08 percent legal limit causing injury. He also was charged with a misdemeanor count of furnishing alcohol to a minor.
He faces up to six years and eight months in prison if convicted.
Garrison was freed on $100,00 bail after he appeared in Beverly Hills Superior Court, where his arraignment was postponed until April 11.
The judge barred Garrison from driving, drinking alcohol or going to bars. He also was barred from contacting witnesses or victims of the crash.
Garrison, a Dallas native, was behind the wheel of a 2001 Land Rover that jumped a curb and struck a tree on Dec. 2.
The crash killed Beverly Hills High School student Vahagn Setian, 17, and injured two 15-year-old girls who also were in the car.
Faith Hill, Tim McGraw to return for Soul2Soul tour
Nashville, Tenn. - Faith Hill and Tim McGraw will return this summer for another go-round of their hugely successful Soul2Soul tour.
"This is why we get into this business," McGraw said Wednesday in announcing the shows with Hill. "To be on stage and sing in front of thousands of people."
The Jeep-sponsored tour kicks off June 6 in Omaha, Neb., and ends Aug. 10 in Anaheim, Calif. It includes shows in major cities in the U.S. and Canada, as well as some smaller markets.
Last year's version was selected as Pollstar magazine's "Major Tour of 2006," in front of tours by such powerhouses as Madonna and The Rolling Stones.
Johnny Depp's ailing 7-year-old daughter 'much better'
London - Johnny Depp's 7-year-old daughter, who has reportedly been receiving treatment in a British hospital, is "much better," the star's publicist said Thursday.
Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper reported that Lily-Rose, daughter of Depp and French singer Vanessa Paradis, was admitted to a hospital nine days ago and was in a serious condition. The newspaper said Thursday it knew the location of the hospital and the nature of the child's ailment, but wasn't revealing details to preserve the family's privacy.
"We are happy to report that their daughter is doing much better," said Depp's publicist, Robin Baum.