Hugh Jackman to host new-look Oscars
Los Angeles — He sings, dances, acts on stage and screen, and he’s the “Sexiest Man Alive.” Hugh Jackman does everything but standup comedy — and that’s why the first-time Oscars host fulfills the academy’s promise to shake up the show in a way that’s as tough to predict as the winners.
Jackman was announced Friday as the host of the 81st Academy Awards, a marked departure from the academy’s standard of big-name comedians.
As the parade of A-list comedians continued, ratings were in steady decline.
But with new producers, a new director, new set designer and even a new music director, the academy has been hinting for months at an all-new look and feel for this year’s Oscars telecast on Feb. 22.
Actor Van Johnson, ’40s heartthrob, dies
New York — Van Johnson, whose boy-next-door wholesomeness made him a popular Hollywood star in the ’40s and ’50s with such films as “30 Seconds over Tokyo,” “A Guy Named Joe” and “The Caine Mutiny,” died Friday of natural causes. He was 92.
Johnson died at Tappan Zee Manor, an assisted living center in Nyack, N.Y., said Wendy Bleisweiss, a close friend.
With his tall, athletic build, handsome, freckled face and sunny personality, the red-haired Johnson starred opposite Esther Williams, June Allyson, Elizabeth Taylor and others during his two decades under contract to MGM.
He proved to be a versatile actor, equally at home with comedies (“The Bride Goes Wild,” “Too Young to Kiss”), war movies (“Go for Broke,” “Command Decision”), musicals (“Thrill of a Romance,” “Brigadoon”) and dramas (“State of the Union,” “Madame Curie”).
During the height of his popularity, Johnson was cast most often as the all-American boy. He played a real-life flier who lost a leg in a crash after the bombing of Japan in “30 Seconds Over Tokyo.” He was a writer in love with a wealthy American girl (Taylor) in “The Last Time I Saw Paris.” He appeared as a post-Civil War farmer in “The Romance of Rosy Ridge.”
Springsteen collectibles returned to library
Asbury Park, N.J. — The Boss’ stuff is back.
More than 1,100 pieces of Bruce Springsteen memorabilia have been returned to the Asbury Park Public Library in New Jersey after library officials filed a police complaint against the men who had taken out the items.
Members of the Friends of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection took hundreds of books, articles and tour programs to be microfilmed in 2007.
The group says they, not the library, own the stuff. The library disagrees.
But the Friends group returned the materials after the police complaint was filed Tuesday against two members.
Judge jails man who offered Winehouse drugs
London — A judge on Friday jailed a man who sold a newspaper footage that appeared to show Amy Winehouse taking drugs.
Johnny Blagrove and his girlfriend Cara Burton admitted offering to supply drugs, including cocaine and ecstasy, to the singer and other celebrities.
Judge Tudor Owen ordered Blagrove, 34, jailed for two years. Burton, 22, received two years’ community service.
Prosecutors say the pair covertly filmed Winehouse at a party and sold the footage to The Sun newspaper for 50,000 pounds ($75,000). In January the paper published the images, which appeared to show the singer smoking crack cocaine and snorting a substance from a card.
Celeb lunchboxes to benefit hunger relief
New York — Mario Batali is doing it. So are Gwyneth Paltrow and Salman Rushdie.
These and other celebrities from the culinary, entertainment and literary worlds are donating one-of-a-kind lunchboxes they designed to help raise money for the hungry.
The boxes are being sold online at www.thelunchboxauction.org until midnight Thursday. Bidding starts at $100.
Cameron Diaz, for example, offers a green concoction. One side depicts remnants of an environmental friendly lunch of whole foods and a metal fork on one side. The other side shows a wasteful lunch: paper, plastic fork and cup, and a juice box.
Each of the boxes is signed by the artist.
They will benefit Food Bank for New York City and The Lunchbox Fund, which provides lunch to impoverished schoolchildren in South Africa.
Ex ‘Idol’ producer responds to Abdul
New York — Former “American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe has fired back at criticism by Paula Abdul that the show put her in peril by allowing an alleged stalker to audition.
Lythgoe says in an interview posted on People magazine’s Web site: “You do not take somebody in that room that you believe is a danger to herself or a danger to Paula. That would not enter our heads.”
Abdul, one of the “Idol” judges, claimed during an interview with Barbara Walters on her Sirius XM radio show that producers knew Paula Goodspeed had stalked her, and allowed her to audition anyway.
Goodspeed was found dead of an apparent suicide in a car near Abdul’s Los Angeles home last month.