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Archive for Wednesday, February 13, 2008

People in the news

February 13, 2008

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Farrow, Spielberg draw attention to Darfur

New York - Film director Steven Spielberg and actress Mia Farrow joined activists worldwide Tuesday in using the Olympics as a backdrop to address human rights concerns, urging Beijing to exert political leverage on Sudan's government to help end the crisis in Darfur.

Spielberg announced he would no longer act as an artistic adviser for the opening and closing ceremonies, saying he could not reconcile working on the Olympics while China and other nations were not doing enough to ease the suffering.

"Sudan's government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these ongoing crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more," Spielberg said in a statement. "China's economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide it with the opportunity and obligation to press for change."

Farrow joined former Olympic swimmers Shannon Shakespeare and Nikki Dryden in delivering an open letter addressed to Chinese President Hu Jintao at the Chinese Mission to the United Nations, condemning Beijing's support of the Sudanese government.

Sheryl Crow taking 'Detours' on new album

New York - Not much scares Sheryl Crow these days.

Not breast cancer, which she's battled into remission. Not public heartbreak, which is less raw now. Not writing bolder lyrics, which means less radio play.

"The last three years were a real awakening for me," Crow says, during a stop to promote her first album since 2005. "I've felt a fearlessness I've never felt before."

That bravery is the product of a one-two punch - the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness only days after the collapse of her engagement to bike champion Lance Armstrong.

Last spring, she poured out her feelings in a studio built at her new Tennessee farm. With newly adopted baby Wyatt keeping her company, she knocked out 24 songs in 40 days. The result is "Detours," a CD that veers from the intensely personal to the unabashedly political, from cancer and love lost to Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war.

"A lot of defining moments brought me to a place where by the time I sat down to write, I felt not only inspired but urgent about what I was writing about," she says.

Mel Gibson sued over 'Passion' screenplay

Los Angeles - A screenwriter has sued Mel Gibson and his production company, claiming he was misled by the actor-director into accepting a small payment for writing "The Passion of the Christ," and was refused extra money when the film became a blockbuster.

Benedict Fitzgerald claims that when he was asked to write a script about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Gibson told him the movie would cost between $4 million to $7 million, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Superior Court. Fitzgerald also alleged Gibson promised he wouldn't receive any money from the film and any profit would be distributed to people who worked on it.

Gibson stated he didn't want "money on the back of what he considered a personal gift to his (Roman Catholic) faith," the lawsuit said.

Fitzgerald, who shared screenwriting credits with Gibson, claimed he agreed to "a salary substantially less than what he would have taken had he known the true budget for the film," which the lawsuit claimed had an estimated budget of $25 million to $50 million. The 2004 movie went on to gross several hundred million dollars.

The lawsuit doesn't specify how much Fitzgerald was paid.

Actor aids fight against human trafficking

Vienna, Austria - Human trafficking is on the rise, but making sure girls receive birth certificates can make it more difficult for them to fall victim to the crime, Emma Thompson said Tuesday.

"It's increasing big, big, big time - it's the third largest shadow economy after drugs and small arms," the 48-year-old actress-screenwriter told reporters.

A United Nations human trafficking forum begins today. Thompson is the chairwoman of the Helen Bamber Foundation, a group that helps rebuild the lives of victims of cruelty.

She warned it was much easier to buy and sell people - especially women - who do not have birth certificates.

Bon Jovi to boost lung cancer research

New York - Bon Jovi is headlining a concert series to raise funds for lung cancer research - a cause that became personal for the New Jersey rockers after bandmate Richie Sambora's father died of the disease last year.

The group was dedicating the kickoff concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan on Tuesday night to the guitarist's father, Adam Sambora. It came days before the opening of the band's "Lost Highway World Tour."

Funds raised during the yearlong concert series will go to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where Sambora's father received treatment.

The series also will feature performances by Jerry Seinfeld, Andrea Bocelli and other artists.

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