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Archive for Tuesday, May 13, 2008

People in the news

May 13, 2008

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R. Kelly trial in jury selection

Chicago - Attorneys and the judge in R. Kelly's child pornography trial began questioning 150 potential jurors Monday, asking what they know about the allegations against one of urban music's biggest stars.

The 41-year-old R&B singer, known for sexually charged hits like "Bump N' Grind," has pleaded not guilty to charges that he videotaped himself having sex with a girl as young as 13.

Kelly remained pokerfaced Monday, appearing at times to scan the faces of the potential jurors and occasionally leaning over to speak with his lawyers.

When the trial gets under way, prosecutors will face a daunting challenge: The girl believed to be on the videotape, who is now 23, says it wasn't her. And Kelly's lawyers - including prominent Chicago attorney Ed Genson - haven't conceded it's Kelly in the video.

Prosecutors say the videotape was made between Jan. 1, 1998, and Nov. 1, 2000, and that the girl who appears in it was born in September 1984. Kelly was indicted on pornography charges June 5, 2002, after the tape surfaced.

If jurors find the Grammy-winning artist guilty, he could go to prison for up to 15 years.

NBC anoints Fallon as 'Late Night' successor

New York - Jimmy Fallon's eighth-grade yearbook at St. Mary of the Snow in Saugerties, N.Y., listed him as "most likely to take over for David Letterman."

Letterman's not going anywhere, but close enough: Fallon is succeeding Conan O'Brien as the host of NBC's "Late Night" sometime in the middle of next year. NBC on Monday made official a plan that's been talked about since 2003, when a network executive first broached the idea of doing a talk show with the former "Saturday Night Live" star.

"I've been doing a monologue in my living room the last three years and it was embarrassing," Fallon joked at a news conference.

However, he said, "my wife seemed to like it."

NBC's plan is to have O'Brien move west to take over for Jay Leno at the "Tonight" show next year. After a break to refurbish the Rockefeller Center studio where O'Brien now works, the 33-year-old Fallon will take over.

Leno continues to be the king of late-night, and NBC is trying to keep him at NBC Universal with some job other than "Tonight" host. If NBC were to renege on the deal made to O'Brien, the "Late Night" host would reportedly be owned a penalty fee of about $40 million.

Neverland Ranch saved from auction

Los Angeles - A foreclosure auction scheduled this week for Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch was canceled after an investment company bought the loan.

Colony Capital LLC spokeswoman Caroline Luz said the loan purchase was recently made by Colony and the auction slated for Wednesday was off, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Jackson had gone into default on the $24.5 million he owes on the 2,500-acre spread in Santa Barbara County. He has struggled to pay his debts in recent years after his financial empire crumbled following his arrest in 2003 on child molestation charges. A jury later acquitted him and he hasn't lived at Neverland for the past two years.

Jackson bought the property in 1988 and turned it into a miniature amusement park with rides, including a merry-go-round, Ferris wheel and roller coaster, and a zoo.

McCartney, Mills divorce a step closer

London - Sometimes love isn't all you need.

A judge in London granted a preliminary divorce Monday to former Beatle Paul McCartney and Heather Mills. If no one objects, the divorce will be final in six weeks.

Mills, 40, will emerge from the rancorous divorce with a settlement of $47.5 million but a reputation damaged by her televised outbursts against McCartney.

Neither McCartney nor Mills was in court Monday, which might have been a good thing. At the end of a hearing in March, Mills stole the show by emptying a pitcher of water on the head of McCartney's lawyer, Fiona Shackleton.

Mills will retain custody of the couple's 4-year-old daughter, Beatrice. McCartney will retain the bulk of his fortune, estimated by the court at $880 million.

David Byrne to use building as instrument

New York - Ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne plans to turn a landmark building in Manhattan into a giant musical instrument.

State officials say Byrne will create a temporary installation in the Great Hall of the Battery Maritime Building, which is next to the Whitehall Ferry Terminal.

The "Playing the Building" installation will include devices attached to ceiling beams, plumbing, electrical conduits and other parts of the structure. Sound will be produced through vibration, making the building function as an instrument.

The installation and a new waiting room for ferry passengers are set to open in late May.

Byrne, 55, has forged a solo career as a musician and visual artist since the New Wave band Talking Heads stopped making records in the 1980s.

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