Family: Murphy was ill days before death
Los Angeles — Authorities said Monday it appeared actress Brittany Murphy died of natural causes after becoming ill with flulike symptoms in the days before she collapsed in the bathroom of her Hollywood Hills home.
Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said an autopsy had been conducted and officials were awaiting the results of toxicology and tissue testing before determining an official cause of death. It could take up to six weeks before a determination is made public.
Officials also interviewed Murphy’s personal physician and examined prescription drugs taken from her home.
Paramedics tried to revive Murphy early Sunday, but she was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The hospital said she died of cardiac arrest.
The autopsy found no signs of trauma to the body of the 32-year-old star of “Clueless” and “8 Mile.” Police did not suspect foul play.
Winter said Murphy’s family reported she had been ill and that could have contributed to her death. He said he had no further details about the medication taken from the home Murphy shared with her screenwriter husband Simon Monjack.
Diane Sawyer begins at ABC’s ‘World News’
New York — Diane Sawyer was all business on a busy first day as anchor of ABC News’ flagship evening newscast on Monday, save for a brief salute at the end to Charles Gibson, whose retirement opened the job for her.
“For you, Charlie Gibson, I hope you had a good day and a great night,” Sawyer said, a reference to Gibson’s usual signoff.
The centerpiece of the opening broadcast was Sawyer’s interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, conducted over the weekend. Sawyer confronted Ahmadinejad on a supposed “smoking gun” document that tied Iran to development of nuclear weapons. The president, who referred to Sawyer as “respectable lady,” said the document was a fabrication.
Women now hold two of the three top jobs on what have always been considered the most prestigious newscasts on broadcast TV. Three years ago, CBS’ Katie Couric became the first woman to hold the job by herself.
ABC has deliberately downplayed the transition on “World News.” Some of the minor changes promised by ABC executives, including the show’s first update of on-air graphics in five years, were evident.
Carrie Underwood engaged to NHL player
Nashville, Tenn. — Carrie Underwood is engaged to Ottawa Senators hockey player Mike Fisher, her publicist said Monday.
No wedding date has been set for the couple, who have been dating for about a year.
“The couple couldn’t be happier,” said publicist Jessie Schmidt.
Fisher, 29, recorded his 300th career point for the Senators in their 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday. Fisher had an assist on Anton Volchenkov’s goal in the first period.
Taylor Swift voted AP entertainer of the year
New York — It’s a love story, baby.
Taylor Swift sang those words about a young romance, but they apply just as well to America’s feelings for the 20-year-old country singer. Swift, adding to the heap of awards already bestowed on her, has been voted The Associated Press entertainer of the year.
Swift was chosen by newspaper editors and broadcast producers across the country in a survey of AP members. She follows last year’s winner, Tina Fey, and 2007’s pick, Stephen Colbert.
“I am so honored and so excited,” Swift said in an interview by phone with the AP. “This was so unexpected, and I could not be more grateful.”
Though her second album, “Fearless,” came out in late 2008, Swift was ubiquitous in 2009.
She found critical acclaim for her autobiographical and infectious songwriting, exemplified in tunes such as “Love Story” and “White Horse.” She led a sold-out tour across 52 cities in North America.
Court rejects dismissal of Roman Polanski case
Los Angeles — In a case that has polarized public passions, director Roman Polanski did not win his freedom Monday for a 32-year-old sex offense, but an appeals court said in a strongly worded opinion there was probable judicial and prosecutorial misconduct in his case.
The opinion criticized Polanski for fleeing to his native France in 1978 but suggested two legal options that could lead to his freedom now — file a motion to be sentenced in absentia, or drop his extradition fight, return to the United States and be sentenced in person, most likely not resulting in additional jail time.
Polanski wears an electronic monitoring device while under house arrest in Switzerland, where he was arrested as a fugitive when he arrived to attend a film festival in September.
The court rejected the request for outright dismissal, which was raised by Polanski and the lawyer for his victim, Samantha Geimer. But the justices said they were “deeply concerned” about probable misconduct by a now-deceased judge and a retired prosecutor who advised him. They urged further investigation.
The new focus on the case ignited a firestorm of public opinion worldwide. Some angrily called for Polanski to be imprisoned. Others, including some film industry colleagues, advocated for his freedom.
The appeals court faulted Polanski for fleeing the country rather than be sentenced.