Small, private funeral held for Murphy
Los Angeles — Brittany Murphy’s family and friends celebrated her life at a private Christmas Eve funeral.
The 32-year-old actress was buried Thursday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills. The intimate gathering was “very nice, very respectful,” said longtime family friend Alex Ben Block, who eulogized Murphy.
Her husband, Simon Monjack, also spoke. Murphy and Monjack were married in 2007.
The service began in the afternoon and stretched on past dark. A Christian minister and a rabbi presided and guests sang “Amazing Grace” at the grave site.
Block said Murphy loved Christmas and that it was ironic that she was buried on Christmas Eve.
A small group of reporters and a few news vans waited outside the main gates of the cemetery, where luminaries such as Liberace, Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, Gene Autry and Freddie Prinze are buried.
Murphy died Sunday after collapsing at her Hollywood Hills home.
Authorities continue to investigate the death but do not suspect foul play. An autopsy performed Monday was inconclusive, and the coroner’s office is awaiting results of toxicology and tissue tests before determining an official cause of death.
Christmas weekend may make box-office history
Hollywood — When “Sherlock Holmes” producer Joel Silver ran into “Avatar” director James Cameron this month in London, where both were promoting their movies, there was an undeniable tinge of rivalry.
“I said to him, ‘Please leave some money on the table for us,’” Silver recalled. “He said, ‘Oh, people will see them both.’”
With five movies opening or expanding nationwide and “Avatar” still doing gangbusters business, the question for nearly every major studio this weekend is just how much money there is on the table.
The only sure thing at the box office on Christmas weekend: Hollywood is poised to finish a record-breaking year with what will quite possibly be the highest-grossing weekend ever for the industry.
According to people who closely follow surveys and box-office returns, total tickets sales this weekend in the U.S. and Canada could total more than $260.8 million, the record set in July 2008 when “The Dark Knight” opened.
Christmas falling on a Friday is perfect for the industry because that means the following day, always a huge one for movies, falls on a Saturday, which is also traditionally the busiest filmgoing day of the week.
Couple sues Simmons over alleged attack
Los Angeles — A couple who said they were assaulted by Gene Simmons sued the KISS bassist for unspecified damages Thursday, court records show.
Nathan Marlowe and his wife Cynthia Manzo said Simmons attacked them, threatened them and took their video camera at the upscale The Grove mall on Saturday after they started filming the rocker.
The couple’s attorney, Matthew Nezhad, says a police report was filed. The couple sought a restraining order against Simmons on Wednesday, but that petition was denied.
Simmons has not been arrested and no charges have been filed.
According to the complaint and restraining order application, Marlowe asked Simmons for his view on monogamy, and Simmons responded by telling Marlowe to get his shot and leave. The filings state Simmons then lunged and attacked Marlowe, taking the video camera, then turned on Manzo when she tried to get the camera back.
Singer protests ‘Feliz Navidad’ parody
New York — Grammy-winner Jose Feliciano has gotten an apology after accusing a pair of radio producers of trashing the spirit of Christmas by using his popular holiday song, “Feliz Navidad,” for a racist musical spoof about undocumented immigrants.
Feliciano released a statement Wednesday saying that he was “revolted beyond words” and that the song was never meant to be “a vehicle for a political platform of racism and hate.”
“When I wrote and composed ‘Feliz Navidad,’ I chose to sing in both English and Spanish in order to create a bridge between two wonderful cultures during the time of year in which we hope for goodwill toward all,” the Puerto Rico-born singer said.
The parody, titled “The Illegal Alien Christmas Song,” was created by radio producers and writers Matt Fox and A.J. Rice and was posted in mid-December on the Web site for Human Events, a Washington-based conservative weekly publication founded in 1944.
Web site editor Jed Babbin apologized Wednesday and said the song would be removed from the site. The link to the song’s page was no longer available by Thursday.
Guitarist for Janis Joplin’s band dies
Los Angeles — James Gurley, the innovative guitarist who helped shape psychedelic rock’s multilayered, sometimes thundering sounds as a member of Big Brother and the Holding Company, the band that propelled Janis Joplin to fame, has died of a heart attack. He was 69.
Gurley was pronounced dead Sunday at a Palm Springs hospital, two days before his 70th birthday, the band announced on its Web site.
One of many prominent guitarists to emerge from San Francisco’s psychedelic music scene in the mid-1960s — others included the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, Jefferson Airplane’s Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Melton of Country Joe and the Fish — Gurley was hailed by many as the original innovator of the sound.
“I would say all of my guitar-playing contemporaries strived to have their own sound, but I think James was a huge influence on all of us because he wasn’t afraid to break the boundaries of conventional music,” Melton said Thursday.