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Danny Meyer Files Cease-and-Desist Order Against Lincoln Square Steak for Trademark Infringement

Danny Meyer Files Cease-and-Desist Order Against Lincoln Square Steak for Trademark Infringement

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The logos for Lincoln Square Steak and Union Square Café.

New York City restaurateur and Union Square Hospitality Group founder Danny Meyer has submitted a cease-and-desist letter to the owner of the forthcoming Lincoln Square Steak, alleging that the restaurant infringes on the trademark for Union Square Café, according to The New York Post.

Lincoln Square Steak, which is slated to open later this week on West 70th Street in Manhattan, is reportedly being asked to change its name, logo, and menu in order to avoid being affiliated with Union Square Café.

“While we can’t comment on a legal matter, the striking resemblance between that logo and Union Square Cafe’s should be rather apparent to just about anyone,” USHG said in a statement to The New York Post.

Don Evans, consultant for Lincoln Square Steak told The Post that, on the contrary, “their logo is red and white and ours is red and black,” and that “Union Square Café is a downtown spot with a New American menu featuring one steak, and Lincoln Square is on the Upper West Side with nine different types of steak.”

Evans also said that he would like to “invite Danny and his team to our opening so they can see how different we are.”

Although menu comparisons will have to wait until Lincoln Square Steak opens, you can judge for yourself how similar those logos are, above.


Beyoncé says her parents prepared her for the hard work of marriage. In an interview in the latest issue of Giant, the 27-year-old singer talks about getting hitched to Jay-Z. She says she doesn’t have a fantasy view of marriage. That’s because she’s seen her parents, Matthew and Tina Knowles, struggle but stick through it. Says Beyoncé: “My parents are tighter now than ever, but they’ve been through it all. There were times when they were together, times when they were apart. I learned that it’s a lot of hard work, that it’s more than a dress.” Beyoncé and Jay-Z married in a private ceremony earlier this year. (Daily Record)

Socialite Paris Hilton says she and ex Benji Madden may get back together despite announcing their split last week. Paris Hilton has hinted that she and Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden may not be broken up for long. The pair announced they’d split after nine months together last Wednesday but Paris has said they might get together. “Right now, we’re just taking a break,” she told American Idol host Ryan Seacrest’s LA radio show . “We’re really good friends. We’re very close. He’s such an amazing man. He’s my best friend. He’s been so great to me, so loyal. He is an incredible person, and we will always be really close. We’ll see what happens in the future. I’m still in love with him.” So clear as mud then. (Handbag)

Glamour model Katie Price has scotched rumors she is to split from husband Peter Andre. Katie Price has spoken out against rumors that she and Peter Andre are to split. “I laugh when people say we don’t get on. Of course we row. But we are best friends as well as partners. I don’t think we’d know what to do without each other,” she tells She magazine . “People think my life is all about work and partying. But my favorite times are when we’re all at home sitting in front of the telly or eating dinner together. We row, we fight, we laugh, and we call each other names. But we’re exactly alike.” (Handbag)

Britney Spears’ long-time manager has spoken about the pair’s close relationship. Britney Spears ’ manager Larry Rudolph has spoken about the close relationship he shares with his charge. “I’ve known this girl for over half her life, since she was 13. We have a very close friendship, but it’s sort of hard for me to explain my relationship with her. It’s a friendship, it’s a business relationship, there are some paternal aspects to it,” he told the LA Times . “I love her. She’s been a big part of my life, and I’ve been a big part of her life. It hasn’t really been a rocky relationship. The reality is we stopped working together right around when she got married to Kevin because she wanted that. She didn’t want a career at that point. She wanted to have kids and take on a new phase of her life and she did. Then she decided it was time to pick herself up and move forward and I came back.” (Handbag)

Smile singer Lily Allen has admitted she is still receiving therapy to cope with losing a baby. Lily Allen is still receiving therapy to help her deal with her miscarriage. The singer and ex-boyfriend Ed Simons were said to be delighted when it was announced they were expecting a first child together at the turn of last year. But in January Lily miscarried , something she admits she’s still coming to terms with. “I was in a very, very dark place after the whole thing happened. That was the toughest thing I’ve had to go through in my life,” she explains to the Mirror before discussing her therapy. “He [her therapist] is really, really helping me. I feel it’s getting better and everything’s going to be OK.” (Handbag)

British heart-throb Robert Pattinson was forced to fix his teeth before filming new movie Twilight – because producers wanted him to have an alluring smile. The Harry Potter star was delighted to land the lead role in the new vampire tale, but admits he was less than impressed when movie officials pushed him into some major dental work before the shoot. He says, “They wanted me to have the perfect smile. I never thought anything was wrong with my teeth. But the producers still wanted me to wear a brace.” (Teen Hollywood)

Rob Pattinson is the envy of Twilight book fans – author Stephenie Meyer gave him an unseen manuscript that details his Edward Cullen character. The hunky Brit wowed film fans at the weekend, taking the movie adaptation of Meyer’s cult book to the top of the U.S. box office, but he admits much of his success as a sullen vampire came from the author’s pre-filming gift. Meyer’s book is told from the perspective of her heroine, Bella Swann, and not her vampire boyfriend, Cullen. But the manuscript she gave Pattinson was all about his character. He tells Teen magazine, “(The movie) was hopefully more balanced. It definitely did not just come from Bella’s perspective – it was an equal relationship. “It (manuscript) was helpful for me – just the amount of violence that goes through his head, which isn’t in (the book) at all, but you can see Edward is completely nuts!” (Teen Hollywood)

Heidi Montag doesn’t usually play her cards close to the vest, but The Hills star didn’t even inform her dad about marrying boyfriend Spencer Pratt . “I would be upset if she got married and didn’t invite me!” Bill Montag told PEOPLE Monday after reports surfaced that his daughter had eloped with Pratt in Mexico last week. As for what to do now that the story appears true, “Then we just have to have another wedding here!” he said. On Monday, Montag told Perez Hilton that she and Pratt wed at the One & Only Palmilla Resort, just outside Cabo San Lucas. “The minute we said our vows, I couldn’t stop crying,” she said. Montag, 22, and Pratt, 25, have chronicled their off-again, on-again (for good this time!) romance on The Hills – including a season cliffhanger about whether or not they were really engaged . By starting a relationship with the slick Pratt, Heidi Montag ultimately set off the well-known feud with former BFF Lauren Conrad . The couple is set to guest star on an episode of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother in January. (The Hills is not currently in production.) (People)

Debra Messing still recalls the hurtful stories about her as she tried to lose her baby weight. “It was written about in the tabloids a lot,” the actress, 40, says of her post-baby body in the January issue of Shape magazine . “On one page it showed all the actresses who got skinny in six weeks or less, and on the other page was me! I was so depressed and frustrated.” The Will & Grace star, who gave birth to son Roman in 2004, first tried a physical trainer but the demanding workouts were too much. “I was exhausted! I couldn’t work out three hours a day and do my job as a mother and an actress. So I took the pressure off : I cut back on seeing the trainer but started eating healthier.” Three years and 42 pounds later, her pre-baby figure is back. “Ultimately I’m very proud of how I dropped the weight because I think it was the healthy approach,” Messing says. “I’ve finally taken ownership of my body.” Now that she looks so great, all she needs is a date. “I can’t tell you the last time I had a date with my husband,” she says. “My ideal date with Daniel would be a spectacular meal, maybe Italian, followed by dancing. That’s a New Year’s resolution I’m looking forward to.” (People)

Alex Rodriguez has his priorities – and they are not his children. The Yankee slugger, who ditched his wife of six years, Cynthia, after becoming besotted with Madonna, is a “soul-less” man who is “abandoning” his kids on Thanksgiving for his lover, according to what Cynthia is telling friends. “Access Hollywood” reports that Cynthia, who’s in the final stages of her divorce from A-Rod , wrote an e-mail to a confidant noting: “My 6-foot-3, 220-pound soul-less, soon-to-be ex-husband is abandoning his kids on Thanksgiving to be with Madonna . . . She called and he ran on her command back to New York City . . . Gross!” Instead of ushering in the holidays in Miami with his children, Natasha, 4, and Ella, 1 – A-Rod, 33, is hosting a dinner at his Manhattan apartment for Madonna, 50, and her kids, Lourdes, Rocco and David, and manager Guy Oseary. The friend of Cynthia said A-Rod’s furious ex described Madonna in “not so nice terms” in the e-mail. To add insult to injury, after Rodriguez left Miami at Madonna’s beck and call, his lawyer called Cynthia and wanted her to sign the couple’s divorce settlement. When Cynthia filed for divorce last summer, she cited irreconcilable differences and claimed her husband had an “affair of the heart” with Madonna. The sinewy pop siren claimed at the time she was still “happily married” to Guy Ritchie, but two months later she and Ritchie filed for divorce. Since then, Madonna and A-Rod have been inseparable. An insider told Page Six, “Alex likes a woman with a strong hand. He likes to be told what to do. He’s a bit of a cipher.” A rep for A-Rod declined to comment. (Page Six)

Stacey Bendet Eisner and her hubby, Eric Eisner, are new parents. Eloise Breckenridge Eisner weighed in at 9½ pounds yesterday morning, just hours after labor was induced. The alice + olivia designer, who spent the day before doing yoga and getting a pedicure, was supposed to deliver on Thanksgiving but got induced early because, “If I wait ’til a holiday no doctors will be around!” She and Eric – son of former Disney chief Michael – are looking for a townhouse in the West Village or TriBeCa. (Page Six)

JOEY Fatone is no fan of Kim Kardashian . The former “Dancing With the Stars” contestant was at the Borgata in Atlantic City for a private screening of the show this weekend. When asked who shouldn’t have been kicked off, Fatone told the crowd: “Toni Braxton for sure. But . . . it’s not just about dancing. It’s about personality, too. And that Kim Kardashian, ugh, she has no personality at all. It was painful to watch.” He also said former his former ‘NSYNC bandmate Lance Bass (now in the finals) “can’t point his toe for [bleep] . . . he had to have two Red Bulls before doing the jive.” (Page Six)

Holly Montag says she had “no idea” her sister Heidi had eloped with Spencer Pratt. “I had a plane ride here to Toronto. I get off the plane, and I have 40 texts and emails,” she said on MTV’s Hills after show on Monday night. “I knew they were down in Cabo, but I had no idea what was going on,” she said. “I never would’ve expected [a wedding]. “I am a little bit hurt,” she went on. “I want to hear what really happened. But whatever Heidi chooses, I support her. She’s my sister I love her. I want her to be happy. Asked if she would’ve objected if she had attended the wedding, Holly said, “No, I wouldn’t. I mean, whatever Heidi chooses … she’s an adult. She’s a big girl and whatever makes her happy, I fully support.” Holly later said she called her mom, Darlene (who has clashed with Spencer in the past), the minute she heard the news. “She didn’t know, either, what was going on, and we were frantically calling [Heidi],” Holly said. “Everybody’s pretty upset.” Told that Heidi had wed on Thursday and let days go by without saying anything [the date was misreported Heidi actually wed on Wednesday], Holly looked shocked. “What?” she replied before her eyes filled with tears. Holly said Heidi never talked about eloping before. “She’s very religious. She always wanted to have a big wedding in a church,” she said. “We talked abut being each other’s maids of honor.” Added Holly, “But whatever makes her happy.” Asked if she had anything to say to Heidi, Holly offered, “I would say I wish you the best and a lifetime of happiness, and I will always be there for you, and I love you.” For all the details on Pratt and Montag’s romantic wedding – including exclusive wedding photos – grab the newest issue of Us Weekly, on stands Wednesday. ( US Weekly )

Proud papa Pete Wentz may not think that people “have the real story” about the genesis of the unusual moniker he and wife Ashlee Simpson-Wentz bestowed on their new baby boy . But when you throw an Alice in Wonderland– themed wedding , hold a Winnie the Pooh-themed baby shower and name your firstborn Bronx Mowgli, it’s probably safe to assume a love of Disney had something to do with it. “I feel weird—people have all these ideas of what it means now,” Wentz says of his offspring’s name during a phone call today to E! News’ Ryan Seacrest . “I think it’s kind of cool to leave the narrative the way it is. “People are stoked or pissed or whatever…I don’t think anybody knows the real story of why or how.” Not that they couldn’t hazard a fairly accurate guess. (Eonline)

It seems like Britney Spears is getting her life back together. But only because Jamie Spears is finally acting like a father! Which means that BritBrit is still acting like a kid . According to Rolling Stone, interviews are a “micromanaged process” and Britney is “never left alone.” Britters told the mag that she feels like “an old person” because she has a 9:30pm bedtime and doesn’t get to “go out or anything!” And when she does go out, it’s a chaperoned affair, with an assistant and her manager’s colleague. Imagine that at 27 with 2 kids! But we bet she wishes someone would chaperon FedEx, especially when he’s around the kids. Britney says her kids “are starting to learn words like ‘stupid,’ and Preston says the f-word now sometimes. He doesn’t get it from us. He must get it from his daddy. I say it, but not around my kids.” (Perez Hilton)

President Bush just cut a break to convicted drug felon/rapper John Forte, allowing the so-called “Fourth Fugee” to get out of jail early — and it seems like he has Carly Simon to thank for it. Forte will walk out of Federal prison next month after serving half of the14-year sentence given to him when authorities found 31 pounds of coke on him at New Jersey’s Newark International Airport in 2000. But it turns out John met Carly’s son Ben through prep school pals — and we’re told she’s been lobbying several politicians “religiously” on Forte’s behalf, including Senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch. Forte was one of only 16 people given clemency by George W. Bush out of more than 2,000 who asked. (TMZ)

Troubled singer Amy Winehouse has admitted her marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil is over. Amy Winehouse has publicly admitted her marriage to Blake Fielder-Civil is finished. “It’s over. There’s no way back for us now. It was never going to last. We were only together for sex,” she told the Sun . “I fancied him like mad, like no one else I’ve ever known. But it’s not enough, is it?” Apparently not. A friend of Amy says Blake, recently released from prison, has already moved on. “It’s a watershed for Amy. She’s been up and down for weeks but finally accepts the reality,” the source explains. “She still loves Blake on many levels but she sees there’s no future. She says he wants to be with Sophie, the model who made a play for him during his court appearances, mouthing ‘I love you’. Amy knows he’s been in touch with her and it’s almost like she thinks they’re welcome to each other. But she’s so furious she won’t let the girl’s name even be mentioned around her.” (Handbag)

Amy Winehouse’s spokesman says the troubled singer is being treated at a clinic following a reaction to medication. Chris Goodman says Winehouse was admitted to the London Clinic on Sunday. He declined to identify the medication that caused the reaction. The 25-year-old Grammy winner has a history of drug problems and has been in and out of hospitals this year. On Monday, a British court rejected an appeal by Winehouse’s husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, against his sentence for assault and obstructing justice. The judges urged him to continue making progress at a drug rehabilitation center. (Daily Record)

Los Angeles socialite Kim Kardashian and her sports star boyfriend Reggie Bush are selling their cars for charity. Kardashian’s white Ranger Rover and Bush’s Mercedes Shark II custom car have been put up for bidding on website auction house as part of a Kardashian family “closet cleaning”. Kardashian says, “A percentage of the proceeds from this and all my auctions will go to my favorite charity, the Dream Foundation, a really wonderful organization that grants wishes to terminally-ill adults. I volunteer for them and love the way they’re making a difference in the world… one person at a time.” The auction is a venture of the eBay Giving Works project. (Teen Hollywood)

Look out, Hugh Jackman . There’s mutiny afoot. The actor’s reign as Sexiest Man Alive has only just begun, and his Australia costar, Nicole Kidman , is already calling for a recount. “ Keith is my sexiest man alive,” she says of her country-crooning hubby. “He is the man I love and everything is sexy about him.” The actress, 41, also credited her husband for her glowing skin and stunning figure (just four months after giving birth to daughter Sunday Rose). “It’s being in love,” she said, describing her beauty secret. “When you are in love, nothing else matters.” Kidman also said she’s relishing every minute of motherhood. “Holding her in my arms is a wonderful feeling,” the Oscar-winner, clad in a Dries Van Noten dress, told PEOPLE Monday at the New York City premiere of the Australian epic. “Also laying next to her and watching her sleep and breathe. It’s the best feeling ever.” As for Urban who is experiencing fatherhood for the first time, Kidman said he is already a pro. “He’s very loving and natural.” So, will little Sunday grow up to be a daddy’s girl? Kidman noted, “She already is.” (People)

The hottest Oscar after-party in town is back – only smaller. Vanity Fair says its annual Academy Awards party is returning for next year’s Oscar night on Feb. 22. The magazine’s 2008 bash was canceled in support of the Hollywood writers’ strike. The A-list soiree, which has boasted such guests as Madonna and Al Gore, will take place at West Hollywood’s Sunset Tower Hotel instead of its traditional home, the restaurant Morten’s. The magazine’s editor Graydon Carter says on Tuesday that the bash “will be a much more intimate affair than in years past,” with a scaled back guest list. Given the state of the economy, Carter says the party will also recycle decor from past years. (Daily Record)

Martha Stewart is no snob. The caterer who turned herself into a conglomerate made friends at the Alderson, W. Va., federal prison, and she’s still in touch, she tells Fortune magazine: “Some of the women who became my friends while I was incarcerated have visited with me. There are some very interesting women there of great value to society, and I keep in contact with them. We have some broken systems in this country – one is the prison system.” (Page Six)

Either the recession is hitting even the fanciest Upper East Side schools, or John McEnroe has lost his cachet with tennis fans. At the annual benefit auction for the Trevor Day School, where McEnroe’s daughter is a student, a tennis lesson with the Hall of Fame legend usually draws bids of $20,000 or more. “But this year, the winning bid was $8,000,” said a source. The Trevor School told us, “This year, that item went for $10,000 and last year went for $12,000.” (Page Six)

Beyoncé says it wasn’t easy being in the delivery room when her younger sister Solange gave birth to a boy, Daniel, in 2004.”It kind of traumatized me,” she says on Tuesday’s Ellen DeGeneres Show. “I told my sister that. I said, ‘Please don’t have me in the room,’ and she said, ‘You have to – I’m your sister! Stop being so silly.’ “Well, I was right,” Beyoncé told DeGeneres. “I’m traumatized. “Still, the singer said, she “will” have a baby of her own.” A couple, maybe,” she added. Her husband Jay-Z would make a great dad.” He’s a great guy. He’s a cool guy,” she said. “He’s patient.” She added that “it feels great” being married. Saying “I Do!” is “different for everyone,” she said. In her case, she had been with the rapper for seven years.” I was really young. I’m only 27, so I was really young, and I feel like it’s important for women and men to have their goals and their own life before they can complete someone else,” she said. “So we took our time.” Jay-Z is even familiar with “Sasha Fierce,” but Beyoncé says her alter ego “stays on the stage” and doesn’t come out in day-to-day life.” People are like, ‘I don’t understand the Sasha Fierce thing.’ It’s for fun … and it gives me an excuse to blame anything really bad on Sasha Fierce.” Beyonce also talked about her infamous SNL sketch with Justin Timberlake.” I just can’t believe how hilarious he is!” she said. “I didn’t even know he would be there, and they asked me to do it, and I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ “And then they said, ‘Justin’s coming!’ and I’m like, ‘You’re lying! There is no way!'” she went on. “He showed up. He had his leotard and his pumps and his robe, and he opened it up … just letting it all hang out. I’m like, ‘OK, Justin…’Of Timberlake, she added, “Why are his legs more beautiful than any woman” ( Us Weekly )

As PEOPLE’s newly crowned Sexiest Man Alive , Hugh Jackman has been inundated with congratulatory phone calls. But when a certain two-time winner got on the line, it was time for some hard-core hazing. “ George Clooney rang me at two in the morning,” Jackman told PEOPLE Monday at the Australia premiere in New York City. “I was half asleep and I said to him, ‘Ah, George sweetie, good to hear from you.’ ” But this was not a courtesy call. “He goes, “Shut up, Jackman!’ ” the Aussie actor jokingly recounted. “[He said,]’I know what you did! You started this big campaign that’s been going on and [you] took the title away from me.’ ” “I thought that was unnecessary,” Jackman deadpanned. The Wolverine star has also been getting a ribbing from his friends and family. “My old man traveled over with me and we landed in America … and all of sudden we were stopped at the airport and saw the Sexiest Man Alive magazine and everyone is talking about it,” the actor said. “My father found it really uncomfortable.” “[My dad] said to me, ‘I can’t really talk to you about being sexy. It’s a little weird,’ ” Jackman recalled. “Mind you, I’m still waiting for the birds and the bees pitch from him. That hasn’t happened either!” (People)

As we mentioned earlier this month , it was looking like Laura Bush would beat her husband in publishing a book. The first lady had reportedly been in talks with different publishers who were bidding on her memoir. Well, Mrs. Bush has just confirmed that the reports were true. She mentioned that she’s planning to write a memoir and that she’s already met with publishers. Adds the first lady, “I’ve been talking to some publishers, but nothing has happened yet — just a few visits.” Wonder what juicy secrets she’ll let out of the bag. (Perez Hilton)

A one-liner in the New York Post yesterday says Ann Coulter broke her jaw and had to have it wired shut. (TMZ)

Eleanor Rigby: fact or fiction? That question, which has bedeviled Beatles’ fans for decades, may be answered in part by a 1911 hospital payroll sheet to be auctioned in London on Thursday. The document, sent by Paul McCartney in 1990 to the director of a music charity who had asked for funding, contains the signature of a scullery maid named “E. Rigby” who worked in a Liverpool hospital. The director of the company auctioning the document believes the woman who signed the payroll is the same Eleanor Rigby buried in 1939 in a Liverpool graveyard next to the church where McCartney met the young John Lennon. “I’ve spoken to the person who lived in the house where she used to live, and they’ve confirmed that the signature is the same signature of the person in the graveyard,” said Tom Owen of the Fame Bureau auction house, adding that the finding may contradict McCartney’s longtime assertion that the song was based on a made-up character. “It’s intriguing that McCartney owned it because he says he created the song around a fictitious figure,” said Owen. “And yet, how did he have this document and why did he have it? When he was asked to donate money, he sent this.” Interest is so high it’s estimated the document may fetch $750,000. McCartney has said the song was not based on a real person but concedes he may have been subconsciously influenced by seeing the tombstone. When the auction was announced earlier this month, he released a statement reiterating that the character was not real. “If someone wants to spend money buying a document to prove that a fictitious character exists, that’s fine with me,” McCartney said. The payroll sheet was signed by “E. Rigby” after she collected her pay at Liverpool’s City Hospital. McCartney has not revealed how he got the document, or why he sent it to the charity 18 years ago. According to the tombstone, Eleanor Rigby was born in 1895. If she is the woman who signed the hospital payroll, she would have been about 16 at the time. She worked as a maid washing pots and pans in the hospital kitchen, the document says. The song “Eleanor Rigby,” released in 1966 as a single and on the Beatles’ “Revolver” album, represented a sharp break for the band, which until then had largely relied on cheerful tunes for their international hits. With its haunting refrain, “Ah, look at all the lonely people,” it is a devastating portrayal of an isolated woman whose death draws so little notice that no one attends her funeral. There are no rock ‘n’ roll guitars or drums on the somber track – McCartney’s lead vocal is backed by violins, violas and cellos arranged by Beatles producer George Martin. “It’s a Beatles song with no Beatles instruments,” said Glenn Gass, a rock historian who teaches a course on the Beatles at Indiana University. “It’s just so bleak and so sad: she picks up the rice at someone else’s wedding, the whole image of her wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door. There are things happening emotionally that you just can’t see. It’s not a pop song in any traditional sense, but it’s one of their great songs.” Lennon and George Harrison sing harmony Ringo Starr does not play or sing, although Beatles experts say he contributed one line to the lyrics. “Eleanor Rigby” is credited to the Lennon-McCartney writing team, but it is widely regarded as primarily by McCartney. McCartney has said he considered naming the woman in the song “Daisy Hawkins.” He also mulled naming the unsympathetic priest “Father McCartney” but decided on “Father McKenzie” so his own father wouldn’t be burdened. The song has had so much impact that a statue honoring Eleanor Rigby – be she real or imagined – has been built in downtown Liverpool. Passers-by often place flowers there. Owen said “every penny” from the auction will go to Sunbeams Music Trust, a charity that provides music instruction to people with special needs. The charity’s founder, Annie Mawson, received the document from McCartney after writing him an 11-page letter seeking help for her foundation, which uses Beatles songs, among others, to teach music to people with physical and mental disabilities. She has found, for example, that autistic children respond well to Beatles music. “I told Paul McCartney how his music had helped so many vulnerable children,” she said. She hand-delivered the letter to McCartney’s London office in 1989 and received the hospital payroll document in the mail the following year. It was in an envelope carrying the logo of McCartney’s world tour, but did not contain any note. “I think my letter moved him, so he sent me this beautiful parchment document, a ledger, from 1911, showing E. Rigby,” Mawson said. “My head was whirling when I saw the significance.” Her plan is to use the proceeds from the auction to finally build a music instruction center in Cumbria, England, where the charity is based. “This is what I dreamt about in the 󈨞s,” she said, explaining that she held the document for years as the value of Beatles memorabilia soared. “It’s taken this long to develop the charity and get a good team behind it and now we really need a proper center.” (Daily Record)

President George W. Bush commuted the sentence of a former Fugees producer who has spent seven years in prison for cocaine possession with intent to distribute. That means John Forte will soon be freed after serving about half of his 14-year sentence. He was one of two men whose sentences for cocaine offenses were commuted Monday night, along with 14 pardons granted. Forte co-wrote and produced two songs on the Fugee’s 1996 album “The Score,” a Grammy-winning hit. As a rapper, he also released two albums himself, the second of which (“I, John”) included a duet with singer Carly Simon. Simon posted bail for Forte at the time of his arrest and had urged for his release. Messages left with her publicist were not immediately returned Tuesday. Forte was arrested at Newark International Airport in 2000, and later found guilty of possession of 31 pounds of liquid cocaine with the intent to distribute. Julie Stewart, president and founder of the advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums, applauded Bush’s decision to commute the sentences of Forte and another man who had been imprisoned for 15 years. Stewart said sentences for many “low-level, first-time, nonviolent drug offenders” don’t fit the crime. Presidents often issue many pardons toward the end of their terms, though Bush has granted a total of 171 pardons and eight commutations. That’s fewer than half as many as either President Clinton or President Reagan issued during their two terms in office. (Daily Record)

A former TV newsman in Philadelphia who said he felt threatened by his co-anchor’s “rising star” was sentenced Monday to six months of house arrest after hacking into her e-mail and leaking gossip that contributed to her downfall. Larry Mendte, 51, admitted hacking into KYW-TV co-anchor Alycia Lane’s e-mail hundreds of times, both before and after the city’s CBS affiliate fired her in January. “I made my job too important,” Mendte said in court Monday. “In believing that I was protecting the well-being of my children and my family, I put them both in jeopardy.” He then apologized to Lane, who attended the sentencing. Lane had given a confidential victim-impact statement to the court but declined to comment after the hearing. Mendte escaped jail time but has suffered the loss of his career and reputation, U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin noted. He must serve six months of home confinement during three years of probation and must perform 250 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine. He had faced up to six months in prison under sentencing guidelines. The former “Access Hollywood” anchor described his early relationship with Lane as “flirtatious, unprofessional and improper” but said it soured after his wife, local Fox anchor Dawn Stensland, learned about it. The twice-divorced Lane, 36, vehemently denies any impropriety and has sued him for invasion of privacy and on other grounds. The pair anchored the evening newscasts on KYW from 2004 to January, when Lane was fired after a Dec. 16 arrest in New York following a late-night scuffle with police. The charges were later dropped as part of a pretrial diversion program. She has a wrongful-termination suit pending against KYW. Mendte leaked privileged e-mails about her criminal case to the press, and prosecutors say he is the only plausible source of damaging leaks concerning a swimsuit photo she sent a friend, married TV sports anchor Rich Eisen. Mendte was fired in June, after the FBI searched his home and office. “My role at the station was still being diminished when Alycia told me during an argument on the set that she (was) the rising star and that I was 󈧶 and on my way out,'” Mendte said after his Aug. 22 plea to illegally accessing a protected computer. “I felt I was in trouble,” he continued. “My career, my future, my family’s future was in trouble. And, this is where I got into more trouble – federal trouble.” Mendte has two young children with Stensland and two older children from an earlier marriage. He earned $700,000 at KYW-TV, while Lane’s salary had zoomed past his to $780,000, according to her lawyer, Paul Rosen. The FBI began investigating Mendte in the spring, when a station employee stumbled upon a computer that was logged into Lane’s private e-mail account – nearly two months after she was fired. (Daily Record)

Kanye West says he’s not concerned about whether his new album is a blockbuster, because he’s made “great art” – and he feels really good about it. West’s new CD, �s & Heartbreak,” was released Monday. It’s a departure for the 31-year-old rapper because it mostly features him singing. West says he was ready to take a risk and he thinks it paid off. Says West: “You know people sometimes don’t understand great art when they first hear it, but I am very confident in it. Whether it sells as much as the last one, or way more, I feel like I am just successful in doing something I felt really good about.” (Daily Record)

No Doubt have announced plans for a comeback tour next year. The Los Angeles band revealed their plans through an instant-message transcript on their official website, but gave no specific dates. The four-piece are also currently working on a new record, their first since 2001’s Rock Steady. (Daily Record)

The Jonas Brothers keep going…and going…and going. Fresh from the American Music Awards, where they were named Favorite Breakthrough Artist and performed “Tonight”, the trio capped off the festivities with a free three-hour 24-song concert at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. They decided to put together the gig at the last minute on Saturday, their rep tells me. After promoting it on the radio and their MySpace page, about 1,000 fans were already lined up several hours before Kevin, Joe and Nick even arrived. And the fans got more than just the trio performing all of their hit songs. Read on for all the details… They covered John Mayer’s “Gravity,” Tom Petty’s “Freefallin'” and Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain.” They even covered their hip-hop hero Kanye West’s “Heartless.” Then there were the surprise guests. Their Camp Rock costar Demi Lovato jumped on stage to sing some of her singles with the brothers and also John Mayer’s “Daughters.” Jordin Sparks was a showstopper when she joined them for Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Jesse McCartney was also a performer with his hit, “Leavin’.” The most interesting pairing? The JoBros and Dan Aykroyd covering the 1956 Bo Diddley hit “Who Do You Love?” The show ended shortly after midnight with all the performers back on stage for the Beatles’ “Hey Jude.” (Daily Record)

Paul McCartney says negotiations on a long-awaited deal to make the Beatles’ catalog available on the online music service iTunes have stalled. “The last word I got back was it’s stalled at the whole moment, the whole process,” the former Beatle said Monday. “I really hope it will happen because I think it should.” McCartney, who was speaking at the launch of his new album, Electric Arguments, added: “It’s between EMI and the Beatles, I think.” The band’s holding company, Apple Corps Ltd., has so far declined to allow the Fab Four’s music on any Internet music service, including iTunes. The situation has been exacerbated by a long-running trademark dispute between Apple Corps and Apple Inc., which owns iTunes – a dispute that was resolved last year. Record label EMI, which owns the Beatles recordings but needs Apple Corps’ permission to release the music in new formats, said it was still trying to resolve the matter. An EMI spokeswoman said: “We have been working hard to secure agreement with Apple Corps. to make the Beatles’ legendary recording catalog available to fans in digital form. Unfortunately the various parties involved have been unable to reach agreement but we really hope everyone can make progress soon.” The spokeswoman spoke on condition of anonymity in line with company policy. Apple Inc. was not immediately available for comment. (Daily Record)

Although a long holiday weekend is right around the corner, Britney Spears is getting to work promoting her upcoming album, Circus, in Europe. The singer boarded a flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, Germany on Monday for several appearances in support of the album, which is scheduled to be released Dec. 2. Spears is traveling with several close associates and family members, including her father, Jamie, and manager Larry Rudolph. According to an eyewitness, the singer – dressed in a brown fedora, black sweatpants and a pink top – jumped out of her white Cadillac Escalade smiling and holding her dad’s hand at the airport. After a short time in Germany, Spears is expected to appear on the French program, Star Academy, and on Simon Cowell ‘s X Factor in England before returning to the U.S. next week. She is scheduled to go on a worldwide tour in the spring of next year. Spears’s candid new MTV documentary, Britney: For the Record, airs Nov. 30. (People)

The more music we listen to these days, the more we catch ourselves saying: ‘Hey, this sounds like (insert older song/band here).’ Sure , being influenced by something or even covering a song is all fine and dandy, but lately, it just feels like there’s been a massive spate of songs that are clearly — and often, blatantly — ripped-off from other tunes. Say, for example, Hilary Duff’s new tune. On ‘Reach Out,’ Duff doesn’t exactly pay homage to the Depeche Mode classic ‘Personal Jesus’ as much as she completely reworks and samples the song without trying to cover it. She even names the song after a lyric in the chorus (“reach out and touch faith,” Mode sang). Back when the single dropped, we polled PopEater readers about whether or not they dug Duff’s new, borrowed sound. It was a 50-50 split straight down the middle. A staggering 42% of voters also said that while totally “unoriginal,” jacking songs is fine by them. To her credit, Ms. Duff isn’t the first young’un to take royalties with an older tune in recent days. Rihanna’s smash single ‘S.O.S.’ is a clear (and properly credited) spin on Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love.’ Avril Lavigne’s massive hit ‘Girlfriend’ landed the Canadian mall-punker in court after The Rubinoos sued her for copyright infringement. Turns out, Lavigne’s chorus sounds exactly like their 1977 track ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.’ Today’s pop stars aren’t the only musicians taking heat for snagging rhythms, melodies and chord progressions (Fun fact: the latter of which isn’t copyrightable). The biggest punk band of the last 15 years, Green Day, have gained a reputation for taking liberty with other people’s tunes. Some of the biggest hits of rock and rap (which often uses sampling … not the same as what we’re describing here) the last 20 years in the world have sounded curiously like other songs we love. Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice, Ice Baby’ infamously heists David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ beat (though Ice claims there’s an additional note, making the stolen song argument null and void), while even The Strokes’ rock debut single ‘Last Night’ bears a striking resemblance to the opening of Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl.’ Hear for yourself below, with a massive gathering of side-by-side songs. (Popeater)

Some of the biggest names in music are contributing exclusive songs to RED(WIRE), a new digital music magazine launching on World AIDS Day (Dec. 1). U2, Coldplay, the Killers, the Dixie Chicks, John Legend, R.E.M. and Bob Dylan are on board for the initiative, which is an outgrowth of the Bono-reared activist organization (RED). All proceeds from subscriptions will benefit HIV-infected people in Africa will host a kick-off party on Dec. 1. For $5, users will receive a new issue of RED(WIRE) every Wednesday, featuring an exclusive song from a major artist, a song from an artist (RED) aims to showcase, a multimedia piece that could encompass video or photography and a look at how proceeds are directly benefiting Africans in need. The materials will be downloaded to a custom player and automatically loaded into iTunes. Users can send two free issues to friends, and will be rewarded if they join RED(WIRE). “Artists are already saying, ‘I want to give you a track for those people who brought friends in,'” (RED)WIRE founder Don MacKinnon tells “That’s the biggest idea: using social networking to actually change the world in a unique way.” U2’s track was recorded just last Wednesday, while the Killers, Elton John and the Pet Shop Boys’ Neil Tennant teamed up for the Christmas song “Joseph, Better You Than Me,” which MacKinnon describes as “like a power ballad.” This is the third year in a row the Killers have penned a holiday song and donated proceeds to (RED). Meanwhile, John Legend’s take on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” finds him eschewing piano for a stripped-down arrangement with guitar, bass and backing vocalists, according to MacKinnon. Also coming is the first new Dixie Chicks song since the group’s Grammy sweep in 2007, “Lucky One,” and Elvis Costello and the Police jamming on “Watching the Detectives” and “Walking From the Moon,” tape during Costello’s new Sundance Channel show “Spectacle.” Additional (RED)WIRE offerings will be announced in the coming weeks. MacKinnon is particularly enthused about the creative directions open to (RED)WIRE, especially with such high-profile artist participation. “I had a meeting with Jay-Z, and he wants to talk about artists to be featured in that spotlight slot,” he says. “Big artists may curate an issue. The whole goal was to create a creative platform. When somebody says, ‘I do all this photography and I want to put it in as an extra,’ That’s when I go, this is going to be really cool.” (Billboard)

An eminent Russian conductor has pulled out of a series of concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, saying he felt insulted by the way his appearances were marketed. The Boston Globe reported that Gennady Rozhdestvensky (geh-NAH-dee rahzh-DYEST-vehn-skee) left town on Saturday, fuming over the disrespect he said the BSO showed him. The 77-year-old maestro was scheduled to conduct four concerts, starting Thursday and running through Tuesday. Rozhdestvensky said the trouble started when he noticed the week’s soloist, cellist Lynn Harrell, got top billing on a promotional poster. He later learned the BSO’s season brochure didn’t list him in its “Distinguished Conductors” section, mentioning him only in connection with Harrell. The BSO’s managing director, Mark Volpe, said the orchestra greatly admires Rozhdestvensky and regrets he canceled his concerts. (Daily Record)

Maurice Kanbar is making “The Scene.” “Hoodwinked” producer Kanbar Entertainment is financing the indie black comedy with its star and producer, Daphne Zuniga. “Gossip” screenwriter Theresa Rebeck adapted the script from her play, a vicious satire of the Manhattan party circuit and entertainment industry. Zuniga will play a cynical TV talk show producer who encounters a chameleon-like social climber (Heather Gordon). Stephen Barker Turner and David Wilson Barnes round out the cast. Director Amy Glazer is producing the low-budget feature with Lynn Webb, Ned Kopp and Zuniga, shooting on sets built in Kanbar’s San Francisco home. Glazer and Zuniga collaborated this year during the play’s West Coast premiere in San Francisco. Jonathan Baruch of Rain Management Group, which reps Zuniga with BRS Agency, is co-producer. The CAA-repped Rebeck is no stranger to the scene she sends up, having been a New York-based producer-writer on such hits as “NYPD Blue” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” (Hollywood Reporter)

Paul Schrader is taking a taxi to Bollywood. Saying he feels the U.S. film market has become “barren,” the writer of classics “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” is packing his bags for Mumbai to write and direct the Bollywood action movie “Extreme City.” “I’ve been getting indie movies made for 20 years,” he said. “But I take a good look around and what I see is a barren, barren place — in terms of the financial community, in terms of audiences, in terms of distribution. It’s cold out there.” In India, on the other hand, he says there are ways to gain both creative freedom and audiences. “City” is a cross-cultural tale that will center on an American man who travels to India to help resolve a kidnapping case for his father-in-law, only to get caught up in a gangster plot. There likely will be some musical numbers, and dialogue will be spoken in English and Hindi. Schrader is working on the script. While the story combines various elements, it’s “not a Masala movie,” Schrader said, referring to the term for a kitchen-sink Bollywood film that tosses in action, romance, family drama and other genres in one big stew. “City” will be produced by Anubhav Sinha, the noted Indian director (he most recently directed the Bollywood action movie “Cash”) who is looking to grow his producing slate and evolve from a more action orientation. Schrader and Sinha are in talks with a number of Bollywood stars the movie could get greenlighted at a bigger Bollywood studio or go the indie route. Schrader, who made his name as a writer on classics like “Raging Bull” and as a writer-director on Oscar winner “Affliction,” is the latest film figure seeking to build a bridge to India. One of the fall’s nascent hits is “Slumdog Millionaire,” Danny Boyle’s romantic-action tale set in India. Indie director Jennifer Lynch is making the India-set mystery “Hisss.” Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment has a deal with Indian entertainment company UTV to produce two movies. And DreamWorks is, of course, now financed by India-based Reliance Big Entertainment. Still, Schrader is the first major contemporary U.S. writer or director to migrate to Bollywood, a trend he said could continue given the trajectory of both film cultures. “Old Bollywood will never go away,” he said, “but it’s changing. Movies can be shorter than two hours. There doesn’t need to be singing and dancing.” Schrader is promoting “Adam Resurrected,” a Holocaust drama starring Jeff Goldblum that he directed about a German-Jewish performer who survives the war by performing for a Nazi commander. “At first I thought, ‘The world has a lot of Holocaust movies. It doesn’t need one from Paul Schrader.’ But I started to read the script and got 65 pages in and thought, ‘I need to do this.’ It’s such an original story.” (Hollywood Reporter)

The rebirth of the gay rights movement and the battle over legalizing same-sex marriage will be the focus of the new indie documentary “A Non-Issue?” The doc will follow Dr. John Corvino, a philosopher, lecturer and author of “The Gay Moralist,” as he crisscrosses the nation engaging and debating those most against gay marriage. Personal stories will be showcased. Robert Zimmer Jr. (“Half-Life”), Matthew Mishory (“Fellowship of the Dice”) and Michael Einheuser (“InZer0”) are producing. Mishory is directing as well. “Existing illusions that 2008 America is a ‘post-gay’ society, that sexual orientation is a ‘non-issue,’ that the culture war is over — were immediately vanquished,” the producers said of the recent passage of Proposition 8 in California, which bans same-sex marriage. “The filmmakers believe the time to speak is now.” Production is set to start next year, with high-definition lensing from cinematographer Rachel Morrison. (Hollywood Reporter)

Warning. Marley & Me this ain’t. Yes, Wendy and Lucy does feature a cute Lab (the Lucy in the title) much like the one in the upcoming Jennifer Aniston flick, but that’s pretty much where the similarities begin and end between that silly-antics-filled romp and this more serious, seemingly depressing, indie starring Michelle Williams . In the trailer, we follow Michelle’s rather morose (actually, make that very morose) Wendy, who, while trying to make her way to Alaska, encounters trouble every step of the way—trouble with her car, trouble with the law, trouble with her family and, ugh, even trouble with her dog. Not to mention having to interact with some creepy dude with icky teeth. So what do you think? Are you up for a downer, or is dinner with the in-laws this holiday season gonna be torture enough? (Eonline)

The reviews are in and the critics have spoken : Nicole Kidman can’t act her way out of a soggy paper bag. Baz Luhrman’s epic Australia apparently has all the fixings for a spectacular tourism commercial – except for one thing: its star. As one reviewer brilliantly put it, Kidman “drifts around films like a lost porcelain doll, looking frozen, brittle and vapid, staring at the camera with her oh-golly-look-how-I’m-looking-interesting blue eyes” and is “exquisitely accomplished at being awful.” In short, she is “the kiss of death in practically every movie she has starred in.” Crikey! (Perez Hilton)

With its muscular $70 million opening weekend despite scant appeal for guys, “Twilight” has redefined expectations for the chick flick. While offering some high-flying vampire battles, its main action centers on the developing romance between two teens played by relative unknowns Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Women and girls made up more than 75 percent of the film’s opening-weekend audience, according to, which sells tickets and conducts surveys about recent releases. With the movie’s stellar opening weekend – it trounced the celebrated $55.7 million opening of “Sex and the City” – studios ought to take notice of women’s continued ticket-buying power, said Paul Dergarabedian of box-office tracking firm Media By Numbers. “The word ‘chick flick’ is going to have to be replaced by big box-office girl-power flick,” he said. “The box-office clout of the female audience is just astounding, and it’s been an underserved audience for way too long. … They have no trouble finding money for the things they’re passionate about.” Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines chick flick as “a motion picture intended to appeal especially to women.” But “Twilight” is no lightweight date movie – instead, it’s a real-girl’s chick flick, where a normal-looking teenager finds romance with a modern (if undead) Prince Charming. “It’s the most insanely romantic film since ‘The Notebook,'” said Harry Medved, a spokesman for, who described Pattinson’s Edward Cullen as “the ideal boyfriend. … He’s incredibly strong, superfast, impossibly handsome, he plays the piano and all he cares about is what’s on her mind.” Here’s a look at some of the top-grossing chick flicks in recent years: (Daily Record)

– “Sex and the City” (2008) earned $55.7 million its opening weekend and more than $150 million to date. Easily the biggest chick flick until now, it had something going for it that “Twilight” did not: at least some crossover appeal with men who were fans of the long-running TV series.

– “High School Musical 3” (2008) had a $42 million opening weekend and has already earned $84 million just one month after its release. This successful Disney franchise has more tween appeal than a standard chick flick.

– “Enchanted” (2007) opened with $34.4 million and went on to earn more than $127 million. Disney mixed music, princesses and Dr. McDreamy for big box-office success.

– “Titanic” (1997) opened to $28.6 million in ticket sales and $600.8 million to date, making it the highest-grossing film of all time. Women got steamy romance, men got spectacular disaster action. Both saw it several times and probably bought it on DVD.

– “Mamma Mia!” (2008) opened with $27.6 million and has topped $142 million. Based on the popular musical inspired by Abba’s hits, it had a built-in audience with fans of both live theater and the Swedish supergroup.

– “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006) collected $27.5 million its opening weekend and more than $124 million to date. Great performances and Oscar nominations (for costume design and star Meryl Streep) likely boosted this film, which also appealed to men with its sendup of the fashion and publishing industries.

– “The Princess Diaries” (2001) earned $22.8 million its opening weekend and eventually grossed over $108 million. Disney plus princesses equals success (see “Enchanted”).

MOVIE REVIEW: “Four Christmases”

The size difference between Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon isn’t the only thing keeping them apart in “Four Christmases.” His signature rat-a-tat overconfidence and her pleasing girl-next-door perkiness turns out to be an awkward mix. Individually likable, Vaughn and Witherspoon never really seem to mesh as a couple. That’s a problem, since we’re meant to root for them to stick together. It doesn’t help that they’re saddled with hackneyed holiday gags: wacky relatives making inappropriate remarks, decorations that cause severe bodily harm, obnoxious kids, uncomfortable gift exchanges. And “Four Christmases” began with some promise, too. Vaughn’s Brad and Witherspoon’s Kate are a happily unmarried couple sharing a coolly industrial-chic house in San Francisco. They like to keep things lively by role-playing at bars, as they do in the film’s amusingly naughty opening, and they lie to their families about doing charity work each year to avoid seeing them during the holidays. So far, so good. Then, when they’re caught live on the news getting stuck at the airport on the way to Fiji, they get roped into seeing both sets of parents, who are divorced, hence Brad and Kate’s own apprehension about walking down the aisle. And so they must celebrate – let’s all say it together – four Christmases. The visiting begins in painfully broad fashion with Brad’s family, all white-trash stereotypes led by Robert Duvall. (Vaughn’s longtime friend and collaborator, a freakishly muscular Jon Favreau, and Tim McGraw play his ultimate-fighter brothers.) The noisy joylessness of this segment sets the tone for the whole movie, and it makes you wonder how it’s possible that it took four screenwriters to come up with this stuff. Next, they’re off to see Kate’s mom (Mary Steenburgen), who’s found the Lord now that she’s involved with a rock-star preacher (Dwight Yoakam, underused). Kristin Chenoweth plays her smugly married-with-children older sister in a perfect bit of casting it’s amazing she and Witherspoon never shared the screen before. It’s also amazing that, after dating for three years, neither Kate nor Brad has met the other’s family until now. The third stop is at Brad’s mom’s house, and speaking of a complete waste of talent, Sissy Spacek gets to do little but beam benignly as a rich Marin County hippie. Finally, they end up at the upscale home of Kate’s father (Jon Voight), but by then the couple’s relationship is hanging by a thread. After attempting to offend us in every imaginable way, “Four Christmases” has the chutzpah to try tugging at our hearts, with a half-baked conflict about Kate’s sudden desire to get married and start a family – as if any of their hideous visits would inspire such an instinct. Vaughn makes the movie tolerable here and there, but this kind of slapsticky physical comedy doesn’t suit Witherspoon at all. Director Seth Gordon, making his feature debut following the critically acclaimed documentary “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” fails to make optimal use of the qualities that make this bright actress shine. It isn’t funny when a baby spits up on her the first time then again, it would be a lame joke regardless of who was covered in yack. “Four Christmases,” a New Line Cinema release, is rated PG-13 for some sexual humor and language. Running time: 88 minutes. One and a half stars out of four. (Daily Record)

When this 12-year-old talks, millions of preschoolers around the world listen. All Caitlin Sanchez needs to say is “Swiper, no swiping!” Or to summon the powers of her magical backpack.

Sanchez is the new voice of “Dora the Explorer,” one of the world’s most popular cartoons for preschoolers. She has always enjoyed music and acting, but never expected to be talking to Boots the Monkey, Swiper the Fox, The Map and other characters who appear regularly on Dora’s cartoon adventures. “When my mother called me on the phone and told me I got (the part), I really didn’t believe it at first,” Sanchez said. It’s the first cast change in Dora’s voice since the Nickelodeon cable show debuted in 2000 (the original voice of Dora, Kathleen Herles, is now 17 and in college). The show is broadcast worldwide and translated in 24 languages, entertaining millions of preschoolers. On the show, the 7-year-old Latina heroine and her band of animal friends take their audience along on their quests in an imaginative, tropical world filled with jungles, beaches and rain forests. During their travels, they ask their audience to help them solve the various problems they encounter. Sanchez, who has been acting professionally for nearly five years, does the English- and Spanish-speaking parts for Dora on the new season of shows being broadcast in the United States. She has long been a fan of “Dora,” and feels honored to be a part of the show. “Dora really is an international icon to preschoolers and a really good role model, so it’s neat to see how she has spread across the globe and become so popular,” said Sanchez. “One of my friends went to Ireland, and she brought back a Dora book in Gaelic … I love being part of this (show).” Getting the role wasn’t an easy task for Sanchez, a Fairview resident who is the oldest of three children in what she describes as “a very musical” family. “I was kind of nervous about trying out and everything, but I believe you should be confident in everything you do and if you follow your dreams and be positive, you can do anything you want to do,” she said. “I was real excited to get it, and it has been a lot of fun. This show really helps kids learn.” She soon learned that doing voiceover work isn’t a simple task. “With each script, you’re saying the lines and doing the songs a lot of times – they want me to use different inflections, to do things in different ways so they can decide what they like best,” she said. In this season’s shows, Dora meets friends from different cultural backgrounds (French, Mayan, Guatemalan, German and more) who teach her special skills. Dora also uses more math to help solve problems, and she also will teach multiword phrases in Spanish. Sanchez, a self-taught musician who loves to play jazz piano, sees her work on “Dora” as another step toward reaching her dreams. For now, that includes attending a prestigious school such as The Juilliard School, though she realized she might change her mind. “I know I can be anything I want, and my parents have always encouraged me to be the best I can be and to enjoy myself, so that’s what I try to do,” she said. (Daily Record)

First lady Laura Bush says she has loved living in the White House. Now, as she and President George W. Bush prepare to leave after eight years, she is hosting a History channel special, “The White House: Behind Closed Doors.” Premiering Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST, this 90-minute documentary is a combination inside look, history lesson and parting gift from a grateful resident. “I’m very proud of how beautiful the White House is,” Mrs. Bush said during a phone call Tuesday from the upstairs living quarters. She said she’s proud, too, of the White House staff – “all the people who work here, who’ve worked here for many presidents. This was a way for me to pay tribute to them as well to thank them, here at the end of our time.” Masterminded by George Washington (the only president who never got to live there), the White House was first occupied by John Adams in 1800, and since then has been the official residence of 40-and-counting chief executives. It’s a bustling place of business, and a unique museum. It’s also an inspiring symbol of national endurance. As with the United States itself, the White House has faced many challenges – as early as 1814, when British troops set it ablaze. It was reduced to a charred shell. But within a few years, the White House was rebuilt. “I think it’s encouraging to get to live here,” Mrs. Bush said. The program takes viewers into the Oval Office, the East Room and the State Dining Room, as preparations are abuzz for an official state visit. Cameras venture into the kitchen and the tiny pastry shop to catch behind-the-scenes action. In the Green Room, Mrs. Bush offers a delightful fact about the third president, Thomas Jefferson. It was in the Green Room that he enjoyed eating his dinner – with a color-appropriate green canvas cloth to catch any spills. Mrs. Bush displays a wealth of knowledge about White House history and lore. “I’ve studied it a lot,” she said, “and, of course, I picked up a lot of information along the way.” Her initiative in restoration efforts gave her a crash course, too. “As we worked on each of the different rooms, like the Lincoln Bedroom, for instance, I really learned a lot about that room.” Mrs. Bush shares with her audience the seldom-photographed Lincoln Bedroom, as well as the Treaty Room, used by President Bush as his private office, which was refurnished with pieces from the era of Ulysses Grant. At first, Mrs. Bush voiced misgivings to her husband, telling him, “I’m not so wild about Victorian furniture,” but he was sold on it. “He said, ‘Oh, no, I want to have Grant’s furniture in my office!'” Mrs. Bush said she first visited the White House upon the 1989 inauguration of her father-in-law, George H.W. Bush. She said she initially was struck not only by its beauty, but by an unexpected coziness. “It’s grand, but it’s not huge,” she said. “It’s much more human scale than many other homes of leaders, and I like that because I think that fits with our country.” In less than two months, the White House will be home to President-elect Barack Obama and his family, at which point the Bushes will move to Dallas. She expects to carry with her a range of emotions. “There’s happy anticipation of another house and another life – ‘afterlife,’ as I’m calling it,” she said. “On the other hand, it’s bittersweet. I don’t think you ever get over your awe of the White House.” (Daily Record)

The CW network says it’s replacing its Sunday night lineup with movies and reruns of series including “Jericho” and “Everybody Hates Chris.” The network Monday announced the cancellation of “In Harm’s Way,” 𔄜 Real,” “Valentine” and “Easy Money,” a programming block created by independent studio Media Rights Capital. CW had made a deal with the company this season to schedule Sunday nights, but the new shows were drawing dismal ratings. The revamped lineup, which begins Sunday, also will include repeats of “The Game” and “The Drew Carey Show” and films from the MGM library including “The Cutting Edge,” “Revenge of the Pink Panther,” “Spaceballs” and “Carrie.” (Daily Record)

MTV is throwing an inaugural ball for President-elect Barack Obama. The network announced Tuesday that it will host the “Be the Change Inaugural Ball” at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington on Jan. 20. The event will be televised live across MTV’s many channels and platforms, including MTV and The Viacom Inc.-owned network said the event will feature leading artists, celebrities and government officials. To celebrate the large youth voter turnout in the election, hundreds of young people will be chosen to attend based on their demonstrated volunteerism. MTV’s announcement comes as a host of organizations are planning inaugural balls in Washington, where more than a million people are expected to be drawn to the nation’s capital for the occasion. (Daily Record)

Already engaged in deep soul searching following a dismal fall TV season and flatlining ad market, broadcast networks are facing another blow: a potential SAG strike early next year. SAG’s decision during the weekend to seek a strike authorization from its membership following the breakdown of its negotiations with AMPTP has shifted the once-remote possibility of a SAG walkout much closer to reality. While its effect would not be as far reaching as this year’s strike by the WGA — a SAG walkout would only affect scripted primetime fare — it would derail the broadcast season for a second straight year, this time in the midst of a severe economic crisis. “Everyone is praying that it won’t happen, but the reality starts to sink in that there may be a strike,” one TV studio exec said. On Monday, TV executives who normally would be embarking on a Thanksgiving vacation were working on contingencies. For now, there are no plans to cancel or shorten the primetime series’ holiday hiatuses, scheduled for the last two weeks of December, in order to get more episodes in the can. The bulk of primetime scripted series will have 60%-75% of their episodes completed before they stop for a holiday break and as many as five unaired episodes in various stages of postproduction. Things look better for such returning midseason series as WGA strike casualty 󈬈” and comedies “Rules of Engagement” and “According to Jim,” which will have completed their orders by the end of the year. “Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf, in New York to receive the Founders Award at the International Emmys, said it’s “unbelievable” that SAG could be moving toward a strike. “It’s so out of touch with reality,” he said. “Strikes very rarely accomplish what they set out to do, and it is a different situation than the 󈧬s and 󈧶s, when certain things had to be achieved.” Unlike the WGA strike, which crippled every primetime scripted series as well as daytime dramas and late-night talk shows, a SAG strike would only impact primetime series. Soaps and variety shows are under AFTRA’s jurisdiction. Still, the late-night guest bookings would be thinner since SAG members likely would not participate. A SAG strike also could further cable’s momentum. The cablers gained ratings ground this year because their series are produced in smaller batches throughout the year and thus were far less affected than those of the broadcast networks. The discrepancy in terms of impact would be even greater this time, as the vast majority of scripted cable series are AFTRA affiliated and won’t be affected at all. About eight broadcast series are under AFTRA, with five of them freshman shows: �,” “Gary Unmarried” and the upcoming “Better Off Ted,” “The Unusuals” and “Harper’s Island.” While the transition from film to digital has been slowly increasing AFTRA’s piece of the primetime pie, the shift has been more profound this year, which some observers attribute in part to the threat of a SAG strike. (Hollywood Reporter)

Former ABC News “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel and Discovery Communications are parting ways. Discovery said Tuesday that Koppel, who joined Discovery Channel in January 2006 as managing editor, agreed to terminate his documentary group’s three-year contract ahead of schedule “under terms that both sides found acceptable.” The original agreement for Koppel, his executive producer Tom Bettag and the eight other members of the staff that had left “Nightline” to go to Discovery would have ended in May 2009. Koppel’s departure from Discovery had been long rumored, as the deal was left over from former president Billy Campbell’s tenure at the channel. Koppel told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year that it was unlikely that he would continue at Discovery, and in a statement Tuesday, he repeated that. “It has long been clear that neither of us is interested in an extension of the current contract,” Koppel said. Discovery, which under CEO David Zaslav and Discovery Networks chief John Ford, has been taking a new direction. The critically acclaimed documentaries that Koppel and his team made were not in line with that direction. “They’ve been awfully good to us, and we’ve been able to do exactly what we wanted to do and have been very happy doing it,” Koppel told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this summer. “But are we of the same mold as ‘Mythbusters’ and ‘Dirty Jobs’? Not really. It’s a bit of a strange fit. And I’m not sure if it’s going to go beyond this contract.” During their time at Discovery, Koppel and his team have done 15 hours of programming including a four-hour series on China and also documentaries on prisons, Iran and a town-hall meeting about living with cancer that featured his former executive producer, Leroy Sievers, who later passed away. As for his plans, Koppel does commentaries for National Public Radio and also works for BBC World News from Washington. He’s been rumored to be a long-shot candidate for the position of moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” although he told The Hollywood Reporter that he wasn’t the right person for the job. (Hollywood Reporter)

CBS might be adding a companion guy rule book to Barney Stinson’s Bro Code. The network is developing “Things a Man Should Never Do Past 30,” a single-camera comedy from executive producer/director Barry Sonnenfeld, the Tannenbaum Co. and Sony Pictures TV. The project is inspired by Esquire contributing editor David Katz’s humorous book penned as a list of 500 rules of what a man shouldn’t do once he turns 30. A few examples: “See any movie with elves, mutants, Wookiees or other nonhuman characters on opening night” “Figure out which dirty words are spelled by phone number” “High five in a business situation” “Have any furniture that involves cinder blocks” and “Google ex-girlfriends.” The CBS project mostly is based on the personal experiences of Katz and Esquire editor at large A.J. Jacobs. “The show is about a guy working at men’s magazine who is reluctant to embrace adulthood and his friend who is an immersion journalist,” said Katz, who is penning “Things” with Jacobs, an immersion journalist. Although set at a men’s magazine, “Things” will not be a workplace comedy, Katz said. In their first TV writing effort, Katz and Jacobs are being supervised by veteran comedy writer-producer Al Higgins (“Malcolm in the Middle”), who also is set to serve as showrunner if the project is picked up. In addition to executive producing, Sonnenfeld — hot off his Emmy win for helming the pilot of ABC’s “Pushing Daisies” — is on board to direct the potential pilot. “I thought it was a great idea for a show about modern-day men and women dating and trying to grow up and commit while at the same time surrounded by many reasons why not to grow up,” Sonnenfeld said. Katz and Jacobs are repped by ICM. Sonnenfeld is repped by WMA. Higgins is with CAA. (Hollywood Reporter)

While speaking on a panel at a screenwriting expo earlier this month, Heroes creator Tim Kring called those show fans who don’t use DVRs “saps and dipshits. His comment, unsurprisingly, was broadcast far and wide almost immediately after the words tumbled out of his mouth. Kring now wants everyone to know he was a bone head and is sorry : I need to strongly apologize for the slightly mangled quote of mine that is making it’s way around the internet. It was made while trying to explain the rise in DVR and online audience for the show. I was making the point that these platforms now offer a superior way to watch the show (without commercials, with extra content, commentary, at the audience’s convenience, etc.) And went on to say how it’s getting to the point where “watching the show on the air is relegated to the poor saps and dip****s who can’t figure out how to program their DVR’s”. (Or something close to that) It was a boneheaded attempt at being “cute” and making a point. Instead, it turned out to be just plain insulting and stupid. I know now how it sounded, but I truly never meant to suggest anything negative about our audience. No one cares more about the fans than we do at Heroes, and no one appreciates them more than me. We are grateful for whatever way people are finding our show. Now more than ever. I want to take this opportunity to say that I’m very sorry for this careless, lame remark. The best way to make it up to you is to live up to my promise that the upcoming episodes of the show are fantastic. I think you’ll agree we’re really on a roll and we couldn’t be more excited about the last four episodes of “Villains” and the upcoming volume, “Fugitives”, which we feel will be a huge hit with the audience. Thank you for hearing me out. Humbly Tim Kring Do any of you even bother to watch Heroes anymore? We hear it has been sucking big time. (Perez Hilton)

Split down the middle

This isn’t the first time a Netflix product has seen its final season split down the middle.

Following in the footsteps of shows like The Walking Dead before it, Lucifer season 5 is being released in two parts – with the final episodes arriving later this month. Ozark season 4 will similarly be broken into two lots of episodes.

Given Pina’s comments regarding the change in tone between volumes 1 and 2 of Money Heist season 5, it’s safe to assume that this new format might present the illusion of two totally separate seasons.

We can, at least, expect volume 1 to focus on the show’s trademark run-and-gun action, before making way for a more thoughtful final few episodes in volume 2. The small matter of which characters make it that far is an altogether larger question.

Still, with a December release date set for the series’ true finale, you can bank on another six months of Money Heist-induced hysteria. That is, until the Korean remake comes along to continue its spirit.


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Peter's Chernin's memo to staff announcing he will leave News Corp.

Peter Chernin, president and chief operating officer of News Corp., just sent out a companywide memo confirming he is leaving the company when his contract expires in June:

I wanted to let you know that I have decided to leave News Corporation when my contract expires on June 30th.

This is not a decision that came easily, but after more than 12 years in my current job, 20 years at Newscorp, and 30 years of corporate life, I am ready for new entrepreneurial challenges. I would not be making this difficult decision if I were not confident in the superb management team we have at Fox and in the visionary leadership of Rupert Murdoch. I have worked closely with Rupert every day, and I know he shares my belief that Fox executives are the best in the business.

I want to thank Rupert for his remarkable support, encouragement and friendship over the years. No company in our industry can match News Corporation's track record of creating opportunities for employees and there is no better example of that than the opportunities Rupert has given me over the years.

I also want to thank all of you for the privilege of working side by side with such a talented and deeply principled group of colleagues. I am not only deeply proud of your achievements, but even prouder of the character and integrity of the company.

Over the next several months, Rupert and I will work closely to make sure this is a smooth transition for everyone. Thank you for the dedication and enthusiasm that you have always shown and I know will continue to show as the company moves forward to even greater heights.

Peter Chernin

In this Aug. 5, 2008 file photo, Peter Chernin, president & COO of News Corp., is seen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. News Corp. on Monday, Feb. 23, 2009 said Chernin will leave the company in June. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)

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