Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Something to Crowe about

Sydney, Australia -- Oscar-winning "Gladiator" star Russell Crowe will celebrate his 39th birthday by tying the knot.

Crowe's publicist Wendy Day said Sunday that the Australian actor would wed Danielle Spencer in the family chapel on his property, in New South Wales state.

"It's definitely April 7 on his property at Nana Glen," Day said. "It's not a Hollywood, star-studded affair ... it's a family and friends affair for about 80 guests."

'Sopranos' talks are on

New York -- "The Sopranos" will continue to sing.

James Gandolfini, the star of HBO's "The Sopranos" who had sued the cable network to get out of his contract in a bitter dispute over his salary, has agreed to drop his lawsuit and go back to work, sources said.

HBO, in turn, will drop its countersuit against the actor, who is expected to return under the terms of his original contract, insiders said.

The settlement clears the way for production of the popular drama's fifth season to resume about a week later than Monday's previously scheduled start date. That date was postponed indefinitely last week as the legal battle escalated.

Attorneys for Gandolfini and HBO declined to comment on the agreement. But sources said Gandolfini filed court papers Monday requesting that his lawsuit, which was filed March 7, be dismissed.

Still pending is whether the settlement will lead to future contract talks with Gandolfini and a possible raise.

Anniversary party delayed

New York -- The diva couple extraordinaire, Liza Minnelli and David Gest, have canceled their wedding anniversary party because of the impending war. But folks in the know say it's really because Liza's in rehab.

The first anniversary celebration was scheduled for April 15 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York. But the couple refrained from sending invitations because of the current situation in Iraq.

"We want to have our party when the world is at peace," said Minnelli.

The New York Post suggests a different story: It reports that the 57-year-old waning diva has returned to the Caron Foundation, where she spent time rehabbing in December 2001.

Entitled to their opinions

Los Angeles -- Martin Sheen defended the rights of Hollywood's anti-war activists to express their views about the impending war in Iraq in an article he wrote for Monday's Los Angeles Times.

The 62-year-old actor and longtime political activist, who plays liberal president Josiah Bartlet on NBC's "The West Wing, criticized those who denigrate his and other Hollywood activists' views "solely due to our celebrity status." He said celebrity activists do carry added responsibility because their statements are likely to receive news coverage. Sheen's anti-war statements have reportedly caused angst for NBC execs who worry that his views might hurt the show's ratings. NBC has denied all such rumors.