Sunday, November 9, 2003

Ditsy singer deemed comedic

Los Angeles -- Jessica Simpson, the singer famous for dippy-blonde moments on her MTV reality show, has reached a deal with ABC to develop a comedy.

"Jessica has infectious energy and unmistakable star quality," ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne said Friday.

Simpson, 23, and her husband, Nick Lachey, also agreed to a second season of their reality show, "Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica."

The series made Simpson infamous for unintentional humor, including the time she confused the tuna she was eating for chicken. "Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish?" she asked Lachey, 30, in the show's first episode. "I know it's tuna, but it says 'Chicken by the Sea."'

Carrey not so almighty in Cairo

Cairo, Egypt -- Egyptian authorities have banned the Jim Carrey film "Bruce Almighty," saying the comedy infringes on God's sacredness.

Madkour Thabit, who heads the state-run censorship body responsible for audio and visual productions, criticized the movie Friday for featuring "actors playing the role of God."

"The name of the movie -- 'Bruce Almighty' -- indicates that there is someone who can do anything and everything," Thabit said. "Such traits belong only to God."

In the film, Carrey plays a TV reporter who gets a shot at being God for a week.

In June, Egyptian censors banned "The Matrix Reloaded" on religious grounds.

Feel-good concert goes sour

Hong Kong -- The government has pledged to investigate the troubles behind a celebrity-studded concert series that will cost taxpayers millions of dollars as Hong Kong tries to bounce back from SARS.

The events headlined by the Rolling Stones have become a PR nightmare as details dribbled out, including revelations that $12.8 million in public funds was handled by a company owned by the head of the American Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber set up the Harbor Fest concerts but has denied any wrongdoing when the money to cover expenses was given to a holding company owned by its chairman, James Thompson, and his wife.

Promoters had hoped the concerts, also featuring Neil Young and Carlos Santana, would help Hong Kong restore its image, which was battered by the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak.

Harbor Fest, which opened Oct. 17, will end today.

Frears in line for lifetime award

Santa Fe, N.M. -- Stephen Frears' "Dirty Pretty Things" is among the films scheduled for the 2003 Santa Fe Film Festival, which will be Dec. 3-7.

Frears, actor Peter Boyle and writer Max Evans will receive lifetime achievement awards, festival director Jon Bowman said Thursday.

Actress Ali MacGraw will be host to the awards ceremony.

Among other movies scheduled to be shown: "The Hi-Lo Country"; "Cold Mountain," "House of Sand and Fog," "21 Grams," and "The Company."