- The New York Post reports that Microsoft is mulling over buying CBS. The software giant denies the rumor, saying such a purchase would jeopardize the company's alliance with NBC. Microsoft and NBC co-own the cable
channel MSNBC. However, ownership of a television network would give Microsoft some say in the standards for high-definition digital television.
- Hollywood loses one of its beloved icons. Jimmy Stewart dies at age 89.
- Men in Black opens to an $84 million five-day holiday weekend. The Friday–Sunday take was $51 million, the highest-grossing non-sequel of all time.
- Broadcast networks and cable channels, except NBC, agree to add more specific codes to the fledgling television-ratings system. In exchange, members of Congress and family advocacy groups agree not to pursue legislation to control the content of television
shows. The new codes are: V (violence), S (sexual content), L (vulgar language), D (suggestive dialogue) and FV (fantasy violence).
- Apple Computer announces chairman and chief executive Gilbert F. Amelio has resigned from the troubled company. Steve Jobs, a founder of Apple who was himself ousted in 1985 but returned to the scene in 1996 when Apple bought his NeXt Software,
is expected to take on more responsibility, but not the chief executive position.
- The trial of 22-year-old Autumn Jackson, the woman accused of trying to extort $40 million from Bill Cosby, begins. Jackson threatened to tell the tabloids that she is Cosby's daughter unless he forked over the cash. Cosby has admitted to having an affair
with Jackson's mother but said he does not believe he's the woman's father.
- The U.S. House of Representatives rejects a plan to replace the National Endowment for the Arts with $80 million in block grants to states and schools, keeping in place an earlier vote to slash the NEA's budget from $99 million to just $10 million —
the amount needed to shut down the agency. NEA advocates hope the Senate and President Clinton will save the arts-funding group.
- NASA announces that approximately 45 million people logged on to its site or mirror sites between July 4 and 11 to watch the Mars Pathfinder land on the red planet.
- Only those lucky enough to subscribe to Playgirl will get to see Brad Pitt nude. A judge orders the magazine to stop distributing newsstand copies of the August issue, which included pictures taken in 1995 while
Pitt was vacationing in the West Indies with his former girlfriend, Gwyneth Paltrow. However, the judge did not recall the entire run of the issue as Pitt had requested.
- President Clinton is reportedly in a tizzy over the footage of the pres that Robert Zemeckis used without authorization in the film Contact. In a letter to Zemeckis, presidential counsel Charles F.C. Ruff wrote, “ You have manipulated images of the President's public statements, taken them out of the context in which they were uttered and adapted them to fit the plot of your film.”
- Fashion designer Gianni Versace is gunned down outside his Miami, Florida, home. The 50-year-old Italian designer was shot at point-blank range as he was returning to his palatial estate after a morning walk. Miami police and the FBI suspect that 27-year-old
Andrew Cunanan, one of the FBI's 10 most-wanted criminals, may be responsible.
- David Letterman has a billboard boasting his No. 3 late-night rating placed in New York City's Times Square opposite a similar banner that vaunts Jay Leno's No. 1 rating.
- President Clinton meets with other lawmakers, software manufacturers and parents to discuss technology-based solutions to keep kids away from cybersmut. Options include filtering dirty material and rating Web sites. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck
down a federal law that bans the dissemination of indecent material over the Internet to anyone under age 18.
- Sting inks a deal worth $35 million with EMI Music Publishing. The deal includes recordings Sting made with the Police, solo recordings and his future works. He will also see 75 percent of the profits for the next 10 years or through five albums.
- Director Bruce Paltrow redlights Duets, his karoke comedy that was supposed to star Paltrow's daughter, Gwyneth, and her ex-fiancé, Brad Pitt.
- CNN President Tom Johnson said he probably wasn't using the best judgment when he gave permission to 13 reporters to play themselves in Contact. “I think . . . that we will put in a policy that
our journalists will not appear in the movies, period,” he said. Bernard Shaw, Bobbie Battista and Linda Soles are among the reporters that appear in the film.
- Don't expect them to whoop it up at a Braves game, but one battle between Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner comes to a close. Time Warner agrees to carry Murdoch's Fox News Channel on its cable system. Last year, Time Warner refused to carry Murdoch's fledgling
24-hour news channel, touching off a bitter skirmish between the two media moguls. New York City's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani intervened on Murdoch's behalf.
- Jamiroquai and Beck land nine and seven MTV Video Award nominations, respectively. Jamiroquai's “Virtual Insanity” gets nods for Best Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video. Beck's “The New
Pollution” takes in five noms, including Best Video of the Year and Best Alternative Video.
- John Travolta and Sony Pictures Entertainment reach an out-of-court settlement in a dispute that stems from Travolta's June 1996 bolting from the set of Double Trouble. Apparently, Travolta and director Roman
Polanski had those dreaded “creative differences” and Sony sued the actor for breach of contract. Though terms of the deal were not released, insiders say Travolta has agreed to star in another film for Sony.
- Beleaguered president of ABC Entertainment Jamie Tarses puts rumors to rest that she's pursuing a way out of her contract with the network, saying she's “deeply committed” to ABC and that she's pleased to work with her new boss, Stuart
Bloomberg. The rumor mill had been churning full speed since a lengthy, unflattering profile of Tarses ran in the July 13 New York Times Magazine.
- America Online announces plans to sell customers' phone numbers to telemarketers and other direct-sales outfits. AOL abandons this idea one day later after a slew of complaints from customers, politicians and privacy-rights advocates.
- Andrew Cunanan, suspected of killing Gianni Versace and four other men, kills himself on a Miami houseboat.
- The 49th Annual Prime-Time Emmy Award nominations are announced, though not without controversy. A computer glitch led to the announcement that Friends was nominated for best comedy when 3rd Rock From the Sun should have been cited. ER fares best with 22 nominations, and HBO takes home a stunning 90 nods, the most of any network and the first time a cable station has dominated
over the networks.
- Tom Brokaw decides to stay with NBC rather than move to CNN, which had wooed him with more than $7 million a year. As anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News, the 57-year-old anchor will pocket roughly
$7 million each year through 2002.
- Autumn Jackson is found guilty on three counts of extortion. Jackson, who claims Bill Cosby is her father, threatened to go to the tabloids with the information unless Cosby paid her $40 million.
- U2's PopMart tour is shaping up to be an embarrassing chapter in the band's history. Ireland's High Court blocks two concerts scheduled for August 30 and 31 in Dublin, the rockers' hometown, ruling that the shows are illegal under planning laws.
- Bill Cosby has a blood test to prove he's not the father of Autumn Jackson, the woman who was convicted of trying to extort $40 million from the entertainer. Jackson has said she may take a blood test, but only after her October sentencing. Both parties
need to have the test in order to determine paternity.
- After only 10 months of marriage, Lauren Holly Carrey files for divorce from funny man Jim Carrey, citing the oft-used “irreconcilable differences.” She will drop the Carrey from her name and plans to seek spousal support from Carrey,
who earns about $20 million for each of his films.
- MTV announces that the mentally challenged dynamic duo Beavis and Butt-head will leave the small screen for greener pastures after this season. B&B creator Mike Judge is negotiating with Paramount Pictures
for a sequel to Beavis and Butt-head Do America. Fans need not worry, there are a couple hundred episodes ready to be re-run.