Entertainment News from September 1998

Titanic, the multi-Oscar-winning, top-grossing film of all time, goes on sale on video.
The National Constitution Center, a nonprofit education group, releases a telephone survey of 600 teens (ages 13-17) that finds that more teens can name the Three Stooges than the three branches of government (59 percent to 41 percent), 95 percent of the respondents identify Will Smith as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but only 2 percent could come up with the chief justice of the Supreme Court (William Rehnquist). The NCC study was intended to show how little U.S. teens know about their government. Indeed, the survey was a success.
Actor and director Leo Penn dies of cancer at age 77. Penn, the father of actors Sean and Chris, directed more than 400 hours of prime-time television, including episodes of Ben Casey, Kojak and St. Elsewhere. He began his career as an actor, but was blacklisted in the 1950s for supporting members of Hollywood's trade unions.
Two-time Oscar winner Akira Kurosawa, the “emperor of Japanese film,” dies at age 88 of natural causes. Kurosawa's films won international renown and brought Japanese filmmaking worldwide attention. Many of his films, including Seven Samurai and Rashomon, have been remade for Western audiences. His work has influenced Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and many other important directors. His other films include Ran and Madadayo.
Forbes releases its annual list of the highest-paid entertainers, with Jerry Seinfeld on top, having earned $225 million over the past two years. Rounding out the top five are Larry David, $200 million; Steven Spielberg, $175 million; Oprah Winfrey, $125 million; and James Cameron, $115 million.
With any luck, this will be the last time we'll have to talk about Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut until the film opens. Warner Bros. finally announces a release date for the eternally in production psychological thriller, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Mark your calendars for July 16, 1999.
Madonna cleans up at MTV's 15th Annual Video Music Awards, winning Best Video of the Year and Best Female Video for her “Ray of Light.” Rapper-turned actor-turned rapper Will Smith takes home two moonman trophies, Best Male Video (“Just the Two of Us”) and Best Rap Video (“Gettin' Jiggy Wit It”). For a full listing of winners, see MTV Music Video Awards.
Titanic director James Cameron has decided to refocus his energy to the small screen. The self-proclaimed “King of the World” and his friend Charles “Chic” Eglee have reportedly formed a television production company. They plan to have shows ready for the 1999–2000 season. Cameron says he's “excited to turn my creative focus to a medium that emphasizes writing, not visual spectacle.”
The 50th Annual Emmy Awards offer a few refreshing surprises, with Homicide: Life on the Street's Andre Braugher taking the Best Actor in a Drama award, David E. Kelley's legal drama, The Practice, earning the Best Drama prize and the show's Camryn Manheim winning the Best Supporting Actress in a Drama nod. For the third consecutive year, Frasier wins for Best Comedy, and its star, Kelsey Grammer, won his fifth Best Actor in a Comedy. David Hyde Pierce also won for Best Supporting Actor. Helen Hunt once again wins the Best Actress in a Comedy, becoming the first woman to ever win an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year. For a full listing of the Emmy Awards, see Emmy Awards.
Scary Spice, aka Melanie Brown, takes the plunge and marries dancer Jimmy Gulzar in a top-secret ceremony in Little Marlow, England. The bride, four months pregnant, wore a white wedding gown with leopard-print trim.
Will the records ever end? More than 20 million video copies of Titanic are sold, making it the best-selling live-action video of all time. The Lion King will be the next vid to go down, with Titanic closing in on its record-setting 30 million copies sold, which would make it the best-selling video of all time.
Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera and Army Chief of Staff General Dennis Reimer present Saving Private Ryan director Steven Spielberg the Distinguished Civilian Service Award, the Army's highest civilian decoration, for “reminding Americans of the sacrifices that soldiers make to defend our country.”
The X-Files creator Chris Carter has reportedly signed a five-year production deal with Twentieth Century Fox worth an estimated $25 million-$30 million. Terms include continuing on as executive producer of The X-Files for two more years and of Millennium for at least one year. He'll also develop new series for Fox and have a first-look agreement with Fox's feature film division.
The David Hare play, The Blue Room, starring Nicole Kidman, opens in London to rave reviews. She plays five women, ranging from a 17-year-old drugged-out model to an au pair, who are involved in destructive relationships. Iain Glenn plays her counterpart. London's Daily Telegraph called the play “pure theatrical Viagra.”
Garth Brooks wins entertainer of the year honors at the 32nd Annual Country Music Association Awards, a record-setting fourth consecutive time. George Strait won the male vocalist of the year nod for the fifth time and Trisha Yearwood took home female vocalist of the year for the second time in a row. Tim McGraw earns the album of the year award for Everywhere. For a full listing of winners, see CMA Awards.
Woody Allen's Celebrity opens the 36th New York Film Festival. The star-studded comedy about the allure of fame in today's media-obsessed culture greets mixed reviews.
Oprah Winfrey cancels plans to interview Monica Lewinsky on her show. It would have been the first time the former intern spoke publicly about her doomed affair with the President. Winfrey had said from the beginning of talks that she would not pay for the interview, but Monica's people demanded rights to the tape, which would ultimately translate into a substantial payday for Lewinsky.
The intrusive paparazzi suffers a blow when California governor Pete Wilson signs a bill that makes photographers liable for invasion of privacy if they watch or eavesdrop on a person where they have “a reasonable expectation of privacy.” Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Sean Penn and several other celebrities pushed for passage of the bill after Princess Diana was killed in a car accident while trying to evade photographers.
The X-Files babe David Duchovny and his wife, actress Téa Leoni, confirm that they are expecting their first child in the spring.