Entertainment News from May 1999

Oscar-nominated actor Greg Kinnear marries longtime girlfriend, model-writer Helen Labdon in Sussex, England.
Bryant Gumbel will be back in the morning anchor seat come fall. CBS announces the Today show 15-year alum will host This Morning. The Eye network has not yet announced his co-host. “Although I never planned on making a return to morning television, I think it's where I belong, and I know it's where I'm most comfortable,” Gumbel said in a statement.
Suddenly Susan co-star Judd Nelson announces that this will be his last season on the show. He plans to concentrate on a film career.
A Michigan civil jury orders Jenny Jones Show producers to pay $25 million to the bereaved family of Scott Amedure. In 1995, Jones producers invited Jonathan Schmitz to appear on the show, telling him he had a secret admirer. Once on the show, he learned the admirer was a man, Amedure. Schmitz shot and killed Amedure three days later. The jury said the show was negligent and partly responsible for Amedure's death.
Dana Plato, the fallen star of Diff'rent Strokes, commits suicide. She was 34. Doctors say she overdosed on the muscle relaxer carisoprodol and the painkiller hydrocodone/acetaminophen. The day before she died, Plato was a guest on The Howard Stern Show and said she had been drug-free for 10 years, though she did admit to using pain killers earlier this year following dental surgery. Since she left Diff'rent Strokes in 1984, Plato had been plagued by drug dependency and run-ins with the law. She had a 14-year-old son.
The grand dame of self-promotion and inadvertent self-deprecation, Monica Lewinsky, puts herself on center stage once again, hosting Saturday Night Live. There's no shortage of self-parody, with the former intern appearing in a few tawdry skits, including one with SNL's President Clinton impersonator Darrell Hammond.
Rip Torn sticks it to Dennis Hopper once again, winning another $475,000 in punitive damages in a defamation suit against Hopper. In 1994, Hopper said on The Tonight Show that Torn was cut out of the film Easy Rider because he pulled a knife on Hopper. Torn filed a defamation suit against Hopper, and in the trial last year won $300,000 in lost income and another $175,000 in emotional distress. Torn went on to seek punitive damages.
Shel Silverstein, a writer whose work extended to cartoons, plays, music, and children's poetry, dies of natural causes at his home. He was 66. Early in his career, he worked as a cartoonist for Playboy, but his passion lay in children's poetry. He will be best remembered for Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic. He also wrote the song “A Boy Named Sue,” which Johnny Cash recorded in 1969. He penned nine plays.
Responding to the violence that has plagued schools recently, Sharon Stone turns in her guns to the Los Angeles police department. “Our children are in danger,” she said in a statement. “[But] we have the opportunity to change the world into a safer, more loving, more thoughtful environment for our children. Because they are our future and they depend on us.”
It's finally here, the day that millions of movie fans will play hookie from work and school to see Episode I — The Phantom Menace. Director George Lucas is expected to net about $1 billion by the end of the year, from his box-office take and the scores of marketing tie-ins.
Lukewarm reviews can't stop the menace. Episode I — The Phantom Menace breaks the first of what will likely be a string of box office records as the film grosses $102.7 million in its debut five-day weekend. It tops The Lost World: Jurassic Park's $98.8 million take. The Lost World holds on to the single-weekend record of $72 million. The first of three Star Wars prequels takes in a relatively disappointing $68.8 million from Friday to Sunday.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's Rosetta takes the big kahuna at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Palm d'Or. Pedro Almodovar wins directing honors for All About My Mother. France's L'Humanite (Humanity) wins the Grand Jury Prize, as well as best acting nods for Emmanuel Schotte an Severine Caneele. For a full list of awards see 1999 Cannes winners.
In light of the Littleton, Colorado, tragedy, the WB pulls the season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the episode, the second of two parts, the mayor of Sunnydale would have turned into a huge, vengeful serpent at the high-school graduation ceremony, sending Buffy and Co. into action.
Johnny Depp and girlfriend Vanessa Paradis welcome a daughter, Lily-Rose Melody Depp. The pair have been dating since last summer.
Episode I — The Phantom Menace sets another record, breaking the $200 million mark in only 13 days. It took the previous record holder, Independence Day, three weeks to reach the milestone.