Entertainment News from February 2000
- Richard Gere and girlfriend Cary Lowell, former star of Law & Order, welcome their first child, a son, Homer James Jigme Gere, who weighed in at 8 pounds, 12 ounces. It's the first child for Gere, and the second for Lowell, who has a daughter from a previous relationship.
- Doug Henning, magician known for his updating of mind-boggling Harry Houdini illusions, such as “Metamorphosis,” in which he padlocked his handcuffed assistant in a chest, and in less than 10 seconds, he was inside the chest and the assistant was standing on top of it, dies of liver cancer at age 52. Known for his gaudy get-ups, Henning took his shtick to Broadway and appeared in dozens of television specials.
- Jim Varney, the rubber-faced comic actor best known for portrayals of the dolty hayseed Ernest in dozens of commercials and nine films, including Ernest Goes to Camp and Ernest Rides Again, dies of lung cancer at age 50. He also voiced the character of Slinky Dog in Toy Story and Toy Story 2.
- Gil Bellows, who plays Billy on Ally McBeal, confirms that he will not return to the show next season. He plans to focus on his film career.
- Charles Schulz, the cartoonist who created the “Peanuts” comic strip, dies in his sleep after a battle with colon cancer. In a career that spanned nearly 50 years, Schulz drew more than 18,250 "Peanuts" comic strips, which expressed a droll philosophy through the precocious children. The "Peanuts" debuted in 1950 and went on to be the most widely read comic strip in the world, with an audience of 355 million in 75 countries. It ran in 2,600 newspapers and was published in 21 languages, including Serbo-Croatian, Chinese, and Tlingit.
- Christian Slater and Ryan Haddon marry at a ceremony at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Haddon, a former television producer, and Slater had their first child, Christopher, in April 1999.
- Darva Conger, 34, and Rick Rockwell, 42, marry during the broadcast of the Fox ratings stunt, Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, in which 50 women competed for an on-air marriage to Rockwell, a wealthy bachelor worth a not-so-impressive $2 million. Conger, a registered nurse, was the (un)lucky woman, who not only got a ring (three carats), but also more than $100,000 in prizes, and, as she later learned, a husband whose former finacée filed a restraining order against him in 1991. The couple went on a chaperoned honeymoon cruise (they had separate cabins). Conger apparently had second thoughts, upon returning from the trip she announced plans to file for an annulment. The show was a ratings smash, with a 16 million viewers turning int, but Fox took a beating for the morally depraved premise.
- David Letterman returns to his Late Show five weeks after his quintuple bypass surgery. He gave a heartfelt thanks to the team of doctors and nurses who, he said, “saved my life.” He was joined onstage by Jerry Seinfeld who said, “What are you doing here? I thought you were dead.”
- Charlie Sheen signs on to replace Michael J. Fox in ABC's hit Spin City. He'll earn $2.75 million a season, which translates into $125,000 per episode. Fox announced in January that he's leaving the show after this season to focus on a cure for Parkinson's disease, which he has been battling since 1991.
- Insider director Michael Mann signs on to helm the Muhammad Ali biopic, Ali, which will star Will Smith.
- Kate Winslet and husband James Threapleton announce they are expecting their first child in late September.
- Nicolas Cage files for divorce from wife Patricia Arquette, citing the oft-used “irreconcilable differences.” The couple married in 1995, but have been separated since 1996. The separation has been one of Hollywood's best-kept secrets. The pair starred in 1999's critically drubbed Bringing Out the Dead.
- Kathie Lee Gifford announces she's calling it quits after the current season of Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee. She had been sharing hosting duties with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire's Regis Philbin duties for 11 years. She said she “has songs to sing, songs to write.”