Entertainment News from December 2001
- President Bush lauds actors Julie Andrews and Jack Nicholson, composer-producer Quincy Jones, pianist Van Cliburn, and tenor Luciano Pavarotti at the Kennedy Center Honors, an annual celebration honoring the lifetime achievement of notable performing artists.
- Cameron Diaz is poised to take home a $20 million payday for the sequel to Charlie's Angels. She'll be the second woman, behind Julia Roberts, to reach the milestone, assuming she signs on the dotted line with Columbia Pictures.
- ER's Michael Michele announces that she's leaving the top-rated drama. She's another in a long line of TV doctors to bolt from the show. She cited the cross-country commute as the reason. She lives in New York and the show is shot in Los Angeles. Michele played a pediatrician on the show for three seasons.
- With fantasy films based on classic fantasy books dominating the box office, what better time to announce the development of yet another franchise? Warner Bros. reveals that it's in negotiations to produce a series of films based on The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis
- NBC announces that Tim Russert has signed a long-term contract to host Meet the Press, the longest-running show in television history. He'll remain with the show through 2012 and assume the title of managing editor.
- Winona Ryder is arrested on charges of shoplifting and possession of a controlled substance. Saks Fifth Avenue security personnel say they saw the actress remove security tags from merchandise worth about $5,000 and then put the items in another bag. She was also allegedly in possession of prescription painkillers without a prescription. Ryder's lawyer and publicist said the incident was a misunderstanding and an exaggeration.
- Ashley Judd and Scottish race car driver Dario Franchitti marry at Skibo Castle, the site where Madonna and British filmmaker Guy Ritchie also said “I do.”
- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces the 2001 inductees. This year's honorees are Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Ramones, Talking Heads, Isaac Hayes, Gene Pitney, Brenda Lee, Jim Stewart, and Chet Atkins.
- Kate Winslet and British film director Jim Threapleton divorce after three years of marriage.
- Real World cast members are joining forces and suing the show's producers for more compensation and better contracts. Housemates are paid $5,000 for participating in the show and sign contracts giving MTV extensive control over their lives in perpetuity. The suit seeks the same rights for reality-show performers as actors enjoy and questions the fairness of the contracts.
- Tom Green files for divorce from Drew Barrymore, citing Hollywood's favorite cause, “irreconcilable differences.” The couple, known for its pranks on the media, vow it's not a joke. They've been married for less than a year.
- The Lord of the Rings premieres to critical and commercial praise.
- Katie Couric renews her contract with NBC and will earn about $13 million a year to host the Today show. No details about the deal were available.
- Nigel Hawthorne, British film, television, and stage actor who earned an international following for his portrayal of the domineering Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes, Minister, a 1980s British television series, dies at age 72. He won a Tony Award for his performance in Shadowlands (1991) and an Olivier Award for his title role in The Madness of King George. He reprised his role in the 1994 film adaptation and landed an Oscar nomination for the effort. He also appeared in David Mamet's The Winslow Boy.