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News 04/15/2007

In reality TV news: Houston married couple Uchenna, a 42-year-old land developer, and Joyce Agu, a 46-year-old saleswoman, were "Philiminated" Sunday on CBS's "The Amazing Race 11: All-Stars." Also on Sunday, Kinetic team members Heidi Androl, a 26-year-old sales manager from Santa Monica, CA, and Kristine Lefebvre, a 37-year-old licensing attorney from Studio City, CA, were fired from NBC's "The Apprentice 6: Los Angeles." On Tuesday, former "Entertainment Tonight," "Extra," and "Leeza" host Leeza Gibbons and her partner Tony Dovolani were the third couple eliminated from ABC's "Dancing with the Stars 4." Also on Tuesday, Anastacia Rose, a 23-year-old make-up artist/choreographer/dancer/lyricist from West Hollywood, CA, was eliminated on the CW's "Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll." On Wednesday, 24-year-old San Antonio, TX native Haley Scarnato's skimpy duds failed her at last on FOX's "American Idol 6" when the singer was issued her walking papers. After Simon Cowell suggested Tuesday that showing skin was her "tactic" to stay on the show, Scarnato dressed relatively demurely for her final appearance, choosing tight jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. Also on Wednesday, Whitney Cunningham, a 21-year-old college student from West Palm Beach, FL who was the lone "plus-sized" model remaining, was sent packing on the CW's "America's Next Top Model 8." Third on Wednesday, Matt Lorenz, a 32-year-old from Comfrey, MN, was crowned the winner of Bravo's "Top Design" during the finale of the reality competition series' first season. The head of interior design at Darcy R. Bonner and Associates bested Carisa Perez-Fuentes, a 26-year-old interior design student from Highland Park, NJ, to take the crown. Finally on Wednesday, Paul-Jean, the 29-year-old owner of Paul-Jean's Salon on Robertson Ave. in West Hollywood, CA, was the first one eliminated on the premiere episode of Bravo's "Shear Genius." On Thursday, Moto tribe member Michelle Yi, a 23-year-old student from Cincinnati, OH, became the ninth voted out and the third member of the jury Thursday on CBS's "Survivor: Fiji."

CBS Radio and MSNBC have suspended Don Imus' morning show for two weeks, effective Apr. 16, in response to the shock jock referring to Rutgers' women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos" last Wednesday. Imus apologized on the air Monday and appeared on the Reverend Al Sharpton's radio show later in the day. While CBS had no comment, MSNBC stated, "Our future relationship with Imus is contingent on his ability to live up to his word." Imus stated he is "embarrassed" about calling members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team "nappy-headed ho's" on his radio show last week. "I'm a good person, but I said a bad thing," Imus said Monday. Black leaders called for MSNBC to fire the radio host or for Imus to step down of his own accord. A network spokesperson called Imus' actions "deplorable" and said MSNBC is reviewing the matter. Staples Inc. and have Procter & Gamble pulled their advertising from Imus' radio show. Another advertiser, Bigelow Tea, posted a statement on its Website saying the comments put their "future sponsorship in jeopardy." Imus is slated to meet with the team next Tuesday to try and make amends; meanwhile, students are planning protests at two Rutgers campuses Wednesday. CBS permanently pulled the plug on "Imus in the Morning," effective immediately, the network said Thursday. CEO Les Moonves stated that the network was "deeply upset and revulsed" by Don Imus' racist comments, and ultimately decided that a two-week suspension was not sufficient punishment. "We are now presented with a significant opportunity to expand on our record on issues of diversity, race and gender. We intend to seize that opportunity as we move forward together," Moonves said. Imus' wife, Deirdre, stepped in to take over his radio fundraiser Friday after CBS axed the host for good on Thursday and saying her husband "feels awful" about the racist comments that led to the demise of his career. Deirdre Imus also discussed the fallen host's brief meeting with the Rutgers basketball team Thursday evening, calling the players "unbelievably courageous and beautiful women." Rutgers women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer stated Friday that the team has accepted Imus' apology after meeting with the fired radio host on Thursday. "We still find his statements to be unacceptable, and this is an experience that we will never forget," she said. A small Southern California radio station planned to air a "Best of Imus" marathon next week in defiance of the radio host's firing. Fred Lundgren, chairman of KCAA 1050 AM, stating the station would start the series Monday with the broadcast during which Don Imus made the remarks that resulted in his firing.

DNA tests revealed during a paternity hearing in the Bahamas Tuesday determined that Larry Birkhead is indeed the father of Anna Nicole Smith's seven-month-old daughter, Dannielynn, as he has contended all along. Birkhead's former attorney, Debra Opri, stated that she is "very excited and happy for both Larry and Dannielynn," and calling the infant "quite possibly the most adorable baby I have ever seen." Stern has hired high-powered attorney L. Lin Wood, of the law firm Powell Goldstein LLP, to go after anyone who dares suggest that he played any part in the deaths of Anna Nicole Smith or her son, Daniel. "Mr. Stern is an innocent individual who has never been charged with any crime but finds himself on trial in the media," Wood said in a statement Monday. "To those who believe that Mr. Stern is hesitant to bring suit…you are wrong." A hearing is scheduled for Friday in the Bahamas at which a judge is expected to discuss who should raise seven-month-old Dannielynn. Stern has already said he does not plan to battle Birkhead for custody of his daughter with Smith, but Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, has indicated she might. Birkhead told the "Today" show Wednesday that he has no intention of sharing custody of the child. Lawyers for Birkhead and Arthur met privately Thursday in an attempt to reach an agreement over visitation of Dannielynn ahead of a hearing scheduled for Friday afternoon. Arthur has indicated she will fight for joint custody if the talks fail, while Birkhead has said he has no intention of sharing the child. A nanny who worked for Smith caring for Dannielynn is claiming that Smith told her Larry Birkhead was the father and that she would never take the baby off the Bahamas for fear that he would get his hands on her. A second nanny claimed she always knew in her heart Birkhead was the father. Onetime Playboy model and "Dancing with the Stars" alum Willa Ford has signed on to play Smith in the upcoming biopic "Anna Nicole." The movie focuses on Smith's life from the age of 17 up until her fatal accidental overdose on Feb. 8. An auction of Smith's diaries is slated to go forward Saturday, despite Stern's claim that they were stolen. Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas is maintaining the journals were obtained legitimately and that the sale will go on, despite a letter from Stern's attorney demanding their return. The diaries, kept by Smith in the early '90s, chronicle among other topics her obsession with food and her love for her octogenarian husband, J. Howard Marshall II.

"E! News'" Samantha Harris and her husband, Michael, are expecting their first child together this fall. The impending arrival not expected to interfere with her "Dancing with the Stars" hosting duties, either this season or next.

"Laguna Beach" alum Jason Wahler was arrested for the fourth time in nine months over the weekend in Seattle, where he was charged with criminal trespassing and assault, tmz.com reports. Last month, the former reality star was sentenced to 60 days in prison stemming from a scuffle with a tow truck driver. He has been ordered to turn himself in before May 4 to begin serving his time.

"Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis was arrested Tuesday at the Panama City airport, reportedly while on his way to turn himself in on a contempt of court charge, when he was spotted by airport police who nabbed him before he reached the U.S. marshal's office. Francis indicted for tax evasion Wednesday and charged with deducting more than $20 million in false business expenses in 2002 and 2003. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Francis possibly managed to break the law while in jail, getting charged Thursday with trying to bribe a public official, possession of a controlled substance, and introducing contraband into a jail cell after he allegedly tried to slip a guard $500 in exchange for a bottle of water, resulting in a search of his cell, where guards discovered 16 tablets of the sleeping aid Lunesta and the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam. All of the counts are third-degree felonies and carry a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Christie Brinkley, Lil Jon, and David Boreanaz are among the celebrities blogging about their favorite hockey teams on NHL.com, giving fans their perspectives on the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Mario Lopez has joined the cast of the CW comedy pilot "Eight Days a Week," per the Hollywood Reporter. Christina Milian, Johnny Lewis, and Robert Ri'chard also slated to star.

"Scrubs" star John C. McGinley tied the knot with yoga instructor Nichole Kessler on Saturday at their home in Malibu with about 30 friends and family members looking on, his rep confirmed to "E! News."

Jennifer Lopez is executive-producing the five-hour musical drama miniseries "La Flor Palida" for Univision, slated to premiere in May, per Variety. Lopez will not be acting in the series, though music from her Spanish CD Como Ama una Mujer will be featured and she will appear at the end of each episode singing a song from the album. Lopez will also appearing on this week's "American Idol 6" as the celebrity coach for the Latin theme.

After Simon Cowell suggested to Haley Scarnato that her "American Idol" strategy seems to consist of wearing as little clothing as possible in an attempt to distract viewers from her questionable vocals, Jennifer Lopez came to the modesty-eschewing contestant's defense during a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest Wednesday. "That was brutal," said Lopez, who served as this week's celebrity mentor. "I don't think that's what she's doing."

Danny Bonaduce announced Tuesday that he and his wife, Gretchen, are divorcing after 16 years of marriage. The couple, whose contentious relationship was chronicled on the VH1 reality series "Breaking Bonduce," married in 1990. Bonaduce stated that he is still holding out hope for a reconciliation.

Martha Stewart spent Easter in Kazakhstan, where she traveled to watch her friend, software engineer Charles Simonyi, be blasted into space on Saturday. Simonyi paid between $20-$25 million for the 13-day trip to the International Space Station and shared a gourmet meal planned by Stewart with the current residents of the station on Thursday.

Documentary maker Ken Burns has drawn criticism from Latino activists who are demanding changes to his latest project, "The War," because it contains no conversations with Latino veterans of World War II. Burns spent the last six years making the 14-hour documentary, which is scheduled to debut on PBS in September. PBS promised Wednesday to amend the documentary to include the stories.

CBS News apologized and fired an unidentified producer after a Katie Couric video essay on libraries was discovered to have been plagiarized from the Wall Street Journal. The essay was yanked from the network's Website and an editor's note was posted stating the item should have credited Jeffrey Zaslow of the Journal.

"Boston Legal" star Julie Bowen and her husband, Scott Phillips, welcomed their first child together Tuesday, a baby boy named Oliver McLanahan Phillips, the actress' rep confirmed to "E! News."

With Tax Day just around the corner, celebrities including Larry Hagman, Martin Sheen, and Ed Begley Jr. are partnering with the Website refundsforgood.com to encourage taxpayers to take advantage of a little-known phone tax refund available this year and to donate the cash to help fight global warming.

Jermaine, Tito, and La Toya Jackson are partnering with CBS for a new "American Idol"-esque singing competition called "Pop Dynasty," with the goal of finding a new family singing group, per Variety. Michael and Janet Jackson are not expected to participate in the project.

Nine Mississippi youths whose town was devastated by Hurricane Katrina attended Tuesday's taping of "American Idol 6" as a reward for raising close to $1,000 to battle malaria in Africa.

Apparently feeling nostalgic for the '80s, CBS is reviving dated 'toons "Care Bears" and "Strawberry Shortcake" as part of its new fall children's slate, set to premiere in September.

Former "Prison Break" star Lane Garrison's arraignment on felony vehicular manslaughter and DUI charges stemming from the December car crash that killed a 17-year-old high school student has been postponed until May 21. The actor's attorney told a judge he anticipates resolving the charges by a plea that day, but declined to elaborate on what that plea might be.

America Ferrera and Hayden Panettiere are serving as celebrity spokespeople for Declare Yourself, a youth voting initiative determined to motivate every eligible 18-year-old in America to register and vote in the 2008 presidential election. The campaign is drawing on the resources of MySpace, Yahoo!, and other online partners to get the message out.

Mekhi Phifer is suing a Los Angeles construction company he hired in 2003 and '04 to increase the height of a wall on his property and remodel a carport, claiming the contractors did the work but didn't get the proper city building permits, resulting in modification orders from inspectors. The "E.R." star is asking for more than $161,000 to remedy the situation.

Showtime announced that "Californication," the new comedy series starring David Duchovny, will premiere in August.

All news gathered from E! Online and other sources

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