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By United Press International   |   April 17, 2012 at 4:05 AM

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The latest news on today's hottest celebrities ...

MAGGIE SMITH: Maggie Smith is not leaving "Downton Abbey," contrary to reports claiming she is, representatives for the popular British costume drama said Monday.

The Emmy Award-winning series is set in the early 20th century and follows the lives of a wealthy British family and the loyal employees who serve them in their country mansion. Smith plays the family's formidable matriarch.

The show is now shooting its third season. It airs on ITV in the United Kingdom and on PBS in the United States.

A widely cited newspaper report said Smith had asked the show's creator, Julian Fellowes, to write her character out after Season 3 ends because she is eager to focus on theater and film projects.

However, a representative for Carnival Film and Television Limited, co-producers of the series, told the Vancouver Sun Monday: "Series 3 is currently filming with Maggie along with the other cast. We do not comment on future story lines, however there is no truth in the story that Maggie is leaving the show."

Smith, 77, won an Oscar for her work in the 1969 film "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie." She starred in the 2002 Best Picture Oscar winner "Gosford Park," which Fellowes also wrote, and appeared in all of the Harry Potter blockbusters.


MARILYN MANSON: American rocker Marilyn Manson denies a woman's claim they were engaged after five weeks of dating and doesn't even know her, his representative said.

Seraphim Ward's manager, Jonathan Shelton, told E! News Monday the 27-year-old actress-filmmaker was to wed Manson, although no wedding date had been set.

"Seraphim has recently made a life commitment to her partner and couldn't be happier!" Shelton told E! News.

"This is untrue," Manson's representative told Us Weekly exclusively. "He has never met this woman."

Manson, 43, was previously married to burlesque star Dita Von Teese. He subsequently dated actress Evan Rachel Wood for several years, but they broke up in 2010.


BRADLEY COOPER: Bradley Cooper is to star in the play "The Elephant Man" at New York's Williamstown Theatre Festival, Artistic Director Jenny Gersten said Monday.

The show, which also stars Patricia Clarkson, will be the final production of the festival's 2012 Nikos Stage Season. Written by Bernard Pomerance and directed by Scott Ellis, it is to run from July 25 through Aug. 5.

"From a desperate existence in a Victorian freak show to his days as the toast of London high society, the life of John Merrick, the Elephant Man, has fascinated the world for well over a century," a synopsis said. "Though his disfigurement brought notoriety, it was his unblemished inner humanity that most astonished those around him, compelling examinations of their own prejudices and beliefs."

Clarkson made her festival debut as a member of the 1984 Non-Equity company and last appeared at the festival in 1996 in Arthur Miller's "The Ride Down Mount Morgan." Her film credits include "Shutter Island," "The Station Agent" and "Pieces of April."

Cooper last appeared at the festival in 2008 in Theresa Rebeck's "The Understudy;" he played Merrick in "The Elephant Man" as part of his senior thesis in the Actor's Studio Drama School. He is best-known for his work in "The Hangover" and its sequel.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Oscar-winning actress and television personality Whoopi Goldberg is to guest star on the Indiana-set sitcom "The Middle," ABC said Monday.

ABC said Goldberg will play an awkward high-school guidance counselor in the May 2 episode of the show, which stars Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn.

Goldberg won her Academy Award for her work in the film, "Ghost."

She is one of the co-hosts of "The View."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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