A struggle is under way for custody of the world-famous Hollywood sign, in the event that backers of a plan for Hollywood to secede from Los Angeles have their way.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, planners for the state commission that is analyzing the secession plan have recommended that if Hollywood breaks away, the new city should take possession of the sign. A spokeswoman for Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge -- who represents the area where the sign is located -- told the paper LaBonge will do "anything in his power" to keep the sign in Los Angeles.
Supporters of an independent Hollywood drew proposed boundaries that would put the sign in the new city, but La Bonge and the L.A. City Council asked the Local Agency Formation Commission to redraw those lines to keep the sign in Los Angeles. LaBonge said that under the terms of Col. Griffith J. Griffith's grant of land, the property involved may only be used for a Los Angeles city park.
The Times reported that secession backers have found records indicating that the sign does not sit on Griffith's land -- but on land that the city purchased in 1944 from a housing developer.
The sign -- with letters 50 feet high and 30 feet wide -- once advertised Hollywood-land Realty Co. With the last four letters gone, the sign has become one of the most recognizable images in the world.
SCORSESE JOINS WOODY ON CANNES JURY
The director of "Raging Bull" and "GoodFellas" will serve on the short film and Cinefondation jury. While he's in Cannes, he'll also be promoting his latest project, "Gangs of New York."
Eddie Murphy -- who seems to glide easily back and forth between family comedies ("Dr. Dolittle," "Shrek") and more adult-oriented pictures ("Showtime," "Beverly Hills Cop") -- has added another entry to the family column.
Murphy will star in "Daddy Day Care," described as the story of a dad who loses his job and teams up with some buddies to open an unconventional daycare center. After he finishes work on the project, Murphy will segue to "Haunted Mansion" -- a film version of the popular attraction of the same name at Disneyland.
The former "Saturday Night Live" star has two films in the can and scheduled for release later this year -- "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" and "I Spy."
HALLE IN SICK BAY
According to a report in the New York Daily News, Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry was rushed to a hospital in Cadiz, Spain, Friday after a brush with danger while filming a scene for the upcoming James Bond movie "Die Another Day."
The scene has Bond -- played by Pierce Brosnan -- shooting down a helicopter. According to the paper, debris from a smoke grenade struck Berry's left eye.
Berry was rushed to the Nuestra Señora de la Salud clinic, where doctors determined that she was not injured.
"She had her eye washed out, and she went right back to work," said a publicist for Berry.
MCMAHON SUES INSURANCE CARRIER OVER MOLD
Ed McMahon has filed suit against an insurance company, claiming that he was made sick by toxic mold that spread through his home in Beverly Hills because contractors did not properly clean up water damage from a broken pipe.
According to the suit, McMahon, his wife Pamela, and domestic workers in the house all got sick from the mold -- and the family dig, Muffin, died.
McMahon's suit seeks more than $20 million in damages from American Equity Insurance Co., two insurance adjusters and several contractors who were brought in to clean up after a broken pipe flooded the den of McMahon's house.
According to the suit, the defendants assured McMahon that it would be safe to stay in the house during the project. The suit claims that the mold spread through heating and air conditioning ducts into the master bedroom and attached itself to clothes in the McMahons' closets.
McMahon and his wife are living in a $23,000-a-month rental house until they can move back into their home.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft -- who had appeared via videotape several times recently on "Late Show with David Letterman" -- appeared live Tuesday, but refused repeated invitations to sing on the show.
Letterman has been poking fun at Ashcroft, playing a clip from a video of him signing a song he wrote -- "Let the Eagles Soar." Ashcroft eventually accepted an invitation to come on the show, but largely confined his appearance to serious talk about terrorism and national security.
Letterman tried mightily to get Ashcroft to sing, suggesting at one point that it would be "a valuable deterrent" to terrorism if would-be terrorists heard the attorney general's voice.
"They'd know you couldn't mess with this guy," said Letterman.
Ashcroft did not deprive the audience entirely of his musical gift. He played the Beatles' hit "Can't Buy Me Love" on the piano, in honor of Sir Paul McCartney -- who happens to be the same age as Ashcroft.
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