ROBERT URICH DIES
Emmy-winning actor Robert Urich has died. He was 55. Urich died Tuesday at a Los Angeles area hospital after a decade-long battle with cancer, his publicist said. He was diagnosed with a rare cancer -- synovial cell sarcoma, which affects a person's joints -- and became a vocal advocate for cancer research.
After a few brief and unmemorable appearances on film and TV, Urich's breakthrough came on the satire TV series "Soap," playing Peter Campbell, a comic character who has affairs with both leading ladies in the series, but is murdered in the first season. He went on to star in the detective shows "Vega$" (1978-81) and "Spenser For Hire" (1985-88) that became his trademark roles.
Urich was awarded an Emmy for his narration of the National Geographic "Explorer" documentary "U-Boats: Terror on Our Shores."
In August 1996, Urich was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital for treatment of cancer. His prognosis for recovery was considered excellent by his doctors but the uncertainty of the disease forced the cancellation of his 1996 series "Lazarus Man."
The disease, however, did not end his acting career, as he appeared in several television shows and also in the stage play "Chicago" as "Razzle Dazzle 'Em Bill Flynn."
In an interview, Urich said a movie career did not interest him -- especially if it separated him from his family. A dedicated family man, Urich retained the home-base working-class values of his parents, fixing things up around the home near Boston, making meals, fixing the plumbing.
His family, including his wide and three children, reportedly were at his bedside when he died.
The story that Steven Spielberg, Oscar-winning director of the epic "Schindler's List" and bankroller of the massive oral history effort to record the memories of all remaining Holocaust survivors, was planning a pro-Palestinian movie on the intifada turns out to be false. The director's spokesman, Marvin Levy, called the report "an obvious, vicious hoax," after it surfaced on news sites around the world. Spielberg was quoted in the story that flashed around the Internet as telling the Hollywood Reporter that Israel's military strikes against Palestinians resembled genocide.
(From UPI Hears)
Miramax Films has struck a deal to distribute "Comedian," a documentary about Jerry Seinfeld's return to stand-up after his eight-year run in the NBC comedy "Seinfeld."
No decisions have been made about a release date for the movie. Seinfeld's upcoming stand-up gig at the Beacon Theater on Broadway sold out in 10 minutes when tickets went on sale Sunday.
Garry Shandling and Colin Quinn will join Seinfeld for the May 6 show. Part of the proceeds will be donated to Baby Buggy, the charity supported by Seinfeld's wife Jessica that helps needy moms obtain used baby clothes, strollers and other gear.
The movie features appearances by Shandling, Quinn and Chris Rock.
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
'THE SCORPION KING'
The Rock, Michael Clarke Duncan, Steven Brand, Kelly Hu, Bernard Hill, and Roger Rees are expected to attend Wednesday's world premiere of their new movie, "The Scorpion King." The event is being held at the Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, Calif.
Also on the guest list -- George Clooney, Benicio Del Toro, Brendan Fraser, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Magic Johnson, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, David Spade, Frankie Muniz, Jerry O'Connell, Jessica Alba, Estella Warren, Fred Durst, David Hasselhoff, Cedric the Entertainer and David Alan Grier.
The film opens nationwide this Friday.
An original animated series from Emmy Award-winning actor/director Kelsey Grammer will headline a new adult animation block that'll air on TNN beginning early next year. "Gary The Rat" will star Grammer as the voice of the title character, Gary, a New York attorney who is so unscrupulous and immoral that he wakes up one morning to discover he's turned into a rat.
The programming block will also include the return of the groundbreaking "Ren & Stimpy Show" as well as shows being developed by "Spider-Man" creator Stan Lee and producer Ed. Weinberger.
JIMMY STEWART RELAY MARATHON
Robert Wagner and Katie Wagner will co-host the 21st Annual Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon this Sunday at Griffith Park in Los Angeles.
More than 25,000 people are expected to take part in the marathon, which benefits the Saint John's Health Center's Child and Family Development Center. Since the first race in 1982, $7.5 million has been raised to support the center.
Other celebrity participants are expected to include Bryan Cranston of "Malcolm in the Middle," Alex Donnelly of "The Young and the Restless," "Star Trek's" Walter Koenig, Tracy Scoggins of "Babylon 5," Andy Lauer of "Caroline in the City" and Kurt Lowder of "Days of Our Lives."
Smokey Robinson, Donna Summer and Don Henley are scheduled to perform at The 9th Annual Race to Erase MS on May 10 in Century City, Calif. The event -- themed "Peace and Love To Erase MS" -- will benefit the Nancy Davis Center Without Walls. Actress Sela Ward will host the event. She'll be joined by Tom Arnold, Tony Danza and Bill Maher, who will be the celebrity auctioneers for the live auction. Additional celebrities attending include Sylvester Stallone, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Teri Garr and Montel Williams.