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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   April 25, 2002 at 2:42 PM   |   Comments

LENO: 'OF COURSE' BLAKE DID IT

Ask Jay Leno if Robert Blake is guilty of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, and he answers enthusiastically: "Of course, he's guilty. Pull-ease! This is L.A."

Whether Blake will be convicted is another matter.

"They have the murder weapon, the motive, 900 pieces of evidence, 37,000 pages of documents and two witnesses," said Leno. "But, hey, this is L.A. You're going to need a lot more than that to convince a jury."

Comparisons are constantly being raised between the Blake case and the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial, even though Blake is widely regarded as not quite up to Simpson's level on the celebrity scale. Still, Leno said the Blake story has been fertile ground for late night TV comedy so far.

One of Leno's favorite jokes was in Monday night's monologue, a few hours after Blake was arraigned in a televised court appearance.

"Robert Blake today pleaded not guilty," said Leno, "his first speaking part in eight years."


STARS LINE UP FOR CANNES

Elizabeth Taylor will serve as honorary chair when American Foundation for AIDS Research, or amfAR, holds its annual black-tie event, Cinema Against AIDS Cannes, during the 55th Cannes Film Festival on May 23.

Sharon Stone, Sir Elton John, David Lynch, supermodel Iman and Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein will co-chair the event -- which returns this year to its original venue, Roger Vergé's Le Moulin de Mougins. Taylor will deliver the keynote address.

Celebrities will take part in a live auction, offering items including the first diamond necklace created for the new De Beers collection, valued at $100,000. De Beers LV is a co-sponsor of the event, along with Motorola.

The annual Cinema Against AIDS gala has raised more than $10 million for amfAR (amfar.org) since 1993.

Stone will also sit on the jury that awards the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, along with Michelle Yeoh ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Tomorrow Never Dies"). The jury will be headed by director David Lynch ("Mulholland Drive," "Blue Velvet").


DVD RENTALS TAKING OFF

DVD rentals during the first quarter of 2002 not only set a new quarterly record -- they outdid the number for the entire year of 2000.

The Video Software Dealers Association -- which monitors DVD rentals with its VidTrac service -- reported that U.S. consumers spent more than $633.7 million renting DVD titles from January through March. That was a 39 percent increase over the previous record, $455.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2001, and a 126 percent increase over the first quarter of 2001.

However, videocassette rentals were down 22.3 percent in the first quarter of 2002 -- from $1.9 billion in 2001, to $1.5 billion this year. The bottom line on overall rental revenues was down 3.9 percent from the first quarter of 2001 to the same period this year.


KICKING BUTT WITH J-LO

Jennifer Lopez, who plays a woman who takes up martial arts to protect herself and her daughter from an abusive husband in her new movie, "Enough," said she felt butt-kicking tough when she was in training -- but does she still feel that strong?

"I did at that time," she told United Press International. "Last year, when I did the movie. Not now. Don't write that! Let people think I can."

Lopez said she got a boot out of martial arts.

"I'm very athletic," she said. "I've been that way since I was young, so I always ran and danced and did tennis and stuff like that, so that was more the easy part for me in this movie."

Lopez said the emotional part of playing a woman fighting back was much harder. She said when she first read the script, it struck her as "like a female 'Rocky'" -- but she said the story is about empowerment for everyone, not just women.

"Because anybody can relate to being in a negative situation or a negative relationship," she said, "because it's not a thing for women only, you know?"

Still, Lopez sees "Enough" as a switch on a longstanding storytelling convention -- the damsel in distress.

"In a lot of movies," she said, "the woman is always being rescued out of these situations by a cop, by a guy, by whatever."


'HEROES' DIRECTOR LINES UP NEXT MOVIE

Joel Gallen, the director of "Not Another Teen Movie" and the post-Sept. 11 TV special "America: A Tribute to Heroes," is reportedly close to a deal to develop and direct a romantic comedy called -- what else? -- "Romantic Comedy."

According to a report in Daily Variety, the movie is about a man who loves his best friend and tries to win her away from her boring boyfriend by using every trick in the book -- as taught in Hollywood's most memorable romantic comedies.

Gallen was an executive producer on last year's comedy "Zoolander" and the ABC-TV ratings winner "The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show."

© 2002 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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