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Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Oct. 18, 2002 at 5:00 AM   |   Comments

GANDOLFINI ADMITS PAST DRUG USE

"Sopranos" star James Gandolfini is confirming rumors he spent time in rehab to battle drug and alcohol abuse.

The New York Daily News says the tough-guy actor admits as true the allegations his wife has leveled against him during their bitter divorce.

But Gandolfini spokesman Dan Klores emphasizes it was "a problem that existed in the past."

"To bring it up now, as an attempt to gain leverage and a better settlement during the divorce, is just reprehensible," Klores says. "These types of situations -- under these circumstances -- are best resolved with decency, not greed."

The News also quotes an unnamed friend of Gandolfini's as saying: "He was in rehab four years ago. He came out. Occasionally he would go back in. The guy has been drug-free for some time."

Gandolfini's acknowledgment comes as the National Enquirer reports in its latest issue some of his famous friends, such as Julia Roberts and Edie Falco, have tried to get him off drugs.


ELVIS GOES PLATINUM

Elvis Presley's latest album has gone platinum just three weeks after its release, E! online reports.

That means "Elvis Presley's 30 #1 Hits" has sold more than 1 million copies, making this album the King's fastest platinum release.

E! also points out Elvis was No. 1 on the record sales charts all three weeks, fending off major debuts by the Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Beck, India Arie and the new American Idol compilation.


BERNADETTE PETERS TO STAR IN 'GYPSY'

Broadway legend Bernadette Peters will headline the new production of "Gypsy" that Sam Mendes ("Cabaret," "American Beauty") is directing in New York this spring.

The two-time Tony Award-winner will play relentless stage mother Rose in the vaudeville-era musical, which is based on the memoirs of Gypsy Rose Lee. The show will feature choreography by Jerry Mitchell and original choreography by Jerome Robbins, as well as music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents.

The production will open April 24 at the Shubert Theatre. Previews will begin on March 24.

Produced by David Merrick and Leland Heyward, the original Broadway production of "Gypsy," directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, opened May 21, 1959 at the Broadway Theatre, starring Ethel Merman in probably the greatest role of her distinguished career.

"Gypsy" played for 702 performances, and a film version was released by Warner Brothers in 1962, starring Rosalind Russell as Rose and Natalie Wood as Louise. "Gypsy" has returned to Broadway on two other occasions, both directed by Arthur Laurents, with Tony Award-winning performances by Angela Lansbury (1975) and Tyne Daly (1990).


SALMA HAYEK IMMORTALIZED IN WAX

Salma Hayek, who is receiving rave reviews for her portrayal of artist Frida Kahlo in the upcoming film, "Frida," will soon be the first actress to ever be immortalized in wax as a historical character.

A wax figure of Hayek as Kahlo was to be unveiled Thursday night at Madame Tussaud's wax museum on 42nd Street in Manhattan.

Directed by Julie Taymor (Broadway's "The Lion King,") "Frida" chronicles the life Kahlo shared openly and unflinchingly with her mentor and husband, Diego Rivera (played by Alfred Molina), as the young couple took the art world by storm.

"Frida" opens in New York & Los Angeles on Oct. 25.

© 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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