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Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Oct. 23, 2002 at 3:00 AM
ROSIE COUNTER-SUES PUBLISHERS

Former talk-show queen Rosie O'Donnell has filed a $125 million counter-suit against her ex-publishing partner Gruner + Jahr.

The Emmy Award-winning comedienne filed the lawsuit Monday in New York's state Supreme Court, retaliating against G + J for the $100 million suit it recently brought against her over the demise of their joint magazine, Rosie, a revamped version of the women's magazine, McCalls.

The last issue of the eight-month-old glossy is expected to hit newsstands Nov. 12.

Filed earlier this month, G + J's complaint alleges "O'Donnell's bizarre and often mean-spirited behavior ... had the effect of making it difficult, and ultimately impossible, for G + J to continue publishing the magazine."

At the time, O'Donnell dismissed the complaint as pure fabrication and vowed to counter-sue. The funny lady has said she was very upset by the direction the magazine was taking under the guidance of its new editor.

E! online reports O'Donnell complains in court papers the publisher engaged in a "hostile takeover," tried to use the magazine to "sensationalize celebrity stories" and touted "covers featuring celebrities who were in the midst of personal tragedies."

G + J denies O'Donnell's charges. "G + J has reviewed Rosie O'Donnell's complaint and we stand by our version of the facts," a company spokeswoman tells Mediaweek. "G + J is confident that we will prevail in the litigation."

Gruner + Jahr reportedly considered turning the magazine into another women's lifestyle publication, but those plans were apparently shelved last week when the company laid off the entire 120-person Rosie staff.


FIRTH WON'T PLAY FIRTH IN 'BRIDGET 2'

British actor Colin Firth says if he co-stars in a sequel to the smash romantic comedy, "Bridget Jones's Diary," which was based on the book of the same name, he will reprise his role as the austere, yet sexy attorney, Mark Darcy.

He says, however, he will not play a character based on himself as appears in novelist Helen Fielding's follow-up, "Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason."

Noting that Colin Firth, star of the British Broadcasting Corp. version of "Pride and Prejudice" and object of the fictional Jones' obsession, is an actual character in Fielding's second Bridget adventure, Firth swore that part of the book will not be transferred to the big screen.

"He'll become George Clooney or something," he told United Press International.

The actor then revealed he helped Fielding pen the hilarious scene in the book where Jones makes a fool out of herself interviewing none other than Colin Firth.

First, the actor inspired Fielding by recalling some of his worst encounters with the press. Then, he and the author acted out the interview scene with Fielding as Jones asking Firth, as Firth, inane questions like, "What is your favorite color?" and "How many times did you have to change your shirt while filming 'Pride and Prejudice'?"

Asked if he has ever had an interview go quite that badly, Firth exclaimed, "Oh, I would say so."

"I've had much worse experiences than that. The worst ones, actually, are the ones that seem to go very well until you read it afterwards," he confessed. "It's like you weren't (at the same interview) and this smiling, friendly person in front of you had obviously loathed you."

The World Entertainment News Network reported Renee Zellweger was close to inking a deal to reprise her role of Bridget in a sequel. Her performance in the original movie earned her an Academy Award nomination last year.


CRUDUP TO STAR IN TIM BURTON'S NEXT

"Almost Famous" star Billy Crudup reportedly has joined the stellar cast of Tim Burton's next film, "Big Fish."

The Hollywood Reporter says the project will begin filming this January in Alabama, with Ewan McGregor ("Black Hawk Down") and Albert Finney ("Erin Brockovich") also starring.

Based on Daniel Wallace's "Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions," "Big Fish" is the story of a young man (Crudup) trying to learn more about his dying dad (Finney) by piecing together stories he has gathered over the years. The son winds up re-creating his father's elusive life in a series of legends and myths inspired by the few facts he knows. McGregor will play Finney's character in the flashback scenes.


BRATT NAMED SEXIEST MALE

Former "Law & Order" star Benjamin Bratt has been named show biz's hottest hunk.

The Hot Class of 2002 was revealed Sunday on E!'s list-loving series, "Rank: 25 Sexiest Men in Entertainment."

Jennifer Lopez's latest squeeze, Ben Affleck, was ranked second on the second annual show, followed by Irish actor Colin Farrell, "Snatch" star Brad Pitt and Ewan McGregor, "Moulin Rouge!"

Of course, actors aren't the only famous cuties around. Singer Enrique Iglesias and Los Angeles Laker Rick Fox ranked sixth and seventh.

Then it was back to actors with Aussie Hugh Jackman, "XXX" he-man Vin Diesel and last year's top hottie, George Clooney, rounding out the top 10. Incidentally, Bratt came in No. 9 last year.

Following his 2001 split with actress Julia Roberts, Bratt wed his "Pinero" co-star Talisa Soto in April 2002. The couple is expecting their first child this fall. He can now be seen in the new thriller "Abandon."

"Rank" returns Nov. 3 with "Celebrity Oops: What Were They Thinking?!"

© 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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