FIRE KILLS ACTOR ROYCE APPLEGATE
Actor Royce Applegate was found dead in the bedroom of his Hollywood Hills home Wednesday shortly after firefighters extinguished a blaze.
The actor appeared in more than 80 movies and TV shows over the past three decades, including "O, Brother Where Art Thou," "The Rookie," "Twin Peaks" and "Mayberry R.F.D," as well as the upcoming Civil War epic "Gods and Generals." He was 63.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office says the Oklahoma native is believed to have died of smoke inhalation, but an autopsy is being performed to confirm the cause of death.
Officials still are investigating the cause of the fire that also injured two firefighters.
OZZY, SHARON RENEW WEDDING VOWS
MTV stars Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows at the Beverly Hills Hotel on New Year's Eve.
Hundreds of guests, including Chris Rock and Justin Timberlake, arrived at the posh hotel to see the aging rocker and his hilarious, sharp-tongued bride re-tie the knot, reports Entertainment Tonight.
The couple's youngest daughter, pop starlet Kelly, acted as flower girl at the event, while the Village People provided musical entertainment for the event.
The couple married in 1982, but opted to put off celebrating their 20th anniversary celebration because of Sharon's battle with colon cancer.
The frontman for the heavy metal band Black Sabbath in the 1970s and a solo artist in the 1980s, Ozzy was embraced by a new generation of fans through his family's hit MTV reality series, "The Osbournes," now in its second season.
JULIANNE MOORE ENGAGED
Actress Julianne Moore reportedly is engaged to her long-time boyfriend, director Bart Freundlich.
People magazine reports "The Hours" and "Far From Heaven" star and her betrothed have not yet set a date for the ceremony. Moore and Freundlich have lived together for more than six years and have two children, 5-year-old Caleb and 9-month-old Liv.
ORLEAN HAPPY STREEP PLAYED HER
Writer Susan Orlean says she laid to rest any concerns she had about becoming a character in the wacky, brilliant new movie, "Adaptation," once she heard Meryl Streep was playing her.
"It was hard to even process that," the New York writer and best-selling author told United Press International. "You can't imagine... If she's doing it, it's like having the best brain surgeon operating."
"Adaptation" is the mind-bending tale of the frustration real-life screen-writer Charlie Kaufman (played by Nicolas Cage) experienced while trying to adapt Orlean's non-fiction book, "The Orchid Thief," for the screen. Director Spike Jonze and Kaufman previously collaborated on the acclaimed 1999 comedy drama, "Being John Malkovich."
"It was supposed to be a normal adaptation, which somewhere, along the way, changed direction," Orlean remarked.
So, what was her reaction when she first saw Kaufman's fanciful script?
"I was fascinated," she said. "I couldn't picture it as a movie... It was shocking ... entirely different from what I expected, as you can imagine... When I read it I couldn't picture it.... It was pretty insane... I remember thinking, 'Who are all these people?' I wasn't expecting to be a character in the movie."
Orlean was a good sport when asked if she was upset by how the real Kaufman took some liberties when transforming her from a respectable journalist into a drug-sniffing adulteress trying to kill a screenwriter.
"I took a deep breath and thought it through," she admitted. "It's a movie. It's not real life. It's a form of creative imagination... It was so clearly fictionalized I felt like I could take it in the spirit of the movie and didn't find it distressing... I was a little worried at first that some people wouldn't understand that it was not real... I am the John Malkovich of this movie."
'RINGS' DIRECTOR AWED BY TECHNOLOGY
"Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson says the rapid advances in computer technology have left him awestruck.
"We had some glimpses of Gollum in the first movie... just some shots of his eyes and things peering in the darkness. That was our sort of prototype Gollum, and we sort of threw him away (in the sequel). The Gollum that you're seeing in this film is completely reworked and completely different. Because the technology this year... it was just so much better," he explained. "So, what we did last year for the first film wasn't really applicable anymore. It's just leapfrogging. Certainly we're using technology today that didn't even exist three years ago when we were shooting these films. It's interesting."
"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" is in theaters now with the last installment of the trilogy due out next Christmas.
BRANAGH TO DIRECT B'WAY PLAY
Actor/director Kenneth Branagh is bringing the West End hit, "The Play What I Wrote," to Broadway this spring.
Written by Hamish McColl, Sean Foley and Eddie Braben, and directed by Branagh, the show won the prestigious 2002 Olivier Award when it became one of London's hottest tickets last year.
"The Play What I Wrote" revolves around Hamish, who no longer wants to be part of a comedy team with Sean. He would prefer to see the play he has written, "A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple," properly mounted on the Broadway stage. But before this can happen he needs a major star to play the supporting role to his lead role.
Foley, McColl and Toby Jones will star in the New York production.
A revolving door of guest stars also will appear in the play. In London, during two sold-out, nine-month engagements, Ralph Fiennes, Ian McKellen, Roger Moore, Jerry Hall, Sting and Ewan McGregor were a few of the notables who enjoyed a featured spot in the show. The show's producers say the identity of the surprise celebrity guests for the New York engagement will be a tightly guarded secret.
Previews of the play begin March 7 with an opening night scheduled for March 30 at the Lyceum Theatre.
RAPPER HOPES FOR REVIVAL OF THE MUSICAL
Queen Latifah says she hopes the success of "Moulin Rouge" and "Chicago" has paved the way for a revival of the big-screen musical.
"I really do hope so," Latifah said while talking to UPI about her role as prison matron Mama in "Chicago." "I really do hope so because it's just fun filmmaking... I loved 'Moulin Rouge', but not only did I like it, it did well and it made some money. For the dollar and cents side of it, that's a lot of what Hollywood needs, but really, that's why I'm really proud of ('Chicago' producer) Harvey (Weinstein) and those guys because they're not worried about the money. They just wanted to make the movie."