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Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Jan. 22, 2003 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

FAMED CARICATURIST DEAD AT 99

Famed caricaturist Al Hirschfeld died in his sleep Sunday just five months shy of his 100th birthday.

One of only six people designated a New York City Landmark, the St. Louis native sketched countless celebrities, particularly Broadway stars, during a career that spanned eight decades.

The Martin Beck Theatre on Manhattan's West 45th Street was renamed in his honor the day he died.

The New York Daily News noted "age did not weaken the bold lines that characterized Hirschfeld's drawings, which critics compared with those of 19th century masters Honoré Daumier and Toulouse-Lautrec."

His drawings are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum.

"He reminds me of Joe DiMaggio," said the News' Bill Gallo. "Nobody did it exactly like Joe DiMaggio. Nobody had his grace and flair. Nobody ever will. Al was the Joe Di-Maggio of the drawing board."

The recipient of a special Tony Award in 1975, Hirschfeld also has the distinction of being the only artist allowed to sign the U.S. postage stamps he drew. Broadway marquees were dimmed Tuesday night in Hirschfeld's honor. Funeral services will be private.

"For someone who never wrote a single note or a line of dialogue or acted on a Broadway stage, Al Hirschfeld had a profound effect on the American theater," said Jed Bernstein, head of the League of American Theaters and Producers.


'KANGAROO' STARS TEASE PRODUCER BING

Actors Anthony Anderson and Jerry O'Connell admit they mercilessly teased writer/producer Stephen Bing on the set of their hit comedy, "Kangaroo Jack."

Bing recently made headlines when he disputed model/actress Elizabeth Hurley's claims he fathered her 9-month-old son, Damian, soon after her split with long-time beau, Hugh Grant.

"Stephen Bing is the richest man in the world who can't afford a condom," O'Connell quipped to reporters in New York recently, prompting a publicist in the room to clear her throat in warning.

O'Connell added: "Every time Anthony and I see him now, we're like, 'The kid is not my son," singing with Anderson the line from Michael Jackson's ode to paternity denials, "Billie Jean."

Although Hurley and Bing reportedly are not on speaking terms, DNA tests have proved the billionaire real-estate tycoon is the infant's father.


SPACEY'S IRISH CAPER SKIPS THEATRICAL RELEASE

John Boorman's exceptional Martin Cahill film, "The General," was a tough act to follow.

No wonder then it took five years for Kevin Spacey's Cahill project, "Ordinary Decent Criminal," to be seen in the United States.

Skipping a U.S. theatrical release after a brief run in the United Kingdom, the $12 million Irish crime caper went straight to video Tuesday.

Described by Miramax Home Entertainment as "a lively, unpredictable thriller about a modern-day Robin Good," "Ordinary Decent Criminal" is one of a spate of films made in the late 1990s based on the life of the Dublin crime boss. Fast-paced and fun, the Spacey film focuses on how thief Michael Lynch -- loosely based on Cahill -- balances his home and criminal lives a la Tony Soprano, while thumbing his nose equally at the church, the government and the Irish Republican Army.

Whether the real-life Cahill, who was murdered in the mid-1990s, was a charismatic crook or violent thug seems to depend on who you talk to. While the Boorman film was hailed for portraying Cahill in a fairly accurate light, the Spacey project is just sheer entertainment.


RENEE SIGNS ON FOR 'BRIDGET 2'

Renee Zellweger has ended months of speculation by announcing she will reprise her role in a sequel to the smash hit, "Bridget Jones's Diary."

"I'm ready, willing and able. Bridget's a character I really identify with," the Golden Globe winner told reporters. "I'll put the weight back on with pleasure."

The petite "Chicago" star is expected to again pack on about 20 pounds to play a plump 30-something Londoner looking for love. She'll have plenty of money for pizza and Twinkies, though. The New York Post estimates her paycheck for the performance will be $20 million.

The 2001 film was based on Helen Fielding's hilarious novel "Bridget Jones's Diary," which she followed with the popular sequel, "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" and on which the second Bridget film reportedly will be based. Co-starring British heartthrob Colin Firth, the second film is expected to hit theaters in the summer of 2004.

© 2003 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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