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Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Feb. 21, 2003 at 3:00 AM
SIMON AND GARFUNKEL REUNION AFOOT?

Grammy organizers neither confirm nor deny rumors Simon and Garfunkel will perform together during the live awards telecast Sunday.

Reports Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel met Wednesday to discuss reuniting for the one-night-only gig have fueled speculation the legendary duo are ready to put aside their differences and open the 45th annual Grammy Awards this weekend at Madison Square Garden. The pair has not performed together at the New York City venue in almost a decade.

Asked about the rumors, the show's writer-producer Ken Ehrlich was coy. "They will be accepting their Lifetime Achievement Award on the show," he said, adding, "And there may be a surprise coming."


JACKSON STRIKES BACK

Television viewers judged for themselves Thursday whether Michael Jackson was inaccurately portrayed by journalist Martin Bashir.

Hosted by Maury Povich, the Fox special, "The Michael Jackson Footage: The Interview You Were Never Meant to See," was touted as the disgraced pop star's "rebuttal" to Bashir's documentary, "Living with Michael Jackson," which aired on ABC last week and questioned the singer's odd relationships with children. Since Bashir's program was broadcast, Jackson has complained to reporters Bashir betrayed him and accused his interviewer of editing footage to make the film more sensational.

The Jackson and Bashir footage was shot simultaneously over eight months. Not surprisingly, the Jackson film shows the former hit-maker in a much more favorable light than Bashir's account.

One discrepancy between the two films involved an incident in which Jackson and his brood were overrun by fans at a Berlin zoo, the day after the infamous baby-dangling event. In Bashir's version, Jackson seemed oblivious that his children were swept up in the chaos.

Povich observed: "One part that was edited out (by Bashir) is that Michael says, in defending why he took his kids to the zoo, that he was told the zoo would be closed."

Povich also pointed out Bashir deleted a positive remark Jackson made about his father and left in only complaints and allegations of abuse.

"Bashir spent eight minutes on that, but what was left out was a comment by Michael that, if it wasn't for his father, he wouldn't be where he was, that his dad was a genius," Povich said.

The talk-show host, who did not meet or speak with Jackson while the new film was cut, told the New York Post he had no agenda in agreeing to help Jackson tell his side of the story.

"I came out of it with no strong attitudes about Michael as a person or about his behavior," Povich said. "All I can tell you is that there was a lot of the Bashir interview left on the (cutting-room) floor -- and I don't think Mr. Bashir is going to be happy with these two hours."


SEASON TWO FOR 'THE SURREAL LIFE'

As the first season of "The Surreal Life" was winding down, WB network announced plans for a second installment of the hit reality series.

Fascinating to watch with alternating poignant and hilarious moments, Season One featured former celebrities Corey Feldman, Gabrielle Carteris, Vince Neil, MC Hammer, Emmanuel Lewis and others living and playing together for a brief time in a luxurious Hollywood Hills home. The show also followed the unlikely group as they went camping, enjoyed an excursion to Las Vegas and planned a talent show.

The network was so pleased with the show's success it ordered a second installment of the headline-grabbing, celebrity-obsessed series, which set all-time records for a Thursday night premiere on the WB network last month.

"When we first decided to do 'The Surreal Life,' we knew it was a series that lent itself to multiple seasons, given the right mix of celebrities," said Keith Cox, senior vice president of alternative programming. "What we look for are celebrities who are beloved, controversial or iconic and, given the success of the first season, we believe we will score an equally compelling cast this time around. We love this show because it bends genres, placing celebrities in a familiar habitat, creating a living sitcom, which is as unreal as it is surreal."


BONO HONORED FOR HUMANITARIAN EFFORTS

The music industry is set to honor Irish rock great Bono for his accomplishments as a humanitarian.

The U2 frontman was chosen as MusiCares Person of the Year and will be feted at the group's 13th annual tribute concert and dinner at Manhattan's posh Marriott Marquis hotel Friday night.

Among the highlights of the gala event will be a silent auction, featuring music and sports memorabilia. The proceeds will provide support for MusiCares' financial assistance program, the event's organizers said.


JUDD CHOOSES MAGGIE THE CAT OVER CATWOMAN

Ashley Judd has passed up the chance to play Catwoman in a "Batman" sequel to make her Broadway debut in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Variety reports the "Kiss the Girls" actress was chosen to play the whip-wielding villain two years ago, but Warner Brothers took so long to get a script together for the superhero film Judd got tired of waiting and signed on to star as Maggie the Cat in the Tennessee Williams revival instead.

The trade paper says the movie studio is now courting Oscar-nominated actress Nicole Kidman for the role Michelle Pfeiffer originated on the big-screen in the 1992 flick "Batman Returns."

Kidman is no stranger to the franchise: she played Batman's love interest, a psychiatrist, in the 1995 feature, "Batman Forever."

© 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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