Entertainment Today: Showbiz news

By United Press International  |  April 25, 2002 at 5:27 AM
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Two veteran Hollywood stuntmen who worked with Robert Blake on the 1970s cop TV series "Baretta" claim the actor tried to hire them to kill his wife, according to Blake's lawyer.

Harland Braun has identified Gary McLarty and Ronald "Duffy" Hambleton as the two witnesses who police have said will testify that Blake solicited them to murder his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. "They made comments that he thought were jokes," he said in an interview with CNN. "Now they're attributing their comments to him."

Braun said he has known for months that McLarty and Hambleton were telling investigators that Blake had solicited them to commit murder. However, he questioned their value as prosecution witnesses -- wondering aloud why the two didn't go to the police right away if they were solicited.

The revelation is the latest in a series of items potentially damaging to his client that Braun has made public. He has repeatedly acknowledged that Blake had a motive to kill Bakley because he was miserable in his marriage to her. At the same time, Braun has frequently made disparaging comments about Bakley, portraying her as a gold-digger intent on marrying a celebrity because she could not achieve fame on her own.

Through it all, Braun has said the Blake's defense is simple: "He says he didn't do it."

Bakley was shot to death May 4, 2001. On Monday, Blake and his bodyguard-chauffer, Earle Caldwell, pleaded innocent in connection with her murder. The actor could face the death penalty if convicted.

Blake's next court appearance is scheduled for May 1, when a date will likely be set for a preliminary hearing.


After they scored a hit with "My Best Friend's Wedding," Julia Roberts and Rupert Everett decided they'd like to do another picture together, but so far, the idea hasn't gone anywhere.

"It just never happened," Everett told UPI. "We wrote the screenplay and I don't know what happened. It just went by."

Everett is promoting his new movie, an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's comedy "The Importance of Being Earnest." It's written and directed by Oliver Parker -- who also wrote and directed Everett in the 1999 screen adaptation of Wilde's "An Ideal Husband."

The new project also seems to reunite Everett with Judi Dench and Colin Firth. They all appeared in the 1998 Oscar-winning comedy "Shakespeare in Love," but Everett -- who appeared unbilled as playwright Christopher Marlowe -- did not actually work with Dench or Firth.

Everett did work with Firth in the 1984 drama "Another Country," about two 1930s British students who end up spying for the Soviet Union. But he said they didn't talk much about old times when they were filming their current project.

"We didn't really get along very well during, 'Another Country," Everett said. "I couldn't deal with him. I must have went and bad-mouthed him to people."

But Everett said all is well now between Firth and him. "We had such a laugh doing this film, I must say," said Everett. "I love him."

(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)


"Hollywood Ending" stars Mark Rydell and Tiffani Thiessen, as well as Kyra Sedgewick, Laura Innes, Mena Suvari and Tim Maculan are expected to attend Thursday's premiere of the Turner Classic Movies' documentary "Woody Allen: A Life in Film." The event at the Writers Guild Theatre in Beverly Hills, Calif., will be hosted by the film's producer and director, Richard Schickel.

Allen's newest comedy "Hollywood Ending" opens nationwide May 3.


The members of the New York Dramatists club are preparing to honor one of the neatest, most-enduring lights of the American musical stage.

According to gossip columnist Liz Smith, Barbara Cook will be the guest of honor at a gala to be staged by the thespian group in the Big Apple on May 14. She'll be presented with the organization's lifetime achievement award.

Cook became a household name when sang the role of Marian the Librarian in the original production of "The Music Man" on Broadway -- opposite the late, great Robert Preston. Now, according to Smith, she will be immersed in memories of that Tony Award-winning show when Eric McCormick serenades her. Following in the footsteps of Preston, he took Broadway by storm when he stepped into the role of Prof. Harold Hill in the recent revival of the musical.

McCormick was not only a hit but he surprised a lot of people when he took the role. Many of his fans, accustomed to seeing him in "Will and Grace," weren't aware of his myriad talents.

The Cook-fest will be at New York's Marriott Marquis Hotel.

(Thanks to UPI's Dennis Daily)


Filmmaker Kevin Smith will host the first-ever "Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards" May 12 (at 8 p.m. ET) on the Sci Fi Channel. The awards recognize the best short films made by "Star Wars' enthusiasts.

Categories include The Young Jedi Award, bestowed upon the best film made by a director under the age of 18; The Audience Award, the best film as voted upon by online viewers (at starwars.atomfilms.com); Best Animation; and Best Documentary or Mockumentary.

"Star Wars" creator George Lucas will make a special guest appearance to announce the winner of the night's highest honor -- the "George Lucas Selects" award, Lucas' personal fan film favorite.

The one-hour special will also include sneak previews of "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones," which opens nationwide on May 16.

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