Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter
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Country superstar Vince Gill has defended Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines, but insists he does not agree with the remark that got her in political hot water.


The Dixie Chicks' record sales and radio play have suffered since Maines told an audience in London she was ashamed to be from the same state as President George W. Bush -- Texas. At the Flameworthy 2003 Music Video Awards on April 8, Gill told reporters backstage it was time to let up on Maines.

"There's political leaders that have said a lot worse things about George Bush than Natalie did and nobody rips (them) for it," Gill said. "I feel like she's been bashed enough."

In a subsequent interview with the Nashville Tennessean, Gill said he wanted to clarify that what he said in defense of Maines does not mean that he agrees with her.


"It's pretty imperative that I communicate that I held the completely opposite view of Natalie Maines," Gill told the paper. "The troops and the president don't have a bigger supporter than me."

At the Flameworthy Awards, Gill said the Chicks will have to "deal with the consequences that come from" what Maines said, but he suggested that the trio's critics are carrying their reaction too far.

"I think being decent and kind and forgiving and all those things are much better things to possess than being right," said Gill.

The Dixie Chicks will soon find out whether they'll still be able to fill a hall. They kick off their "Top of the World" tour on May 1 in Greenville, S.C.


According to The Hollywood Reporter, the four stars of "Will & Grace" are close to a deal that will keep the show on NBC for at least the 2004-05 season.

Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes will reportedly get substantial raises to work through a seventh season of the Emmy-winning comedy. NBC did not comment on the story. Neither did representatives for the actors.


Sources told the paper the new deal includes a retroactive pay raise for McCormack and Messing that will increase their salaries for the current season to $250,000-$275,000 per episode. Mullally and Hayes will reportedly receive slightly less than McCormack and Messing.


"Chicago" is not only a Best Picture Oscar winner, it's also now the biggest commercial hit in Miramax Films history.

The musical comedy has grossed more than $157.1 million -- sending it past the studio's previous record-holder, "Scary Movie" (2000), which grossed $157 million.

The grosses for "Chicago" easily outdistanced the numbers for Miramax's previous two Oscar winners. "The English Patient" (1996) grossed $79 million and "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) took in $101 million.


Martin Scorsese has a job lined up when he finishes "The Aviator," with Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes.

According to a report in Daily Variety, DreamWorks is planning to adapt Thomas Eidson's Western novel "St. Agnes' Stand," with Scorsese directing. Charles Randolph ("The Life of David Gale") is writing the screenplay.

"St. Agnes' Stand" is the story of a man who saves a nun and a group of children from Apaches in the 1860s.


Eidson's novel "The Last Ride" is being adapted for the screen, with Ron Howard directing Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett in the story of a man whose effort to reconcile with his daughter is complicated when her young daughter is kidnapped by Indians.


The Walt Disney Co. has reportedly agreed to sell the World Champion Anaheim Angels to Phoenix businessman Arturo Moreno for about $180 million.

Disney, which acquired the team seven years ago, had been trying to sell it for the last three years.

The company has not confirmed widespread published reports about the deal, which would have to be approved by Major League Baseball owners.

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