Backstreet Boys payvisit in TV special
BOSTON -- The country's best-known aardvark and one of its best-known bands are getting together for a PBS television special.
The Backstreet Boys will appear as an animated version of themselves on the network's hit children's show "Arthur." The hourlong special will premiere in August. The plot: Muffy the Monkey has a crush on band member Nick Carter, while Francine creates a rival "anti-cute, anti-commercial" band called U Stink.
Eventually, both groups end up performing together on stage.
Other musicians who have performed on the show include Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Redman and Art Garfunkel.
7 films vie for Oscars in visual-effects category
LOS ANGELES -- Blockbusters "Harry Potter," "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and six other films will compete for the visual-effects Academy Award this year.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the list of contenders Wednesday for the Oscar on March 24.
They are: "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," "Black Hawk Down," "Cats and Dogs," "The Fast and the Furious," "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Jurassic Park III," "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" and "Pearl Harbor."
Fifteen-minute reels from each film will screen Feb. 6 for the academy's nominating committee on visual effects. The group will pick three nominees, which will be announced with the rest of the Oscar nominations Feb. 12.
David Lynch tapped to head jury at Cannes Film Festival
PARIS -- David Lynch will head the jury at the 55th Cannes Film Festival in May, festival officials said Friday.
Lynch's film "Mulholland Drive" won best director honors at the festival last year, and his film "Wild at Heart" won the top prize for film -- the Palme d'Or -- in 1990.
"I am filled with excitement, fear and the full meaning of responsibility as I accept this honor, to be named president of the 55th Festival de Cannes, the greatest film festival in the world," he said.
"I will do my best to help continue the festival's great tradition of spotlighting and celebrating world cinema through friendly competition," he said.
The festival runs May 15-26, and the rest of the jury is expected to be announced in April.
Louis-Dreyfus stays positive about her return with sitcom
PASADENA, Calif. -- "Seinfeld" curse? What "Seinfeld" curse?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus isn't buying it. The former Elaine is hoping the third sitcom to star a former "Seinfeld" actor is charmed -- unlike the short-lived series with Michael Richards and Jason Alexander.
"I think there's pressure, period, regardless of the past successes or failures of any of my friends," said Louis-Dreyfus, whose "Watching Ellie" premieres Feb. 26 on NBC. She plays lounge singer Eleanor Riggs.
Louis-Dreyfus, who said she took a few years to "chill out" and raise her two children, is easing back into it. She's working with her husband, executive producer Brad Hall, and will film only 15 episodes of the series. Most sitcoms make 22 a season.
"'Seinfeld' was a very happy, joyful experience for me, so the idea was, if you're going to go back into television, find a happy, joyful experience," she said.
Fight poverty and AIDS, urge U2's Bono, Harvard economist
BLANTYRE, Malawi -- Rock star Bono of the Irish group U2 will address next week's summit of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community, the charity organization Oxfam-International said.
Bono has used his fame to advocate debt relief for the world's poorest countries and improved trade relations between Africa and the rest of the world.
The Oxfam statement, released Wednesday, said Bono and Harvard University economist Jeffrey Sachs want the southern African leaders to use money saved as a result of debt relief to fight poverty and AIDS in the region. They are scheduled to meet with the heads of state Monday in Blantyre before leaving for the capital, Lilongwe.
In Lilongwe on Tuesday, Sachs will present findings of a World Health Organization report that says increased health spending on the world's poorest people would boost economic development and ease poverty levels.
President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi, chairman of the 14-member economic group whose members rank among the poorest countries in the world, is holding a special summit in Blantyre to discuss ongoing fighting in the Congo and the deepening political crisis in Zimbabwe.
Actor Robert Stack is 83. Hollywood columnist Army Archerd is 80. Country singer Liz Anderson is 72. Actress Frances Sternhagen is 72. Actor-director Charles Nelson Reilly is 71. Comedian Rip Taylor is 68. Actor Billy Gray is 64. Actor Richard Moll is 59. Rock musician Trevor Rabin (Yes) is 48. Rhythm-and-blues musician Fred White is 47. Actor Kevin Anderson is 42. Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus is 41. Rock singer Graham "Suggs" McPherson (Madness) is 41. Country singer Trace Adkins is 40. Actress Penelope Ann Miller is 38. Actor Patrick Dempsey is 36. Actor Keith Coogan is 32. Actress Nicole Eggert is 30.