McClanahan aims to stoptransfer of four elephants
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Former "Golden Girls" actress Rue McClanahan is trying to prevent four elephants from being transferred from Chicago to Hugo, Okla. because they were exposed to another animal with tuberculosis. McClanahan, an honorary director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wrote a letter to state Rep. Ray McCarter, a Democrat, asking him "to introduce an emergency resolution recommending against the importation of any elephants who have been exposed to TB in Oklahoma." McClanahan, an Oklahoma native, said she would prefer the four elephants be sent to the Elephant Sanctuary, a 2,700-acre preserve in Hohenwald, Tenn. McCarter said he has not seen the letter, but "it would be difficult to do anything now." The Legislature adjourned its regular session May 27, and will return to special session this summer, but will not likely take up the resolution. The Hawthorn Corp. in Chicago, is scheduled to give the elephants to the Endangered Ark Foundation which keeps retired circus elephants on an 80-acre tract, said Barbara Byrd with the nonprofit foundation. None of the four elephants has tested positive for tuberculosis, but they will be isolated from the rest of the herd for about a year as a precaution, Byrd said. The 71-year-old McClanahan, who played Blanche Devereaux on the long running sitcom "Golden Girls," last starred in "Back to You and Me," a movie made for the Hallmark Channel earlier this year.
John extends Vegas gig
LAS VEGAS -- Elton John will extend his show, "The Red Piano," at Caesars Palace through 2008. John had committed to 75 shows over a three-year period beginning February 2004. But the hotel-casino accelerated the performance schedule due to demand, completing it in less than 18 months. "We are delighted with the runaway success of 'The Red Piano' and Elton's agreement to extend his association with Caesars," Caesars Palace President Mark Juliano said in a statement Wednesday.
The agreement calls for another 150 shows through 2008 at the 4,100-seat Colosseum theater built for Celine Dion. In 2003, Dion began a three-year engagement at the Colosseum, performing about 200 shows a year. Her run at Caesars has been extended into 2007. "The Red Piano," directed and designed by David LaChappelle, appears at the theater when Dion's show is dark. Last year, John's show grossed over $40 million with one of the priciest tickets around at an average of $158 each.
Eddie Murphy signs on for'Dreamgirls' the movie
NEW YORK -- Eddie Murphy, the voice of Donkey in the "Shrek" films, is joining the cast of the upcoming screen version of "Dreamgirls." The film, an adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical that first ran on Broadway in the early 1980s, will be directed by Bill Condon and also star Jamie Foxx and Beyonce Knowles. "Dreamgirls" follows the rise of a trio of women who form a group called The Dreamettes in the 1960s. Murphy will play James "Thunder" Early, a singer for whom the Dreamettes sing backup before taking over the spotlight themselves, DreamWorks said this week. Murphy's screen credits also include "Trading Places," "Beverly Hills Cop" and "The Nutty Professor." He has released several albums of soul and pop music.
Schroder gets squeamish
NEW YORK -- Rick Schroder, who plays a surgeon on Lifetime's "Strong Medicine," gets squeamish around blood. "I can't stand it," the 35-year-old actor tells People magazine in its June 20 issue, now on newsstands. He recently joined the medical drama, co-starring Rosa Blasi-Finn, now in its sixth season. "My hands will be inside a bloody, prosthetic stomach, and it all looks so real that I'm staring like I'm in shock," Schroder says. "Then I remember, 'The camera's rolling -- I've got to do something."' Schroder co-starred on television's "NYPD Blue." His screen credits include "The Champ." He made his directorial debut in the 2004 independent feature, "Black Cloud," a story about a young American Indian boxer. Blasi-Finn's previous partners on "Strong Medicine" were played by Janine Turner, who co-starred on the show until the middle of season three, and Patricia Richardson, whose character co-ran the Philadelphia-based clinic until the end of last season.
ROME -- Carlo Maria Giulini, the 20th century giant of conducting who considered himself a reverential servant of the great composers, died Tuesday in Brescia in northern Italy, son Alberto Maria Giulini said Wednesday. He was 91. Giulini's last permanent post was music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, from 1978 until 1985, when he resigned to spend more time with his ailing wife.
Actor Peter Lupus is 73. Singer Barry Manilow is 59. Comedian Joe Piscopo is 54. Actor Mark Linn-Baker is 51. Actor Jon Gries is 48. Movie producer-director-writer Bobby Farrelly is 47. Actor Thomas Haden Church is 44. Actor Greg Kinnear is 41. Olympic gold-medal speed skater Dan Jansen is 40. Actor Jason Patric is 39. Rhythm-and-blues singer Kevin Thornton is 36. Tennis player Venus Williams is 25. Actor-rapper Herculeez (Herculeez and Big Tyme) is 20. Actor Damani Roberts is nine.