Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey, 42, has opened a cancer center to honor his mother, Amanda Dempsey, 73, who successfully battled ovarian cancer three times since 1997. The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing is set to open March 31 at the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston and will educate cancer patients and their families. “I wanted to make a difference,” Dempsey said. “To give back to the community that helped my mom.” • Action star Jackie Chan, 53, honored his father March 9 by funding the Jackie Chan Science Center at the Australian National University, a new cancer research center in his home of Canberra. Chan’s father, Charlie, 93, died Feb. 26 from prostate cancer.
Dawn Wells, 69, who played Mary Ann on Gilligan’s Island, was sentenced to six months’ probation Feb. 29 after pleading guilty to reckless driving, stemming from a DUI arrest last October. Police pulled her over in Teton, Idaho, and found marijuana, which Wells blamed on hitchhikers she claimed to have just dropped off. • Lou Pearlman, 53, the onetime music mogul responsible for the Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync, pleaded guilty March 6 to federal conspiracy charges. Prosecutors allege Pearlman bilked investors of more than $300 million in phony business ventures. • Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis, 34, was released from jail in Reno March 10 after posting $1.5 million bond. Francis, who spent nearly a year in prison on federal tax evasion charges, will travel to Florida to face allegations of using minors in a sexual performance. • Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, 42, is appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit she filed last year to ban further publication of a photograph of her son David, 4, citing his right to privacy. Rowling settled with the Sunday Express, which published the 2004 photo. In August a judge said the law does not allow celebrities to “carve out a press-free zone for their children.”
FAREWELL DICK DURRELL (1925-2008)
We at PEOPLE are saddened by the loss of one of our own: founding publisher Richard Durrell, who died at his Fairfield, Conn., home of lung cancer on March 7 at 82. When PEOPLE launched in 1974, the idea of a personality-driven weekly, broadly covering the world of popular culture, was an untested concept. Founding editor Richard B. Stolley created the magazine’s editorial style, and Durrell, a true believer from day one, sold it to an initially skeptical advertising community. This magazine, which just celebrated its 34th anniversary, is a tribute to his success.