CAST: Former Moesha star Brandy, 25, is returning to her comedy series roots by finalizing a deal to star in a weekly half-hour project for FOX TV, says the Hollywood Reporter. A concept for the sitcom is still being devised. While that occurs, the trade paper reports, Brandy will continue to promote her latest album, Afrodisiac, which has sold about 287,000 copies in the U.S. since its release in June, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
HONORED: North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley has proclaimed Saturday Fantasia Barrino Day, to mark the day she makes her first major singing appearance in her home state since winning the American Idol title in May, reports the Associated Press. This weekend, Barrino, 20, and her fellow Idol contestants will perform in Winston-Salem, a stop on the American Idols Tour 2004. Easley’s proclamation, issued Thursday, cites Barrino as “a true testament to what happens when you put your heart and soul into your dream.”
SET: Regis Philbin, 72, broke the world record for spending the most hours on TV on Friday when he hosted his daily talk show, Live With Regis and Kelly. According to Guinness World Records, Philbin has notched up 15,188 hours on the air. The previous record-holder was Hugh Downs. “Now it’s all a big blur,” Philbin says of his past, adding that his worst memory was from his early years, when he could not stop laughing while reading the news about a train crash in the Italian Alps that killed 117 people.
RESIGNED: Former First Daughter Caroline Kennedy, 46, is leaving her $1-a-year post as chief executive of a New York City public school fundraising arm, saying she wants to devote more time to other personal and professional obligations, AP reports. Kennedy – a lawyer, author and mother – was the first to fill the position at the public school system’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, created in 2002 to tap into private-sector resources for school system projects.
REOPENED: The memorial fountain to Princess Diana in London’s Hyde Park reopens to the public Friday after nearly a month of being shuttered because three people, including a child, were injured by slipping on its smooth surface. Reuters reports that there would be extra staff watching the site, which was opened by Queen Elizabeth at a formal dedication July 6 – and from now on the public will only be permitted to stick hands and feet into the water.
DEFANGED: Dracula, a new multimillion-dollar Broadway musical with music by Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde) and lyrics by Don Black (Sunset Boulevard), opened Thursday night to blood-curdling reviews. “It sucks,” say both the New York Post (which also found it “bloodless”) and the Daily News (“a bloody mess”). The New York Times, admitting that expectations for the show were low, invites audiences to take their own shots at the show: “Think of every appropriate variation you can involving the verbs to bite and to suck,” writes Ben Brantley. Tom Hewitt stars in the role Bela Lugosi made famous – but he’s not expected to hold his night job for very long.