Stephen M. Silverman
June 09, 2004 08:00 AM

SUED: Mel Gibson’s film-distribution company is suing Regal Entertainment Group for $40 million or more, claiming the movie chain shortchanged the company on revenues from The Passion of the Christ, reports Reuters. Regal, the nation’s largest movie chain, agreed to pay Gibson’s Icon Distribution 55 percent of receipts but reneged in May and offered only 34 percent, George Hedges, an attorney for Icon, said. Regal reps declined comment.

SET: Madonna’s third book for children, Yakov and the Seven Thieves, will be published June 21 by Callaway Arts & Entertainment, reports the Associated Press. Written for readers age 6 and up, Madonna, 45, describes the book as “a story about how all of us have the ability to unlock the gates of heaven – no matter how unworthy we think we are. For when we go against our selfish natures, we make miracles happen, in our lives and in the lives of others.” Her fourth book, The Adventures of Abdi, will be published on Nov. 8.

GIVEN: Donald Trump has donated two admissions (minimum price: $15,000 each) to the annual tennis tournament at his Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., as well as a free two-night, three-day stay and the opportunity to play tennis with him on behalf of the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s “Because You Love Him” charity auction on eBay. Bidding runs through June 21. Other items on the block: two hours with Magic Johnson, lunch with Avril Lavigne and lunch with Nick Lachey. All proceeds benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

DIED: Guitarist Robert Quine, 62, considered one of punk rock’s most daring soloists, was found dead Saturday in his New York apartment, reports Reuters. According to close friend and guitar maker Rick Kelly, who discovered Quine’s body, the musician died of a heroin overdose Memorial Day weekend. He had been despondent over the recent death of his wife.

DESIRED: Reality TV pro Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice) wants to produce the wedding of Survivor contestants Amber Brkich, who just won the All-Stars series, and ‘Boston’ Rob Mariano, who won Amber, Burnett tells the Boston Globe. “I would like to work with them and protect them,” he says. Protect them? “I don’t want it to become some reality-television farce.”

RATED: Sunday’s fifth-season finale of The Sopranos drew nearly 11 million viewers, down from the 12.5 million who tuned in for the fourth-season finale in December 2002. The numbers are still good, given that the East Coast audience also had the chance to watch Game 1 of the NBA Finals on ABC, which attracted 13.4 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. The Tonys on CBS drew its smallest audience ever, 6.3 million, despite the presence of Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman and Sarah Jessica Parker, among others. Still, the broadcast boosted ticket sales on Broadway, especially for best musical Avenue Q. Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins, which won five Tonys, also will extend its limited run, to Aug. 1.

PENNED: Bill Rancic is writing a book about his philosophy of business success, tentatively titled You’re Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Life From the Winner of the Apprentice. HarperBusiness, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, will publish this fall.

MARKED: Wednesday is the 70th birthday of Donald Duck, with festivities planned at Disney parks around the world. The short-tempered pal of Mickey Mouse’s was first seen on June 9, 1934, in an animated cartoon called The Wise Little Hen. Problem is, no one has understood a word he’s said since.

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