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NEWS BRIEFS: Clear Channel Cuts Howard

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SEVERED: Clear Channel Communications Inc. announced Thursday it has cut ties with shock jock Howard Stern after federal regulators proposed a $495,000 fine for indecent comments carried on six of its radio stations. “The Congress and (regulators) are even beginning to look at revoking station licenses,” Hogan said in a statement. “That’s a risk we’re just not willing to take.” Stern, 50, issued his own statement on his Web site calling the FCC’s actions part of a “McCarthy-type ‘witch hunt.’ … It is pretty shocking that governmental interference into our rights and free speech takes place in the U.S.”

OUTRAGED: Christians in Ireland criticized Madonna on Friday after it was confirmed she would play her first ever Irish concert on a Sunday, reports Reuters. She is to play Slane Castle, 30 miles north of Dublin, on Aug. 29, said castle owner Lord Henry Mount Charles, who also denied that Madonna, who has developed a recent interest in Jewish mysticism, had refused to play on Saturday because it is the Jewish Sabbath. Joe Deegan, Slane’s parish priest, said playing on a Sunday is insensitive in a country where 90 percent of the population is Roman Catholic. He also expressed concern about the possibly raunchy content Madonna’s show.


QUOTED: “I’ve already called Justin, but, unfortunately, he hasn’t called back.” — George Michael, 40, about his desire to re-create a Madonna-Britney-style lip-lock with Timberlake, as quoted by New York’s Daily News


EXPECTED: “The Alamo” star Billy Bob Thornton, 48, announced Thursday that he and his girlfriend, Connie Angland, 39, are expecting a child “sometime in October,” his publicist tells the Associated Press. Thornton, who has three children from two previous marriages (he’s been wed five times), divorced actress Angelina Jolie in May 2003.

APPREHENDED: Police in Washington state arrested a man for allegedly stalking Avril Lavigne, reports AP. James Speedy, 30, was booked into jail for investigation of stalking after police searched his Seattle suburban home Wednesday, the same day the 19-year-old Canadian singer and Grammy nominee played a free concert at a mall south of Seattle. He later posted $5,000 bail and was released.

UNITED: Latina pop idol Thalia Sodi, 32, and Hershey Foods — the chocolate people — plan to announce that she will become its pitchwoman in a massive new ad campaign aimed at the Hispanic market, reports The New York Times. This includes Thalia-brand sweets that the company plans to roll out later this year.

PREDICTED: David Duchovny, 43, expects that Mulder and Scully will return for a second big-screen installment of “The X-Files” now that “X-Files” creator Chris Carter has signed off on the story premise, reports AP. Duchovny, who does not know the story premise, said of the once-popular FOX show: “I’m at the point where I finally miss it. I wanted the grind to end, but I never wanted the show just to end. And I’d always had this fantasy and hope that it would be a movie franchise. Hopefully, this second movie will give it a foundation as such.”