Stephen M. Silverman
September 19, 2002 01:00 PM

APPEARED: Ben Affleck, 30, will appear with his gay male cousin in an ad campaign to be unveiled this fall by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), USA Today reports. The spot will be a “beautifully shot portrait with a simple line: ‘Stay Close,’ ” said Suzanne Ramos, co-president of the New York City PFLAG chapter. The paper quotes Ramos as saying that Affleck’s aunt, a PFLAG member, helped set up the ad.

EXITED: Following the lead of Kelly Osbourne, who reputedly left the production to be near ailing mother Sharon Osbourne, actress Annette Bening, 42, has also officially dropped out of Walt Disney’s comedy remake of “Freaky Friday,” Variety reports. Reasons for the exit remain unclear, the trade paper states, though the movie is still expected to move ahead. Christina Vidal replaced Osbourne. No replacement for Bening has been named.

ORDERED: A judge has ordered rap mogul Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs, 31, to pay $2.5 million in damages to a man who says he was injured by Combs’s bodyguards at a 1995 concert in North Carolina. The Associated Press reports that Judge William Z. Wood ordered the payment because Combs failed to answer the allegations in Cedrick Bobby Lemon’s lawsuit within the 30-day time limit.

MOURNED: “Barney Miller” actor James Gregory, 90, who played Inspector Luger on the late ’70s TV series, died Monday at his home in Sedona, Ariz., the AP reports. He also appeared on Broadway in some 25 shows, including the Arthur Miller classic, “Death of Salesman,” in which he had played son Biff.

RATED: The premieres of “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” starring John Ritter, and “Life With Bonnie,” with Bonnie Hunt, boosted ailing ABC over the mostly repeat competition Tuesday, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings. Both shows were tops among 18- to 49-year-olds, prized by advertisers. ABC’s heavily promoted “Push, Nevada,” produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, among others, narrowly won its debut hour. In syndication, “Dr. Phil,” starring tough-love therapist Dr. Phil McGraw, generated the best premiere ratings performance for a syndicated series since “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in 1986.

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