Plus: Katie cruises into MTV Awards, Chappelle on hold, and more

By Stephen M. Silverman and Jane Podesta
Updated May 10, 2005 08:00 AM

ENGAGED: Former The Apprentice contestant Ereka Vetrini, 29, who is now the announcer on The Tony Danza Show, became engaged to Randy Burkholder, her longtime boyfriend, over the weekend, the program has announced. Burkholder proposed at sunset on a beach in Aruba, where he had taken Vetrini for a weekend getaway. Celebrating the event and making their first on-air appearance as an engaged couple, Burkholder is due to assist Vetrini as she opens Tuesday’s Danza show. As for Tony Danza, 54, on Monday he lost control of his vehicle, which flipped over as he and NASCAR star Rusty Wallace were racing go-karts on Manhattan’s West 66th Street. Though he was not wearing a helmet, the TV host was not injured.

SCHEDULED: Jessica Simpson, Hilary Swank, Vin Diesel, Jessica Alba, Billy Bob Thornton, Hilary Duff, Zach Braff, Lindsay Lohan and Ziyi Zhang are among the presenters due at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, where Eminem and Nine Inch Nails are scheduled to perform. The ceremony, to be hosted by Jimmy Fallon, will be taped on June 4 at L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium and aired on the cable music network June 9. And though Katie Holmes is also on board to present, there’s been no word on whether her beau, Tom Cruise, will be there. In the race for the awards, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Mean Girls top this year’s nominations, with four each.

CONTRIBUTED: First lady Laura Bush – who is ambassador for The Heart Truth, awareness campaign about the risk of heart disease, the No. 1 killer of women – is scheduled to unveil the exhibit “The First Ladies Red Dress Collection” at Washington’s JFK Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday. Her gift to the show: the red Carolina Herrera suit she wore to the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and to the Heart Truth’s Red Dress Collection Fashion Show earlier this year in New York. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s red cashmere mock turtleneck dress designed by Chiff Chally will also go on display. The former first lady wore it at husband Bill Clinton’s first major presidential speech to a joint session of Congress in 1993 and again that same year on Valentine’s Day. Other red dresses come from Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson.

NOMINATED: Hollywood names heavily peppered the list of Broadway’s Tony nominees, announced Tuesday morning. Up for best actress in a play are Cherry Jones (Doubt), Laura Linney (Sight Unseen), Mary Louise Parker (Reckless), Phylicia Rashad (Gem of the Ocean) and Kathleen Turner (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf). For best actor in a play: Philip Bosco (12 Angry Men), Billy Crudup (The Pillowman), Bill Irwin (Virginia Woolf), James Earl Jones (On Golden Pond), and Brian F. O’Byrne (Doubt). For musical actor: Hank Azaria (Monty Python’s Spamalot), Gary Beach (La Cage aux Folles), Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), Tim Curry (Spamalot) and John Lithgow (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). Musical actress: Christina Applegate (Sweet Charity), Victoria Clark (The Light in the Piazza), Erin Dilly (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Sutton Foster (Little Women) and Sherry Rene Scott (Rotten Scoundrels). Spamalot received the most nods, 14, including best musical, and the Tonys will be broadcast on CBS Sunday, June 5. Hugh Jackman will host for the third year running.

HALTED: Exhausted from tension, partying and creative differences with Comedy Central, Dave Chappelle has not moved forward with the third season of the popular Chappelle’s Show, which was due to debut May 31, reports Newsweek. Last summer, Comedy Central signed Chappelle, 32, to a deal reportedly worth $50 million for two new seasons of the sketch-comedy series. Neither Comedy Central publicist Tony Fox nor Chappelle’s spokesman, Matt Labov, has discussed what caused the halt in production or how long it will last, reports the Associated Press. “All parties are optimistic that production will resume in the near future,” Comedy Central said in a statement.

SWITCHED: Vampires out, the New Testament in for novelist Anne Rice, whose next book, due in November from Random House, will be Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, which will tell the story of the early years of Jesus in his own words. “For over 10 years I’ve wanted to do this book,” Rice writes in Entertainment Weekly magazine. Rice, 63, who has moved from New Orleans to San Diego, also goes on to say: “I’m not a priest. But in humility, I have attempted something transformative which we writers dare to call a miracle in the imperfect human idiom we possess. It’s to bring Him here in the form a story, and that story is Christ The Lord.”

RECHRISTENED: Hugh Jackman and Dame Edna helped unveil the newly re-named Plymouth and Royale Theaters to the Gerald Schoenfeld and the Bernard Jacobs before 700 invited guests on Broadway Monday night. Schoenfeld, 80, and Jacobs, who died in 1996, helped revitalize the theater district during the financially bleak 1970s, noted New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the ceremony, which was stolen by Dame Edna, who poked fun at fellow Aussie Jackman (saying she was proud of the way he turned out) and flubbed a poem she was reading. Looking at the crowd, Edna boasted that at least she had composed her own material – not like her friend “Little Laura,” as Edna called the first lady, whose comedy material at the recent White House correspondents’ dinner was supplied by a professional writer.