Plus: Amber story a TV movie, Paul Newman racecar fire, and more
SETTLED: Halle Berry, 38, officially became single last Monday, after successfully settling with former husband Eric Benet and finalizing their divorce. TV’s Celebrity Justice reports that the Catwoman star will retain her Beverly Hills mansion, while Benet has moved to Studio City, Calif., in the San Fernando Valley. Benet, an R&B singer, reportedly wanted to challenge the couple’s prenuptial agreement, but that did not occur, the show reports, adding that Berry will pay no spousal support.
BOUGHT: CBS has purchased the TV movie rights to Amber Frey’s memoir, Witness for the Prosecution of Scott Peterson, chronicling her relationship with the fertilizer salesman who was convicted Nov. 12 of murdering his wife, Laci, and their unborn child. The book was excerpted in PEOPLE and hit stores last week. “Having the rights to her life story, as well as her book, provides an opportunity to tell new dimensions of the story and give viewers a personal look into one of the most notorious crimes of the past decade,” Bela Bajaria, a CBS senior vice president, said in a statement. No air date or cast has been announced.
RESCUED: Paul Newman, 78, escaped injury Saturday when the racecar he was testing caught fire following a spin at Daytona International Speedway. The car didn’t hit anything, but when Newman tried to restart the engine it erupted in flames. Newman was taken to the track’s infield medical center and released after a brief exam. “I don’t know what happened,” Newman said afterward. “I’m fine. It just caught on fire somehow.”
INJURED: Tony winner Idina Menzel, 33, fractured a rib when she accidentally fell from an elevator during the Saturday matinee performance of the Broadway musical Wicked, in which she plays the witch from Oz, Elphaba. Menzel was taken to a nearby hospital and treated while her stand-in, Shoshana Bean, took over the remainder of the performance and did the evening show and Sunday matinee, which was to have been Menzel’s final performance in the role. Menzel took her last bow anyway on Sunday – bandaged and telling the crowd, “I melted and melted.”
REJECTED: A federal judge in Denver has tossed out a lawsuit filed by the parents of the slain JonBenet Ramsey against FOX News Channel, saying a December 2002 network report unfavorable to the couple was not defamatory. The jurist suggested that John and Patsy Ramsey seek vindication “in the court of public opinion.” He added that the case, which may have been filed “more for vindication than for money,” cannot be tried again, the Associated Press reports.
CAST: Harry Connick Jr., 37, will sing in his sleepwear for this November’s Broadway revival of the ’50s favorite The Pajama Game, reports The New York Times. The show will be directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, whose revival of Wonderful Town, starring Brooke Shields, is due to close at the end of this month. In London, a revival of Guys and Dolls set to open in May starring Ewan McGregor as Sky Masterston (Marlon Brando in the movie version) has announced a new cast member – Ally McBeal alum and Nine Tony winner Jane Krakowski. She’ll play Miss Adelaide, the chorus girl with a heart of gold and a perpetual cold.
DIED: Rosemary Kennedy, 86, a sister to Sen. Edward Kennedy and the late Robert and John F. Kennedy, died Friday, her family said. Born mentally retarded, Rosemary lived most of her life in the St. Coletta School for Exceptional Children in Jefferson, Wis., after undergoing a lobotomy ordered by her father, Joseph P. Kennedy, when she was 23, because the tyrannical patriarch didn’t want her damaging his family’s reputation. Rosemary was the inspiration for the Special Olympics spearheaded by the Kennedy family.
SUED: Georgeann Walsh Ward, 53, of Chester, N.Y., a former girlfriend of KISS rocker Gene Simmons, is suing him for slander and seeking unspecified damages, saying the musician made her sound like a “sex-addicted nymphomaniac” in the VH1 documentary, When KISS Ruled The World, aired last summer. In it, Simmons claimed he had sexual encounters with 4,600 women, “and I enjoyed every one of them,” according to Ward’s court papers. There’s been no reaction from Simmons, and VH1 parent Viacom will not comment on pending litigation.
REVIVED: The Dukes of Hazzard‘s vehicle of choice, the mighty Dodge Charger, is being brought back to market after a two-decade retirement, reports The New York Times. No longer looking like an XK-E on steroids, the new model, previewed Sunday at the North American Auto Show in Detroit, is more Mercedes inspired and described by its designer, Ralph Gilles, as a practical sedan “with attitude.” It also lacks one adornment that the Bo and Luke Dukes’ Charger simply couldn’t do without: a Confederate Flag.