Plus: Nicole's desert fest honor, Young Buck gets charged, and more

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated December 21, 2004 08:00 AM

FITTED: Recent PEOPLE covergirl Kirstie Alley, 53, will debut in her new role as the new spokeswoman for the Jenny Craig weight-loss program on Jan. 10, the New York Post reports. The former Cheers and Veronica’s Closet star – whose new Showtime quasi-reality sitcom, Fat Actress, premieres in March – says that she had fun gaining the weight and will now have fun losing it, because the Craig menu is “the yummiest.” The 5’7″ Alley is currently weighing in at around 203 lbs. “I want to get really skinny,” she told PEOPLE earlier this month. “This is going to be a real challenge to get thinner.”

SELECTED: Nicole Kidman will have some time in the sun next month, as the Birth Golden Globe nominee receives the chairman’s award for “her passion for challenging and unusual material” at California’s 16th annual Palm Springs Film Festival. Variety reports that the ceremony, slated for Jan. 8, will also honor Kirk Douglas, Kevin Spacey, Samuel L. Jackson, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney and Lord of the Rings and The Aviator composer Howard Shore.

DENIED: Judge Rodney Melville turned down a request on Monday by Michael Jackson’s lawyers to throw out the child-molestation charges against the star or delay his trial by several months, arguing that chief prosecutor Thomas Sneddon is engaged in a personal witch hunt against Jackson and that they need more time to sift through some 22,000 pages of evidence. The jurist, however, rejected both defense arguments, saying a delay in the trial, scheduled for Jan. 31, would amount to “a huge step backwards” and that the court will begin summoning jurors next week.

BOOKED: Rapper Young Buck (real name: David Darnell Brown), 23, was charged on Monday with stabbing fellow performer Jimmy James Johnson in a dispute over an autograph by Dr. Dre that touched off a melee at the Nov. 15 Vibe Awards show in Santa Monica, Calif., prosecutors tell Reuters. Johnson was arrested and remains in custody on a suspected parole violation, prosecutors said. Brown faces up to eight years in prison if convicted of the charges filed Monday, prosecutors said. He remains free on $500,000 bail.

OFFERED: Posters signed by Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez and a guitar signed by Wyclef Jean are on sale in an MTV internet auction to raise money for hurricane victims in Haiti, Grenada and the Cayman Islands, reports the Associated Press. Seventy-five percent of proceeds from the Caribbean Relief Charity Auction will go to American Red Cross, says MTV. The auction runs through next Monday.

SUPPORTED: Killing Me Softly R&B singer Roberta Flack, 65, plans to transform two abandoned brownstones in Harlem into a school of music to be opened next fall, reports the New York Post. The 126th Street facility will offer free liberal arts classes for talented students and house a permanent faculty of teachers, classrooms, a recording studio, an auditorium and performance cafe. “There are so many young artists who have talent but they need support,” says Flack, who has already secured a $1 million investment from Carver Federal Savings Bank and is seeking an additional $2 million in donations and private investments.

ANTICIPATED: Can’t wait until 2006 to catch the next season of The Sopranos? Warner Home Video hopes to feed viewer hunger by going back to the source – Hollywood’s early gangster films. Six classics starring movie bad guys Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson will be available on DVD come Jan. 25, the company has announced. The titles, which inspired mobster movies for generations to come, are The Public Enemy, White Heat, Angels with Dirty Faces, Little Caesar, The Petrified Forest and The Roaring Twenties.