By Stephen M. Silverman And William Keck
Updated July 29, 2003 02:47 PM

BANNED: Malaysian government minister Abdul Hamid Zainal, in the Prime Minister’s Department, has called on Islamic authorities to ban Jim Carrey’s latest film “Bruce Almighty,” in which the comic takes on the powers of God, says Reuters, basing its reports on local newspaper accounts. “It’s not appropriate to show the film in this country,” Zainal is quoted as saying, adding: “We cannot equate ourselves with God — even as a joke.”

HIRED: “Pirates of the Caribbean” heroine Keira Knightley, 20, will be the new face of British luxury goods maker Asprey, which is known for silver, leather, porcelain, crystal, rare books and gems, reports USA Today. The company is now poised to expand into fashion and other products, and the British actress will appear in November magazines for the ad campaign, which will be shot by Abercrombie & Fitch photographer Bruce Weber.

CAST: Kelly Clarkson, Monica and Alicia Keys will be among the guest stars on the upcoming season of the NBC series “American Dreams” set in the mid-1960s, reports the Associated Press. Clarkson, 21, the original winner on FOX’s “American Idol,” will play Brenda Lee and will sing her hit “Sweet Nothings” in the second season premiere this fall. Monica, 22, will portray Mary Wells and sing the former Motown star’s hit “My Guy.” Keys, 22, a multi-Grammy Award winner, will play Fontella Bass and sing “Rescue Me.”

DIED: Former Iron Butterfly lead guitarist Erik Braunn, 52, who led the acid rock band to the heights of their success with the 1968 anthem “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (translated as “in the garden of Eden”), died on Friday of heart failure, the Los Angeles Times reports. Braunn, a San Diego native who joined the L.A. rock group in 1967 at age 16, stayed with the band just two years, long enough to experience superstardom at the release of their 17-minute opus. In subsequent years he mostly worked independently as a songwriter.