Plus: Jefferson Airplane drummer dies, Spielberg eyes Abe, and more

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 13, 2005 09:00 AM

NAMED: Queen Latifah will host the 47th Annual Grammy Awards, to air live Feb. 13 on CBS from L.A. s Staples Center, the Recording Academy has announced. The Chicago and Bringing Down the House star (real name: Dana Owens) is up for a best jazz vocal Grammy this year for The Dana Owens Album. Latifah also will perform on the show.

DIED: Jefferson Airplane drummer Spencer Dryden has died of cancer at the age of 66, the Associated Press reports. The musician, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 for his work with the legendary band, retired from performing 10 years ago. He was part of the band during its heyday and had an affair with lead singer Grace Slick. A benefit concert last year featuring Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead raised $36,000 for Dryden, who was in the middle of two hip replacement surgeries and was facing heart surgery at the time. His home and all his possessions had been destroyed in a fire in September 2003. He also had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. Dryden was married three times and is survived by three sons: Jeffrey, Jes and Jackson Dryden. Plans for a memorial concert are pending.

NOMINATED: The new hit shows Desperate Housewives and Lost both received nominations from the Directors Guild of America Wednesday. J.J. Abrams, known for his work producing Felicity and Alias, was nominated for the pilot episode of Lost, about airplane crash survivors stranded on a mysterious island. Other shows whose directors were nominated include Curb Your Enthusiasm, Sex and the City, ER, Deadwood and The Sopranos. Winners will be announced at the 57th annual awards presentation Jan. 29.

DECIDED: In a decision that’s considered a victory for the news media and the prosecution, Judge Rodney Melville ruled Wednesday that a hearing about allegations of past sexual misconduct by Michael Jackson will not be held behind closed doors and will be scheduled once the jury is selected, the Associated Press reports. Pretrial hearings have been set for Jan. 21 and Jan. 27 to consider whether a child-abuse expert can testify and such other issues as the questionnaire to be given to jurors and other motions on admission of evidence.

BOOKED: R&B star D’Angelo (real name: Michael Eugene Archer) was charged with drunken driving and drug possession after a traffic stop Sunday, police in suburban Richmond, Va., tell AP. A search of his vehicle turned up “what we believe to be cocaine and marijuana,” said Chesterfield police Capt. Karl Leonard, adding that the substances will be analyzed. The Grammy winner is due in court Tuesday.

PLANNED: Steven Spielberg has his sights set on bringing a biography of the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, to the screen, possibly starring his Schindler’s List hero (and current star of Kinsey), Irish actor Liam Neeson, reports Variety. Spielberg has wanted to do a Lincoln bio since 2001 and hopes to start filming in one year. A controversial new book, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, by sex researcher C.A. Tripp, makes the case that Honest Abe wasn’t terribly honest in his marriage to Mary Todd Lincoln, and was gay. Historians such as Doris Kearns Goodwin, on whose book Spielberg’s film was to be based, dispute the notion.

OFFERED: Celine Dion will donate all the proceeds of a special May 8 Mother’s Day performance of her Las Vegas show to the victims of the tsunami disaster and expects to raise a minimum of $1 million for UNICEF. In addition to the show, special UNICEF pledge boxes will be placed throughout the Colosseum at the Caesars Palace hotel-casino.

ANNOUNCED: My Life, the best-selling 957-page memoir of former President Clinton, will be released in paperback in May, featuring some additional material and a format that divides the epic-length work into two, says Clinton’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf. Clinton’s representative, Washington, D.C., attorney Robert Barnett, tells AP that the new content has yet to be determined. “There might be a new chapter or a new foreword,” he said.

SUED: Fight promoter Don King has sued sports channel ESPN, its parent company and its outlets for $2.5 billion, reports Reuters. The eight-page legal filing says that a May 14, 2004, showing of ESPN’s biography segment on King defamed the boxing promoter and strung together false statements that “intentionally and recklessly portrayed Don King in a false light.” ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said the cable network had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it, but he defended the biography series.