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5 items from 2008

Costner Goes Country

30 September 2008 5:00 AM, PDT | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Hollywood star Kevin Costner is to release a country music album.

The Bodyguard actor fronts rock band Modern West in between making movies, and now the group is to try and win over country fans with their take on the genre, according to

The as-yet-untitled LP features 12 tracks, six of which were co-written by Costner, and will hit U.S. stores on 11 November. »

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50 Fascinating Madonna Facts

15 August 2008 9:06 AM, PDT | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Happy birthday Madonna! The Material Girl has hit the big 5-0 and we thought we'd celebrate by searching through cyberspace, books and articles to find 50 fascinating facts you may or may not know about Mrs. Ritchie.

From her personal statistics, Italian roots and early successes to her all-conquering pop landmarks and the crazy things that have been named after her, feast your eyes on this treasure of trivia:

- Madonna once drummed for New York pop group the Breakfast Club. A later member of the band was American Idol judge Randy Jackson. Ex-boyfriends Dan Gilroy and Stephen Bray were also members of the Breakfast Club.

- Madonna beat out acting greats Glenn Close, Frances McDormand, Debbie Reynolds and Barbra Streisand to grab a Best Actress Golden Globe Award in 1997 for her role in Evita.

- Madonna has acted in 22 films.

- The Recording Industry Association of America has named Madonna the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century. She's also the second top-selling female artist in the United States with 63 million certified albums.

- The Guinness World Records list Madonna as the world's most successful female recording artist of all time; she has sold over 200 million records worldwide.

- Madonna is one of six children born to Silvio Ciccone and Madonna Louise Ciccone (nee Fortin). She was named after her mother.

- She also has a stepbrother and stepsister from her father's second marriage to his former housekeeper Joan Gustafson.

- Born in Bay City, Michigan, Madonna's roots stretch back to Pacentro in Italy, where her grandparents came from. In 1988, town officials in Pacentro began to construct a 13-foot (4 meter) statue of Madonna.

- Madonna was a member of the cheerleading team at Rochester Adams High School.

- Madonna worked in a New York City Dunkin' Donuts while she was struggling to make it as a dancer in the Big Apple. She was reportedly fired after squirting jam in a customer's face.

- Madonna's first single, Everybody, was released on 24 April, 1982.

- Madonna's hit album Like A Virgin is among the Definitive 200 Albums of All Time, according to the Rock + Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted the pop star earlier this year.

- As well as starring alongside Sean Penn in Shanghai Surprise, Madonna also joined her then-husband onstage in her theatrical debut Goose + Tom Tom in 1986.

- Madonna and Sean Penn separated on New Year's Eve (31Dec) 1988.

- Madonna's Confessions Tour is the highest grossing concert tour by a female artist.

- Madonna is the most successful female in her adopted U.K.'s pop charts and has more number one singles than any other female solo artist.

- Madonna has a new species of tardigrade named after her. The anthropod-type animals, also known as water bears, are often found living on mosses. They can survive in extreme conditions that would kill most other living species.

- Madonna's father, Tony Ciccone, recently decided to advance his winery business by releasing Madonna Wine, which is available in five varieties: Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay. Prices range from $25 (GBP12.50) to $40 (GBP20) per bottle.

- Celebrity Cellars also produced a line of collectible wine, called Madonna - Confessions on a Dance Floor.

- Madonna made her London West End stage debut in 2002 in Up for Grabs.

- Madonna's first children's book, The English Roses, was published in 2003 and she has since published a total of 10 books.

- Madonna was among the inaugural UK Music Hall of Fame inductees in 2004.

- Madonna has released a total of 68 official singles to date, according to the singer's own website.

- Madonna was among People Magazine's '50 Most Beautiful People of 1991' and '25 Most Intriguing People of 2001'.

- In March 2007, Madonna created a clothing line for the retailer H+M.

- Madonna is good friends with Sting and his actress wife Trudie Styler, who introduced her to director Guy Ritchie. The couple fell in love and are now husband and wife.

- Sting is godfather to Madonna and Guy Ritchie's son Rocco.

- Madonna is the only artist who performed at the benefit concerts Live Aid (1985), Live 8 (2005), and Live Earth (2007).

- Madonna suffers from brontophobia - a fear of thunder.

- Madonna was considered for the role of Catwoman/Selina Kyle in the 1992 film Batman Returns. She turned the part down and the role went to Michelle Pfeiffer. She also fought for the role of Ginger in Casino, but lost out to Sharon Stone.

- Madonna turned down leading roles in Showgirls and The Fabulous Baker Boys.

- Madonna is 5 feet, 44 inches (1.64 metres) tall. Her measurements are 34C-23-33.

- Madonna does not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was selected for the honour in 1990 but she showed no interest and the invitation has now expired. Walk of Fame spokeswoman Ana Martinez-Holler states that, in order to receive a star, Madonna would have to be "resubmitted for a nomination," adding, "since she is not interested, I highly doubt that she will give a nominator the permission to do so."

- Madonna was paid $5 million (GBP2.5 million) by Pepsi to film a commercial that never even aired. Pepsi bosses pulled the controversial ad, which was related to her Like A Prayer video and full of religious overtones.

- Madonna has won nine Razzie Awards: Worst Actress for Shanghai Surprise in 1987, Worst Actress for Who's that Girl in 1988, Worst Actress for Body of Evidence in 1994, Worst Supporting Actress for Four Rooms in 1996, Worst Actress of the Century in 2000, Worst Actress for The Next Best Thing in 2001, Worst Actress and Worst Screen Couple for Swept Away in 2003, and Worst Supporting Actress for Die Another Day in 2003.

- Gwen Stefani, Celine Dion and Mark Wahlberg are distant relatives of Madonna, according to a recent ancestry study.

- Madonna auditioned for the part of Kevin Costner's high-maintenance love interest in The Bodyguard. Whitney Houston landed the role.

- Madonna played a lesbian witch in the 1996 movie Four Rooms.

- Madonna originally dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer.

- The Beastie Boys supported Madonna on her very first solo tour.

- Madonna was ranked Number 1 on VH1's '100 Sexiest Artists' in 2002.

- Madonna has been nominated for a total of 18 Grammy Awards; she has won five.

- Madonna has been a vegetarian since she was 15.

- Madonna hates the colour orange.

- Madonna was named one of People magazine's worst-dressed, in 1999.

- Madonna's controversial Sex book, which featured naked photos of the Material Girl, was so popular that a re-print had to be ordered within 48 hours.

- Madonna dedicated her album True Blue to then-husband Sean Penn, who she called "the coolest guy in the universe".

- Gwyneth Paltrow was Maid of Honour at Madonna's Scottish wedding in 2000.

- Fight Club director David Fincher was the man behind the camera on four of Madonna's videos.

- Madonna's What It Feels Like For A Girl and Justify My Love were banned from MTV. »

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Claire Danes circles autism biopic

14 August 2008 7:00 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

HBO's long-gestating Temple Grandin project is moving forward, with Claire Danes in negotiations to star and Mick Jackson set to direct the biopic.

Grandin, one of the leading speakers on autism, overcame the limitations imposed by the disorder to become one of the top scientists in humane livestock handling.

High school was especially harsh for Grandin, who was called "tape recorder" by other kids because she repeated things over and over. She also was hypersensitive to all sorts of sensory stimulation. She eventually graduated with degrees from several universities, going on to write influential essays on animal welfare and designing humane slaughterhouses. Grandin appears regularly on the news talk show circuit and was the subject of a BBC documentary titled "The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow" and Errol Morris' "First Person: Stairway to Heaven."

Danes will play Grandin from her high school years to her post-academic period.

Christopher Monger wrote the script, and an October start date in Austin is being eyed.

Emily Gerson Saines, Gil Bellows, Anthony Edwards, Dante Di Loreto, Paul Lister and Allison Owen are exec producing, while Scott Ferguson serves as producer.

If everything falls into place, it will be a project nine years in the making for Saines, a one-time agent and now manager-producer for whom this has been a passion project. Saines has seen several directors, including David O. Russell and Moises Kaufman, come and go.

"I made a commitment to Temple that I was going to make it and make it right," said Saines, who has a son with autism. "I never pushed to get it made until now, because now we got it right.

"When I first brought this to HBO, and I started talking to Richard Plepler about the increasing (number of people with autism), he turned to me and said, 'Your numbers have got to be wrong, otherwise it would be an epidemic.' And I told him it is," she added.

Saines credited such past and present exec chiefs at HBO as Colin Callender, Keri Putnam and Jenny Sherwood for championing the project. "It's a testament to the material on which this is based that no one ever gave up on this," she said.

Danes will next be seen starring in Richard Linklater's "Me and Orson Welles," which premieres in September at the Toronto International Film Festival. She is repped by Icm and Signpost Management.

Jackson, repped by Icm, has credits that include "The Bodyguard," "Traffic" the television series and HBO's "Live From Baghdad." »

- By Borys Kit

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Costner interested in 'Bodyguard' sequel

6 August 2008 1:12 PM, PDT | Digital Spy | See recent Digital Spy - Movie News news »

Kevin Costner has disclosed that he would like to make a sequel to his 1992 film The Bodyguard. Despite proving a box office hit on its initial release, studio bosses at Warner Bros have been reluctant to green light a follow-up. Costner told the New York Daily News that he had an idea for a second movie, but it would (more) »

- By Simon Reynolds

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Costner Considers The Bodyguard Sequel

4 August 2008 11:57 AM, PDT | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Actor Kevin Costner has raised hopes for a sequel to 1992 classic The Bodyguard - after admitting he would love to reprise his role as the former Secret Service agent.

Costner, who starred as bodyguard Frank Farmer opposite Whitney Houston's character Rachel Marron in the hit movie, has never made a sequel to any of his films - but he reveals he already has a plot idea in mind should studio bosses change their minds.

He tells the New York Daily News, "Bodyguard could have had one (a sequel).

"No (Marron and Farmer wouldn't reunite), I think he was true to his word; he didn't want to guard celebrities anymore." »

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