NEWS BRIEFS: Janet Loses Lena Horne Pic

02/24/2004 AT 11:00 AM EST

DISINVITED: Just when you thought the fallout was over from the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake Super Bowl halftime stunt, Jackson has now removed herself from a TV biopic of vocal legend Lena Horne, the trade paper Variety reports. Horne reportedly was incensed at the halftime show, and refused to return her contract unless Jackson was removed from the project. ABC refused the demand, but Jackson has withdrawn from the project. The future of the biopic is now uncertain.

DONATED: Morehouse College in Atlanta has received a generous donation from Oprah Winfrey. The queen of daytime talk donated $5 million to the top-rated school for African Americans, the Associated Press reports. The donation, announced Saturday, follows an earlier award of $7 million. Winfrey was on hand at the school Saturday to receive Morehouse's Candle for Lifetime Achievement in Humanitarian Service award.


QUOTED: "If I can give kids and their parents something that'll make them smile and maybe teaches them a little something ... it makes me a happy granny." -- actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg on her decision to write a children's book, in a statement to AP


BUSTED: Randi Coy's "Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance" couldn't keep a secret, but the bachelorette still walked away from the FOX series with a nice hunk of money on Monday night. After six episodes of the show -- during which Coy tried to win $1 million by fooling her family into attending her mock wedding with a fat slob named Steve -- the gross groom-to-be confessed to duping everyone. The revelation sent Randi's already tense family into a complete meltdown. But all was not lost for the gentle Coys of Colorado: For their willingness to stand together, Randi was awarded $500,000 and the rest of her family received an additional $500,00.

JOINED: Hunky "CSI" star George Eads will take a break from the minutiae of murder and jump onto a more daring role as stuntman Evel Knievel in an upcoming TNT movie titled "Evel Knievel," Variety reports. Shooting begins in April. ... Meanwhile, Ken Watanabe, fresh off his Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor Oscar for "The Last Samurai," is joining the cast of the next Batman movie as a villain, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "The Last Samurai" was his English-language debut.

TOPPED: "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" is already sitting atop the Academy Award nomination pile with 11 nods, but now the fantasy epic has a new record. On Monday the movie became the fastest film to break the $1-billion box-office mark worldwide, Reuters reports. There hasn't been a lot of competition in that category. The only other film to sail past $1 billion was 1997's "Titanic," which went on to earn $1.8 billion in receipts.

ANGERED: Shock jock Howard Stern made no bones about his anger toward "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno when Stern returned to the air Monday. It was Stern's first day back on the job since it was revealed that his longtime sidekick "Stuttering John" Melendez was accepting a job on Leno's show, the New York Post reports. "You wanted a guy associated with my show (because) you can't get 18- to 25-year-old men (to watch you)," Stern said. "To an 18- to 25-year-old male, Jay Leno is gay. He might as well put a dress on," he added.

ORDERED: O.J. Simpson has been served with court papers ordering him to deliver any money from autograph signings to the mother of Ronald Goldman, AP reports. Simpson reportedly received the order while in the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton, Mo., to attend a private signing. Simpson was acquitted of the 1994 murders of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Goldman. But a 1997 civil jury found Simpson liable for the killings and fined him $33.5 million, $1.27 million of which is directed to Goldman's mother, Sharon Rufo, who lives in the St. Louis area. The autograph-signing event was reportedly canceled.

DIED: Character actor Joe Viterelli, 66, who played Mafia-type characters in "Analyze This" and "Analyze That," died Jan. 29 of complications from heart surgery in a Las Vegas hospital, his father said. ... Les Gray, the singer of the 1970s group Mud, died of a heart attack in Portugal on Saturday, AP reports. His death came prior to what was supposed to be a comeback show in Scotland. Gray had battled throat cancer for many years. ... Big band singer Don Cornell, 84, died Monday in Florida from advanced emphysema and diabetes, an assistant tells AP. Among his hits were "It Isn't Fair" and "I'll Walk Alone."

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