NEWS BRIEFS: Stewart Makes Plea to Pals

03/18/2004 AT 12:00 PM EST

SOUGHT: Martha Stewart, 62, who is scheduled to be sentenced June 17 after being convicted earlier this month on four charges of lying to federal investigators looking into a stock trade, has written to about 100 of her closest friends, asking them to contact Judge Miriam Cedarbaum and express their supportive opinions about Stewart's "character, my work ethic, my integrity and my probity," according to a letter signed by Stewart and posted on Web site Gawker.com on Wednesday. "I am advised by my lawyers that it is appropriate to do so, and that they believe Judge Cedarbaum will conscientiously read everything sent to her."

ANNOUNCED: Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, 35, the youngest of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children, says she and screenwriter husband Mark Bailey, also 35, are expecting their second child, reports PEOPLE. No due date was mentioned. The baby will join their 1-year-old daughter, Georgia Elizabeth Kennedy-Bailey. The couple have been married since 1999, and it was en route to their wedding that Kennedy's cousin John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn and Carolyn's sister Lauren Bessette, were killed when JFK Jr.'s plane crashed off the coast of Martha's Vineyard.


QUOTED: "I thought that was pretty cool." -- "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" director Peter Jackson, 42, on being named one of the worst-dressed at the Oscars


DIED: Oscar-winning actress Mercedes McCambridge, 87, whose best known roles were in 1949's "All the King's Men" (for which she was named Best Supporting Actress) and in 1973's "The Exorcist" (as the voice of the devil), died on March 2 of natural causes near San Diego, Calif., where she lived, say reports. She also starred in the 1954 Joan Crawford cult Western "Johnny Guitar."

RETURNED: Comedian Paula Poundstone, 44, struggling to revive her career after her 2002 charges of child endangerment, is slowly staging a comeback, reports The New York Times. In December, she was slated to appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" but got bumped for Julia Roberts, says the paper, adding that Poundstone has been re-scheduled to appear with Dave next month.

ENJOYED: American troops in Iraq got a taste of home on Tuesday, when a theater previously owned by Saddam Hussein was reopened for a special screening for the Army Air Force Exchange Service, which chose to see "Twisted," starring Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson and Andy Garcia, says Paramount Pictures. The cast members sent their "love and support" and expressed a wish that they could have delivered their message in person.

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