NEWS BRIEFS: Ledger Plays 'Casanova'

03/15/2004 at 01:00 PM EST

CAST: Australian hunk Heath Ledger, 24, who just finished shooting "The Bothers Grimm" costarring Matt Damon, will play the titular famous lover in "Casanova" for "The Cider House Rules" director Lasse Halstrom, says the Hollywood Reporter. The romance begins shooting in Venice in August. Next up for Ledger is his leading role as the Australian gunslinger in "Ned Kelly," which opens March 26 in limited release. He also is due to star opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain," in which they will play cowboy lovers.

SET: A black-tie crowd will gather at Manhattan's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Monday night as the Class of 2004 inductees will be initiated into the Cleveland-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The roster includes Prince, Traffic, Jackson Browne, the late George Harrison, ZZ Top, Bob Seger, The Dells (or the Mighty Dells, as fans call them). An edited version of this year's show will air on VH1 at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 21.


QUOTED: "Work hard. Eat what they give you. Wear what they hand you. Exercise. And, for once in your life, follow the rules." -- Hotel magnate and former prisoner (for tax evasion) Leona Helmsley, 82, advising Martha Stewart, 62, in the New York Post on how to survive behind bars


TICKETED: Christian Slater, 34, was stopped and ticketed by a Beverly Hills traffic cop, according to photos in Monday's New York Post. The paper claims that Slater, in his Porsche Carrera Turbo, had been zooming along Rodeo Drive, where the speed limit is 30 mph. One photo shows the actor, under his dark shades, smiling at the officer.

LAUNCHED: After selling 50 million $29.95 electric grills, heavyweight champ George Foreman, 55, is now focusing his considerable marketing muscle on his new Comfort Zone clothing line for Casual Male Big & Tall, for a new $26 million sales campaign kicking off Monday, The New York Times reports. Blazers go for $225, and pants (which before Foreman's name went on them were sold for $42) will be $45.

CONCLUDED: Luciano Pavarotti, 68, delivered his final performance at New York City's Metropolitan Opera on Saturday night, where he received a 10-minute ovation from the crowd, following his appearance in Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca." He will now begin a farewell tour around the world and plans to retire at the end of 2005.

REFITTED: The Brawny paper towel man, 30, has lost his familiar bushy blondish hair, mustache and blue denim shirt in favor of a new cleaned-up brunette cut, orange plaid shirt and eyebrows in need of tweezing, carped The New York Times in its Men's Fashion of the Times supplement on Sunday. The makeover, to celebrate the logo's third decade, makes the hearty guy look a little, well ... The Times suggests that it looks like the guy has just awakened next to his boyfriend and they are about to fight over a coupon for tanning.

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