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Studio sued over ‘Extraordinary Gentlemen’

Two moviemakers say they were ripped off by a studio over an idea to rip off characters from classic literature for the movie “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”

In a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, producer Martin Poll and screenwriter Larry Cohen accused 20th Century Fox of stealing their ideas for the summer action flick, which starred Sean Connery.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $100 million. “Gentlemen” only earned about $66.1 million at the box office and hasn’t yet debuted on home video or DVD.

“We have not yet seen the complaint. However, this is absurd nonsense,” 20th Century Fox spokeswoman Flo Grace said Thursday.

The movie is based on a comic book created by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill in which the main characters were lifted from the pages of Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Bram Stoker and other writers whose copyrights have entered the public domain.

Among the Victorian-era literary figures was Connery as adventurer Allan Quatermain, teamed with a crew that includes Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Capt. Nemo and “Dracula” vampire Mina Harker.

Cohen, who wrote the thriller “Phone Booth,” and Poll, whose credits include 1968’s “The Lion in Winter” and Woody Allen’s “Love and Death,” say in the lawsuit that they had discussed a similar idea with Fox executives in 1993, only then the movie was called “Cast of Characters.”

The “Gentlemen” comic was published in 1999. The comic writers, Moore and O’Neill, are not named in the lawsuit.

Maazel and N.Y. Philharmonic go on ‘Letterman’

Maestro Lorin Maazel, former music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, is taking the New York Philharmonic to new heights.

Maazel, the orchestra’s music director, and 53 of his players will be on the roof of the 13-story Ed Sullivan Theater for an appearance Monday on CBS-TV’s “Late Show With David Letterman.”

They will perform Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” overture in what the orchestra and Letterman producers say is the largest ensemble to play on the building’s roof.

Bon Jovi and the Dave Matthews Band played there, respectively, on June 13, 2000, and July 15, 2002.

Details: www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow or www.newyorkphilharmonic.org/home.cfm.

100 sites on ‘watch list’ for endangered monuments

The Great Wall of China, the palaces of Nimrud and Nineveh in Iraq and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis-Brown House in Los Angeles are among the watch list of 100 endangered sites released this week by the World Monuments Fund.

The list includes sites from every continent, among them Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1908 expedition hut in Antarctica and Australia’s Dampier Rock art complex, which has rock carvings dating from 8000 B.C. Wright’s house, built in 1923, suggests pre-Colombian architecture with its textured blocks.

By focusing attention on the sites, the fund seeks to raise funds for their protection and to spur local governments to protect their cultural heritage.

“Be it a palace, a cave painting, an archaeological site, or a town, the sites on the watch list speak of human aspirations and achievements,” says Bonnie Burnham, president of the World Monuments Fund. “To lose any one of them would diminish us all.”

The biennial watch list was begun in 1995 by the fund, a New York-based nonprofit organization dedicated to historic preservation. The list was compiled by a panel of international experts.

Threats to endangered sites include natural disasters, deterioration caused by age and manmade threats such as neglect, mismanagement and inappropriate development, fund officials say.

In the case of the Nimrud and Nineveh Palaces, the fund said that 12 years of sanctions limited the ability of Iraqi authorities to control looting; further looting and vandalism occurred following the U.S.-led invasion earlier this year.

A portion of the Great Wall of China is suffering from vandalism and erosion by tourists, the fund says.

Six sites in the United States are on the list, including historic lower Manhattan, which suffered following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Last month, the World Monuments Fund joined other preservation groups in issuing a call to save historic buildings that they said could be threatened by the redevelopment of the World Trade Center.

Details: www.wmf.org.

PEOPLE IN THE NEWS


Ben and J. Lo pickup truck from stunned salesman

For car salesman Greg Stanley , it started as a call like many other calls he gets at work: A man asking for a Dodge Ram pickup, with four-wheel drive.

OK, sure. We’ve got some on the lot. Name please?

Ben Affleck .”

Yeah, right. “And my name is George Bush,” Stanley thought to himself Thursday.

He bit his tongue and treated the customer with respect, though. His colleagues had played practical jokes before, but Affleck and Jennifer Lopez , who recently postponed their plans to marry, own a home on nearby Hampton Island, and they were in the area.

The man on the other end of the phone said he’d be in later that day to take a look at the vehicle.

Sure enough, Affleck and Lopez showed up in a black Range Rover, followed by a small army of photographers: “I thought to myself, “Both of them. Wow,”‘ Stanley told the Savannah Morning News for Friday’s editions.

He said the actors asked a lot of questions about the truck and took a short test drive on the lot, but there was very little haggling over the vehicle’s $37,000 sticker price.

At one point, Affleck — who earlier in the week applied for a gun permit at the local courthouse so he could do some hunting — turned to Lopez and asked whether she liked the color — black — and the options. She said she did.

The deal was done. And the Hollywood stars were on their way.

Elvis Costello plays fan favorites on A & E

Elvis Costello felt like he had some big shoes to fill when he performed on A&E’s “Live by Request.”

“When I saw Tony Bennett do this, he made it look easy,” he said, referring to Bennett’s 1996 concert which was the first in the cable channel’s “Live by Request” series.

Costello made it look easy, too, taking phone, e-mail and audience requests and calmly cracking jokes during a two-hour live show Thursday night.

The 49-year-old sang old favorites including “Radio Radio,” “Accidents Will Happen” and “Everyday I Write the Book,” which he performed the way he said he originally wrote it — with a guitar-heavy, ’60s rock sound.

Songwriter Burt Bachrach , with whom Costello has collaborated frequently, called from Canada to request “All This Useless Beauty.” And a woman named Alison phoned from Wilmington, Del., asking to hear — what else• — “Alison.”

Costello also performed songs from his new album of ballads, “North,” which came out this week.

Among the celebrities in the audience were his fiancee, jazz singer Diana Krall , and Willie Garson , who plays Carrie’s gay confidant, Stanford Blatch, on HBO’s “Sex and the City.”

“Live by Request With Elvis Costello” airs again at 10 a.m. Sunday on A&E.

Black Origin awards honor musicians

50 Cent grabbed three awards at the eighth annual MOBO (Music of Black Origin) awards at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The American rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, won best album for “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” best single for “In Da Club” and also was named best hip-hop act Thursday night.

50 Cent arrived late at the ceremony to pick up his awards, which meant fans at his gig across town in Wembley Arena were kept waiting for about two hours.

The rapper kept up his “gangsta” image by arriving onstage to collect his best-album award with a 10-member posse, all wearing bandanas covering their faces.

“I’ve won a lot of awards this year from a lot of different people. I’d like to thank God for blessing me with the talent,” he said.

Justin Timberlake was named best R&B act and Christina Aguilera ‘s “Dirrty” won best video.

Kool & the Gang won the MOBO outstanding achievement award.


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